It feels like you’re taking a step back in time as you drive to the Central Coast and the holiday hub of Avoca Beach. There aren’t any high-rise buildings shading the sand. Kids run from beach umbrellas to the water’s edge. Folks sit on jetties dangling fishing line into the water hoping for a bite. Hear that? It’s just the sound of waves lapping the beach.
Once you climb into your rental car, it’ll take about an hour and a half to arrive at Avoca Beach. That’s if you go straight through, but there are many distractions along the way. This part of New South Wales is defined by its waterways – the Pacific Ocean beaches, the Hawkesbury River, the lakes of Brisbane Waters – and they are a huge part of the attraction of the Central Coast.
Here’s a list of things to do and places to see during a day trip to Avoca Beach. Or longer if you decide to extend the dates on your rental car and find a beach house or campground to spend a night or two.
You might be keen to get to the sunshine, sand and surf as quickly as possible, but if you love oysters stop at Brooklyn before crossing the Hawkesbury River to join a Sydney Oyster Farm Tour. You’ll ditch the rental car for 90 minutes, jump on a boat to visit the oyster leases at Mooney Mooney, then slurp down a dozen freshly shucked shellfish.
There’s plenty more to explore on the Central Coast and you don’t need to go far in the rental car to see some beautiful parts of the region. Between Avoca Beach and the brilliantly named Copacabana Beach, you’ll find Captain Cook Lookout. From this high point, you can look right up and down the coast; on a clear day, you can even see the high-rises of Sydney.
A little bit further south, you’ll arrive at Bouddi National Park. By far, one of the best walks on this part of the Central Coast is the Bouddi Coastal Walk. It’s 8km long but can easily be divided into shorter lengths over easy terrain. Again, the views are beautiful. You’ll spend your time staring out at crashing waves, maybe spotting a whale (if it’s winter), and occasionally moving through coastal heathland and fern gullies.
There’s no doubt about it, Avoca Beach is lovely. The broad curve of sand is bookended by rocky headlands and split in two by the entrance to Avoca Lake. The surf club is the biggest building you can see from the sand, with houses and huge trees covering the hill rising up behind the beach. This is relaxation central, so spread out your towel, slather yourself in sunscreen and be sure not to fall asleep. The beach is patrolled, so find the flags and cool off in the surf.
Another option for a swim, one without any waves, is Avoca Lake. There’s an island in the middle of it and lots of hidden beaches and bays to explore. Go to Aquafun to hire pedal boats, kayaks or stand-up paddle boards, and splash around for hours.
If you happen to be around on the fourth Sunday of the month, go for a stroll around the Avoca Beachside Markets. There are more than 90 stalls selling everything: fresh produce, homemade jams and condiments, art, homewares, upcycled goods, fashion and more, much of it created with a nod to sustainability. Plus, there is live music and vendors selling hot food.
If you’re keen to stretch day into evening, Avoca Beach Theatre is the place to be. Built in 1948 by the Heath family who still runs it today, it’s one of the few old-school picture theatres still in operation in Australia. It offers the community a bit of everything: latest release movies, live music, and special theme nights.
You’re on the beach, you can smell the salt in the air, so there’s one lunch that should be at the top of your list: fish and chips. Avoca Beach Seafoods is practically on the sand, with a few outdoor tables set up overlooking the water. You can get burgers, fresh seafood and grilled fish, as well as all the normal chippy faves.
Take a seat at a cafe making a difference. Set in an old corner store, Like Minds is a zero-waste eatery using produce grown in the on-site veggie patch for many of its dishes. Plus, there’s loads of local art on the walls and picnic tables out in the courtyard.
In nearby Kincumber, you’ll find Block ’N’ Tackle Brewery. Twelve taps pour craft beer and cider brewed on site, grazing boards can be ordered to accompany the drinks, regular food trucks drop by, and there’s live music on Sunday afternoons and regular brewery tours. Don’t forget to designate a driver.
To explore Avoca Beach and other parts of the Central Coast, hire a rental car in Sydney before you leave.