Things to do in Ettalong Beach: A Central Coast Getaway

Escaping Sydney for a weekend at Ettalong Beach is the perfect way to relax and refresh. It is also so easy you will wonder why you have not done it before. I made my first visit to Ettalong Beach when I was back in primary school and it’s be a regular spot on our weekend getaway rotation every since. I recently spent a few days at the Ettalong Beach’s Mantra Hotel and share why we got up to and why I still think this is a great Sydney getaway.

Ettalong Beach Central Coast

Just 80km north of Sydney’s CBD is a little piece of paradise known as the NSW Central Coast. The fact that it can be easily reached by car or train in under 1.5 hrs makes it ideal for a short getaway.

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Why You Should Plan a Central Coast Getaway

Let’s just go over a few reasons this part of NSW should be on your radar:

  • Proximity to Sydney – you don’t spend hours of your precious short break getting there
  • There is plenty here to keep you busy for days, or you can just sit and watch the world go by
  • The area is surrounded by national parks perfect for exploring on foot
  • There are dozens of beaches and miles of pristine waterways without the Sydney crowds.
  • There is a great range of accommodations available for all budgets from caravan parks and campgrounds to resorts to vacation rentals.

We are not quite ready to retire and move to the coast just yet, but we have bought a place to move to sometime later in the decade. We recently returned for a weekend getaway just for practice 😉

We based ourselves in Ettalong this time and found plenty to love about the area. Here’s how it all went down.

8 am Friday – Depart Sydney

The first stop of the morning for a desperately needed coffee was at Brooklyn just opposite the Hawkesbury River Marina.

Brooklyn is a favourite day trip spot and the boarding spot for the famous Riverboat Postman Tour. A trip on the mail run is a day out on its own and we enjoyed it.

Brooklyn NSW Marina
Brooklyn Marina

It’s a great spot to stretch your legs and take in the views of the Hawkesbury River

After 30 mins we were back on the road headed to the Woy Woy Peninsular and Ettalong Beach

Friday Midday – Arrive at Ettalong

We decided to stay at the Mantra at Ettalong based on the photos I had seen of the generously sized balconies overlooking Brisbane Water. I could see myself sitting back in gazing out at the view for hours. The resort offers studios, and one and two-bedroom apartments.

Mantra Ettalong
Our Balcony at Ettalong Beach Mantra

The apartments are well set up with two balconies, and a living/dining room – they would be perfectly comfortable for a week’s stay – if only!

Mantra Ettalong Beach weekend getaway
Plenty of space for a short stay

The sofa was not so comfy, but that was the only criticism. The small but functional kitchen was quickly stocked up with plenty of nibbles from the local shops just a few minutes walk away.

Ettalong Beach Weekend getaway kitchen
everything you need to prepare basic meals

The apartments sit on top of the Ettalong Diggers Club and feature an enormous swimming pool. It was not swimming weather on our visit, but I can imagine it gets pretty busy at the height of summer.

Mantra Ettalong Beach Pool
The large swimming pool is a key reason to stay

We spent most of the day checking out the local shops and the award-winning meat pies from Bremen Patisserie in Umina. Highly recommend getting yourself one of those!

Ettalong is an indigenous word said to mean a place for drinking

Friday night we ended up downstairs at the local club rather than venturing further – it was just too convenient. We spent a few hours singing along poorly to a 90s cover band 🙂 but we had a great time.


Saturday morning we were up nice and early and off for a morning walk along Umina Beach.

Umina Beach Central Coast weekend away
Umina Beach

We worked up an appetite so decided on local favourite Jasmines in the park behind the beach for some sustenance.

Breakfast at Jasmines in Umina
Breakfast at Jasmine’s Umina Beach

After breakfast, we headed decided to explore a little more on foot and took an easy stroll to the Mount Ettalong Lookout.

the view from Mount Ettalong on the central coast
Mount Ettalong Walk is worth the effort, although you can drive right up
Mount Ettalong and Pearl Beach lookout
Pearl Beach

Then it was back to the car for a short drive around Patonga Beach where you can join the Great North Walk track. It’s only 77 km back to Sydney if you are up for it!

Signage of the Great North Walk trackhead at Patonga
Up for a challenge?

We spent the afternoon snoozing and enjoying our balcony and being pretty lazy before the hues of pink that were taking over the sky convinced us a sunset walk along the Esplanade at Ettalong was in order.

The perfect central coast getaway sunset delivered
An Ettalong sunset

We cased out the local restaurants on the way back – there are several to choose from and settled on Safran a Turkish restaurant just a few minutes from our apartment. The meal was great, but the photos I took were not so much 😉 I decided not to post them here so as not to do a disservice to the restaurant.

Sunday Morning

Check-out was at 10 am so we packed up and went in search of breakfast on the way home. We had heard really good things about Killcare and Hardy’s Bay just across the other side of the water, so we headed to check it out for our next escape.

Breakfast at The Fat Goose at Killcare was delicious, and there was also a great-looking cafe on the beach. It looks like we have a new spot to check out next time we head up this way.

11 More Things to Do on a Weekend Based in Ettalong

If you are looking for more things to do on the Central Coast add a couple of these.

  • Visit the secret gem – Bouddi National Park, and do one of the walks there.
  • Take the 30 min ride to Palm Beach on the Ettalong to Palm Beach ferry.
  • Shop all things new-age at Gnostic Corner
  • Eat fish and chips at the wharf at Woy Woy and watch the Pelican feeding at 3.30 pm each day.
  • Have breakfast at The Box at Ettalong
  • Check out the view of Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River from Warrah Lookout.
  • Check out the Aboriginal engravings near Staples Lookout or Bulgandry Aboriginal art site.
  • Rent a boat or Kayak from Anderson’s at Booker Bay and get out on the water
  • Visit Somersby Falls and have a picnic at the bottom of the waterfall.
  • Take the 3km hike from Pearl Beach to Patonga
  • Do one of the many beautiful Central Coast walks.

We discovered enough things to do on the Central Coast that we published an entire list for you to work through. You will be busy for a week or more.

Did you know?
Have you heard of Bungaree? He was a local man who became one of the most prominent people of the early settlement of New South Wales. He was one of the first Indigenous people to learn English and befriended the early governors Phillip, King and Macquarie.[7] Macquarie later declared Bungaree “The King of the Broken Bay Tribes.”

Don’t have a car? 
You can still make this trip – with a few minor adjustments. Take the train from Central Station to Woy Woy Station – jump on the bus or in a taxi to Ettalong.

Want to see more of the NSW Coast?

I highly recommend driving a couple of hours further north and exploring Newcastle, Port Stephens and Forster for a few days.

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