The south coast of N.S.W in Australia is beloved by tourists and locals alike. In fact, try and find a place anywhere on the south coast between mid-December and January and you will sorely out of luck. Sure, you may get lucky, due to a cancellation, but it’s a place Aussies love to escape to during summer.And fair enough too – it’s an amazing coastline with a lot of offer.
Not only are there award-winning beaches to laze on before diving into the cool waters of the Tasman Sea, but there is also a range of water sports on tap, from surfing to kayaking to Stand Up Boarding, to snorkeling. Not to forget the wildlife – wallabies, emus and even the odd wombat and possum are all rampant on the South Coast.
But don’t despair because it’s amazing ANY time of year.
The South Coast stretches for about 500 kilometres /320 miles, from Sydney to the border of Victoria. Of course, the amazing coastline continues, but I’m basing this article ONLY on the N.S.W. South Coast. (For more information beyond the border, check out some additional post recommendations at the bottom of this page.)
I’ve been lucky to spend weeks during the summer in this area, but also weeks at other times of the year, even winter. I will vouch that it’s stunning ANY time. In fact, I tend to like it more in the off-season. It’s like you have it to yourself.
There are many places to stop and enjoy along the South Coast. I’ve included some of my favourites, and have included recommendations on places to stay for both the budget-friendly to the luxury set.
I take you south from Sydney, showing you six of the most amazing places on the N.S.W. South Coast, providing distances and recommendations of where to stay and where to stop for a bite to eat.
If you’re short on time and just want a glimpse of the South Coast, Kiama is a great getaway.
Located just over 2 hours from Sydney and approximately 120km south of Sydney, Kiama is quintessentially the beach getaway for a lot of Sydneysiders. But it’s never really busy. Well, maybe at the height of summer, but even then, it’s still quaint.
Not only does Kiama have great restaurants and cafés, but it also has its infamous blowhole and some seriously amazing beaches. Surfing, hiking, swimming, biking, a lot of great coastal walks – you can do it all easily here – and as a bonus, there’s a rainforest only thirty minutes away that will take your breath away. Literally and figuratively.
There are many places to stay in the area, but here are my recommendations:
Sebel Kiama Harbourside – This is a luxury hotel right in the heart of Kiama. Rated the #1 hotel in Kiama by Tripadvisor, it’s walking distance to the Blowhole, and the downtown restaurants. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Kendall’s on the Beach has beachside cabins that will have you enjoying your morning coffee while watching the sunrise, or sipping a glass of wine on the front porch while you watch the last of the beachgoers enjoy the last of the sunlight. It’s a beautiful little beach that is on the southern side of the blowhole and you can walk to and from town easily from here. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Don’t just take my word for it, check out what TripAdvisor travellers say about this amazing spot.
My favourite place to eat whenever I’m in Kiama though was Neptune but I’ve heard it’s closed now. It’s located down near the marina where the pelicans hang out, next to a fish and chip shop. Neptune was a funky vegetarian place on the wharf where you could sit back and enjoy the surroundings while you waited for your made-to-order delicious food. I’m still mentioning it, in case it opens back up.
IF you are looking for fish and chips, because, you know, you’re by the sea and it’s the thing to eat when you’re by the sea, then head to Jemfish on Manning Street. It’s not amazing fish and chips – I’ve had better elsewhere – but it’s a good option to take and eat on a picnic bench in the park by the water.
2. Hyams Beach
A little further down, in Jervis Bay is Hyams Beach.
Hyams Beach is approximately 3 hours from Sydney and approximately 190 km.
Hyams Beach is stunning and it’s worth a stop. I will tell you though that parking to get to Hyams Beach is a bitch, but it’s well worth the effort. It’s a beach you must experience and for more than an hour.
Stay a night or two in nearby Huskisson (or Husky, as the locals call it) or try an Airbnb only 10 minutes away and get a taste of the bush too.
Where to stay?
If you want more of the beach getaway, closer to the action, click here for a retro (but with modern conveniences and only 100m from Hyams Beach) stay. It is a quirky place to stay! Check out the latest prices and more details.
If you’re into camping, you can’t beat Green Patch at Booderee National Park.
Alternatively, if you want a little bush to balance your beach, click here for a great bush stay nearby in Wandandian through Airbnb. (Here’s a link to try Airbnb for the first time. And if you need guidance on how to use for Airbnb for the first time, check out this post.)
Where to eat?
In nearby Husky, there’s a range of restaurants and cafés, an outdoor pool, opportunities to go snorkelling, fishing or paddle-boarding. In Husky, I’m a fan of the Main Deck Café, but if you want something a little more beachy,
What to see?
Besides Hyams Beach, the area is lovely and it’s worth a few days to explore, especially if you add in the nearby Booderee National Park, which is co-managed by both the local Indigenous community and the Australian National Parks.
Oh, and don’t just take my word for it, check out what TripAdvisor travellers say about Hyams Beach.
3. South Durras
Before you get to Bateman’s Bay, there is a winding road that takes you to a great spot called South Durras.
My sister introduced me to South Durras Beach years ago. South Durras is about 275km and 4 hours from Sydney.
South Durras is one of those rare places where you feel you can disappear for a while, as in escape from the hustle and bustle and don’t we all need that occasionally?
Durras has great surfing and paddle boarding. You can kayak and fish. You can throw a frisbee in peak times and still not hit anyone. It’s very rarely busy. Its also surrounded by the Murramarang National Park and Durras Lake is within walking distance.
What I remember most from my stays at South Durras, the thing I still feel just thinking about is the texture of the sand on the beach. I compare it to walking in cake batter as it encases your feet. It’s so soft and deep. It’s an experience everyone needs to have in their life.
