Home to some of New South Wales' most spectacular – and secret – beaches, the Lake Macquarie coastline has hot spots galore for weekend getaways and summer holiday vacations for everyone from sandcastle builders to sea cave explorers, snorkelers and surfers to sunset strollers.
With lifeguards on patrol daily through until April, check out our roundup of some of the coast's best-loved beaches for family frolicking:
Caves Beach: A firm family favourite, and with good reason, Caves Beach's extensive network of sea caves and rock pools are ideal for low-tide exploration. Home to the Caves Beach Surf Life Saving Club, a kiosk, bathrooms and barbeques and picnic tables, there's also a Surf Grooms Summer Surf School's learn to surf program for the young ones run throughout the summer school holidays. Call Miles on 0404839585 or visit http://www.surfgroms.com/surf_schools/learn-to-surf-newcastle for bookings and further information.
Catherine Hill Bay: Perched on the picturesque shores of historical mining town Catherine Hill Bay, this is one of the coast's premier spots for snorkelling and diving with renowned local shipwrecks home to teeming marine life. It's also a popular pick with local board riders for its terrific surf breaks. Facilities include barbeques, bathrooms, a small kiosk and the Catherine Hill Bay Surf Life Saving Club, plus the historic Catho Pub is only around the corner!
Redhead beach: In an idyllic location at the northerly end of a stunning nine-mile coastal stretch, Redhead backs onto magnificent red cliffs and is renowned for its iconic shark tower. The perfect spot to enjoy panoramic views, take a dip, try your hand at fishing or join the local surfers, the Redhead Beach Café is well worth visiting on your day out, whether for brekkie, lunch or casual coffee, offering everything from gourmet and gluten-free options to old-school burgers and bacon rolls – café-style food at kiosk prices – what's not to love?
Blacksmiths: One of the local coastline's top swimming beaches, thanks to protection from the Swansea Channel Breakwall, Blacksmiths is a fabulous family playground, famed for its nearby -Grannies Pool', a sheltered inlet loved by local toddlers – and their grannies! Blacksmiths' facilities include bathrooms, picnic tables, barbeques, a local takeaway outlet and the Swansea Belmont Surf Life Saving Club.