Things to do at Patonga Beach + Where to stay

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Patonga Beach: gorgeous views from Warrah Lookout

Patonga is one of the most secluded and delightful places on the Central Coast.  Entirely surrounded by the Brisbane Water National Park, Patonga Beach is a great destination to relax for a day or to explore on a weekend getaway. And, it is only a one and a half-hour drive north drive from Sydney.

Patonga Beach offers seclusion and serenity, but also there are options for families that live an active lifestyle.  The calm waters of Brisk Bay are perfect for swimming, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding.

By Mireia Garriga Seguranyes

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The beach at Patonga

Patonga Beach

Patonga Drive NSW 2256

Nearest Visitor Information Centre: Memorial Park, The Entrance

We fell in love with this little fishing village. Early maps called this area ‘Betonga’, which means oyster in the local indigenous language. Now known as Patonga Beach, this area features a public wharf, a boat ramp, two playgrounds and the picturesque beach with the stand of large Norfolk pine trees along the foreshore. 

Patonga Beach is home of the Boathouse Hotel Patonga (previously known as Patonga Beach Hotel) and the Patonga Bakehouse Gallery (owned by the renowned artist Ms Jocelyn Maughan and her partner, Mr Robin Norling, who both received the Order of Australia Medal for service to the visual arts and to education in 2018).

Follow the list below to discover yourself this gorgeous Central Coast village.  

Best things to do at Patonga

Patonga Beach and Patonga Creek

Patonga Beach is dog-friendly. In general, they are not many beaches where all family members can enjoy a day out together, including furry friends. Between Brisk St and Jacaranda Ave dogs are allowed to run around off-leash.

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The waters of Patonga Beach are calm due to its location within a recessed bay. The beach is perfect for water sports and for children to paddle in, also for boating and fishing. 

At the southern end of Patonga Beach, you will find the estuary of Patonga Creek, which is surrounded by Brisbane Water National Park. The creek is shallow and edged by mangroves. From the creek, you can observe lots of birds in their natural habitat. Kayaking and canoeing are the best ways to discover the beauty of Brisbane National Park. There are several tourist operators that offer half-day or full-day tours. 

PLEASE NOTE: lifeguards do not patrol Patonga Beach. Beach Safe mentions: “Be careful in and near Patonga Creek mouth as it contains strong tidal currents and deeper channels”.

Also, in the area, there is Little Patonga Beach, but it is only accessible by boat and it is mainly used for guests of the Broken Bay Sport and Recreation Centre. 

Lunch at the Boathouse Hotel Patonga

Directly opposite the beach is the Boathouse Hotel Patonga, which had a $5 million facelift after changing hands and name in 2018.

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The menu includes the usual pub favourites such as fish and chips, buffalo wings, chicken schnitzel, steak and burgers, yet with a modern twist. There is also a great selection of seafood, including oysters, cocktail prawn and kingfish ceviche. The restaurant also offers a menu for children. It is a bit expensive, but the servings were generous. And, the most important, all that we ate was delicious!

Food Patonga Boathouse

If you don’t find a table, you can still order fish and chips and have a picnic under the picnic shelter that is on the same side of Patonga Drive as the hotel, next to the sports field. You can also grab a coffee and buy a treat for the kids such as ice cream to top off a day on the beach.

Explore the playgrounds

Patonga Beach has two playgrounds and a little play area with a set of swings on the beach.

The first playground is next to the beach and it is fenced. It has distinctive wooden equipment. My daughters’ favourite was the beam course and the little cubby house. Also, there is a set of swings that has a big basket. If your children are like mine that could spend hours in a swing, at least you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful setting!  

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At the end of Bay Street, you will find the other playground in Patonga campground. It is a bit of a local secret because is located within the campground, but it is part of the Brisbane Waters National Park, which means that everyone can play in. The park is not fenced, but it’s a good distance to the road, plus cars in the camping area have to drive slowly. Also, this playground has more shade, as there are some sails.

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The park on the Patonga camping grounds is a very good spot for a picnic, too, as it has BBQ facilities, sheltered tables, a large grassed area, and toilets. Furthermore, the campground reception is also a kiosk-cafe, where they have coffee and sell some snacks, pies, sausage rolls, ice creams and lollies.

