After an amazing time in Yamba, we ventured onto the vibrant town of Coffs Harbour. Even though I grew up nearby in Port Macquarie, I hadn't spent a lot of time in the region, so it was great to explore more of my backyard as a tourist. We were so pleasantly surprised with how much this coastal town had to offer - from stunning walks and adventure activities through to pristine beaches and modern restaurants.
Almost halfway between Brisbane and Sydney, the region is home to NSW's largest marine reserve. This brings all sorts of wonderful sea life close to the shore making it an ideal spot for diving and water activities.
We spent two nights at the YHA in Coffs Harbour, take a look at what we got up to..
Coffs Harbour YHA
This purpose-built YHA is ideally located, just down the road from the beaches, marina, shops and jetty precinct. From the moment we arrived, we were welcomed with a friendly smile and very helpful staff at reception. We knew it was going to be an enjoyable stay from the get-go.
There are a number of different accommodation types available, from multi share, double/twins through to family rooms. We were lucky enough to have a spacious double room with ensuite. The rooms are clean and very comfortable.
There is free Wi-Fi available downstairs – we spent a lot of time in the communal lounge, catching up on the news, writing about our action-packed days and chatting to other travellers.
There is also a nice outdoor area beside the pool, perfect for soaking up the afternoon sun.
The YHA is handy for travellers of all kinds, with the train station just 500m away, the coach terminal 2km away and a secure car park out the back of the hostel.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here and would highly recommend travellers include a stop off in Coffs Harbour in their itinerary – it exceeded our expectations and we left with some incredible memories.
Coffs City Skydivers
Why not make your journey along The Legendary Pacific Coast one to truly remember by adding in a once-in-a-lifetime experience along the way.
From the moment you arrive at the Coffs City Skydivers office, reality sets in and a complete wash of fear runs over you. Although after and seeing other passengers arrive back from their jump, with smiles from ear to ear, the excitement began kicking in.
I read a poster on the wall, ‘On the other side of fear is freedom’, which was the perfect amount of inspiration I needed for the journey I was about to embark on.
(Captured on GoPro)
We kitted up in our harness and got a run down from our instructors before heading out to the plane. Seven of us piled into the plane and before we knew it we were off the ground. I personally think the next few minutes of circling our way up to 12,000 ft above Coffs Harbour was the scariest part of the journey, I don’t enjoy small planes so it was a brilliant way to get me amped – I couldn’t wait to get out of there!
(Captured on GoPro)
As we reached altitude, the door opened – there was no backing out now. Our cameraman just casually slid out of the doorway and hung onto the outside of the plane while we scooted over to the edge. My feet were dangling in the air as we were flying 12,000 ft above the earth. I tilted my head back and next thing, we were flying through the sky at speeds of over 200km per hour!
(Captured on GoPro)
This unbelievable feeling lasted for around 45 seconds which was plenty of time to be able to take in the experience and do some cool maneuvers with our cameraman. He flew over to us and grabbed my hands and we got to spin around in what felt like slow motion. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!
(Captured on GoPro)
We were then about to embark on an entirely new adventure, as it was time for the parachute to open. The rush was still in full force, and it wasn’t until my instructor Lawrence told me to hold out my arms and close my eyes that I could appreciate the closest feeling to flying. The views were unreal, looking out over the golden sands and turquoise waters of Coffs Harbour’s finest beaches.
Lawrence pointed out points of interest in the environment below and we spiraled around in the air a few times before it was time to come in to land on the beach. It was such a scenic landing and the perfect end to a flawless experience! The team had a bottle of water waiting for us which was very much needed after all the action of freefalling and gliding back down to earth. The rush lasted for the entire day, and it was crazy to think that as we continued our journey along The Legendary Pacific Coast, I had actually jumped out of a plane earlier that morning!
To all of you who are now adding ‘Skydiving over Coffs Harbour’ to your bucket list, I highly recommend paying the extra money and getting a freefall photographer to jump with you + handy cam photo/video. The perspective they both capture is amazing and will support the memory engrained in your mind that will last a lifetime.
The team at Coffs City Skydivers run an impeccable operation and I felt more than safe putting my life in their hands. It’s safe to say that I ‘found the freedom’ on the other side of my fear, and left Coffs Harbour with unforgettable memories and a huge smile on my face!
The Big Banana
Australia is well known for having a heap of 'big' landmarks and The Big Banana certainly heads the lineup.
With origins dating back to 1964, it's quite possibly Australia's first 'big' thing and as a place we'd both visited many years ago, it certainly proved to have undergone some significant redevelopment.
The real uniqueness of The Big Banana is its fusion of its theme park style activities set amongst a genuine Aussie Banana plantation, making it a great place to break up a lengthy road trip for just one activity or as a destination in itself, where you could easily spend the better part of a day taking in the various thrills on offer as well as enjoying a tasty meal in the restaurant.
We stopped in to reminisce on visits we'd made years ago and top of the list was to burst down the toboggan, something we gave not one, but two goes.
(Captured on GoPro)
As it was a warm autumn after on we looked over toward the newly redeveloped waterpark and before we knew it we were standing at the top of a waterslide plunging down on an inflatable raft.
(Captured on GoPro)
We didn't have a lot more time so we finished up with a delicious meal in the restaurant and gave the mandatory 'Frozen Chocolate Coated Banana' a go - and man, they are a winner!
