The Oaks Pacific Blue, Port Stephens review: Waiter, there's a moat in my suite

Read our writer's views on this property below

Simon Tsang laps up the fun at a very aquatic resort.

The Oaks Pacific Blue is said to have Australia's longest swimming pool. Just about every apartment faces water - if not your own private plunge pool, then the main lagoon pool, which snakes around the resort in a 480-metre loop, like an inviting, modern-day moat.

Apartments facing the moat have direct access to it from balconies (with a child-proof fence in between, of course) so you can literally slide into the water from your room. There are four man-made "beaches" at various points around the lagoon pool (two with spas) where grown-ups can laze about on folding lounges while watching their ankle-biters bury their feet in the sand.

Pacific Blue, at Salamander Bay in Port Stephens, opened in 2007 so everything still has a swanky, newish feel to it, yet with home-away-from-home features. Apartments range from studio size to three-bedroom townhouses. The apartments are all privately owned and managed by the Oaks - indeed, some were for sale during our stay. Tempting as the thought was to own a piece of paradise, my wife and I decided financial involvement would probably spoil the fun. And there's plenty of fun to be had.

The resort is equipped with a small gym and steam room as well as a heated lap-pool for more serious training, although we suspect that the heat was turned off during our stay since it was about the same temperature as the main pool. There are also two synthetic-grass tennis courts, hair salon, day spa and store attached to the resort.

For more serious shopping, the Salamander Bay shopping centre is close by. And did I mention the 480-metre pool? I have no qualms accepting the claim that it's the longest in Australia, given that it took me the better part of a weekend to swim one lap. Keen swimmers will love this four-star resort. Even if you're not a great swimmer, it's not that hard to walk it, given that the pool is less than one-metre deep all the way around.

If that's still not enough water for you, try booking one of the townhouses with their own plunge pools. These are a bonsai version of an in-ground pool - just large and deep enough to do a semi-decent cannonball. We stayed in a two-bedder townhouse with one of these in the courtyard, though it seemed a tad indulgent given that the entire resort is practically one big swimming pool. Our four-year-old didn't seem to mind, however.

The townhouse was well-furnished with summer-feeling cane furniture - and Foxtel. The kitchen carried a decent stock of utensils, so we could easily cook up a storm instead of eating out. Of the upstairs bedrooms, one had a large ensuite, the other - even bigger - bathroom featured a spa bath. The two-bedder could comfortably fit four adults or a large family. The fenced plunge pool means you don't even have to leave the comfort of your apartment to have a swim.

And then there's the restaurant, cafe and bar, which are - like everything else - right on the water, complete with a board walk.

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Salamander Bay is a three-hour drive from Sydney, so getting there won't be a hassle unless you've picked the first weekend of school holidays to drive. It's also 10 minutes by car to Nelson Bay, launch pad for the fleet of dolphin and whale-watching cruises that the port is famous for. There are about 150 resident dolphins in the area, so there's a good chance of spotting a few.

You can also visit the heritage-listed Nelson Head Inner Lighthouse or walk to Tomaree Head for a spectacular view of the Nelson Bay area. Sand features in most activities; four-wheel-driving, quad-biking, sandboarding and horse-riding along the beach. But the thing about the Oaks Pacific Blue Resort is that it's a great place to do nothing except hang by the pool. After all, it's just beyond your balcony.

The writer was a guest of The Oaks Pacific Blue and Tourism NSW.

TRIP NOTES

Address The Oaks Pacific Blue, 265 Sandy Point Road, Salamander Bay, Port Stephens.

Bookings Phone(02) 4916 1200, see theoaksgroup .com.au.

Rates Studios from $135 a night for two nights or more; one bedroom from $185; two-bedroom with plunge pool from $409 a night.

VERDICT

You'll be swimming in circles and loving it.

Why you'd go It's swanky, well-priced and child-proof.

Why you wouldn't You have a morbid fear of water - pool, ocean, spa, bottled.

FIND TIME TO

* Dolphin or whale-watch at Nelson Bay.

* Pop over to the heritage-listed Nelson Head Inner Lighthouse.

* Hike up to Tomaree Head.

* Quad-bike in sand dunes.

* Ride horses on the beach.