Pretty Beach House, Bouddi National Park, Central Coast, NSW © Pretty Beach House

Guide to the Central Coast

Bells at Killcare, Killcare Heights, NSW © Bells at Killcare

Spend a night at Bells at Killcare

The Central Coast is home to some of the best places to stay around Sydney. This boutique hotel caters to couples that want a chic, adults-only escape where the food is excellent and the surrounding area is bushland with beautiful walks. Hidden away on the Bouddi Peninsula – also the home of Bouddi coastal walk – Bells at Killcare has hotel rooms and two-storey standalone villas. At night the on-site restaurant is run by Australian celebrity chef and author Stefano Manfredi, whose local, sustainable menus have in the past been awarded Australia's highest accolade, the distinction of three chef's hats.

Aerial of Box Head and Broken Bay, Bouddi National Park, NSW © Destination New South Wales

Get back to nature on the Bouddi coastal walk

Bouddi National Park is a stunningly beautiful bushland area, just a short stroll from Bells at Killcare. It's home to the eight-kilometre (five-mile) Bouddi coastal walk, which follows the curve of the coastline on dramatic cliffs, along icy white beaches and through lush woodland. Whales migrate along this section of coastline between May and November each year.

Pelican feeding, The Entrance, NSW © Sydney Work Travel Play

Feed a crowd of hungry pelicans

The Entrance is home to several of the best beaches in the area, including Shelly and Bateau Bay beaches. Once you've finished exploring the sandy bluffs and long stretches of sand, head to Pelican Plaza, where, every day at 3.30pm, a large crowd of hungry pelicans assembles to eat whole fresh fish in a tradition that's more than 20 years old. It started when staff at the local fish shop began feeding scraps to birds at the end of each day. Today, Pelican Plaza – a specially built section of Memorial Park – is a well-loved spot where visitors and locals get close to these unusual-looking Australian birds. The Entrance is just over half an hour drive north from Bells at Killcare and Bouddi National Park.

Pretty Beach House, Bouddi Peninsula, NSW © Pretty Beach House

Relax at Pretty Beach House

A five-minute walk from the shores of Broken Bay – where the Hawkesbury River meets the Tasman Sea – is the exclusive, six-star guesthouse, Pretty Beach House. Among the gum trees of Bouddi National Park, Pretty Beach House is considered by many to be Australian rural luxury at its best. Like the nearby Bells at Killcare, the menus at Pretty Beach House are overseen by celebrity chef Stefano Manfredi. Guests have the option of arriving by seaplane on a beautiful scenic flight direct from Sydney, flying past Sydney Harbour and many of the city's beaches and islands before landing almost directly out the front of the boutique hotel itself, in the calm waters of Broken Bay.

Terrigal Beach, Central Coast, NSW © Destination New South Wales

Explore the coastal towns and beaches

The Central Coast's towns draw holidaymakers from Sydney with their beachside markets, art galleries and cafés, often just metres from the sand. The town of Avoca, just over an hour and a half drive from Sydney, is well-known for its proximity to the great family beaches of Macmasters, Copacabana and Avoca. The neighbouring town of Terrigal, just across the inland Avoca Lake, is a popular fishing spot also known for some great beachside dining (try the seasonal menu at Bellyfish, which sources most of its produce from along the nearby coast). You'll also find great food at Hardys Bay, a small but stylish enclave with a handful of great cafés (including The Fat Goose), as well as some great seaside shopping.

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