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Wamberal Beach
Photograph: Supplied/Central Coast CouncilWamberal Beach

11 awesome activities you never knew you could find on the Central Coast

From cheesemaking to yoga, there's plenty to do, see, eat and drink on this beautiful stretch of coast

Maxim Boon
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Maxim Boon
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It’s no secret that when it comes beachy getaways, the Central Coast is NSW’s most popular go-to. But there’s far more to this stretch of the state than just sea and sand. Check out this eye-opening list of must-do experiences that you probably didn’t know you could find just an hour north of Sydney.

Indulge your sweet tooth at a gourmet dessert bar
Photograph: Supplied

1. Indulge your sweet tooth at a gourmet dessert bar

Who knew the humble marshmallow could be the hero of an up-market candy shop? Well, the dessert masterminds behind the Marshmallow Co in Wyong, that’s who. Their pillowy cubes of handmade mallows come in a surprisingly diverse range of 40 different flavours, from classics like vanilla bean and strawberry to more experimental creations like watermelon and pineapple-coconut. But, for our money at least, you need to try the Marshmallow Co’s deliciously oozy s’mores (ie melted marshmallow and chocolate between two Graham crackers). This house speciality comes in six different varieties, but we’d be hard-pressed to tell you which is our favourite, so it’s probably best that you try them all.

Discover the ancient heritage of the Central Coast’s First Nations
Photography: Supplied/Central Coast Council

2. Discover the ancient heritage of the Central Coast’s First Nations

On the land that is now known as Bouddi National Park, the lore and culture of the Guringai and Darkinjung peoples has been passed down, generation to generation, for thousands of years. You too can learn about this history on one of the Girri Girra Aboriginal Experiences tours, which offer walks through Bouddi’s lush bushland with a First Nations guide. In addition to hearing fascinating insights on the local flora and fauna, you’ll also visit Aboriginal sites where you can see engravings and other Indigenous artworks that are hundreds, and in some instances thousands of years old.

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Treat your special someone to a romantic sunset sail
Photograph: Supplied

3. Treat your special someone to a romantic sunset sail

If you’re looking for a picture-perfect way to spoil bae, why not recreate your best ‘Jack and Rose’ moment, minus the iceberg, on a stunning sunset cruise, courtesy of Sail Central Coast? If you’re ready to pop the big question, a sail past Lion Island as the sun gently dips below Brisbane Water National Park’s western horizon is a romantic backdrop that would be difficult to better. And if you want to make a weekend of it, you can opt for the Stay, Play and Sail experience, which not only comes with your very own skipper but a luxury seafood platter for two as well.

Crack a cold one (or two) at a craft brewery
Photography: Supplied/Central Coast Council

4. Crack a cold one (or two) at a craft brewery

If you consider yourself a card-carrying craft beer fanatic, you need to make the pilgrimage to the many top-notch breweries found the length and breadth of the Central Coast. Six String Brewery have partnered with local food heroes – the low’n’slow barbecue masters of Black Bear BBQ – so the eatin' is as good as the drinkin'. Bay Road Brewing channel the same indie cool you’d find behind the pumps in Melbourne’s trendiest taphouses. Craft beer purists will truly feel at home at Block ‘n Tackle’s Kincumber cellar door, where you can sample a tasting paddle and then pick up a full keg when you find a brew that really whets your whistle.

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Take an elbow at a cool cocktail bar
Photograph: Supplied

5. Take an elbow at a cool cocktail bar

If downing pints isn’t quite your speed, the Central Coast has plenty to offer those who prefer a tipple with a little more glitz. At Bar Toto near Ettalong Beach, you can find a truly authentic Italian trattoria. Graze on antipasti and share plates while you sip on classic Italian cocktails like a Sgroppino, a Garibaldi, or Toto’s signature Barrel Aged Negroni. Head to Point Frederick’s for some Latin flair at Frederico’s. Nothing goes better with a Pisco Sour or a Mezcal Mule than a generous scoop of guac on a housemade tortilla. At Johnny Tapas in Norah Head, you can enjoy Spanish-inspired bar-style snacks in a chilled-out setting while you sample the bar’s individual takes on cocktail classics, such as the Jonny Pick Me Up, a riff on the classic Espresso Martini, or the Sour Barron, an ode to the Amaretto Sour.

