The Zenith review, Port Stephens, Shoal Bay: Upscale beach house with million-dollar water views

Our rating

4 out of 5

THE PLACE

The Newcastle-based owners of this sprawling, luxury beach house worked with a local stylist to achieve a relaxed, coastal feel for the four-bedroom property named after its rugged namesake, Zenith Beach. Its elevated north-east aspect affords sweeping vistas over Shoal Bay beach and Port Stephens waterways, best enjoyed at sunset on the deck with a glass of wine in hand. Expect daily visits from friendly kookaburras.

THE LOCATION

The Zenith is located in Shoal Bay, boasting one of Port Stephens' best stretches of white sand beach, around three hours drive from Sydney or 30 minutes from Newcastle's Williamtown Airport. A 10-minute walk from this new holiday listing, which abuts Tomaree National Park, will have you at the beach. Take a bush trail to either Shoalhaven Beach or the (unpatrolled) Zenith Beach, or walk via the road. In a car it's a two-minute drive. 

THE ROOM

There are four spacious, light-filled bedrooms to choose from. However, the apartment-sized master bedroom is the pick with king-size bed, walk-in wardrobe and ensuite with freestanding tub and waterfall shower. It was a joy to wake to filtered bay views through towering gum trees. My mum, meanwhile, sleeps in one of the queen-size bedrooms (downstairs there are three bedrooms: two with queen-size beds and the third with two singles and two trundle beds; all share a bathroom) which opens to a deck even larger than the one upstairs. This is a house for large gatherings. There's a fully equipped kitchen with coffee pod, dishwasher, comfy leather lounge, smart TVs and 10-seater dining table. The upstairs deck which runs the width of the house has a stylish outdoor lounge, outdoor dining and a barbecue. All bedrooms have water views.

THE FOOD

It's BYO almost everything apart from select pantry staples and a small starter pack of essentials such as dishwasher tablets, so stock up before you arrive. Port Stephens now offers some terrific dining options, including the refurbished Shoal Bay Country Club (SBCC) which is within walking distance. Order the prawn linguini and a jug of sangria and head for the sunny terrace with its yellow-and-white striped awnings and stellar bay views. You can't beat a morning dip in the calm waters of Shoal Bay before taking a seat with sandy feet at SBCC's retro Mermaid's Cafe. Opt for the healthy brekkie bowl and a triple berry smoothie.

STEPPING OUT

Step through a side gate and you're in Tomaree National Park. Head down the trail though eucalypt, blackbutt and banksia trees before ascending the heart pumping trail to Tomaree Headland. At the top be rewarded with sensational vistas over Zenith Beach and the sweep of Shoal Bay. The cosy Evviva Cafe and Bar at Nelson Bay offers a warm welcome, interesting Euro-Asia fusion tapas and delicious cocktails. When it comes to the wine list, let the  staff guide you – you won't be disappointed.

THE VERDICT

This upscale beach house is ideal for gatherings of extended families or friends. With national park one side, million-dollar water views the other, we never wanted to leave the deck.

ESSENTIALS

From $600 a night. Alloggio is a boutique agency with more than 500 holiday homes on its books in Port Stephens, including The Zenith. Many listings offer water views, Wi-Fi, fully equipped kitchens and luxurious extras. Good deals are available throughout winter. See alloggio.com.au

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

4/5

HIGHLIGHT

Sunsets on the deck and the friendly visiting kookaburra which allowed us to pat it.

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LOWLIGHT

There was no house compendium, nor heating or cooling. The official 10am checkout time is annoying.

Sheriden Rhodes was a guest of Alloggio.