The picturesque enclaves nestled in the southernmost end of the Central Coast is the perfect answer. Grab a bite to eat at The Boathouse in Palm Beach before jumping aboard the ferry and leave the stress of Sydney in your wake. Steam past Lion Island across the dramatic coastline of Broken Bay and you’ll have found the little enclave of the South Eastern Central Coast.
We recommend the 3pm Friday afternoon service to Ettalong ensuring arrival in good time for settling into your accommodations and relaxing libations.
Ettalong is a thriving beachfront town with plenty on offer for those looking for a Sydney escape.
The protected Ettalong Beach stretches from Umina to Booker Bay. The 7.5-kilometre foreshore path is the perfect route to notch up your jogging miles, while the Putt Putt to Putty ride offers a picturesque ride for the avid cyclist.
Ettalong Markets are open every weekend from 9am to 4pm and with over 70 stores you’ll be needing a recovery snack from one of the five cafes or 11 restaurants.
Anderson’s Boatshed hires out boats and kayaks – the stunning waters behind Box Head are well worth a visit.
The Box on the Water on Ettalong’s beachfront is a beloved institution. With contemporary aesthetics paired with panoramic views across to Box Head and Pittwater, The Box on the Water has become the place to be for a sneaky seafood tasting plate ($19) or fresh prawns ($19).
Outstanding cocktails are on the agenda at Bar Toto with classics and signature house creations lovingly served up for thirsty patrons.
If you’re ready for some snacks Gusto Tapas Bar & Lounge just down the road is the answer for moreish nibbles; chorizo braised in white wine ($14) or a Romesco mussel hotpot ($16) will keep appetites at bay over a cocktail or two, but if the night progresses we’d partake in a paella for two ($49) without question.
Give your dinner a chance to digest with a movie session at Ettalong’s quaint Cinema Paradiso with each of the six theatres decorated in a mix of themes. If you’re not ready for bed, head down to the Ettalong Diggers for a nightcap.
Stay: The Quintessential Holiday Home (pictured below) at Killcare
Wagstaff, Pretty Beach & Box Head
Disembark from the ferry at Wagstaff, because here you will be ensconced by the lush greenery of the Bouddi National Park, where there are countless bushwalks and paths to discover all within close reach the sandy shores.
To stock up on supplies, the Wagstaff Newsagency and General Store is the core of the sleepy town, providing groceries and takeaway fish and chips.
For bushwalking trails, we recommend the 3-kilometre Box Head Track. Start at Hawke Head Drive and follows the southernmost ridge of the National Park for unparalleled views over Broken Bay, Lion Island and the Hawkesbury River.
Tallow Beach is a must visit, with only six camping spots available at any one time the place is a haven of tranquillity. Little Tallow Beach just around the corner is a secluded little beach just begging for a picnic.
The protected Pretty Beach on Brisbane Waters is a popular destination for boaties who’ve escaped for the weekend and in need of safe mooring. The calm water also makes for perfect child-friendly swim spots.
Lobster Beach up near Pretty Beach is the local’s favourite, with a southern aspect and much easier to access from Pretty Beach and Wagstaff.
Stay: Castaway at Wagstaffe (pictured below)
Killcare & Hardy’s Bay
For the foodies, Killcare and Hardys Bay is a veritable treasure trove; authentic beachside charm with fresh produce and award-winning dining. A short taxi ride from the Wagstaff ferry stop will take you straight to Killcare town centre at the tip of the Bouddi Peninsula where you’ll settle into the slow-paced lifestyle of the Central Coast.
Start your day with a full Beached Whale breaky ($22.50) or corn fritters with crispy pancetta ($13.50) at The Fat Goose in Hardys Bay before heading over to check out Moochinside around the corner. The gallery and showroom bring together clothing, unique gifts and wonderful designs while The Bouddi Gallery trades art, crafts and homewares produced by Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.
Set just back from the waters of Hardys Bay, is Hardys Bistro. Boasting spectacular views and a fuss-free, delicious classic menu, with the ploughman’s plate ($16), calamari ($17) and beer-battered fish ($22) are strong favourites.
Once you’ve had your fill, head east over the peninsula and settle in for an afternoon on Killcare Beach. The southern end is patrolled and the swell is loved by local surfers and further north you’ll find Putty Beach, adored for it’s teeming rock pools and golden sandstone coastal cliffs.
If you’re in need of a little pampering, the Day Spa Retreat at Bells has you covered. The Hampton’s inspired retreat is an impeccably appointed haven for you to unwind while letting the experienced beauty and massage therapists work their magic…hello Blueberry Facial. Complete the day with a decadent dinner at their award-winning restaurant. The Italian inspired menu focuses on fresh, seasonal produce, much of which is grown onsite in the sprawling kitchen garden. The signature five-course degustation is just $120 a head plus wine.
Stay: Apartment with ultimate views in Hardy’s Bay (pictured below)
For more destination guides and local travel inspiration, head to Sitchu.