Copacabana Beach and Central Coast Attractions
Holiday makers came flooding back to Copacabana during the recent school holidays. Some of the weather has been unfortunate but there have still been many whale watching opportunities. It is likely that we will see the same influx during the next school holidays (28th Sept. till 9th Oct.).
With attention focused on recent weather events and Covid resurgence the annual whale migration may have been overlooked. At the elevated northern end of Delmonte Place you will find a short track to the Captain Cook Lookout. Here you will enjoy one of the best whale watching platforms on the Central Coast. If you are lucky the whales may come into the bay and put on a breaching performance.
Recent violent weather has wrecked some areas on the Central Coast – particularly Wamberal, Copacabana Beach (28/07/2020) has lost a significant amount of sand but the beach is still in good shape (see photo). There has been a small landslide on Copacabana Drive with no apparent damage. Otherwise all seems to be intact.
Copacabana and Covid Status
Covid19 continues to smoulder in relatively small numbers (NSW) but the situation could change quickly at any time. The Central Coast has had a total of 111 cases with one death. However, according to Health Dept. Data the last reported case was on 11/03/2020.
NSW Gov. Re Holiday Homes (23/07/2020)
There are no limitations on people who live in NSW travelling within NSW. Up to 20 people may stay in a holiday home or holiday rental. More than 20 people can stay in a holiday home or holiday rental if they are all members of the same household”.
These restrictions could also change at short notice.
If one is holidaying it is still important to maintain social distancing and hand hygiene. I have included a link to a very informative article by Erin Bromage “the risks, know how to avoid them” – well worth reading! Note that 99.7%, repeat 99.7%, of Covid infections have occurred inside so one would conclude that outside cafes, and coffee shops are the safest place to be.
Copacabana and other Central Coast Attractions
For decades we have explored the Central Coast Attractions and have decided that Copacabana Beach is one of the best attractions on the Central Coast NSW. Firstly we appreciate the peace and tranquility associated with Copacabana Beach. Secondly, here is a beach which is not only clean, protected, has an excellent surf but is also patrolled by life guards. Thirdly, in contrast to its northern cousins, it is still undeveloped and retains that village charm (very important in this virus prone time)! However others may prefer the more hectic lifestyle associated with other Central Coast attractions such as Avoca or Terrigal beaches.
The aim of this section is to describe the wide range of attractions, not only in Copacabana, but also around the Central Coast. Specifically, this will alert you to the local attractions and enable you to make the very best of your next holiday. In order to set the holiday mood we will start with a description of a typical day for a holidaymaker staying in Copacabana.
Map of Central Coast (Click Here)
Daybreak on Copacabana Beach
On Del Monte Place, the main street back from Copacabana Beach, activity is starting shortly after sunrise. The kookaburras and then the magpies have had their singsong. Initially the early walkers and a few runners are active. Likewise, others are struggling up the steep hill to the Captain Cook lookout (good for whale watching). Being elevated, it is undoubtedly, on of the best spots on the Central Coast to spot whales. Furthermore, the steep climb has to be good for cardiac health. Conversely, a few people are taking a more leisurely approach walking their pets along the beach.
In the background is the soft sound of waves breaking on Copacabana Beach. Above all, the air is usually clear and fresh except for occasional sea mist.
Meanwhile the Newsagent is open. Copaccino’s and Waves Cafe are putting their tables and chairs onto the footpath. A few patrons have gathered in order to enjoy an early coffee while reading the paper. At the same time, back on the beach, board riders are out and enjoying waves at the Point and on the main beach. In addition, an occasional person is walking or running the 1.4 Km to Macmasters. There are always a few fishermen trying their luck on the beach while a couple of diehards are taking an early morning dip in the safe rock pool.
Copacabana Attractions – Midmorning
By mid-morning Del Monte is humming with holiday makers enjoying a late breakfast. Meanwhile, surfers are getting out in numbers and the sunbakers are laying out their towels. Artie’s Café has an ideal position on the side of the Surf Club overlooking the beach, Thus it is a particular Copacabana attraction and highly recommended. It is now open and patrons are relaxing with coffee and snacks.
Families have gathering around the adjacent Cochrane Lagoon. This is a great Copacabana attraction because it is a shallow, warm and protected body of water ideal for young children. Dogs are also permitted to join in the fun (parts of the Beach and Lagoon are pet friendly). Later on, a few canoes and possibly an occasional paddleboard make their appearance. At the same time the sandhills are being populated by sunbakers and readers. Others have climbed to hill to enjoy some whale watching.
