If you’re planning to head to the Central Coast with your dog, you’re be happy to discover that there’s plenty of dog-friendly options available. Situated so close to Sydney, the Central Coast is great for either a dog-friendly day out or quick getaway. Check out these dog-friendly places to stay, as well as dog-friendly beaches, walks, cafes and more…
Dog-Friendly Accommodation on the Central Coast
If you’re looking a dog-friendly caravan park on the Central Coast to camp with your dog, it’s best to head to the northern part of the region. While the caravan parks down south in Patonga and Pretty Beach are sadly not pet-friendly, about half of the parks between Shelly Beach and Budgewoi accept pets, although some only seasonally.
Two great options that are pet-friendly year round are Toowoon Bay Holiday Park and Budgewoi Holiday Park. Toowoon Bay Holiday Park is ocean front and just north of the off-leash section of Shelly Beach. Run by the Central Coast Council, the park includes a resort style pool and plenty of entertainment for the kids. There are no pet-friendly cabins, but selected sites permit pets.
Further north is Budgewoi Holiday Park, also run by the Central Coast Council. Located on Lake Munmorah, it’s also not far from the dog-friendly Budgewoi Beach. This parks also permits pets on selected sites, but not in cabins. A huge caravan park, it was quiet when we visited in Winter, but is likely bustling in summer.
If camping is not your style, there’re two great pet-friendly hotels in the region. The Buccaneer Motel is located in Long Jetty, just south of the Entrance. Billing itself as a truly pet-friendly hotel, both dogs and cats are welcome in any of the double, twin or family rooms (which all feature tile flooring). There is an additional charge of $25 per day. The motel is very close to the off-leash section of Shelly Beach.
Further south, the Pacific Garden Hotel in Wamberal also accepts pets in selected rooms, adjacent to a special pet courtyard. There’s an additional charge of $20 per pet per night, and I recommend contacting them directly to ask about the full pet regulations and request a pet-friendly room. The hotel is a short drive away from the dog-friendly Forresters Beach.
There’s also a large range of Airbnbs on the Central Coast, many suitable for larger family groups. I recommend booking early as only a small percentage accept pets.
Dog-Friendly Dining on the Central Coast
There’s plenty of dog-friendly cafes and restaurants to dine at on the Central Coast. Most places with outdoor seating will welcome well-behaved pups on a leash, although it’s always best to double check. For instance, head to the strip of cafes with outdoor seating at Long Jetty or The Entrance, or for beachside eats head to Munchas Cafe next to Shelly Beach or the Point Cafe at Avoca Beach.
Another great option, especially for a day trip, is The Boathouse Hotel Patonga. This hotel is from the same operators as the ever-popular Boathouse Palm Beach and Balmoral Beach, and is located opposite the off-leash dog beach in Patonga. Its large outdoor area with water views is dog-friendly. Alternatively, there’s also a take-away outlet adjacent, with decent prices.
One gorgeous spot that I’ve got on my list to try is the Bamboo Buddha Cafe and Nursery in Holgate, just north of Erina. This beautiful cafe is set in a serene Bali-style garden, and offers a vegetarian and vegan menu, ranging from burgers to curries. It’s open from Wednesday to Sunday.
Just down the road it’s also worthwhile checking out Firescreek Winery. This organic property makes a variety of fruit, flower and herb wines. Enjoy a complimentary tasting with your dog on a leash, either in the outdoor area or inside the cellar door.
If you’re more a lover of beer, particularly craft beers, you’re also covered. The highly-rated Bay Road Brewery in Gosford has an outdoor seating area with cover from the sun and rain where pups are welcome. While Block ‘n’ Tackle Brewery in Kincumber permits dogs inside, although they need to be kept on a leash and you should sit near the door.
Alternatively, head to the Terrigal Hotel near Terrigal Beach where dogs are allowed in the large shaded outdoor seating area with views across to the beach.
Dog-Friendly Beaches on the Central Coast
The Central Coast is home to a huge number of beaches, and luckily many of them are dog-friendly. For a full list of the dog-friendly beaches, check out the council website. Some of the most popular options include, from south to north:
Patonga Beach: The small village of Patonga is tucked away on the southern outskirts of the Central Coast. The main stretch of Patonga Beach is off-leash 24/7, from the jetty to the Meroo Avenue boundary sign. The waters of the lower Hawkesbury River are calm and clean.
Pearl Beach: The northern end of Pearl Beach permits dogs off-leash. Note that the water here can be quite rough, so it’s best to stick to zoomies on the sand, and leave the dog paddling for other beaches, at least for smaller dogs.
Umina Beach: The southern end of Umina Beach is a very popular dog beach on the Central Coast. The off-leash section is in between the Berrima Crescent Car Park and the beach access track opposite Umina Beach Skate Park. While I’ve come across some suggestions that dogs are no longer allowed on the beach, it’s still listed on the council website. Perhaps double check the signage.
Copacabana Beach: This peaceful spot with soft and squeaky sand is off-leash to the south of the patrolled area. It’s a great spot to walk across to Macmasters Beach, past the lagoon.
Avoca and North Avoca Beaches: Both Avoca and North Avoca Beaches have off-leash zones, most likely in the middle, away from the surf clubs at each end. Local dog owners love the nice lagoon in between the two beaches.
Forresters Beach: One half of this quiet and beautiful Central Coast beach has been designated off-leash, providing a large area for dogs to run around.
Shelly Beach: This large surf beach is equally as popular with local dog owners and surfers when the swell is up. On Google Maps, search for “North Shelly Beach Dog Beach”. The off-leash section extends from the beach access stairs, where there’s plenty of free parking, south to the northern beach access walkway off Shelly Beach Road, adjacent to the golf course.
Budgewoi Beach: A spectacularly rugged yet beautiful beach close to Lake Munmorah, this beach has a large off-leash area to allow dogs to run free to their heart’s content.
Dog-Friendly Walks on the Central Coast
Just inland from the Central Coast are a number of state forests that offer up dog-friendly bushwalking opportunities.
The most popular option is the Strickland State Forest, just north of Gosford. The forest contains multiple walking tracks, most around 2km long. During our visit we hiked the Arboretum Track, a 2.3km hike through one of Australia’s oldest arboretums, include a fun swinging bridge.
Dogs are not required to remain on a leash, but need to stay under your control. The standard protocol is you put your dog back on a leash when you spot other dogs.
Note that the final road into Strickland State Forest is unsealed. It’s about 2.5km down to the lower carpark, or 1.5km to the Banksia Picnic Area. I’d skip driving to the lower carpark in a 2WD after heavy rain, although the road to the Banksia Picnic Area should be fine. Be warned that the walking tracks in the lower section are frequently muddy.
Dog-Friendly Parks on the Central Coast
There’s a large number of parks that allow dogs in the Central Coast region to choose from. One of the best options is the Tuggerah Dog Park, on the eastern side of Tuggerah. Here there’s three large fenced area, along with a fun obstacle course, although unfortunately no poo bag dispenser or bins. Make sure you clean up after your pup!
Another spot with potential is the Sensory Park Dog Park in Narara, just north of the Gosford CBD. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a dustbowl, plus the fencing isn’t fully secure, although there is a good built-in drinking bowl. Approach with caution and perhaps it will be improved.
Alternatively, head to the southern end of Terrigal Beach, to Terrigal Haven. The off-leash park on the headland makes for a great walk with your dog, complete with views across Terrigal Beach and the chance of spotting whales during winter.
For a complete listing of dog-friendly parks in the Central Coast region, check out this listing. As maps are not provided, check the signage at each park to find out where dogs are permitted off-leash.