Beach Thirty-metre high Nelson Head provide a good view east across Shoal Bay, which contains Shoal Bay beach (PS 15) the most easterly and more energetic of the bay beaches (Fig. 4.132). It is a 2.5 km long, curving beach that faces initially northeast at Nelson Head, then north and finally northwest against Tomaree Head. The beach is composed of clean medium to coarse sand, which produces a steep usually cusped reflective beach. This is a popular beach is backed for the most part by Shoal Bay Road, with a continuous foreshore reserve between the road and beach, and a shopping centre and most tourist facilities and accommodation on the other side of the road. The eastern end terminates at Tomaree National Park where there is extensive parking and picnic facilities, as well as a boat ramp and seawall.
Swimming The southern bay beaches are all relatively safe owing to the usually low wave to calm conditions. During high swell there can be a heavy shorebreak toward the western end of Shoal Bay beach.
Fishing The entire southern shore is a popular fishing destination for beach, rock and boat fishers, as well as the game fishers who head offshore from the several marinas. There are public boat ramps at Salamander Bay and Shoal Bay.
General The southeast shore of Port Stephens contains the highly developed 5 km long section of shoreline between Nelson and Shoal bays. Nelson Bay (population 26 000) is the site of the main business and shopping centre for the Port Stephens. The main road runs through the shopping area and terminates on a bluff overlooking the western end of the two bay beaches (PS 12 & 13). The once continuous beach has been cut in half with the development of the d’Albora Marina at the western end.