NSW Seaside Holiday: Avoca Beach

NSW Seaside Holiday: Avoca Beach Avoca Beach image supplied: Jennifer Ennion

Famous for surfing and chilled-out summer vibes, Avoca Beach, on the New South Wales Central Coast, has long been a magnet for holidaying families.

Whether your kids are keen to ride waves, go snorkelling in the calm rock pool or simply seek ice-cream and playgrounds (what kid isn’t?), then Avoca is the ideal destination. The popular tourist village also has enough to entertain parents too, with a smattering of relaxed cafes, boutiques, monthly markets and a cinema. Located a four-and-a-half-hour drive almost directly east of Orange, Avoca makes for a relatively easy-to-reach destination for a weeklong vacation.

The beach

There’s no denying that Avoca’s star attraction is its crescent-shaped beach with its golden sand and shady Norfolk pines. In the south, there is a large rock pool that is perfect for toddlers and beginner snorkellers. To the north is Avoca Lake (formerly known as Avoca Lagoon), which is occasionally opened to the ocean and makes for a fun spot to flat-water stand-up paddleboard (SUP) or let little ones get their toes wet. Past the lagoon, is North Avoca Beach, where you will find another decent surf break and a quaint community that’s more hidden from the tourist crowds.

Both Avoca and North Avoca beaches are patrolled by life guards, and behind Avoca Beach Surf Life Saving Club is a large, fenced playground, with a mix of equipment for toddlers and primary school-aged children. On the ground level of the surf club is The Point Cafe (make a reservation during peak periods ), and The Kiosk, a wall-in-the-hole takeaway spot for coffee, milkshakes and muffins. You will also find sheltered picnic tables, a grassy area that’s great for mum groups keen to spread out, and a rocky headland that kids love to explore. If you wander along the rocks, be sure to stay with small children, especially if it’s recently been raining and is slippery.

Back to the beach though, you can sign up for surf lessons with Learn to Surf , take your own surfboard or SUP out to the point or beach breaks, or go swimming between the flags. On the lagoon, you can hire SUPs, kayaks and pedalboats with Aquafun Avoca Lake, the latter of which seems to be a rite-of-passage for Aussies growing up seaside.

Family-friendly cafes

If you want a break from your holiday house kitchen, there are a handful of places to eat out in Avoca. Here are our picks:

Avoca Beach House has the best views of sand and sea, and offers diners a stylish location for a relaxed but sophisticated lunch or dinner. During the day, the seafood restaurant is a regular choice for mum groups, with tapas and sharing plates such as truffle and mushroom arancini, and buckets of prawns. There is also a nice kids’ menu without a chicken nugget in sight, and a tempting selection of cocktails, perfect for long summer afternoons.

Underneath Avoca Beach House is the casual eatery Avoca Sands Cafe, which is open for breakfast and lunch (think tortillas and burgers). Next door is Avoca Beach Seafoods, open from 10am to 8pm. On Thursday and Sunday nights there is live music and you can BYO your favourite bottle of wine.

The Point Cafe (mentioned above) is also in a prime position under the surf club and with views of the rock pool and waves. Nab a table on the footpath or under the shade of the trees and order buttermilk pancakes, pulled beef benedict, or chickpea and zucchini fritters with smashed avo. You can also book a table for lunch or pull up a chair for a loose-leaf tea, frappe or smoothie. You’ll be happy to hear kids have plenty of delicious choices too.

Like Minds Avoca is the place to go if you’re after somewhere with authentic local vibes. You’ll find it on your way into the suburb, on the corner of Avoca Drive and The Round Drive, opposite the old Scout hall. Wholesome and somewhat hidden, this cafe is popular with residents and very family friendly, as you can munch away on a quiche and sup on an iced oat flat white while the kids happily play in the garden. There isn’t much seating, so arrive early or be prepared to throw down a picnic rug or grab takeaway. The cafe occasionally holds a “market day” with Central Coast producers such as Fanelli Organics and Grace Springs Farm, as well as workshops on subjects including natural dyeing with food waste; you’ll find the details on their Facebook page here.

If you’re staying in self-contained accommodation, you’ll be happy to know that Avoca has its own butchery. At Avoca Beach Butchery you can pick up chicken Cordon Bleu, lamb koftas and osso buco. It’s also a good spot to buy a wheel of local award-winning Little Creek Cheese.

Also in the heart of the village is a bakehouse, a small grocery store (perfect for afternoon lollies), a couple of cafes serving big brekkies and toasties, a fish ’n’ chips shop, an Asian takeaway and Becker & Co., which has a top-notch smoothie menu.

Seaside shopping

There are a handful of shops in the main village of Avoca, including two women’s boutiques you won’t want to miss. The first is Weekends Store, where the shelves are brimming with must-have goodies, such as candles, sea-themed soaps, coastal jewellery, perfume, pottery, wall hooks and artwork. You will also find pretty frocks, matching linen ensembles, and a collection of beautiful children’s books you can tell the owner has carefully curated. There is even a men’s range of cologne and beard soap, so you can pick up a present for your special someone.

Wilde Skye is the other women’s boutique and you’ll find it on the opposite side of the road, toward the pedestrian crossing. It’s the newest business in Avoca, having only opened in late winter 2023. Spacious and light-filled, you’ll enjoy perusing the smart toddler clothing, women’s resort wear and contemporary homewares, which include cane photo frames, ceramic kitchen utensils and mini bouquets of dried flowers.

If you can time your vacation with Avoca Beachside Markets, held on Heazlett Park Foreshore every fourth Sunday, 9am-2pm, you’ll be spoilt for choice with stalls from local producers and creatives. You can expect to find jewellery, repurposed coats, and vintage-style children’s clothing. After shopping, grab a kransky roll and chill on the grass while enjoying live music.

If you love nik-naks, poke your head into The Mousehole Avoca Beach, a tiny store selling beautiful mugs and bowls made by local potters, plus ceramic wind chimes and cute baby clothes and hair clips.

The newsagent is also well-stocked with the best travel magazines, perfect for lazy beach days and dreaming about your next holiday.

A night out

A Central Coast institution, Avoca Beach Theatre is an art-deco cinema that specialises in adventure films and classics, with the occasional new release. It’s beloved by locals and makes for a fun family night at the movies. Be sure to stop by the wine and candy bars before sitting down to watch the latest surf, mountain or indie film.

For more information on how to have a great family holiday in Avoca, visit lovecentralcoast.com.

Words by: Jennifer Ennion

  • Avoca Beach, image suppliled: Jennifer Ennion

  • Avoca Beach, image suppliled: Jennifer Ennion

  • Avoca Beach lifeguard tower, image suppliled: Jennifer Ennion