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If the Sydney hustle and bustle is getting too much, the picturesque coastal town of The Entrance up at Central Coast NSW makes an ideal destination for a weekend away. Only an hour and a half’s drive north of Sydney and situated where Lake Tuggerah meets the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, The Entrance makes a great base to explore from.
With coastal walks, parkland and beautiful beaches such as Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, I found plenty in the area to keep me occupied. So whether you’re thinking of heading up there on a short trip from Sydney, or you’re passing through on an East Coast road trip from Brisbane, here’s my guide on what to do in and around The Entrance, from Avoca Beach up to Norah Head.
How to Get to The Entrance
The distance from Sydney to The Entrance is only 100km, so the 90-minute drive up the M1 is an easy journey to make for a weekend away.
Alternatively, you can also get up there in two and a half hours on public transport. Just get the train to Gosford and hop on the number 21 bus. Plan your journey on the NSW Trip Planner.
The Entrance Beach
The Entrance Beach is the main attraction of the town, and it’s not just any old NSW beach; the turquoise water snaking in from the ocean forming the entrance of Lake Tuggerah looks really spectacular as it swirls around the sand at The Entrance North. It’s clear how the area got its name!
Take a stroll south down Marine Parade, and you’ll see plenty of fishermen, dog walkers, locals and tourists enjoying The Entrance Beach.
At the very end you’ll find The Entrance Ocean Baths where you can swim with a view.
The Entrance Shops and Restaurants
Head to The Entrance Road to find the main shopping area, which is a decent size, although nothing special to look at. There’s a Coles supermarket, the usual array of banks and takeaways, and The Entrance cinema if you fancy a movie.
The northern end of the street takes you past Memorial Park, where you’ll find a few children’s fairground rides and waterfront eateries.
The Entrance Pelican Feeding
You’ll see many, many pelicans at The Entrance! And if you want to get up close and personal, the daily pelican feeding takes place at 3:30pm on the waterfront at Memorial Park. Just don’t stand up and block everyone’s view, or you’ll get a good telling off!
Keep following the The Entrance Road north-west along the waterfront, and you’ll come to Lake Tuggerah. The park area here (Picnic Point Reserve) is really pretty and peaceful, with barbecues, picnic tables, toilets and of course, more pelicans!
Head to the parking area opposite Manning Street to find the facilities. The view of the lake is mostly blocked by trees further south of here. I didn’t get to see Lake Tuggerah at sunset, but as you’ll be facing west from here I’d imagine it would look pretty special!
The Entrance Accommodation
If you’re looking for backpacker accommodation, I stayed at The Entrance Backpackers, which is next to The Entrance cinema on the main street in town.
It was quiet, clean and well-located, so I’d recommend it if you’re travelling on a budget. Click below to make a booking.
To browse through over 80 accommodation option on the Central Coast, follow the link below:
Places to See Near The Entrance
With its decent-sized shopping area and close proximity to the beach, The Entrance makes a great base to explore the northern area of Central Coast NSW. However, there’s plenty more to see up and down the coast. Here are some of my recommended places to visit.
If you’ve made it this far up the Central Coast, it’s definitely worth a visit to Norah Head. Drive north across the bridge over the channel, pass through The Entrance North and Wyrrabalong, and you’ll reach Norah Head.
Park by The Ark Cafe on Bush Street and you won’t miss the path down to the beach.
You’ll find a rock pool (check the tides as there’s no water in it when the tide goes out!) and a beautiful beach.
Walk south across the sand, and you’ll see Norah Head Lighthouse and lots of interesting rock formations.
If you want a closer look at the lighthouse, you can either drive there or follow the 800m nature trail that starts in the little reserve next to The Ark.
Blue Bay & Toowoon Bay
Heading south from The Entrance, you’ll soon come to beautiful Blue Bay where you can sit and watch the surfers do their thing.
If the waves are too big for your taste, walk south across the sand, and you’ll find calmer water at neighbouring Toowoon Bay. You can even tuck yourself into the dunes to keep out of the wind.
The next beach down is large and rugged Shelly Beach, backed by sand dunes and also popular with surfers.
Bateau Beach to Crackneck Lookout Walk
Continuing south takes you to Bateau Beach, where you’ll find plenty of space as well as start of the short and easy walk to Crackneck lookout.
To join the walk, start at the carpark at the northern end of Bateau Beach, and climb down the path to the beach. Walk south across the sand until you reach the steps next to the steep ramp at the back of the beach.
Climb up the steps and you’ll see the sign for The Coast Track at the top. From here it’s only 1.3km through the pretty woodland to Crackneck lookout, where you’ll be rewarded with great views up the coast.
If you’re looking for a bit more nightlife on your trip to the Central Coast, it’s only a 25-minute drive down to Terrigal, where you’ll find bars, restaurants and a bit more going on than at The Entrance.
I also had a quick look at Avoca Beach on my way home, since I’d heard nothing but good things about it. It seemed much quieter than nearby Terrigal, but huge and picturesque.
To read about the southern end of the Central Coast, which lies a bit closer to Sydney, check out this blog post:
For more ideas for great weekend or day trips from Sydney, read my top recommendations here:
And if you’re lucky enough to be passing through the Central Coast on an East Coast road trip, make sure you read my drive itinerary, which includes costs, distances and the best drive stops:
Enjoy your getaway!