I am going to let you in on a secret family holiday location in Australia, that is absolutely perfect for a sun-drenched road trip or break away with your kids. Hordes of families have always flocked to the Gold Coast for their holidays, but if you are like me and crave a place with less skyscrapers, uncrowded beaches and some peace and quiet then you might just like to consider a little place just 20 kilometres south of Coolangatta Airport. I am talking about Salt Beach, Casuarina located five kilometres from Kingscliff on the Northern New South Wales coast.
Nestled amongst a newish residential development the Casuarina region is picture perfect and satisfies the needs of family holiday makers, with impressive resorts surrounded by family friendly things to do and places to visit. The infrastructure surrounding the resorts is also fabulous. There are superb bike trails, beach access, playgrounds, restaurants, and public recreation facilities meaning you can do as little or as much as you like for your holiday.
Here is the fully road-tested (three times now and planning to go back) advice column for planning your family adventure to Casuarina.
How to Get to Casuarina
If you are not close enough to drive, the easiest flights are likely to be into the Gold Coast Airport. From here Casuarina is an easy highway drive 20-30 minutes away. Alternately, depending where you are coming from you can also fly into Byron Bay (Ballina) airport which is only a slightly longer drive.
Where to Stay at Casuarina
Peppers Salt Resort and Spa
My favourite resort for Casuarina accommodation is the amazing Peppers Salt Resort and Spa. A luxury apartment style resort, Peppers has a fabulous network of pools and exceptional leisure and relaxation facilities.
The apartments themselves are really beautifully appointed, hugely spacious and many have views over the ocean, beach or parklands.
Located in the centre of the Salt precinct where you will find the best restaurants and facilities, and the beach is just a short stroll away. You can easily park the car in the underground basement and walk everywhere you need to go.
Keep an eye online for deals here or alternately there are a number of privately owned units which can be booked through stayz for a good price.
Mantra on Salt
Located adjacent to Peppers, the Mantra on Salt resort is a little more budget friendly than but still features a lovely resort style pool, awesome location and well-equipped family apartments. The living areas in the Mantra apartments are not as spacious but are comfortable and functional and most apartments have lovely ocean or pool views.
You can check for current prices for your travel dates here.
There are numerous other newer resorts now available in Casuarina including the Cotton Beach Resort, Santai Retreat and the Drift Apartments. I haven’t stayed in these ones however they all look really beautiful and well set up to cater for family travel.
Best things to do in Casuarina
The beauty of Casuarina is that it is a really quintessential Aussie beach holiday with all the benefits and trimmings of modern luxury. It is also located in a fabulous spot because you are just over half an hour from stunning Byron Bay with all it has to offer, and roughly the same distance to Surfers Paradise and all the offerings of the Gold Coast.
So here is the low down on the best things to do in and around Casuarina:
Salt Beach which runs endlessly between Kingscliff and Cabarita beach is simply gorgeous and squeaky clean. I don’t need to tell parents how easy it is to fill the day at the beach with little ones. Pack the sand toys, some refreshments and the sunscreen and head to the water for the day.
When you are ready to wander back to your accommodation you can rinse off at the surf lifesaving club or the beach showers and stop for an ice-cream before a play at the Salt Village playground.
If you are going to pay decent money to stay in a nice resort you should spend plenty of time experiencing what the resort has to offer…it’s okay to be self-indulgent on holidays as you rarely have the time (or money!) back home. Spa treatments, lounging poolside while the kids play, playing tennis or taking a long leisurely breakfast is always a nice treat when on holidays.
Winding along the foreshore of the beach is a really lovely bike and walking trail that connects the Casuarina village to Kingscliff. It’s a perfect traffic-free place to go for a family bike ride and is flat and easy for kids to navigate.
Bikes and helmets can be hired from most of the resorts in the area and are a great way to get from point A to B when you don’t feel like being in the car. Besides the weather and scenery is so good here you really want to make the most of it!
I will cover this in more detail in the Where to Eat section but half the appeal of Casuarina is the amazing food on offer in the region. Full of fresh produce and with beach luxe style the restaurants, cafes and pubs in the Salt Village are a relaxing and gourmet way to while away the hours. For full details on the offerings at Salt Village you can check it all out online...http://www.saltvillage.com.au/
The public space has been very cleverly designed at Casuarina with wide open grassed areas for kids to run and play. It’s a great spot for a game of frisbee, to kick a ball or set up a game of cricket. The locals even have regular games of touch footy!
Day Trip to Byron Bay
It is hard to do justice to Byron Bay in merely a day but being so close to Casuarina you might even like to do several trips. Alternately I recommend extending your stay with at least three nights in Byron if you have the time.
If short on time here are my must-do things to do with kids in Byron Bay:
Cape Byron Lighthouse Walk
Simply put this is one of the most magnificent coastal walks in Australia and achievable with kids (my girls were quite young at the time of doing this). All the details for the walk can be found here (https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/cape-byron-walking-track) With young kids you will want to allow a half day for this walk alone as there are plenty of places to stop along the way for a picnic, a swim or to take loads of photos. Parking can also be tricky in the area so to avoid the crowds heading off early in the morning or later in the day is a good idea.
The Farm Byron Bay
I loved this place as a simple, fun place to take the kids. Rustic and interesting, the kids enjoyed wandering around to look at the animals, playing on the farm machinery and sampling from the scrumptious on-site bakery (okay so it was me that loved that bit!) https://www.thefarmbyronbay.com.au/
Byron Bay is just cool, and the village is filled with a really eclectic and interesting mix of people so hanging out with a drink and taking in the scene is part and parcel of a visit here and can be highly entertaining.
Byron Bay Markets
If you happen to be around on the first Sunday of the month you should stop in at the Byron Bay markets for its bustling energy and offbeat entertainment. Filled with local produce, art and crafts the markets are bustling with energy and there are plenty of local musicians entertaining the crowds.
Day trip to the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is a destination in itself and has so many things to see and do that there is little point in trying to cover it in this article. Keep in mind that from Casuarina you may like to include a day trip up to one of the theme parks or perhaps a hinterland trip to see a different part of the region.
Best Places to Eat in Casuarina
My two favourite places to eat at Casuarina are found in the Salt Village.
The local thai restaurant serves fresh and innovative food in a pretty and romantic setting. Although dining with the kids kind of ruins the romantic atmosphere it is a place that we return over and over for its mouth-watering dishes.
Salt Bar (Beachbar and Bistro)
Easily the most family friendly of the restaurants in the area this place is awesome. With the relaxed yet holiday feel of a surf club with a good range of traditional and gourmet pub food this place is perfect for a simple night out with the kids. Relax with a drink and listen to the ocean while the kids play in the on-site playground after dinner.
Just writing this post has made me wish I could be back at this place right now. It really is a wonderful option for a family holiday in Australia where you can blend an active and outdoor holiday with that little touch of luxury and indulgence.
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