Central Coast Attractions Away from Copacabana
Some people are seeking attractions beyond the village. Usually, they will be off sight-seeing, bushwalking in the Bouddi National Park, Shopping, Horse Riding or Boating. However in addition, some travel even further away to visit Treetops, the Reptile Park or have gone to Glenworth Valley. People particularly flock to the Gosford Regional Gallery because they will be charmed, not only by the art displays, but also by the beautiful Japanese Gardens and Café.
Some people are whale watching because May-Oct. is the time for the Humpback Whale Migration. The Captain Cook’s Lookout is quite high and consequently provides excellent whale watching opportunities. Incidently, on some really exciting days the whales will play close to the beach or even directly below the lookout.
By lunchtime it may be getting too hot for the beach and consequently people are leaving. However the Cafes are packed while others are home enjoying a quiet siesta. Therefore little outside activity occurs during the heat of day.
Copacabana and Central Coast Attractions – Afternoon Activities
Later in the afternoon the beaches and lagoon are re-populated. Copacabana’s local Lady Pizza starts to throb. Subsequently by late afternoon, there are people queuing outside for Pizzas and craft beer. In addition the bottle shop next door is doing a roaring trade from people stocking up for nightly festivities. There is also an unofficial hotel across the road where surfers finish the day with a can of beer under the “No Alcohol” sign.
Usually, the evenings are quiet because most people are either dining with family and friends or out at a restaurant. Hugo’s, which was the only other Copacabana restaurant is now the Ocean Bar Cantina Consequently most people travel to adjacent Avoca where the is a feast of restaurants.
Loud disturbances and late night parties are unusual in this village so most holiday makers are able to get a sound night’s sleep ready for the next day.
Topography (Click Here for Map)
Copacabana Attractions – Beach and Surfing
A special Copacabana attraction is the surf because Copacabana is one of the best surfing spots on the Central Coast and “rarely disappoints”. In addition to being a long clean beach it is protected on each end by rocky headlands. Furthermore, if the predominantly south facing beach is blown out, it takes only 5 minutes to drive to Avoca Beach which has an entirely different orientation. Thus Avoca and Copacabana beaches are complementary. Copacabana surf is at it’s best when there is a northerly swell strengthening the left hand break at Copacabana Point.
Young children and parents love Copacabana Beach because, in addition to being clean and well patrolled, it has a child-perfect rock pool. Large rocks around the pool produce a wave-break so that for the most part the waves are gentle and non-threatening to tiny tots. The bottom of the pool is soft sand. In addition, young children love finding the multitude of small creatures which lay hidden in rock crevices between the surrounding boulders.
Copacabana Surf Club
Copacabana Beach is also popular because it has a gentle slope with sandbars on which one can stand. Moreover , it is patrolled by lifeguards and consequently relatively safe. Copacabana Surf Life Saving Club stands guard over the whole beach. It is a particularly attractive and colorful building. Under the building is Artie’s Café which opens onto a flat, grassy area. It is in a shady area with gentle breezes, and has a good view down the beach. These features combined with excellent coffee and snacks at a reasonably price add to its appeal.
Central Coast Attractions – Whale Watching
The Humpback Whale Migration commenced early this year (2019) with sightings from early March. Migration usually occurs between May and October. Presently (July) whales are still migrating northwards, but soon we will see the southward migration of whales with their newly borne babies.
A perfect spot for whale watching is from the elevated The Captain Cook Lookout. In addition to the height, it provides a wide view both up and down the coast. This panoramic view extends from Norah Head in the north to Sydney Heads in the South. A a result of the wide view it is common for whale watchers to spot 2-5 whales at any one time. Furthermore, pods of dolphins are sometimes seen playing in the adjacent surf. A plaque outlining Cook’s visit to the area is on display. There is a car-park at the Lookout otherwise you have a quite steep walk up the hill. It can be thought of as a “get fit” exercise.
Whale Watching and Drones
A common channel for whales watching appears to be about 2 Km out from the Lookout but occasionally they come much closer – even adjacent to the rocks just below the Lookout. People are obtaining amazing photos of whales using Drones launched from the lookout. As a reference point for such activity the deck of the Lookout is allegedly at 127 M above mean sea level.
The clubhouse also has viewing platforms on the upper level for whale watching. Bonnie’s Lookout in front of the shops, is a handy viewing platform.
