All along the South Coast of New South Wales, you’ll find it dotted with small towns offering a delightful mix of casual beachside atmosphere with fresh produce and exciting authentic experiences.
There’s certainly a common vibe shared by the NSW South Coast towns but, at the same time, each has its own unique identity. There’s a reason that regular visitors have their favourite spots – and rarely diverge from them!
The region has long been a popular destination for the sort of extended trips that families make in school holidays – an apartment for a week, for instance – or the even longer stays that the nomadic campervan travellers prefer. It hasn’t traditionally been such a hotspot for international visitors.
What this means is that, from a tourism perspective, the NSW South Coast has all the infrastructure that you need for a great trip – but without the hype. There’s no pretension, no flashy tour agency shopfronts on the main street.
The best places to visit on the NSW South Coast
In South Coast towns, local producers are intertwined with the community and the restaurants and cafes often use fresh local ingredients. You can relax on the beach, potter about in town, or explore the stunning landscapes on the coast or in the hinterland.
But there are also plenty of experiences for a more active holiday, with local operators offering authentic ways to engage with the regions and make the most of what makes them special.
Let me now go into a bit more detail about some of the best places to visit on the NSW South Coast.
(I’ll be adding to the list as I travel through more parts of the coast, so I can bring you firsthand recommendations for your own trip.)
When it comes to Kiama, many people first think of the blowhole – and it’s certainly quite a spectacular natural landmark. But there’s much more to Kiama than just these crashing waves.
There are great beaches, heritage like the Pilots Cottage Museum, shopping in the centre of town, the farmers markets, and some popular surf schools and fishing charters.
The Kiama Coast Walk is a 20-kilometre trail along the water with some stunning views (and whale watching at the right time of year). Or you can head into the hinterland to visit Jamberoo or the delightful country town of Berry.
Just 120 kilometres from Sydney, it’s easy to think of Kiama as a day trip – but I would recommend staying at least one night so you can relax and enjoy the region.
Jervis Bay is set in one of the most picturesque parts of the NSW South Coast, with the white sands of Hyams Beach being one of the most iconic images of the region. But it’s the protected areas of Jervis Bay National Park and Booderee National Park that are the best areas to see the landscapes.
The national parks have stunning beaches to swim at, and lots of native wildlife. You can also learn more about Indigenous heritage with Aboriginal rangers at Booderee National Park.
Along with fishing charters, dive tours, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding, Jervis Bay is a great location to connect with the coast.
You can read here about more things to do in Jervis Bay.
Batemans Bay has a bit more development than some of the other towns on the NSW South Coast – but this can be a good thing because it means there are lots of accommodation options and it can be an easy place to base yourself.
A cycle path along the coast is a good way to visit places like Batehaven, and you can continue further south Mossy Point, where a walk around Broulee Island is a great way to see the nature.
The region is at the heart of Australia’s Oyster Coast and one of the best things to do in Batemans Bay is taste some oysters. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can do that as part of a kayak tour with Region X, which will take you out through the oyster farms and then taste some samples right from the jetty.
There’s a wonderful relaxed vibe in Narooma and, for a town that is very popular with tourists, it still has a local feel to it.
Along the coast is the Narooma to Dalmeny Cycleway, which has beautiful views and you can ride along with an ebike from Southbound Escapes. Another highlight is Montague Island, just off the coast, which you can visit with boat trips and even jump in the water to go swimming with seals.
The hinterland has some stunning national parks and I would recommend visiting Gulaga, a sacred mountain to the local Indigenous people. There’s a long walk to the top or you can learn more about its story at sea level with Minga Cultural Experiences.
The heritage town of Central Tilba is a beautifully-protected time capsule of the settlement of the area by dairy farmers and gold miners, and I would suggest taking a tour with Tilba Talks Historical Walks.
There are some wonderful places to eat. In Tilba, the Dromedary Hotel does excellent pub food. While in Narooma, the Quarterdeck is great for a casual lunch and the Whale Restaurant has an excellent modern Australian dinner.