Our favourite spots to take the boat on Lake Macquarie, NSW

Lake Macquarie is the largest coastal saltwater lake in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere. If you’re lucky to live close by it’s a great place to visit for a picnic, boating, swimming, kayaking, hiking or even camping.

The lake’s foreshore has 174 km of bays, beaches and headlands. There are 29 public boat ramps, 28 public jetties and 7 marinas. So, where will you take your boat to explore? Here are some of our favourite spots.

Elizabeth Island

Elizabeth Island is a beautiful sand island near Mark’s Point. The southern end of the island has a huge sand hill, the eastern side is where you’ll get shade in the afternoon, and the western side you’ll enjoy shade in the mornings.

On the northern tip of Elizabeth island, when the lake is being dredged, large pipes and machinery could obstruct your ability to park the boat, so stay away and make sure you have boat clearance to go over the pipes.

There are no toilet facilities or garbage bins on the island, and it is super important to take everything home with you for disposal. There have been efforts in recent years to clean up the island as things got out of control in 2015.

You can camp for free on Elizabeth Island, but as there is no facilities or running water available, you must pack everything – that includes a portable toilet.

Pets are allowed on Elizabeth Island too. If your dog isn’t friendly with other dogs, maybe keep them at home.

Check the tide times on Willy Weather.

A boat pulled up on a sand island.
Our boat resting on the sands of Elizabeth Island on a very quiet day, Lake Macquarie.

Pulbah Island

In the southern end of Lake Macquarie lies the largest island, Pulbah Island. This island is formed of sandstone and rock, unlike Elizabeth Island this is ideal for hiking and nature.

There are shallow beaches and safe places to anchor up on the northern side of the island, however the southern side there are steep cliffs and lots of rocks – a more ideal location to go fishing from the comfort of your boat.

We personally don’t visit Pulbah Island often, as Elizabeth Island is much closer. However there is a great hike which would be ideal in the cooler months. Again there are no facilities on this island, so whatever you take in you need to take out.

Pulbah Island, Lake Macquarie.
Pulbah Island, Lake Macquarie.

Lake Entrance, Swansea Channel

I caught an enormous flathead on the righthand side of the Swansea Channel just before the bridge once (it’s right near the entrance to Black Ned’s Bay), and we often return to go fishing there. When the tide is high there’s shallow water for the kids to paddle around, but there is a steep and quick drop off, so beware if your kids can’t swim.

Man paddleboarding on clear blue water with beach behind
Paddleboarding in the Swansea Channel near the beach.

Is it safe to swim in Lake Macquarie?

Only swim in the shallow waters of Lake Macquarie. I would never risk swimming in the deep water – where countless shark sightings occur around the lake. If you’re tubing or wake skiing, do so at your own risk. Turn around to pick up the fallen swimmers as soon as possible.

If you’re swimming near the channel at Elizabeth Island, be careful to stay near the shore as boats and jet skis are zooming around – especially during summer holidays.

With a boat, these are some of our favourite spots to go swimming in Lake Macquarie:

  • Shallow waters of Elizabeth Island
  • Shallow waters off the small island east of Elizabeth Island closest to Mark’s Point
  • On the right hand side of the Swansea Channel once you cross under the bridge (near Black Ned’s Bay).

Without a boat, these are our favourite places to go swimming in Lake Macquarie (Eastlakes):

  • Naru
  • Pelican foreshore
  • Swansea caravan park

There are so many other places to go swimming around Lake Macquarie, but I deliberately haven’t listed places such as Belmont Baths because I have been stung by sea lice there a few too many times. It’s a nice place to go for a coffee and sit beside the water, but it can also be quite smelly at low tide.

Any questions? Ask away!

March 6, 2024

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