Cochrane Lagoon – One of the Best Copacabana Attractions
Cochrane Lagoon is a large body of water separating Copacabana Beach from Macmasters Beach. It is intermittently tidal but mostly the entrance is closed by a sand bar. A proportion of the lagoon is quite shallow and therefore usually warm whereas sailboarders, and kayakers make good use of the deeper areas. Some successful fishing is done at night thus providing another interest for children.
The lagoon can be seen as a multi-purpose area, particularly for young children but also for pets because of designated areas for dogs. There are even areas where they can be off the leash. Some of the rental properties are on the edge of, or across the road from, the Lagoon. Copa Beachside is only one example.
A Major Copacabana Attraction – Watch the Lagoon being Opened
You may, if lucky, be visiting Copacabana when the Lagoon is opened. After heavy rains the water level in the Lagoon rises and periodically floods backyards. When this happens the Lagoon has to be drained.
Digging a small trench to the beach is the initial procedure. At the start there is only a small trickle of water but within a few hours the outflow becomes a raging torrent many meters across. This is a particularly exciting time for board and boogie riders who, for long periods, are able to ride the standing waves formed by the torrent. It is truly a very spectacular and exciting time for all present.
While it remains tidal the lagoon gets a good wash-out after which a sandbar reforms and another cycle commences.
Pet Friendly Areas Around the Beach and lagoon.
Why board out your pets when they can also enjoy the holiday? Check the adjacent map to see where pets can roam on or off the leash. What could be more enjoyable for the whole family than playing on the beach with their pet chasing sticks and balls? Also a lot cheaper!
Down the Beach
Macmasters Beach occupies the area southwards from Cochrane Lagoon to Two Points Headland. This beach is a mirror image of Copacabana Beach with both terminating in towering hills with ocean pools and Surf Clubs below. The area is strongly developer resistant and as a result the Surf Club and associated Bare Foot Cafe are the only commercial sites in town. Outside the town is the Coffee Shack. Consequently this, together with the Surf Club, provides the best (only) coffee in the area. They are also the only source of provisions before Kincumber township (or a walk along the beach to Copacabana shops).
Accordingly the whole area is residential with approximately 900 homes surrounded by bush, the beach and lagoon.
Information on Copacabana Shops
The Copacabana Village Shops provide essentials and include a mini market, ice cream shop, bottle shop, news agency (with post office) and two hair salons (Snips and Havana Hair and Beauty).
There are now four coffee shop/bistros on the main street (Copaccino’s, Waves Cafe and IceCream and Havana Cafe) and, recently, a cafe/bakery – Burnt Honey Bakery. Additionally there is another further on at the Surf Club (Artie’s Place). Besides providing essential provisions the local mini market also hires surf boards. Hugo’s Restaurant has now been sold and Ocean bar-cantina is open Tuesday 11AM till Sunday evening. Luca’s Discount chemist, Lady Copa Pizzeria e birra and a local Medical Centre are three new additions to the centre. There are also 3 real-estate agents in Copacabana – Stone, LJHooker and George Brand.
Other Central Coast Attractions – Local Shops
Hardy Bay’s Mooch Inside is very popular because of its eclectic treasure trove of clothes, gifts and décor items sufficient to satisfy the shopping urge. The Mousehole at Avoca also has an interesting array of gifts. Furthermore there is Erina Fair which is a huge shopping complex/mall only 15 minutes drive away.
Local Dining and Provisions – More Copacabana and Central Coast Attractions
Cafes and Restaurants
For snacks go to Copaccino’s, or to Artie’s at the Copa Surf Club because both have excellent coffee and café meals at good prices.
Lady-Copa-Pizzeria-e-birra is very popular because of its Pizzas and craft beer. it is open from midday into the evening. Additionally Avoca and Terrigal are close-by and have a larger variety of Cafes and Restaurants.
Woy Woy’s Fishermans’s Wharf also has fresh seafood meals . Besides dining in the air-conditioned restaurant, you can dine more cheaply in the outside kiosk. Alternatively you can buy fresh or cooked take-away food.
Bells at Killcare is a quality restaurant situated in lovely grounds and consequently very suitable for that special occasion. Accommodation can also be provided.
Sea-Coast Fishing on Scenic Drive, has locally caught and therefore, very fresh seafood. Accordingly it is a great spot to obtain seafood, plus a few oysters and prawns, for the evening BBQ.
