The spark­ing waters of Port Stephens have al­ways at­tracted fam­i­lies and the re­fur­bished The Anchorage is with­out a doubt the most stylish place for a five- star fam­ily stay.

Five Star Kids - - HOTEL REPORT - Words Hi­lary Dol­ing

The re­sort is right on the ma­rina next to Cor­lette Beach. You couldn’t get much closer to the water with­out ac­tu­ally div­ing in. The bi­joux shops and restau­rants of Nel­son Bay are just a short drive away.

Cape Cod meets the Hamp­tons. White weath­er­board build­ings, high­lighted with sub­tle shades of grey, look per­fect sit­ting next to the boat ma­rina and its yachts. Blue and white striped um­brel­las, light-filled rooms with wide win­dows and rat­tan fur­ni­ture on the bal­conies com­plete the pic­ture.

Cer­tainly. Rooms are spa­cious enough to lay out a ‘Thomas the Tank En­gine’ track with­out ev­ery­one else trip­ping over it. Suites have a kitch­enette and fridge. There is also com­pli­men­tary ca­ble TV and Wi-Fi for Face­book-lov­ing teens. Com­pli­men­tary pad­dle boards and kayaks are avail­able and the beach is only one minute away.

Guest­houses face to­wards Cor­rie Is­land Na­tional Re­serve. A bal­cony or ve­ran­dah ad­joins each suite, villa or room, and most have un­in­ter­rupted water views. Par­tic­u­larly per­fect for fam­i­lies are the one- or two-bed­room loft suites with a mez­za­nine level. The Cap­tain’s Suites also have a fold-out sofa bed. For a real treat, book into the Hamp­tons Villa. The two-bed­room, VOL­UME 8 2017 two-storey villa is fully self-con­tained. On the up­per level is a master bed­room with a king-size bed, en­suite and a cou­ples re­treat room lead­ing to a pri­vate bal­cony. On the lower level is a sep­a­rate din­ing and lounge area and a sec­ond bed­room. Out­side there is a Jacuzzi and sun deck.

The new Gal­ley Kitchen res­tau­rant of­fers in­door and out­door din­ing over­look­ing the pool and the ma­rina. As would be ex­pected for a res­tau­rant with such a spec­tac­u­lar water view, seafood abounds. There is a ded­i­cated kids’ menu but the share plates are also great for fam­i­lies who want to sam­ple a va­ri­ety of flavours.

Where do we start? Port Stephens is a par­adise for chil­dren; just the fact that the area is known as the dol­phin cap­i­tal of New South Wales and that there are 26 un­spoilt beaches in the sur­round­ing area gives you some idea of the fam­ily joy to be had here... So get out on the water for a dol­phin cruise with Imag­ine Cruises, where they hoist the can­vas for a proper sail­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. A guided fam­ily pad­dle board in Shoal Bay with Shoal Bay SUP un­der To­ma­ree Head­land is also a must. Sand­board­ing on the Stock­ton Beach dunes is great fun. Older kids can take a dune buggy ride with Sand Dune Ad­ven­tures or, for an even greater shot of adrenaline, try fly­ing high on a tan­dem para­sail with Port Stephens Wa­ter­sports. You can also hire bikes and boats at the Nel­son Bay Ma­rina for ex­plor­ing fur­ther afield. If you can bear to leave the gourmet de­lights of The Gal­ley kitchen, The Lit­tle Nel Cafe on Govern­ment Road is great for break­fast and the In­ner Light Tea Rooms at the light­house above Lit­tle Beach have good food and spec­tac­u­lar views.

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