Norah Head is a charmingly calm coastal neighbourhood located at the northern reach of the Central Coast. Recognised as an official National Surfing Reserve, it offers an attractive year-round holiday vibe, and is pinned to its iconic rocky headland by a historic lighthouse. Norah is known as a haven for those who love embracing sun, surf and nature – minus all the crowds.
Norah Head snapshot
Get to know Norah Head
Norah Head is located on a picturesque rocky headland, featuring its historic lighthouse and iconic National Surfing Reserve, surrounded by stunning beaches, its famous Rock Pool, grassy reserves you can meander through, scenic lookouts and shady coastal scrub. There's some brilliant small businesses dotted around this town, including a patisserie, cafes and modern tapas bar with some of the most exciting cocktails in the region. Just minutes from the main street of Noraville, Toukley and Wyrrabalong National Park's hiking trails, Norah Head is a great hub for exploring our north.
Soldiers Beach is considered one of the best surfing beaches in the Central Coast region. Patrolled by lifeguards from October to April, its northern headland provides an unspoiled vantage point to catch a glimpse of the humpback whales during their annual migration north for the winter, while its steep sand dunes make the perfect natural entertainment for kids.
Cabbage Tree Harbour is one the most scenic (and uncrowded) bays on the Central Coast, and its generally calm conditions are ideal for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking or stand up paddle boarding.
The Rockpool next to Cabbage Tree Harbour is ideal for the little ones to enjoy a splash and a play in the sand safely, with the surrounding scrub available to shelter in shade. From here, walk to the base of Norah Head Lighthouse and discover the rock platforms and private beaches along the way. Lighthouse Beach and Nimbin Beach are local secrets – visit them if you truly want an off-the-grid, uninterrupted beach day.
Jenny Dixon Beach (affectionately known by locals as JD’s) is an absolute gem. Access is only available by descending 132 stairs, but the crystal-clear water and unbroken views of the Norah Head lighthouse make it a worthwhile adventure.
Norah Head Lighthouse is an iconic landmark of the region. Take a guided tour to learn about the history of both the lighthouse and the fascinating shipwrecks in the area. Climb the 96 stairs to experience breathtaking 360-degree views of the headland, or take wander through the reserve and marvel at the sheer size of this historic beauty, which still operates today.
The Headland Nature Trail commences at the Bush Street Reserve carpark and guides you through the beautiful forest scenery. There is a lookout along the way offering views north toward Bird Island, a protected nature reserve. The trail meanders to a merchant navy memorial before opening up to Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve, finishing at the rock shelf below. If the tide is low, you can follow the headland around to the left along Lighthouse Beach and Nimbin Beach, until you reach The Rockpool. From here, take the stairs back to the carpark.
Norah Head has the honour of being the first National Surfing Reserve on the Central Coast, enclosing the ribbon of coastline between Hargraves Beach in the North and Pelican Point in the South. This small and unique strip of coastline features at least: 9 Beach breaks, 2 Point breaks, 3 Bomboras and 2 Reef breaks. These unspoiled breaks offer world-class surfable options in all wave and wind conditions. Our coastline is considered sacred by locals and our beaches surfed since the 1950s!
Eat & drink
You will find some popular local cafes in Norah Head, including Norah Head Beach Haus that is located above the stairs of The Rockpool by the nature reserve, with outdoor, shaded seating and a food philosophy that is fresh, local and seasonal. The Island Café is located on Bungary Road, offering a cool, coastal vibe (and ocean views!) featuring a beautiful mural by This is my happy place, a popular backdrop for creative Instagram posts.
If you’re seeking a quick bite on the way to the beach, Norah Head Patisserie have some of the best cakes, pastries and pies available in the area, created by highly-skilled local legend, Jacques.
Johnny Tapas is a laid-back woodfired pizza and tapas bar with an enticing cocktail list – we can’t go past the ‘Lady Norah’. The interiors here provide a cool vibe with bar and booth seating and feature a mural by talented Central Coast artist Grant Molony.
Next door is Shore Thyme Restaurant and here you will be served up some of the most colourful food on the Central Coast. The menu features modern Australian dishes with Mediterranean and Thai influences. Book your table in the charming outdoor courtyard for the full experience.
Located on the upper floor of Soldiers Beach Surf Club, offering panoramic coastal views, is Dunes by Dish. This tapas bar and restaurant is a popular spot after spending a day at the beach when everyone’s appetites are high but you just can't get enough of life by the ocean.
Explore two trendy boutiques on Mitchell Street: Frankie Lifestyle offers carefully curated fashion and lifestyle pieces by popular Australian brands. This gorgeous little store has been visually merchandised to perfection with so many stunning finds at your fingertips. Kroboca Boutique was born from a passion for fashion shared by two local sisters. The store stocks the latest clothing items curated from the latest popular brands.
Norah Head has some well-kept outdoor green spaces to enjoy a chilled picnic in the great outdoors. The grassed area on the Soldiers Beach northern headland is a popular spot to plant a picnic, offering stunning 180-degree ocean views.
Bush Street Reserve is located at the top of the stairs above The Rockpool with scenic views over Cabbage Tree Harbour.
Young Street Reserve is across the road from Norah Head Beach Haus and has both a playground for the kids and a large grassed area ideal for kicking the ball around, or a fun game of family cricket.
Jenny Dixon Reserve is a beautiful, grassed area among the shady trees overlooking Jenny Dixon Beach, with filtered views toward the coast and landmark lighthouse.
Step back in time and book a stay at one of two Lightkeepers Quarters located on the grounds of the Norah Head Lighthouse Reserve. The self-contained, wonderfully refurbished properties have still maintained their heritage charm. Kick back and enjoy expansive ocean views from your large, sweeping veranda.
If camping is more your style, Norah Head Holiday Park is centrally located and within walking distance to almost everywhere of note in Norah Head. Pull up in your caravan, pitch your tent or book a cabin for convenience, then bask in the sun by a large, resort-style pool. The children’s pool and playground also make this an excellent option for families.
Nearby you will find Pullman Magenta Shores, another great accommodation option complete with dining facilities set on a word-class coastal golf course. For groups, Magenta Beach House is another top spot nearby.
The Lighthouse Festival has cemented itself as one of the marquee events of the region, each year celebrating the Central Coast’s most iconic and breathtaking headland with live music headlined by national gems including Missy Higgins and John Butler, alongside great food and locally brewed beverages.
The Whale Dreamers Festival occurs in July each year, bringing people together to celebrate and connect with these majestic mammals. The event is highly educational and raises awareness and funds for important marine research and conservation projects. Held during the Humpback whale’s annual migration north to the warmer waters for the winter, the event is a brilliant opportunity to witness these creatures as they pass by the Coast on their journey.
Held on the first Sunday of the month, you may also catch the Sporties Markets at the Norah Head Bowling & Sports Club, with its variety of stalls including clothing, beauty, arts and crafts as well as fresh produce and food vendors.
Norah Head is bordered by Wyrrabalong National Park to the south with its bushwalking loops and Pelican Beach, connecting to Magenta and the North Entrance. Neighbouring suburbs include lakeside Canton Beach, Noraville and Toukley, with Budgewoi also a short drive north and the stunning natural sites of Munmorah State Conservation Area on its doorstep.