George’s Fruit Barn is number one for fresh fruit and vegetables . Additionally he has a good selection of French cheeses and organic meats. Driving from Copacabana takes no more than fifteen minutes.
Central Coast Attractions – Exploration
Walking and Hiking
Walking to beautiful Maitland Bay and along other tracks in the Bouddi National Park is one of the best things you can do while in Copacabana. Accordingly take a particularly charming walk from Macmasters Beach to Putty Beach (8.6Km). The track is well formed, in places has boardwalk and the views are nothing short of spectacular. It is not a physically difficult treck. If you still want more, continue to the nearby Surf Club at Killcare for lunch.
There is also a 5 Lands Walk which extends along the beaches from Macmasters through Copacabana and Avoca Beaches to Terrigal (10 Km). The segment between Copacabana and Avoca involves climbing a fairly steep road to Captain Cooks Lookout followed by a grassy path, concrete steps, board-walk and beach.
Another picturesque walk is from Shelly Beach (Tuggerah) to Crackneck Lookout. Apparently the views are more than spectacular.
Entertainment and Educational Parks
The Reptile Park at Somersby is a special attraction for the Central Coast. In the first place it has reptiles from around the world in addition to having native Australian animals, themed exhibits and scenic tours. It is the only place in Australia that provides snake anti-venom and accordingly it has a large supply of snakes in safe-keeping.
Wildlife Sanctuary at Calga is also not that far from Copacabana. You can spend a pleasing and enjoyable day in the Australian bush with friendly animals. Furthermore you will learn about breeding and saving endangered creatures.
A Trip to Amazement Farm and Fun Park could be a enjoying excursion. It features a large maze of hedges as well as friendly farm animals, play areas and a bird sanctuary. Reputably it is one of the best attractions on the Central Coast for young children. It is near Wyong Creek and best to check the opening days and times before going. The Amazement Farm and Fun Park, Treetops, Glenworth Valley and Wildlife Sanctuary are all west of the motorway and may be easiest accessed coming or going from the Central Coast.
The Arboretum at Pearl Beach is well known for the 5 hectares of native bush-land with established pathways which have been opened to the public.
Other Central Coast Attractions – Adventure
Safe Tree Climbing
TreeTops Central Coast, near Wyong, is a safe climbing experience for young people (we can highly recommend the site).
Horse Riding is available at Bensville Riding School and also at Glenworth Valley Outdoor Adventures. The latter also has Kayaking, Quad bike Rides, Abseiling and Camping.
Joy Flights over Copacabana and the rest of the Central Coast are available from Microlight Adventures, Central Coast Aero Club and from Coast Helicopters. One of these could be used as an exciting present for a special occasion. Maybe this is good for keen whale watchers.
Take one of the Scuba Diving courses or go on a supervised trip. For example, Pro-Dive Central Coast has an exclusive licence to dive on the wreck of HMAS Adelaide off the Terrigal coast.
Central Coast Surf Lessons
Copacabana beach has Centralcoastsurfacademy lessons for all ages. This could be useful for your children. Similar courses are available at Terrigal, Avoca, Wamberal, Umina, Macmasters, and Shelley Beach.
Multiple Hedge Mazes
These can be found at Amazement Farm and Fun Park. it has a large maze of hedges as well as fiendly farm animas, play areas and a bird santuary. Reputably one of the best attractions on the Central Coast for young children. It is near Wyong Creek and best to check the opening days and times before going. The Amazement Farm and Fun Park, Treetops and Glenworth Valley are all west of the motorway and may be easiest accessed coming or going from the Central Coast.
Fishing – a given Central Coast Attraction
Useful fishing areas for the children include the rocks in Cochrane Lagoon, the wharfs at Hardy’s Bay and Wagstaff as well as in the gutters off Copacabana Beach.
Several firms offer charters for game fishing including Central Coast Reef and Game Fishing Charters (which has good reviews). A further firm, at Terrigal, is Terrigal Bluewater Fishing Charters. You can hire a 4 seat “tinnie” with sunshade (and bait) at Killcare Marina for about $14/hr. Great for fishing or exploring the Brisbane Waters (recommended).
Copacabana Beach has a Sports Venue. This is adjacent to the public school and has two tennis courts which can be booked online or through the Newsagency/Post office. Tennis courts are also available next door at Avoca.
