Just under 5 hours drive North of Sydney, the vibe in Crescent Head is truly relaxed and salty. You can’t move for a surfer here.
I love both the charm of this place and the ability to use it as a springboard for multiple National Parks located in the surrounding the area.
Where: Mid North Coast, NSW, Australia.
Camping in Crescent Head gives you all the surfing-vibes of Byron much closer to Sydney.
There isn’t too much here outside of surfing, enjoying the beach and spending some quality time lazying around in the cafes so your time here will be best spent when it’s dry and sunny and especially over a long weekend given the just under 5 hours drive time.
I recommend staying in Crescent Head itself on a sunny day to soak up the laid-back surfer vibes and buzz of the Crescent Head Tavern at sunset overlooking the bushland and out across to Killick Beach.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something more rugged and within the surrounding National Parks, Point Plomer is my personal favourite campground.
If you’re planning a longer camping trip away then Crescent Head is a stop on my Sydney to Byron Bay two week itinerary.
Where to camp
Camping in Crescent Head
The Macleay Valley Crescent Head Holiday Park is the one and only place to stay if you’re camping in the town. It’s a huge site, covering both beach and Killick Creek sides. In some ways it feels like it is Crescent Head because it’s right at the heart of it and where the main hub of activity is.
A couple of watch-outs are the sites are on the smaller side and this is definitely a town camping site with the beach-front spots feel like you’re in a car park. Although you are closer to the surf if that’s what you want (just across a quiet road and you’re there). Staying on the creek side you’re more tucked away and less exposed to day trippers. The best spots, if available, are the ones on the creek-front because they both overlook the water and have a vantage point great for sitting back and enjoying the sunset.
Campsite details: $48/night (powered site), Pacific St, Crescent Head NSW 2440, 1300 425 605.
Camping near Crescent Head
If you want to camp and the Holiday Park is booked up, or you fancy staying out of town and in a National Park, there are a number of really great camping sites run by the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) in the area. These campsites are more basic as the NPWS type of camping sites tend to be but are always in amazing locations. My favourite in the area is Point Plomer.
Take the Point Plomer Road out of Crescent Head to both Goolawah National Park and Limeburners Creek National Park to reach the following campsites. Note, Point Plomer Road is unsealed but fine for 2WD as no high clearance is required. It can be rough so take your time if it is. The last time I drove down this road it had been recently graded and it’s condition was so much better than the first time!
Beach side camping sites
- NPWS-run Racecourse Campground on Goolawah Beach: Has showers, toilets. You need to bring your own drinking water.
- NPWS-run Delicate Campground in Goolawah Regional Park: Has picnic tables, showers, toilets. You need to bring your own drinking water.
- NPWS-run Point Plomer Campground: Right on the beach in a big bay, this is my favourite. It’s also very popular so it can get booked up, especially at weekends. If there’s space, book in and enjoy! Firepits are also available for hire for evening entertainment around a campfire. Showers, toilets, need to bring your own drinking water.
National Park side of the road camping sites
- Waves Campground is the only independent campsite along this stretch of coastline. As a result it has more facilities including hot showers, (flush) toilets and drinking water. It also has the Surf Fuel café. It’s not on the beach so I haven’t chosen to stay here before now but I did stop by for a drink and some food at the onsite cafe and it’s in a nice setting with more of a hostel camp vibe.
- NPWS-run Melaleuca Campground: This is in a peaceful setting right on the creek and lots of green grass so offers something a little different. It is also the most basic campsite with only drop toilets and no showers. You will need to bring your own drinking water.
Crescent Head in a weekend
Spend your time staying in Crescent Head, soaking up the laid back surfer vibes and hanging out in the cafes; or head out to explore the nearby National Parks.
Here’s a list of things to do over a weekend.
- Walk up Little Nobby headland: Takes 10 minutes and you get an amazing 360 degree view of the entire area.
- Park up along the walkway overlooking the surf: Sit in front of the long peeling right-hand waves and you’ll be able to while away a few hours watching the surfers and grabbing a bite to eat from Point Break Cafe.
- Head down to Killick Creek for a dip: Float in the calm waters with amazing views of the hills beyond. This is my top tip when staying in Crescent Head. It took 3 years and my third trip here to even discover it so I’m letting you in on the secret so you can check it out and enjoy it on your first visit!
- Food and drink options: These are limited in Crescent Head but all have a lovely local feel to them. For coffee and breakfast options check out Blackfish Coffee, Green Room Café & Fruit, and Point Break Cafe in the SLSC on the beach front.
- For dinner options: Crescent Head Tavern serves standard pub grub but has a real buzz about the place at sunset. For something more upmarket, check out Lumah or Pandanus Garden Bar and Restaurant and book ahead. Especially on a weekend.
- Adventure out of town along Point Plomer Road to the various beaches and National Parks: For hiking options, check out the Big Hill Rainforest walking track (1.4km, 30 mins loop track) starting from Melaleuca Campground.
I really hope you make it to Crescent Head to see for yourself just how truly relaxed and beautiful this corner of the NSW East Coast is. With so many options for camping it’s a good place head to and worth the longer trip if you’re driving there from Sydney.
Wherever you decide to camp and explore, you’ll be in for a treat.