The Port was named by Captain Cook, when he passed through in 1770, honouring Sir Philip Stephens, who was Secretary to the Admiralty.
Known for its 26 spectacular beaches, pretty inlets and a harbour twice the size of Sydney Harbour it is not surprising that Port Stephens is a haven for family getaways and every type of water sport imaginable. Surfing, swimming, sailing, snorkeling and kayaking are just some of the year round pursuits on offer. Tomaree Headland Lookout in the National Park is a spot from which to enjoy striking views of Port Stephens and the offshore islands.
Tea Gardens, one of the many quaint towns in the area where the population swells over summertime is situated on the Myall River and offers alfresco dining, accommodation, moored boats ready to hire and oysters to sample. Ever since the historic town was established it has been the inspiration for artists to reach for their brushes, cameras and clay and the “Gallery in the Gardens” hosts the creative work of over 30 local community artists.
Port Stephens is also highly regarded as the Dolphin capital of Australia with around 150 bottlenose dolphins calling the port home. Departing from Nelson Bay are dolphin watch cruises and kayak trips and from May to November there are regular sightings and acrobatic displays of the migrating Hump Back Whales.
In 2005 the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park was established. The park comprises approximately 240,000 acres and includes all of Port Stephens, the Karuah and Myall rivers and all their creeks and tributaries under tidal influence. The park was established to protect the wide variety of sea life that inhabit the port and nearby coastal areas.