This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

If the Sydney hustle and bustle is getting too much, the picturesque coastal town of The Entrance, NSW makes the perfect weekend getaway from Sydney.

With coastal walks, parkland and beautiful beaches, such as Shelly Beach and Bateau Bay, The Entrance plenty of things to do for all ages. Plus, it’s only a 1.5-hour drive north from Sydney, up on the Central Coast.

The location, where Lake Tuggerah meets the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, is absolutely stunning. So, if you’re planning a NSW escape, here’s my guide on the top things to do at The Entrance, including the surrounding area 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!

The Entrance Beach.
The Entrance Beach looking across to The Entrance North

Take a stroll south down Marine Parade, and you’ll see plenty of fishermen, dog walkers, locals and tourists enjoying The Entrance Beach.

The Entrance scenery.

At the very end you’ll find The Entrance Ocean Baths where you can swim with a view.

The Entrance ocean baths.
The Entrance Ocean Baths

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 restaurants by the water.
Waterside restaurants at The Entrance

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!

Pelican feeding at The Entrance.
Daily pelican feeding at Memorial Park
Pelicans swimming at The Entrance.

Lake Tuggerah

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!

Picnic Point, The Entrance.
Picnic Point Reserve at Lake Tuggerah

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!

Pelicans at The Entrance.
Pelicans hangin’ out at Lake Tuggerah

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.

To browse through over accommodation options on the Central Coast, check out Hotels Combined. The compare prices for each hotel on all the major booking sites, to make sure you get the best price.

The Entrance Backpackers, NSW.
The Entrance Backpackers

Norah Head

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.

The Ark cafe, Norah Head.
The Ark at Norah Head

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.

Rock Pool at Norah Head Beach.
Rock pool at Norah Head Beach

Walk south across the sand, and you’ll see Norah Head Lighthouse and lots of interesting rock formations.

Crashing waves at Norah Head Beach.
Walking along Norah Head Beach
Central Coast New South Wales.

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.

Walk to Norah Head lighthouse, NSW.
Norah Head nature trail leading to the lighthouse
Norah Head Lighthouse.
Norah Head Lighthouse

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.

Blue Bay, NSW.
Blue Bay
Surfers at Blue Bay.
Surfers at Blue Bay

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.

Gorgeous Toowoon Bay, New South Wales.
Calm waves at Toowoon Bay

Shelly Beach

The next beach down is large and rugged Shelly Beach, backed by sand dunes and also popular with surfers.

Rugged Shelly Beach, Australia.
Long and rugged Shelly Beach
Surfers at Shelly Beach, Central Coast, NSW.
Surfers at Shelly Beach

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.

Walkers on Bateau Beach.
Bateau Beach

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.

Crackneck lookout walking track.
Ramp and steps to the Crackneck lookout walking track

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.

Hike to Crackneck lookout, NSW.
Walking track to Crackneck lookout
Coastline from Crackneck lookout, NSW.
Beautiful view from Crackneck lookout

Terrigal Beach

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.

Restaurants at Terrigal, Australia.
Terrigal restaurants and shops
A cloudy day at Terrigal Beach.
Terrigal Beach

Avoca Beach

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.

Waves at Avoca Beach, Central Coast.
Avoca Beach
Beautiful Avoca Beach, NSW.
North Avoca Beach

To read about the southern end of the Central Coast, check out my blog post on beautiful Umina Beach. If you want more ideas for weekend escapes, have a read through my recommended places for Sydney day trips! Enjoy your getaway!

Things to do in The Entrance, Central Coast NSW, near Sydney. Discover amazing beaches, including Shelly Beach, Bateau Bay & Avoca Beach plus coastal walks.
Lisa Bull
Written by Lisa Bull

Lisa Bull, founder of Dreaming of Down Under, has been living in Australia as a British expat since 2015. After travelling to every state and territory in Australia and living in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, Lisa knows from first-hand experience the best destinations to visit in Australia and the best budget travel tips. Her guides on this blog have been read by over 700k readers and helped thousands of people achieve their dream of living in or travelling Australia.