All-in-all The Big Banana is a great spot to visit for families or independent travellers just passing through. It’s such an iconic piece of the regions history, and we had a blast visiting it once again.
A1 Coffs Coast Tours
Shortly after arriving in Coffs Harbour, it was time to get geared up for my Harley Davidson touring experience with A1 Coffs Coast Tours.
We could hear the sound of the Harley roaring down the road as it approached our YHA. We then met Laarz, my professional Harley chauffer who was about to help me explore the Coffs Coast and foothills of the Great Dividing Range.
He introduced us to the bike and briefed us on the exciting experience that was ahead of us. They provided a helmet and jacket (and gloves if you choose). I could also take along my DSLR, kept safe in the bag on the back, while keeping my GoPro with me for the ride.
(Captured on GoPro)
As we took off, I was surprised how smooth and comfortable it was on the bike. We left the town for the highway and headed up through the rainforest toward Sealy Lookout. We were able to stop for a moment and take a walk on the Forest Sky Pier where we could look out over panoramic views of Coffs Harbour, down to Smoky Cape and inland toward Dorrigo National Park.
Laarz was highlighting points of interest along the way through the two-way headset installed in the helmets.
We then headed out toward Bucca and discovered the green paddocks and blueberry farms thriving in the region. It was a great feeling being able to sit back and truly take in the sights and sounds as we motored past.
The final leg of the journey was a ride along the beaches and through the jetty precinct. It was a brilliant way to develop an understanding of the region, and be able to place where things were. This set us up for the rest of our stay in Coffs Harbour, and allowed us to identify where we wanted to return to.
Being a pillion passenger on this Harley Davidson experience was a big tick of my bucket list and a luxury way to explore the local region. This would be an ideal gift for a loved one, and age is certainly no limit – with a 104 year old even joining the team for a ride.
It’s safe to say I have found a new appreciation for Harley Davidsons, and would recommend the experience while visiting Coffs Harbour on your journey along The Legendary Pacific Coast.
When a perfect dining spot is matched with a picturesque ocean setting with waves washing up against a break wall you know you’ve uncovered something special – one of Coffs Harbour’s finest dining experiences.
After an afternoon riding through the hinterland on a Harley Davidson, and exploring the harbour, its wonderful jetty, the marina and local beaches we’d worked up a good appetite. Being on the coast, we were lavishing for the taste of the sea, so we headed down the break wall and checked in for dinner at Latitude 30.
We opted for a table outside on the deck, beside the break wall as it was a warm autumn evening and the view of the coast was just too good to pass up. It was a perfect evening with the moon rising and many a diner as captivated by the setting as we were – often leaving the table to sneak in a shot of the pale moon sky.
The owner and head chef Marcus came to introduce himself to us and shared with us a wonderful story where he recounted his long history with the region and more specifically the restaurant, a place he had once worked and dreamed at personally running himself one day.
After checking out vast dining options on the menu and debating whether to share some tasty sounding tapas, we settled on a seafood platter with the most mouth-watering selection of locally sourced food fresh from the ocean.
The platter was filled with flavoursome oysters, crab, prawns, smoked salmon and perfected with Balmain Bugs and lobster. Of course there’s nothing nicer than complimenting a great selection of seafood than with a great New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Just as we thought the meal couldn’t be any finer we finished with the ‘Latitude Chocolate Assiette’, a chocolate tasting plate with a selection of dark chocolate pote, white chocolate delice, dark chocolate tart, white chocolate frangelico truffle and dark chocolate swirl.
Latitude 30 is not only one of Coffs Harbours finest dining spots, but it has to have been one of the best we’ve experienced in Australasia – without doubt 5 star. Knowing the story about its origins and resulting in a dream set in motion, it is very evident Marcus and his team invest pure passion and energy into delivering the perfect seafood dining experience.
Fiasco Ristorante & Bar
Located just a short walk from the YHA Coffs Harbour, lies an authentic little slice of Italy, a place where head chef Stefano Mazzina and his team transform locally sourced produce into traditional dishes from a selection of family recipes, all set in a friendly and relaxed setting.
It not hard to see why Fiasco's simple but exquisite approach to food, matched with incredibly warm service has had the restaurant hold a place on the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide every year since 2008.
Fiasco is said to have one of the most comprehensive wine lists to choose from in the region and that sure proved to be the case when we deliberated on a good glass of vino to go with our meal.
We started our evening off with a glass of Hunter Valley ‘Tyrrells’ blend, a recommendation given to us by one of the wait staff looking after us, between sharing with us his story of where in Italy he originated and how he now made the Coffs region home.
It turned out to be a great wine choice and not one we’d have stumbled upon ourselves.
We were just after a light meal, so opted for a ‘Zucca E Zola’ Wood Fired Pizza with Pumpkin, mozzarella, English spinach, rosemary, radicchio & creamy blue cheese together with a ‘Pansanella’, a classic Tuscan salad with a selection of fresh salad ingredients and flavoured with fresh basil.
Fiasco certainly lived up to its reputation and most memorable of our dining experience was the way in which it was delivered – with the warmth and care you’d expect to possibly find only when visiting a family in the heart of a little Tuscan village.
Next up, we head to the charming little town of Bellingen and the neighbouring Dorrigo National Park...