It’s very convenient living in inner Sydney but I was getting tired of the constant noise and hectic lifestyle and needed to recharge my batteries. Samurai Beach Bungalows (Port Stephens YHA) proved to be the perfect place to do just that.
Close enough to Anna Bay and Salamander Bay to buy supplies from the supermarkets or eat out for dinner, Samurai Beach Bungalows still manages to feel quite remote and isolated as you sit by the poolside reading a book with the merry sound of laughing kookaburras in the background.
As a solo traveler getting there was quite easy. I hopped on a Port Stephens coaches bus at Eddy Avenue outside Sydney’s Central Station and 3 hours later they dropped me off right at the right at the entrance of Port Stephens YHA. Call Mark or Sandy to see if you can buy a discounted Port Stephens coaches Sydney return ticket directly from them.
If you’re driving direct from Sydney it should take 2 1/2 hours providing you drive against the traffic and outside of peak hours, eg: drive there in the morning and drive back in the evening when you leave.
The cheapest but also slowest option is a single ticket on a train from Central station to Newcastle and then catch the 130 Route Port Stephens bus, ask the driver to drop you off at Samurai Beach Bungalows YHA.
Samurai beach and One Mile beach are within walking distance from the accommodation or you can hire a bike from reception for a couple hours or the whole day if you want to visit Anna Bay/Salamander Bay shops, Stockton Beach Sand Dunes, Tomaree National park etc.
Samurai Beach Bungalows is a family operation owned by Mark and Sandy Munday since 1992 and is affiliated to the YHA network as Port Stephens YHA so you’ll get a discount on accommodation rates when you show them your YHA card.
It’s a small YHA so at most you’ll be hanging around with roughly 3 dozen people. When I visited for a week in October before the peak summer season had started there were plenty of vacancies.
The 4 bungalows are designed to fit a mixture of singles and groups with 5 Share Bunk rooms (male and female separate), Family rooms with a double and set of bunks sleeping up to 4 people total and Deluxe doubles with a double bed and ensuite for couples. All the bungalows have tables and chairs on the verandah where you can sit or put your bath/beach towels to dry.
11m saltwater pool – shallow at one end for kids and 2 metres at the deepest point. 10 deck chairs surround the pool accompanied by 2 large umbrellas to shade people who don’t want to get sunburnt. I spent several hours on a shaded deckchair reading almost every day.
Outdoor open kitchen area – including BBQ, gas cooking, microwave, toaster all pots and pans, cutlery and crockery. As usual for a YHA it’s only as clean as the last people who used the kitchen so make sure you wash up after yourself.
Shed – a good place to hide during the day if it’s too hot or raining. Has several sofas, a free pool table, TV and DVD player (borrow DVD’s from reception), a CD player and one of the biggest reading libraries I’ve seen at a YHA.
Internet access – is available from a shared laptop next to reception or you can buy a WiFi code to use with your own laptop. If your mobile supports tethering to a laptop or you have a 3G USB key for your laptop. Telstra NextG seemed to work fine for loading webpages and making Skype to Skype calls.
Free extra facilities include Sandboards for when you visit Stockton Beach Sand Dunes, Body boards for riding the waves at local beaches and tea/coffee/cooking oil/salt etc at the outdoor open kitchen area.
I highly recommend doing a 4WD tour of Stockton Beach Sand Dunes or for the more adventurous photographer types you can catch a bus to the 4WD access road and walk in like I did to take photos like the ones below.
Surfing, boarding, diving, snorkeling or swimming at the local beaches, dolphin/whale watching boat trips, wine tasting tours, walks in Tomaree National park, horse riding and other activities can all be booked for you by Mark or Sandy at reception.
Or if your aim is to chill out just bring a great big pile of books like I did and read one every day for a week, it’s exactly what I needed after a lot of work recently and no holiday for over a year.
Most of the issues I encountered were quite minor, such as should I nap now or should I nap later, should I drink a cold Bundaberg ginger beer by the pool or in the open kitchen area. These are the kinds of problems it’s good to have ?
Make sure you bring insect repellent because the hostel is set on a large block of land with many local as well as tropical trees and there’s a pool – so this means plenty of mosquitoes and places for spiders to weave their webs.
Don’t be afraid of Bo the big german shepherd guard dog. All he does is eat, sleep, and lick visitors in the hope they’ll play fetch games with him by throwing his tennis ball.