Marty's at Little Beach, Port Stephens review: Weekend Away

Family favourite ... Marty's at Little Beach.
Family favourite ... Marty's at Little Beach. 

Read our writer's views on this property below

Sarah Maguire does a family getaway in PORT STEPHENS.


Marty's at Little Beach at Nelson Bay, Port Stephens, on the NSW Mid North Coast, is a 1970s-era apartment block set on a busy strip of self-contained holiday accommodation. It has a path running alongside it from one piece of coastline to the other with a beach at either end - the west-facing Little Beach for sunsets and the east-facing Shoal Bay for sunrises. Another bonus: whether an easterly or a westerly is blowing, there's a protected swimming spot nearby.


Refurbished after new owners bought the block two years ago (it was formerly known as Casablanca), Marty's has had the sort of going over - $800,000 worth - that countless Australian holiday apartments would benefit from. Synthetic wood flooring throughout invites you to walk around in bare feet. The sand-coloured walls feature artful black and white beach-scene photographs, taken by the owners, while the furniture in the open-plan kitchen, dining and living area is modern and smart. Wrought-iron balconies, very much of their 1970s era, overlook Marty's lovely, heated, palm-tree-flanked pool, unsurprisingly a hit with kids.


Our two-bedroom apartment has TV in the main bedroom and living room where there is also a DVD player, free Wi-Fi with the password helpfully provided in an obvious place on the TV set, and a dishwasher in the kitchen which is equipped for a self-contained stay, although there is no oven, only a two-ring stove top and a microwave. Tea and coffee is provided.


While Marty's exterior retains its retro look, the interiors are fresh and up to the minute with white bed linen, blonde-wood furniture and beachy blue couches. The kitchens and bathrooms are also brand new. It's an inviting place to kick back in between beach adventures. Be warned: self-contained apartments are not serviced during anything shorter than a week-long stay, so you'll be sweeping up the sand yourself. Fresh towels are provided every second day.


There's nothing in the way of food on site - it's self-catering all the way. Marty's manager Jann can point you in the direction of your fancy. On her recommendation we have breakfast at the kiosk on Little Beach, a traditional-style takeaway that serves a great egg and bacon roll. For lunch, we hop in the car and head to Cookabarra Restaurant and Function Centre at Bobs Farm. The restaurant is at the centre of a barramundi farm, some of whose denizens end up on your plate (Cookabarra, geddit?), in my case as salt and pepper barramundi, picked from an extensive menu. The six-year-old has the kids' barra bites with chips, and a fruit ice block for dessert. You can take a tour of the farm if you like; Graham tells us a thing or two about the wily fish as he takes us through the enormous shed where the barramundi are raised.


As a busy holiday spot, there is no shortage of activities and attractions around Port Stephens, from shark feeding and dolphin watching to quad biking on sand dunes and horseriding. We take a camel ride on Anna Bay - the ride featured in the notorious "Where The Bloody Hell Are You" tourism campaign. It's a short (20 minutes) but fun diversion.


Well priced and good-looking digs where family beach holiday memories are made.


Take the F3 out of Sydney towards Newcastle and drive to the end of the freeway before turning right towards Hexham; cross Hunter River on the Pacific Highway then follow the signposts to Nelson Bay.


Marty's at Little Beach, corner Gowrie Avenue and Intrepid Close, Nelson Bay. Two-bedroom apartments $185 a night midweek, $200 on weekends. There are also one-bedroom apartments and two motel-style studios. Ph 02 4984 9100, see

The writer was a guest of Port Stephens Tourism and Marty's at Little Beach