Welcome to Port Macquarie – where oyster and lobster tastings by the river, buckets of prawns on the pontoon and fine dining in seafood restaurants are all a part of the enviable lifestyle.
And did someone mention sundowners? Let’s dive right in…
Opening image: Sunrise on Lighthouse Beach by Matt Cramer.
1. Sumptuous oysters straight from the river
The charming township of Laurieton is home to Armstrong Oysters, a second-generation, family-operated business that supplies Sydney Rock Oysters to top restaurants across the country. Head on down to the Shop Front where you can taste oysters plucked straight from the river: it doesn’t get any fresher than this!
2. Seafood platters & prawns on the pontoon
The Big Oyster (aka ‘The Shuck Shack’) is a Port Mac landmark – a little ‘ol blue boat shed hovering over the Hastings River. Just a short wander over the bridge, you’ll discover mouth-watering prawns, oysters, lobster, bugs, crab and fish (cooked and fresh). You can order a seafood platter to tuck into on the adjacent pontoon. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of something chilled!
3. Best fish & chips
Laurieton Seafoods & Co-op are tipped as the best fish and chips on the North Coast for a reason – every morning, fresh fish come straight off the local trawlers. Enjoy your catch overlooking the river, or take a short drive to North Brother Mountain and enjoy a perfect seafood picnic, complete with amazing views.
4. Bills Fishhouse & Bar
Local Chef Pete Cutcliffe (who also owns top-rated Twotriplefour at Cassegrain Wines) has developed a cult following for his ocean/paddock to plate style. Bills is a casual, modern restaurnat that embraces locally sourced, seasonal and sustainable ingredients to produce simple, delicious food. With a great drinks list and wonderfully welcoming vibes, you can’t go wrong indulging here.
5. Whalebone Wharf
No introduction is necessary for this Port Mac icon, which holds a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors who are in the know. The nautical chic white boathouse perches over the Hastings River, boasting spectacular river views. To arrive in true style, you can drop in by sea plane or helicopter. The sublime setting is upstaged only by the food.
6. The Stunned Mullet
The Mid-North Coast’s finest hatted restaurant continues to surprise and delight under the skilled and experienced direction of owner Lou Perri. With a menu featuring dishes such as ‘Glacier 51 Toothfish’ and a seriously impressive, award-winning wine list, this place has become a destination unto itself.
7. Little Shack of plenty
This place gets a lot of love, and rightly so. Perfectly positioned on the iconic breakwall overlooking the river, it has a retro holiday vibe, and you can relax under a tropical umbrella with a cocktail in hand. Make sure you try the lobster roll and frozen margarita combo, and bring your dancing shoes, as Little Shack is often host to some of Port Mac’s best musos and DJs.
8. Good vibes at Zebu Bar
Located on the Town Green overlooking the river, Zebu Bar is perfect for dolphin and people watching. Recently renovated, casual, top spot has a great bar menu.
9. Newcomer – Banks Café
This hidden gem is one of Port Mac’s newest cafés, sitting pretty on the banks of the Hastings River, overlooking a heritage timber trawler. It’s chic and stylish, the food is fresh and tasty, and the views are sublime.
10. Hello Sailor Port Marina
Hello Sailor Port Marina is a fun al fresco venue with a reputation for the best margaritas in town. Here you can find local beer on tap and a street-food style shack out the back with a fresh and creative menu that includes buckets of prawns and po’boys. There’s often great live music to bop along to, and it has a cool vibe while being super friendly.
11. Sail away in style
The Hamptons-style splendour of Sails Resort is where you’ll find The Boathouse Bar & Restaurant. Enjoy the sophisticated fit-out, or venture out onto the deck and lawns, complete with fire pit and a great view over the water. The bar features funky decor and comfy lounges to enjoy a coffee or a cocktail. You can even pull up in style by kayak, or take it up a notch on the fitness scale and arrive on a stand up paddleboard.
12. Chop ‘n Chill
A local favourite and in prime position on Town Green, at Chop ‘n Chill, you’ll find super friendly service, alongside great food and beverages. Local musicians often entertain guests, and it’s a great option if you’ve got kids as you can dine al fresco while watching them attempt to climb the majestic fig tree out the front.
For more to do on the Mid North Coast, check out all that Coffs Harbour has to offer.
Check out Port Macquarie’s Taste Trail: An insider’s guide to food, wine, art and culture here.