Ultimate guide to things to do in Coffs Coast with kids
Families have been flocking to the Coffs Coast in northern NSW for years because there’s so much to see, do and explore. From uncrowded beaches and lush, World Heritage listed subtropical rainforests to accommodation that ranges from luxury to budget apartments, resorts, hotels, motels and holiday parks, the Coffs Coast has it covered for kids.
The iconic Big Banana, which is the gateway to an ice rink, water park, toboggan run and educational tours where you can learn everything you could possibly need to know about the banana, may be the Coffs Coast’s most famous attraction but it’s the laid-back friendliness of the locals, uncrowded beaches and wealth of outdoor activities that lures families back over and over again.
Coffs Harbour city offers an abundance of beaches, attractions and activities galore for every age. But beyond its bright lights and café culture, Coffs Harbour International Marina provides a gateway to the stunning Solitary Islands Marine Park and its abundant wildlife, including migrating whales, birds, and fish filled coral reefs.
Bellingen, a pretty town located along the banks of the Bellinger River is another family favourite. The tree-lined town has character and charm in spades, thanks to its well preserved historic buildings, great cafes and restaurants, and a lively community of artists, painters and sculptors. Active families will find it a great base for exploring the spectacular rainforest of World Heritage listed Dorrigo National Park, and its river perfect for kayaking and canoeing.
Top things to do in Coffs Coast
The Coffs Coast is packed with plenty of unmissable family attractions. Here are 10 of the best.
- Traverse the rainforest canopy at the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre.
- Cool off at the Big Banana’s epic water park.
- Get around in style on a Bush to Beach Buggy Tour.
- Walk amongst the butterflies at the Coffs Coast Butterfly House.
- Paddle a couple of kayaks through the Bongil Bongil National Park.
- Get your motor running at F1 kart Hire or Raleigh International Raceway.
- Watch the whales from Woolgoolga Whale Watch Headland.
- Explore the unspoiled beaches and marine attractions of the Solitary Marine Park.
- Get on your bikes to cycle down Waterfall Way.
- Kayak through the Gondwana hinterland.
Things to do in Coffs Coast with…
Take your tots to one of the dozens of beaches that are safely patrolled by lifeguards during the swimming season for sand, sea and sunshine.
Enjoy a slice of The Netherlands in the heart of Coffs Harbour with clog making demonstrations and a miniature Dutch village with working railway at the Clog Barn.
The Big Banana offers fun for little ones with a kids Aqua Play area, 36 hole Mini-Golf course and an ice rink with strap on skates available for children two-years, along with ice chairs. Don’t miss tasting one of the delicious chocolate coated frozen bananas, and for more sweet delights enter the sugary sweet world of The Coffs Candy Kitchen.
If you want to keep the little ones out of the sun, Jungle Bungle is an awesome indoor play centre with climbing frames, ball pits, slides and a dedicated toddler and baby area.
Animal lovers will love Coffs Coast, with opportunities galore to spot critters in their natural environment and at some of the many family attractions. Climb aboard a camel for a sunset tour along the golden sands of Boambee Beach. Get friendly with the fluttering beauties at the Coffs Harbour Butterfly House, Maze and Tearooms, home to hundreds of Australian butterflies you can identify with the supplied colour identification chart.
At Dolphin Marine Magic you’ll find incredible dolphin and seal swimming encounters including the opportunity to swim with dolphins and pucker up for a kiss with the friendly seals. If you’d rather see marine animals in their natural environment, Coffs Coast whale watching season runs from early May till around late November and visitors can spot the gentle giants from Woolgoolga Whale Watch Headland, Muttonbird Island and Sawtell, or watch the whales up close on a whale-watching cruises.
Whether you prefer to find your fun at the beach or in the bush, Coffs Coast delivers. Swim, surf, snorkel or paddle your way along Coffs’ string of 32 golden beaches, many of which are patrolled for safe swimming. Alternately you can take the one hour drive from Coffs Harbour to the breathtaking Dorrigo National Park, one of Australia’s most accessible World Heritage rainforests. The park’s Rainforest Centre is the place for kids to learn about the native flora and fauna that calls the subtropical rainforest home. There are various walking trails that cater for all fitness levels including a walk with the Birds boardwalk where you can observe some of the 150-bird species found in Dorrigo. Or take a stroll along the Skywalk walkway, a 70-metre boardwalk that stretches out over the edge of the escarpment 21 metres above the rainforest. And for something completely different, go fossicking for precious stones at the Pacific Fossicking Sapphire Centre.
Action loving teens have plenty of adrenaline packed adventures to choose from. Hire a go-kart and put the pedal to the metal at F1 kart Hire or Raleigh International Raceway. If you prefer to get your thrills on two-wheels, take a guided downhill mountain bike tour in Dorrigo National Park’s Waterfall Way. Get off road at Boambee Beach and into the rainforest with a Beach to Bush Buggy Tour. Take an Eco tour by kayak, stand up paddle board through the beautiful Gondwana hinterland of Coffs Coast. Explore the colourful underwater world of the Solitary Islands Marine Park with diving courses available for teenagers at Jetty Dive Centre.
Take to the skies on a helicopter joy flight for views of the stunning coastline. Those aged 12 and over can take a flying leap out of a plane on a tandem skydive with Coffs Skydivers.
Best time to visit Coffs Coast as a family
The Coffs Coast’s subtropical year-round climate means that it’s a great place to visit any time of the year.
Summers can be hot and a little humid so make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen and slip, slop, slap even on overcast days. Autumn can be rainy but that keeps the region lush and lovely. Winter is great for whale watching and while you may still want to take a dip or hit the surf, you’ll need to bring a wetsuit. Spring is one of the best times to visit with warm weather, minimal rain, thriving wildlife and loads of family friendly festivals and events.
You’ll find an increase in pricing and crowds during school holiday periods and on long weekends, so you will need to book well ahead, especially during the first two weeks of the New Year which is the busiest time.
Family-friendly places to eat in Coffs Coast
The Coffs Coast does family friendly food well with fresh produce from the Tableland pastures including berries, bananas, mangoes, avocados and macadamias grown in the region’s rich volcanic soils, the best beef and dairy and incredible fresh seafood plucked straight from the Pacific Ocean. The fantastic produce is showcased at local farmers markets and delicious annual events like the Sawtell Chilli Festival and Woolgoolga Curryfest, which is a celebration of the area’s Punjabi heritage.
The Seaview Tavern is popular with families not only for its great kids’ menu, but its jumping castle and views. Coffs Harbour Fisherman’s Co-op is the spot for fresh seafood and fish and chips. Bellingen is renowned for its thriving café culture. One of the best is The Old Butter Factory Café, which offers great food and a welcoming atmosphere for kids.
And what kid would pass up the offer of a frozen chocolate dipped banana at the Big Banana.
Things to do for free in Coffs Coast
- There’s no shortage of free stuff to see, visit and do on the Coffs Coast. Coff’s 90km of sandy beaches are a great place to start with a choice of everything from gnarly surf beaches like Macauley’s and Diggers Beach to sheltered options like Jetty Beach for younger kids.
- The North Coast Regional Botanic Gardens, located alongside Coffs Harbour Creek, is home to rare and endangered Australian species and has plenty of space for kids to run wild. Muttonbird Island, joined to the mainland by a 600-metre causeway, is home to a colony of wedge-tailed shearwaters. Follow the path up the hill to viewpoints for amazing 360-degree ocean views and head to the Eastern Side Lookout to spot whales during the migration season. Or join a free guided tour with Coffs Ambassador Tours to discover some of Coffs’ best kept secrets from local insiders.