If you’re looking for a classic laid-back Aussie surf town in NSW, get down to Crescent Head and discover all the amazing things to do here!
Crescent Head oozes charm and cool retro vibes, without being overcrowded like other Aussie surf towns such as Byron Bay.
Crescent Head is a very welcoming town, yet if you’re not into surfing you may not have even heard of this town as it isn’t very well-known at all to many international travellers – which makes it even more appealing!
Travellers and families are attracted to Crescent Head so they can slow down, unwind, and truly embrace the unique atmosphere of this town.
But Crescent Head is most famous for attracting surfers from far and wide because Crescent Head is officially recognised as one of Australia’s best surfing spots!
Even though Crescent Head is small, it’s full of many great things to see and do. Here are all the best things to do in Crescent Head!
Where Is Crescent Head NSW?
The nearest town to Crescent Head is Kempsey, a 20 minute drive inland. You’ll also find the popular beachside holiday towns of Port Macquarie and South West Rocks less than an hour’s drive away.
The stunning Hat Head National Park is also about 40 minutes drive away. These are all definitely places to explore whilst you’re in the area, and can easily be visited on a day trip if you’ll be based in Crescent Head.
How To Get To Crescent Head
Crescent Head can be easily reached by car or campervan. Public transportation options to get to Crescent Head are very limited but it is possible.
You can catch the train from Sydney to Kempsey. From Kempsey you can catch the 345 bus to Crescent Head Country Club.
The bus takes around 25/30 minutes, and there are only about three buses a day during the week and two buses on Saturdays. There are no buses on Sundays. Definitely check the bus timetable beforehand and plan well.
Alternatively if you’ll be coming by plane, fly into Port Macquarie Airport and hire a car. It should take less than an hour to reach Crescent Head from Port Macquarie.
Is Crescent Head Worth Visiting?
Crescent Head is absolutely worth a stop on a New South Wales road trip, and it is also the perfect place for a holiday!
Whilst there are so many small seaside towns dotted up and down the East Coast of Australia, Crescent Head is definitely one that shouldn’t be missed.
Whilst on the map Crescent Head doesn’t look like it is near anything exciting, nor is it the easiest place to get to, those who make the journey here are certainly rewarded with a fantastic easy-going beach holiday with so many things to do.
Crescent Head is a mecca for surfers as it has one of Australia’s best surfing breaks. Surfers have been coming from all over the world to experience the epic right-hand surfing break here for generations.
The surf culture is deeply rooted into Crescent Head, and since 2008 it has been recognised as a National Surfing Reserve! The right-hand surfing break here is one of the longest in the country.
Crescent Head is also home to the annual Malibu Classic, and its popularity has grown over recent years.
If you enjoy surfing then a visit to Crescent Head isn’t even a question! Crescent Head is literally a surfer’s paradise.
Even if you’re not a surfer, Crescent Head is absolutely worth a visit. Surfing definitely isn’t the only thing to do in Crescent Head.
The views from the headlands are stunning, there’s a great atmosphere, there are lots of nearby places to enjoy – plus it is mesmerising watching the surfers! Here are the best things to see and do in Crescent Head, NSW:
12 Best Things To Do In Crescent Head
Here are 12 amazing things to do in Crescent Head:
- Stroll along the foreshore
- Surf Point Break at Crescent Head
- Visit Crescent Head Beach
- Swim in Killick Creek
- Visit Crescent Head Lookout
- Enjoy the views from Big Nobby
- Visit Pebbly Beach
- Play golf at one of Australia’s most scenic golf courses
- Watch the sunset from Little Nobby
- Have food and drinks at the Country Club
- Go on a bike ride
- Explore nearby towns & beaches
Stroll Along The Foreshore
One of the best things to do in Crescent Head is to stroll along the Crescent Head Foreshore walking path and take in the fantastic views of the ocean, the beach, the surfers and the rolling hills in the distance.
The foreshore runs close to the surf at the end of the beach closest to the car park, so you get epic views of the surfers here. Sit down on one of the benches – made in the shape of surfboards – and enjoy the views!
With the foreshore running perpendicular to the direction of the beach, you can get some really nice views looking back to the beach and the creek behind it from the foreshore.
Strolling past the car park next to the beach along the foreshore you’ll see plenty of campervans parked up, with people chilling sitting with the back doors open, watching the surfers and enjoying the atmosphere.
You’ll even see bare vans with just a mattress and space for a surfboard – the essentials for any surf junkie! I just love the van-life vibes!
Surf Point Break At Crescent Head!
Now you’ve watched the surfers, it’s time to get in the water yourself and experience the world-famous right-hand point break!
If you haven’t got your own surfboard you can rent one from the surf shop Crescent Head Surf Co in town.
If you’re not a surfer you’ll definitely need a few lessons to get started and learn how to catch a wave.
Head to Crescent Head Learn to Surf or On Point Surf School, which offers individual as well as group classes. It’s definitely best to book lessons in advance.
Or if you want to go all in, check out Surfaris where you can do surfing retreats!
Surfaris is the ultimate haven for surf lovers – you’ll get the ultimate surfing experience surrounded by fellow ocean lovers.