Note: the kiosk opens every day from 8am to 4pm.

Toilets / Baby change: You can find toilets next to the playgrounds. Also, the Patonga Boathouse has toilets with baby change facilities.

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My daughters loved the massive climbing frame and, of course, the wooden pirate ship, too. 

Warrah Lookout’s beautiful views 

Warrah Lookout is spectacular. The sweeping views of the lower Hawkesbury River are unbeatable from this vantage point. South-east, you can see Barrenjoey Head and West Head in the distance.

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To access the lookout, type in “Warrah Trig Road”. You will find a dirt road, but don’t panic, you can still do it if you don’t have a 4WD. From Warrah car park, follow the Tony Doyle Walking Trail, which joins up with the Great North Walk and also leads to Warrah Lookout over Broken Bay. You will need to walk downhill for 15 minutes approximately; it is a short and quite easy walk despite the steps and some rough ground.

If you do this excursion late winter, it is one of the best places in Brisbane Water National Park to see the bright red flowers of the waratahs. For more information about the lookout, read the page of National Parks NSW

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Note: Although the lookout is fenced, remember to keep a close eye on your children, as there are cliffs close by.

Patonga to Pearl Beach walking track

Discover the Patonga to Pearl Beach walking track. As the name suggests, The Patonga to Pearl Beach walk begins and ends on a beach. It is not an entry-level track, but it is achievable for families that have previous hiking experience.

Note: there are cliffs! So, be extra cautious or ONLY do this hike with older children that can understand the risks. 

Where To Stay at Patonga

You’ll find a good range of options for Patonga Beach accommodation, even though this is a small village. There are several holiday houses that you can rent for a weekend away or a holiday. 

Do check the newly revamped Patonga Beach Hotel, now known as the Boathouse Hotel Patonga, which offers accommodation for families. The offering includes a 1, 2 + 3 bedroom apartment located above the Hotel. Each apartment includes a kitchenette or kitchen, private balcony and water views of Patonga bay. Apartments 1 + 2 can be interconnecting.

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On our bucket list is the Patonga Caravan and Camping Ground Accommodation. The Patonga camping has 36 powered and 45 unpowered grassed sites and it offers excellent facilities, including tennis courts and the playground that it is mentioned in this article.

The location of the Patonga campground is perfect for families who love coastal destinations. Surrounded by water, you can enjoy the beach and the creek. Furthermore, the caravan park is at a walking distance of the local shops.

Check out prices and availability here.

How to get to Patonga Beach

Driving is the easiest option and the journey north from Sydney takes only about one and a half hours. However, Patonga is also a great destination for families who  don’t have a private vehicle. 

Nearest station: Woy Woy. Note: you will need to take the bus, taxi or uber to reach Patonga Beach.

Bus: Route number 54, Woy Woy to Pearl Beach and Patonga via Umina Beach (Loop Service). For details, check the Busways webpage

Ferry to Patonga Beach

The Boathouse Ferry Co operates the daily ferry between Palm Beach and Patonga Beach. During the weekdays, it departs from Palm Beach at 11am and returns from Patonga at 3pm. During the weekends and school holidays, there are more services. Click here to find the timetable.

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Also, there is a daily scenic cruise which leaves Palm Beach, stops briefly at Patonga and then continues up the Hawkesbury River to Bobbin Head. However, this cruise operates on weekday’s only, not including public school holidays or public holidays.

Tip: call before or check the marine weather forecast before you go.

Other nearby places to visit

Another beautiful place that you might like to explore is Pearl Beach, which is not too far away from Patonga Beach. And, Terrigal is also one of our favourite places. 

Also close by, and another good option for stays is the lovely Ocean Beach Holiday Park at Umina.

To find some inspiration to plan a holiday, don’t forget to check this post about the top 10 things to do on the Central Coast

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Patonga Beach makes a marvellous short weekend destination for families. It feels a world away but it is only 1.5 hours drive from the bustling Sydney. When we go to Patonga, we just take it easy.

 What is your favourite coastal retreat? Ssh! You may prefer to keep the secret.

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