Iolanthe’s food tips on cruising the Australian East Coast

Part of cruising for us has certainly included enjoying the occasional meal out. After a long hard passage, nothing is better than having a long shower followed by a meal out on the town ( or the closest warm meal within site of the dock!) to boost the crew spirits and also save some galley time and washing up!

In Coffs Harbour we shared a great night out after a tense passage at the Yacht Club with friends from another boat. Prawn linguine, Pan friend Snapper and Salt and Pepper Calamari. We also loved Bundaberg for just caught Spanner Crab bought next to the marina, prepared onboard with market fresh Lime and Coriander. In Mooloolaba it was just the fish and chips and a cool beer at the co op watching the trawler the fish were caught on bobbing up and down that did it for us.

The seafood (unsurprisingly) found in most coastal ports on the east coast of Australia is fantastic however you find it.

We have shared some of our favourites and recommendations below. It is written from the perspective of a hungry , food loving, budget conscious young family but  is no way the gastronomical last word on dining out while cruising the east coast.  (Like a serve of fish and chips it is best taken with a grain of salt 🙂 )

Port Stephens

Cheap Eats

Nelson Bay Fishermens Wharf Seafoods. Award winning fish and chippies. This is the fish and chippie coast, embrace and enjoy fresh, well prepared seafood. 

Fancy Eats

Ritual Cuisine


Supermarket 5 minutes walk from Nelson Bay Marina

Coffs Harbour

Cheap Eats

  • Fish and chips at the co op.
  • Hogs Breath ( May not be considered ‘cheap’ however)

Fancy Eats

  • Coffs Harbour Yacht Club. While not strictly ‘fancy’ we found it to be great food at a good price. A step above most bistro food, fresh seafood was on the menu daily and it is a great place to share a meal with fellow cruisers.
  • Harbour Drive a 5 min walk from the Marina( walk past the Yacht Club and across the road) is a mini food hub home to an Italian, Thai and Indian Restaurants that all seem to do a good trade.


  • Worth checking out the Markets if your here on the weekend. IGA at the end of the Marina Drive and across the road has basic staples. A Larger Shopping centre is a 1/2 hour walk away.

Gold Coast

Cheap Eats

  • We have anchored in Bum’s bay and stayed in the Southport Yacht Club Marina. Not much that is truly cheap in the area as you are generally paying tourist prices. Southport Yacht club does do some great theme nights. Their roast dinner on a Sunday night is well priced and a great meal.

Fancy Eats

  • It’s the Gold Coast. Take your pick 🙂


  • Pretty much anything you want can be had here.


Cheap Eats

  • One of the best Fish Co op’s on the coast is at Moololaba. Walk out of the Marina and turn right. Fresh fish and seafood with the boats it was caught on parked next to your table!
  • Mooloolaba Surf Club does a great breakfast overlooking the beach.

Fancy Eats

  • Didn’t really explore here.


  • Take a taxi into the Kawana Shoppingworld for a modern shopping centre.


Cheap Eats

  • Baltimore The Port Marina Cafe. Owned by a great couple, this is everything a Marina restaurant should be. Good food at a reasonable price, relaxed service. Drop in for a coffee and breakfast and for a special meal.
  • Lighthouse hotel in Burnett Heads. Cheap and I mean dirt cheap meals and drinks that ensure cruisers flock here and don’t feel guilty about eating out. Usual bistro fair, with the advantage that in this part of the world the seafood is always fresh and fab


  • Burnett Heads IGA is a decent sized IGA that has most things you could need, with the added benefit of a the staff happily running you and your groceries back to the boat free of charge in the minibus!
  • The Local markets are  a must visit for gastronomical and economical reasons. Fresh tropical produce at cheap prices. I was surprised the realise( don’t know why) that at Coles/Woolworths tropical staples are not necessarily any cheaper in the tropics at all. So by searching out markets like these you will find limes, avocados, mangoes galour and great prices. The Port of Bundaberg Marina often runs a shuttle bus out on market days.


The Keppels

Cheap Eats

  • For cheap drinks you can’t go past the Capricornia Cruising Yacht Club across from the marina in Rosslyn Bay.  They also have Barbecue facilities and sometimes do dirt cheap meals depending on the activities of the club. Friendly and local a great place for some cruising camaraderie.
  • In Rosslym Bay head to the Keppel Bay sailing club in Yeppoon. ( 10min Bus/taxi)

Fancy Eats

  • The Waterline Restaurant @ Keppel Bay Marina in Rosslyn Bay. This is not your ‘average’ marina cafe, while it still delivers wonderful cafe food during the day, at night it transforms into a fine dining restaurant. Some cruisers in search of a beer and steak get a bit surprised by the fine dining experience they find here and even more surprised by the price! A great Marina side restaurant, well reviewed, but it is fine dining.


Cheap Eats

  • Several touristy options along the waterfront at the Marina. When we were there none really stood out as being sensational. Would be keen to hear an update.


Cheap Eats

Whitsundays Sailing Club is always a good meal in Airlie Beach at a reasonable price. Very generous servings of bistro cuisine. Great atmosphere with plenty of sailors hanging out here for dinner.

Fancy Eats

If you want high end but sensational fine dining, then book into Hayman Island for a meal to remember. They do have a small marina and if dining at one of their restaurants a berth might be available.

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