Visit Crescent Head Beach
Of course any trip to Crescent Head should involve spending some time on the beach! Pack your sun umbrella, slap on the sun cream, go for a swim, read a book or just relax and have a snooze.
Go Swimming In Killick Creek
Another must-do in Crescent Head is to go for a swim in Killick Creek!
Just behind the beach you’ll find the small creek known as Killick Creek. Killick Creek is so beautiful – the water is lovely and shallow and crystal clear, and a dip here in the warm weather is really refreshing!
Killick Creek is particularly popular with families as the water here is so calm and sheltered from the waves, making it an ideal spot for children to enjoy the water.
It’s also great for anyone who loves relaxing in the water, but not amongst the waves. The water is often no more than waist-high, making it also a great spot to go stand-up paddle boarding down the creek when the tide is high.
You can also relax on the sandbanks here and enjoy the sun, or cross the Crescent Head footbridge that goes from one side of Killick Creek to the other so you can access more sandy beaches!
Crescent Head Lookout
Crescent Head Lookout is another great spot to visit in the area. You can get some spectacular views from here of the beaches in both directions, as well as the headlands and the town.
Crescent Head Lookout is located on the edge of a cliff above the golf club, and you can either access it by walking along the edge of the golf course (be mindful of anyone playing golf!) and up and around the headland via a dirt track, or by driving – there’s a parking lot at the top by the water tower.
Admire The Views From Big Nobby
If you walk up to Crescent Head Lookout via the golf course you’ll already go past Big Nobby, however if you drive up to the lookout then make sure to take the path part way down to Big Nobby where you can get more stunning views of the town that are unobstructed by the bush like they are slightly at the lookout.
Head To Pebbly Beach To Watch The Waves
Located between Big Nobby and Little Nobby is Pebbly Beach. Pebbly Beach is a wonderful place if you fancy just sitting on one of the benches and watching the waves.
As the name suggests, it’s a pebbly rocky beach so it’s not the first choice if you’re looking to lie down and sunbathe for the afternoon.
In addition, the waves here are rough and come crashing onto the many jagged rocks, so you won’t see many people swimming or surfing (nor do I recommend it).
Play Golf At One Of Australia’s Most Scenic Golf Courses!
Crescent Head Golf Course is one of the most picturesque golf courses in Australia and the world! Whilst it is probably the shortest golf course around, with only 6 holes, what it lacks in holes – it makes up for in views!
Crescent Head Golf Course truly offers the most spectacular scenic views.
Located right on the Crescent Head shorefront, this is one golf course you’ll absolutely want to play a round of golf at – however terrible you are! And what’s lovely about this golf course is just how relaxed and casual everyone is.
Normally at golf clubs, you’ll see people of a certain class wearing a certain attire – and like me you probably feel like you stick out like a sore thumb. But that’s not the case here at Crescent Head! Anything goes.
There are even people playing golf barefoot with just a pair of board shorts on! Plus the Golf Club lets you bring takeaway beers onto the course in your buggy – how about that?!
That’s why I say if you’re only ever going to play golf once in your life – this is the place to do it. Very relaxed atmosphere, with the most stunning views, and for only $15 per game!
When you’re playing golf, ALWAYS be aware of people walking past on the outskirts of the golf course.
They may not even realise it is a golf course so be careful with the golf balls and always yell out if you think someone might get hit by a flying golf ball!
Head To Little Nobby To Watch The Sunset
Another one of the best things to do in Crescent Head is to head to Little Nobby to watch the sunset. You’ll find Little Nobby at the end of the Crescent Head Foreshore – it’s an easy walk and should take only 5 minutes or so to reach.
At the end of the footpath follow the dirt track that heads up the small hill to the bluff of Little Nobby.
This is definitely the best place in Crescent Head to see the sunset! If you can’t time it so you’ll be there for sunset, it’s a great viewpoint to visit at any point during the day, so make sure to check it out!
Have Some Food & Drink At The Country Club
If you only have one meal out in Crescent Head, make sure it’s at the Crescent Head Country Club!
Despite sounding posh, it’s actually a very relaxed and laid-back environment and everyone is welcome – just like regular RSL Clubs across NSW!
The Crescent Head Country Club has the most breathtaking views over the beach and Killick Creek, as well as offering delicious filling meals.
There are two restaurants inside Crescent Head Country Club – Birdies Bistro (pub food) and Bamboo Restaurant (Chinese). Both are open for lunch and dinner and there’s also a bar here too.
There’s also an option to play pool, tennis and lawn bowls here at The Country Club too should you wish!
Go for a bike ride
Lots of people get around Crescent Head by bike, so if you brought your bikes with you then why not explore the local area by bike. The roads leading out of Crescent Head are flat and are good if you fancy a longer bike ride.
It’s 25km to cycle to Gladstone (so 50km return), or you can carry on further and ride to Hat Head National Park.
Explore Nearby Towns & Beaches
If you don’t have the bikes, or just fancy exploring by car, there are plenty of nearby towns and beaches you can drive to.
