Although there were plans being made for two major cities to be built on the shore of the port and even a naval base, these did not come to fruition and Port Stevens is the only major port along the New South Wales coast that has no industry associated with it.
Being so close to Newcastle the area has around 32,000 people living in the several small townships around the port. The main holiday resort towns are at Shoal Bay, Nelson Bay, Soldiers Point and the township of Port Stephens on the southern edge of the bay and Fingal Bay to the south facing the ocean. The beaches and inland areas along the northern edge of the bay are less populated.
The resort township of Shoal Bay set among the forested Tomaree National Park.
The port is known for its water sports including boating, yachting, whale and dolphin watching and swimming at the several beaches inside the bay, as well as surfing on the coastal Fingal Bay area.
The port is a short distance from the Myall Lakes National Park to the north and with that park, makes up the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park with 97,200 hectares of protected lakes, the rivers that feed them and nearby coastal ocean areas.