Movies around the Central Coast
Visit the historic Avoca Picture Theatre housed in a rambling wooden cottage (seating 280). The sixty-year-old cinema won Australia’s Best Regional Cinema award. In summer it features an outdoor performance.
Cinema Paradiso at Ettalong is another local movie house. For the latest releases go to the Hoyts complex at Erina Fair.
Golfing is definitely a Central Coast Attraction
Missing golf? Then try the Public courses available at Gosford and Woy Woy. A pleasant nine hole course at nearby Terrigal/Wamberal is suitable for an evening bash. The Magenta Shores course on the edge of the Tuggerah Lakes is particularly challenging. Shelly Beach, running along the coastline, has to be one of the most picturesque courses on the Central Coast (book early). A little further inland is the championship Kooindah Waters course which is also quite challenging and has a lovely clubhouse. Near Kincumber is an excellent driving range with grass tees-ups. One could also stop at The Springs (Calga) on the way up or back from Sydney. it is also a challenging and appropriately named course
Gosford Regional Gallery at East Gosford has great Japanese Gardens, coffee shop and of course, gallery and gift shop.
Meet local artists in their studios. Details are on 5 Lands Art Studios.
Ferry Trips and Canoeing – Central Coast Attractions
A Ferry Trip from Wagstaff or Ettalong to Palm Beach is a pleasant distraction for a rainy day. it provides good views of the Hawkesbury, Broken Bay and Lion Island as well as Palm Beach.
An interesting trip can also be had on the River Postman.
A half day Kayak up the Patonga Creek is a beautiful thing to do. Morning tea is provided.
Skateboard Park and Children’s Playground
Near the Copacabana Beach parking area is a good Skateboard Park which could keep your children happy while you play with the tiny tots in the adjacent Shaun Brinklow children’s playground.
Or Just Relax
Simply take time off to have a BBQ in the back yard or drive around and inspect the local area,
Summary of the Best Copacabana and Central Coast Attractions
Surfing is the ultimate Central Coast Attraction (Click Here for Map).
To obtain the beat conditions try surfing Copacabana Beach Point, mid-beach Copacabana, or Avoca. Forresters Beach off-shore reef may tempt the experienced.
Take a trip up to the hill from Copacabana Beach to Captain Cook Lookout or explore other Central Coast attractions such as the Bouddi National Park– particularly Maitland Bay. If you are fit try walking The 5 Lands Walk but only after you have arranged a return lift.
Golfing – Something to Do on the Central Coast
If you are into Golfing improve your game with a lesson at the Kincumber Driving Range (highly rated) or play Magenta Shores.
Dining – Copacabana Information
For a great experience try Lady-Copa-Pizzeria-e-birra or Ocean Bar Cantina in Copacabana although for that special occasion a trip to to Bells at Killcare is highly recommended.
It’s hard to beat Treetops for children’s climbing adventures (one of the very best things to do in Copacabana). Alternatively, Bensville Horse Riding and Glenworth Outdoor Adventures have excellent reviews.
If you are interested in shopping for odds-and-ends, clothes or home décor go to Moochinside at Hardy’s Bay. Similarly, for more serious shopping, the huge complex at Erina Fair should satisfy your needs.
Movies – A Central Coast Attraction for Wet Days
For those who enjoy movies take a trip to the iconic refurbished Avoca Theatre. Conversely, for the very latest releases go to the Hoyts Movie complex at Erina Fair.
Fresh Fish – A local Copacabana Attraction.
Seacoast Fishing on Scenic Drive (a short distance from Copacabana Beach) has the Freshest Fish on the Central Coast. Consquently it is the perfect place to pick up fish, prawns and oysters for the evening BBQ.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
You will find George’s Fruit Barn a very useful place, not only because of the amazing range of Fresh Produce but also because of the extensive supply of Delicatessen foods.
Art and Culture – Another Central Coast Attraction.
For those interested in Art and Culture, a visit to the Gosford Regional Gallery is something to do in Copacabana. It is a very pleasant surprise because of the Japanese Gardens as well as quality exhibitions and an excellent gift and coffee shop.
Central Coast Attractions – Additional Tip
Finally, on the way to Copacabana or Macmasters stop at the Kincumber Post Café. Besides being an absolutely charming place with great coffee and good snacks it has a child’s playground. In additionall, on the trip back to Sydney, consider stopping at the Mooney Mooney Club (near Hawkesbury Bridge) for an evening meal or alternatively, stop at Saddles ( Mt. White) for lunch.