Just south of Crescent Head is Goolawah Beach – a quiet and absolutely breathtakingly beautiful beach that backs onto Goolawah National Park.
You’ll find a few campgrounds dotted around just off the beach, plus you’ll find Racecourse Head – another secluded headland where you can get some stunning views as well as good surf.
The calm waters of Delicate Nobby – just south of Racecourse Head are ideal for snorkelling.
Carrying on further south, just a 15 minute drive from Crescent Head will take you to the Big Hill Rainforest Walking Track. Park in the parking lot and take in the impressive coastal views as you walk the 1.4km track.
If it’s winter or spring look out to see if there are any humpback whales – you can often see them from here making a splash on their annual migration!
A further 15 minutes drive south will take you on an unsealed dirt road along the coast to Point Plomer – another stunning secluded spot. The drive is suitable for 2WDs but just drive slowly.
There is also a popular campground here at Point Plomer.
If you wish to explore north of Crescent Head, then the village of Hat Head is roughly a 45 minute drive away.
This relaxed village is surrounded by Hat Head National Park, where you can do several walking trails along the coast, as well as swim in the creek or relax on the beach!
When Is The Best Time To Visit Crescent Head NSW
Crescent Head is blessed to have warm sunny days for the majority of the year, and whatever time of year you visit you’ll be able to enjoy this surfing town to its potential.
The spring and autumn months are the ideal time to visit Crescent Head (so around May-June and October time) as the weather isn’t too hot and the town is still relatively quiet.
The summer months of December and January are very warm in Crescent Head, plus it gets very busy with families on holidays at this time of year.
Therefore if you’re travelling without children you may want to avoid visiting at this time of year, when accommodation is limited and prices are also often higher.
School holidays also fall in April and September in NSW, so if you’re travelling without kids keep this in mind as accommodation in Crescent Head can get booked out in advance.
How Long Should You Spend In Crescent Head?
Honestly that totally depends on however much time you have!
Some people will just make a half-day stop at Crescent Head if they are visiting as part of a road trip such as from Sydney to Brisbane or on a Sydney to Cairns road trip and they have a limited time and they aren’t into catching a wave.
For the more serious surfers, they’ll definitely want to spend a few days or even a week here as the waves here are so good.
Holidaymakers and families will also often spend a whole week here on holiday as it’s a really child-friendly place.
So it’s totally up to you how long you stay at Crescent Head. If you will be adding it onto a road trip I would say one day at Crescent Head would be enough, but honestly the vibes here are so great that you may choose to stay longer – especially once you get out on those waves!
Where To Stay In Crescent Head
There are many lovely accomodation options in Crescent Head, from holiday parks to holiday homes, hotels and beachfront campgrouds. Here are a few that I recommend:
Shellseekers: 3 bedroom luxurious holiday home
The Med Crescent Head: situated in a stunning building with an outdoor swimming pool and a variety of accommodation options, from chalets to motel room this is the choice of accommodation in Crescent Head!
Crescent Head Stylish Retro Caravan: situated in a private bush setting, this stylish retro caravan comes complete with a deck, fully equipped kitchenette and bathoom, and is just moments from the beach!
Crescent Head Holiday Park: the large beachfront holiday park in the centre of Crescent Head is a great place to stay.
Not only is it a great price and in a really convenient location that you can walk everywhere, but the creek side spots have the best views in town!
The holiday park doesn’t just cater for caravans, there are also chalet apartments here with kitchenettes! There’s also a children’s playground, barbecues, and some cabins can accommodate up to 5 people.
It’s a very popular place to stay so definitely make sure you book in advance – especially during the school holidays, especially if you want a spot overlooking the creek!
There are also many holiday homes in Crescent Head.
Alternatively if you’d prefer staying in a beachside campground, there are plenty very close to Crescent Head: Racecourse Campground, Delicate Campground, Waves Campground and Melaleuca Campground.
Where To Eat At Crescent Head NSW:
Crescent Head can probably be walked end to end in about half an hour, which is great for being able to try the many different cafes and restaurants here! My favourite places to eat in Creso are:
Point Break Cafe – ideal location on the beachfront in Crescent Head just next to the Surf Club. Point Break Cafe specialises in great coffee and gourmet food to go. Open from 7am until 2pm.
Barnett’s Bakery – does great pastries and other breakfast treats
Lumah Restaurant – great for seasonal local nutritious food
Pandanus Garden Bar & Restaurant – pefect for a seafood dinner!
There’s also a grocery shop in Crescent Head if you fancy cooking at your accomodation yourself.
Summary On Crescent Head NSW
Crescent Head is a fabulous place to visit, whether on a road trip o for a holiday. It is easily one of the best surfing towns in Australia and fortunately it hasn’t become too commercialised or over-inflated.
It’s like what Byron used to be 50 years ago or so – it still retains an easy-going ambience and a strong village ambience. I hope you get to visit soon!
Hopefully this article on Crescent Head NSW was useful – if you have any questions drop them below!
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Catrina is a Travel Writer, SEO Specialist and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. The majority of her work however features on her own website – 24hourslayover.com where she has written over 500 travel articles!