Hervey Bay is famous for its relaxed holiday vibe but if it’s thrills you want, there are plenty of those too. In fact, if you’ve ever wanted to try jet skiing, kite surfing, catamaraning, knee boarding or water skiing, then this is the place for you. Prices are substantially lower than most other holiday spots and the laid back locals have time to show you the ropes and share a story or two. Add a string of pretty local beaches and some seriously good dining and you’ve got yourself a great holiday.
Between July and November Hervey Bay is also one of the best places in the world to go whale watching and the only spot on the east coast of Australia where whales stop during their annual migration. The configuration of the bay here is unique as it resembles a giant funnel which the whales swim into on their way to the Antarctic. This also makes for relatively calm whale watching conditions which is good news for us. You never know what’s in store when you set out to go whale watching – a mother and calf snoozing, a breaching humpback leaping high into the air, whales tail slapping or a big blow – but one thing is guaranteed. The thrill and excitement of seeing that first whale will stay with you long after the cruise is over.
When the whales aren’t around, there’s still plenty of fun to be had out on the water. Active types can hire catamarans or kayaks or head out on a dolphin watching trip or sunset dinner cruise. Day and overnight fishing charters are also popular with all gear, bait and meals provided. With so many great activities on offer, you’re bound to work up an appetite so make like a local and start the day with breakfast at Aquavue which has a superb beachfront location. A group of cyclists are sipping lattes when I arrive which means it’s a sure bet the coffee is going to be good – and it is. I settle back with a perfect cappuccino and watch people jog along the beach and splash around in front of the cafe.
For lunch, you could grab some fish and chips or head to Enzo’s on the Beach at Scarness, a top choice for travellers with kids thanks to the playground next to the cafe. Enzo’s has an extensive menu for such a casual, laid-back spot with everything from Thai calamari salad to bruscetta and burgers on offer. Enzo’s is also a popular local hangout in the afternoon when huge umbrellas provide welcome relief from the Queensland sun.
For dinner you can’t go wrong with Coast, a smart looking newcomer which is the talk of the town according to locals. Local produce drives the menu which frequently dips its toes into the surrounding coastal waters. Start with Hervey Bay scallops served in a half shell with coriander and hazelnut butter paired with a generous serve of spanner crab tagliatelle followed by something more substantial like a platter of bourbon glazed beef short ribs. Make sure you leave enough room for dessert. Pumpkin cheesecake may sound a little unusual but trust me, you’ll be back for seconds. With a menu that’s designed to be shared, Coast offers a dining experience that’s as relaxed and convivial as Hervey Bay itself.
Disclosure: The writer travelled as a guest of Tourism & Events Queensland.
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