Location: Pacific St, Crescent Head NSW 2440
Price Range: Camping from $28-$80 per night for two, with children additional $5-$7 per child per day. Cabins also available from $102 -$375 per night.
The Space: Surrounded by national forest and tucked on NSW’s coastline far enough from the freeway to make sure the only visitors are intentional ones, Crescent Head is famous for its surfing (a longboarder’s dream of a rock/sand bottom point break plus a plethora of beach breaks), fishing, and its mellow small town vibe.
The Site: With its prime position smack bang on the point next to the river, surf breaks and shops, we’d eyed off this caravan park on previous visits to Crescent over the years. So when friends invited us to join them for a week’s camping over the school holidays, we jumped at the chance.
There are few words to describe how perfect this park is for kids. Roving in packs, little bands of happy campers move about on bikes, scooters and skateboards from first light until late evening. With the beach and creek at their disposal, in the warmer month boardshorts and swimmers are the kid’s unofficial camp uniform, and a ‘no shoes no hairbrushes’ rule seems to apply.
The site’s pricing for campsites means to jag a ‘prime spot’ along the river – the perfect place to chill and watch the sun set as kids jump off the footbridge below – you’ve got to pay a higher price tag. It’s truly magical at high tide, especially if it coincides with sunset – families come from everywhere to delight in floating along the river’s winding bends with each tidal surge. We would have happily coughed up the extra to jag one of these prime riverside sites, but by the time we got around to booking (holiday are insanely busy and book out early here) we all just ended up with whatever we were given.
We ended up on the smallest site in the entire park, and thanks to some trees and an overzealous neighbor who insisted on parking so close to our tent that we couldn’t even put our guide ropes out, we weren’t even able to fit our car next to our tent without worrying some giant Winnebago was going to crush it during the night. Take note, the camp sites here can be mega small! Then, on our first night in camp, a large group behind us that figured powered sites means they should literally bring the kitchen sink (including freezers, electric kettles and coffee machine). They must have decided they weren’t draining enough power already and so set up a karaoke machine. Getting serenaded by drunk renditions of Rick Astley into the wee hours made sure I worked out which places in town sell ear plugs on a Sunday (FYI Don’t bother with the park’s reception or servo, and the general store only has overpriced swimming ear plugs which do buffer sound but also make your ear canals sweat overnight. Just tough it out and wait for the Chemist to re-open on Monday. You’re welcome).
Some of our friends scored a more decent sized site right up towards the surf point and backing onto a small section of parkland, but while they enjoyed amazing views the reason these sites probably weren’t considered ‘prime’ seemed to be a) public carpark in their backyard, which gets busy with surfers, fishing boats, and even the odd local market day early weekend mornings, and b) it’s more open to weather. What’s more, when we had a ‘strong wind event’ during the last weekend of our stay, the carnage at their end of the park was double sustained by those of us tucked away further towards the park’s rear. But even still, we would have swapped with them in a heartbeat – the views were pretty spesh!
Once we settled in, found ear plugs and got into the swing of the whole ‘eat surf, fish, swim, surf, eat’ Crescent lifestyle though, and the whole group had fallen under the charm of the place – so much so that other members of our group were already looking into re-booking for the following year before we’d even packed up to leave.
Here’s the kicker – while this caravan park is one of the more expensive we’ve stayed at, the facilities aren’t overly flashy. There’s a few amenities blocks that offer hot showers (well, hot most of the time), a few BBQ’s, paved roads, and electricity on all sites. All totally fine, but nothing to write home about. Yet what makes this park so incredibly popular and worthy of a revisit or three is undoubtedly the stellar location. Nestled next to a picturesque creek and right beside the main surf break, with views to the northern expanse of national park and empty beaches beyond, you’d be hard pressed to find a more idyllic beach park anywhere.
Besides the fab natural water features, there’s lots here for the whole family. A boat ramp, small skate park, kids play area and coffee nook are at one end of the park, a Country Club serving cold beer and warm meals is directly across the other side of road, and the town’s main street is only a short stroll beyond that where you’ll find a chemist, bakery, general store, coffee shops and the like.
Nearby Things To Do:
Besides any local standouts mentioned above, check out our article on surfing in and around Crescent Head which includes directions to nearby beaches and other things to see.
Mother nature has blessed this area, and the most prime piece of real estate in town is taken up by this park. Basically it’s the ultimate spot for a caravan park, which make any other gripes pretty negligible. If you can nab a spot along the riverfront with a handful of friends camping to either side, I think you’d probably be able to look up the experience in the dictionary under ‘pure bliss’.
The park also put effort into making families with kids feel welcome – from the sand drawing activity packs given to us at check in, to the free face painting they hosted on the weekend, little gestures like these made the kids adore the place even more.
Like all the best parks, it gets busy – avoid during holiday periods if you’re the claustrophobic type. And if you see a big group setting up next to you with a karaoke machine, run. A further glance at the holiday park’s online reviews only reveals rustic living does not suit everyone – indeed, if your only experience of camping/RV parks has been in a megaparks with giant kids playgrounds, pools and communal kitchens, you might find Crescent’s facilities (at a similar price point!) lacking. However with hot water showers, powered sites and fairly well maintained BBQ’s and a short stroll from restaurants and shops, it’s still a much more ‘civilised’ affair that the national park campgrounds to the north and south of town, making it a great ‘middle ground’ camping option to suit semi-fussy campers who like their creature comforts.
Holiday parks that dominate such a treasured beachfront position in the centre of town are becoming rarer these days. Crescent Head Holiday Park offers the perfect spot for a beach getaway for those who don’t want to go camping off grid or too far away from a counter meal – one of those ‘best of both worlds’ scenarios.