Just 90 minutes’ drive north of Sydney, the Central Coast is blessed with many natural wonders, from beautiful beaches to tranquil lakes and lagoons. Make the most the picturesque coast line, with a mix of activities on and under the water – that will leave you feeling reinvigorated.
Splash out with the family
In the warmer months, people of all ages descend on Central Coast Aqua Park in Gosford, the gateway to the Central Coast, to take on its inflatable water obstacles. The young, and young at heart, can slide, climb, swing and jump in the ultimate aquatic playground under the supervision of trained lifeguards. Sessions should be booked ahead, and the minimum age is five years.
For all kinds of paddling fun, visit Aquafun on Avoca Lake, which hires out a range of pedal-boats, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, all perfect for exploring this lovely lagoon in the heart of beachside Avoca village. Groups can even tackle the new giant stand-up paddleboard. The lagoon is overflowing with fish and birdlife, as well as a colony of endangered frogs.
Seek out some adventure
In 2011, the decommissioned navy frigate HMAS Adelaide was scuttled not far off the beach at Terrigal, forming an artificial reef. A decade on, the wreck is home to an extensive amount of marine life. Pro Dive Central Coast conducts dives here — it’s just one of 429 dive sites the company can take you to.
At Mt Penang Gardens, just west of Gosford, you can reach for the stars, courtesy of Jetpack Adventures. You can fly a jetpack or a flyboard — or both — and take off from Jetpack Lake. Even kids over 10 years and over 35 kilograms can have a go. Afterwards, browse around the beautiful gardens and refuel at the Waterfall Cafe.
Central Coast Reef & Game Fishing Charters makes sure fish is on the menu by offering reef and game-fishing trips. Operating from Terrigal, a modern 11m vessel whisks hopeful anglers to various popular areas for reef fish, or more serious game fishers out to the deep to challenge sport fish such as marlin, albacore and yellowfin tuna.
Get in the swim
Any Central Coast holiday should include a beach visit — and there are more than 40 to choose from, with 15 of them patrolled, so there’s a perfect spot to suit everyone. Families will seek out Copacabana, Avoca, Ettalong or Toowoon Bay, while surfers will wax lyrical about Tallow, Terrigal, Soldiers and Pelican beaches. Sign up for surf coaching with Central Coast Surf Academy, which takes kids and women’s groups as well as giving tips to advanced surfers.
If ocean pools are more your style, head for The Entrance at the northern end of the Central Coast. The Grant McBride Baths (formerly known as Entrance Ocean Baths) are heritage-listed, with the 50m lap pool, 22m pool and children’s wading pool all built between 1938 and 1965. You’ll find smaller pools at Pearl Beach and Macmasters Beach.
Wine and dine on the water
On your way to the Central Coast, book in for an oyster experience with Mooney Mooney Oyster Farm Tours (formerly Sydney Oyster Farm Tours) in the small fishing village of Brooklyn, around a 50-minute drive from Sydney. All the tours include a boat ride out to the oyster leases in Broken Bay. Visitors can also don waders to walk in the leases, learn to shuck the oysters and taste them in the very waters in which they grew.
Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures conducts guided kayaking tours complemented by spectacular scenery. Opt for the 2.5-hour Eco-Kayak tour on pretty Popran Creek or the five-hour Wine and Seafood Kayak tour on Brisbane Water and Woy Woy Bay. The latter adventure covers 10km and leads you through oyster farms and past a pelican breeding ground before you stop for a delicious seafood lunch on a secluded beach. For those who prefer paddling at their own pace, you can hire kayaks and stand-up paddleboards and go exploring.
Sitting on the deck of a beautiful yacht at sunset, wine in hand, is hard to top. That’s just one of the options available via Hardy’s Bay Yacht Charters at Killcare bordering Bouddi National Park at the southern end of the Central Coast. Charter the luxury 11m Bavaria cruising yacht, or the bigger 14m catamaran, for a range of packages that cater for everyone from beginners to experienced sailors. Choose a sunset cruise, a Sail, Bush Walk and Lunch day trip or a romantic overnight package for one or two nights. With a professional skipper on board, your job is simply to relax and enjoy the ride. Optional water transfers are available to Killcare from Ettalong, Woy Woy, Saratoga and Gosford.