Where to Stay?
There are a few spots I recommend staying in South Durras. I’ve experienced all and enjoyed all, so it really depends on your budget.
Airbnb: There’s a lovely house in South Durras that’s a short walk to the beach but in a bush setting. It’s called The Red Door Beach & Forest Retreat. It’s relaxing and the ultimate in beach holidays. Check out the latest prices and more details.
There is also the Murramurrang Beachfront Holiday Resort where you can rent a cabin on the beach and feel like you have the beach – and bush – all to yourself. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Then there’s the BIg 4 Holiday Park if budget is your style, offering villas and campsites alike. I’ve stayed in the villas and while they are basic, they are within walking distance to the beach and you can hear the sound of the waves crashing at night. Check out the latest prices and more details.
Where to eat?
This is where you are really ‘away’. When you do go to South Durras, you need to pick up groceries in Bateman’s Bay (15km further south) or Ulladulla (40 minutes north) before you head to South Durras. There are no shops or restaurants here (apart from the occasionally-opened general store). South Durras is a really quiet beach community that draws you in and encourages you to spend your days relaxing either reading books, hiking or enjoying that delicious sand.
Now if you’re looking for some luxury, I have the place for you: Broulee. More specifically: The Bowers at Broulee.
Broulee is 4.5 hours south of Sydney and approximately 295 km. Just past Mogo, south of Bateman’s Bay, there’s a turnoff for Broulee.
The Bower at Broulee is actually a cluster of eco-lodges nestled into the bush, but also only minutes from the beach. You can hear that beach at night when you’re not listening to the tawny frog-mouths and frogs around. You can enjoy a wine or coffee on the back porch and watch as the wallabies make their way around, the king parrots that come in for a nibble on the food you can leave out for them, or even see an echidna trundle his way through the long grasses. The Bowers are called that as they replicate nests and believe me, once you nest here yourself, you’re never going to want to leave.
The Bower at Broulee is magnificent. Check out the latest prices and more details.
For more about The Bower at Broulee, click here and read the post on our experience. It shares a lot more about the area too.
Where to Eat?
With the amazing kitchen and BBQ options at Broulee, it’s another suggestion to buy groceries in Bateman’s Bay on the way. BUT, if you want to eat out after exploring Broulee Island, for example, or a day at the beach, then the Mossy Café is a recommendation.
5. Potato Point
Further south between Narooma and Moruya is Potato Point, a little place tucked away that I refer to it as my own secret beach destination.
It is almost 5 hours south of Sydney and approximately 340km. You will find the turn off on the south end of Bodalla.
Here there’s the opportunity to see so many wallabies on a beach, that you won’t know where to point your camera. You may even find yourself shooing them out of your cabin/tent/camper and, I hate to admit this, but you’ll be ‘tip-toeing’ through the ‘roo poo’ at some point but it’s all part of the experience. There’s just no avoiding it. But, you’ll see all ages of wallabies: from joeys still in their mother’s pouches to some mighty big boys. You may even find some wild emus strolling down the beach or hanging around the area.
At Beachcomber Holiday Park, it’s not just a camping destination. Although, in my opinion, it is the ultimate beachside campground in Australia. Beachcomber has hillside cabins that are luxurious and with amazing views. There are more basic offerings, down on the flatland as well. So, no matter what your budget, Beachcomber Holiday Park has it.
If you think this is something you MUST experience (and I believe you do!) check out the latest prices and more details.
Click here for my post on Beachcomber.
Where to eat?
This is another ‘bring your own’. However, there are some amazing day trips to take for the foodie in all of us.
Central Tilba is only a 40 min drive further south and well worth the drive. There is everything from pub grub to the cheese factory, the Tilba Bakery to my favourite, the Tilba Teapot.
Oh, and don’t just take my word for it, check out what TripAdvisor travellers say about this amazing spot.
One of my favourite places on the east side of Australia is Merrimbula.
Merimbula is just over 6 hours south of Sydney and approximately 450km. It’s located between Bega and Eden.
I only discovered Merrimbula fairly recently and I have even added it to my “possible settle list”. That is, where I may consider settling down when I finally do stop travelling (whenever that will be!).
Merimbula is what I would consider a ‘typical beachside town’ in Australia.
Merrimbula boasts everything from surf beaches to fishing; snorkeling to diving. It has two supermarkets close by and the basic restaurants are on offer. What I love about Merrimbula is it’s laid back atmosphere. It’s the place to come and chill out for a couple of weeks, or more, grab some fish and chips for dinner and enjoy a sunset picnic with an added bottle of wine or beer.
It’s also a great base for the area. You can take a drive down to Green Cape Lighthouse, although I’ll warn you, it’s mostly dirt road to reach it. But, it has an amazing history, both indigenous and European settlers and breathtaking views. Eden is another spot to visit. It has some interesting whaling history. And then there’s Bega, with it’s rolling green hills and dairy industry, and nearby, there’s Tilba, just a little north which is an amazing spot to eat, to browse, to wander.
Check out my post on Merrimbula here for what to see, do and where to eat.
When you’re ready to book, click here for the place I highly recommend. It’s one of the best Airbnb accommodations I’ve stayed in, in Australia. There are other places, sure, but I really liked this place and think you will too. It has views of the water, a deep veranda to enjoy your coffee in the morning, or a glass of wine at night. The linens are amazing and it’s just… comfortable. Give it a go.
Other helpful posts:
For further adventures, just beyond the South Coast:
Off the Grid, Staying at a Lighthouse – Point Hicks.