Get friendly with fromage at a hands-on cheese-making class
Photograph: Jacs Powell

6. Get friendly with fromage at a hands-on cheese-making class

The folks at Little Creek Cheese know a thing or two about dairy in all its yummy forms. And they’re more than happy to share the tricks of their trade at one of their popular classes at the Wyong Milk Factory. Under the guidance of expert cheesemongers, you can try your hand at producing ricotta and paneer, and you’ll even leave with your hard-earned wares to take home. If you’d rather leave the whey whispering to the professionals, you can opt for a tasting session, where you’ll learn how to savour a range of top-shelf cheeses, made on site.

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Stay in luxe accommodation by the beach
Photograph: Elin Bandmann

7. Stay in luxe accommodation by the beach

For those with discerning tastes in accommodation, there's plenty to choose from. Take, for example, the Anchor Avoca Beach, a beautifully appointed four-bedroom holiday home  complete with plush furnishings and modern finishes. Kokomo at Umina Beach is small complex of holiday flats and even a vintage caravan for anyone in search of a quirkier bolthole for their stay. You'll find all the usual mod cons – free Wi-Fi, amenities, air-con and the like – but Kokomo ups the Central Coast ante by also offering complimentary surfboards too.

Find inner peace in a Japanese garden
Photograph: Supplied

8. Find inner peace in a Japanese garden

If you’re looking for a way to shed your stress on a rejuvenating weekend away from the city, a soothing visit to the Edogawa Japanese Gardens is a must. This beautiful, calming space adjacent to the Gosford Regional Gallery is made for quiet reflection. For those Japanophiles out there, the garden, which opened in 1994, was designed in strict accordance with the principles of Japanese Heian design, which dates back almost 1,200 years. You’ll also find a traditional teahouse, a wisteria pergola and even a fish-feeding pavilion.

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Unleash your inner artist at a creative workshop
Photograph: Jacs Powell

9. Unleash your inner artist at a creative workshop

Inside all of us is a Monet, Picasso or Van Gogh just waiting to burst out. And the good people at Exhale Art Studio in Long Jetty are ready to make that happen. They offer a range of creative experiences, from art therapy to life drawing, but by far their most popular classes are the paint and sip sessions, where you can learn to create your very own masterpiece while greasing the wheels of your artistry with a glass or two of wine.

Detox and limber up on a yoga retreat
Photograph: Supplied

10. Detox and limber up on a yoga retreat

Whether you’re a dedicated yogi or a total noob, there’s a yoga class to suit everyone at the Bamboo Buddha in Holgate. This hidden gem of a café-cum-yoga studio is located in a serene garden setting inspired by the lush, tropical landscapes of Indonesia. Once you’ve aligned your chakras, you can flush out any remaining toxins with a nourishing and thoroughly delicious feed from the vegetarian and vegan menu. You’ll find a similar fusion of yoga and healthy eating at Modern Organic in Long Jetty. Not only does it have an impressive team of ten in-house yoga instructors, but it also boasts an incredible menu that champions organic, local and seasonal produce.

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Live out your Willy Wonka fantasy at a chocolate and nougat factory
Photograph: Supplied

11. Live out your Willy Wonka fantasy at a chocolate and nougat factory

No golden tickets are required for a visit to the Chocolate Factory in Gosford, and while we can’t promise you’ll find everlasting gobstoppers or golden goose eggs, there will be plenty of creamy, dreamy, delicious chocolate and nougat to sample. After a tour of the premises, where you’ll see how a real chocolate factory works (spoiler alert: there are no tiny, orange-skinned slaves involved), you can enjoy some sweet treats at the chocolate café. If you prefer your sugar rush with a little more sophistication, book in for the Firescreek Fruit Wines chocolate and wine experience, where you’ll sample botanical and fruit flower wines perfectly paired with gourmet chocolates.

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