The sweeping coastline of the bay changes so quickly, a stunning panorama with such an incredible collection of landscapes – it’s no surprise there are lots of things to do in Jervis Bay.
At the northern end are the dramatic cliffs of Point Perpendicular, with a historic lighthouse at the top and (apparently) pock marks from where the Australian Navy used it for target practice.
At the southern end is Booderee National Park, a protected area with secluded beaches and a busy seal colony.
And in between are popular tourist towns like Huskisson, bright sparkling sand like Hyams Beach, and camping spots right near the water.
Jervis Bay is just beautiful, in a way that makes it stand out from the rest of the New South Wales South Coast, which is also gorgeous. But the beaches here just take it to a whole new level and much of it seems so remote and secluded, even though Jervis Bay is only 2.5 hours’ drive from Sydney or Canberra.
What helps is that so much of the area’s nature has been protected and there has been very little dense development along the coast. The biggest towns are still tiny and they seem to end and merge into national parks within a few minutes.
Things to do in Jervis Bay
So, when it comes to things to do in Jervis Bay, it’s all really about the natural beauties – the beaches, the national parks, the hikes… and, of course, the bay itself.
If you are staying at Jervis Bay for a bit longer and you want to use it as a base to explore the area, it’s also very easy to do some day trips from Jervis Bay to the wineries, same inland towns like Berry, or other spots along the coast.
To help you plan your trip, let me share some tips for the best things to do in Jervis Bay.
When the whales are migrating, they head up close to the coast at Jervis Bay – and sometimes they even come into the bay and hang out for a little while.
Obviously there are lots of places along the east coast of Australia to see the whales but there are some excellent opportunities around Jervis Bay.
There are regular whale watching tours that leave from Huskisson, such as Jervis Bay Wild. But for something really special, I would recommend swimming with the whales!
There are only a few operators in Australia that are licensed to take you swimming with the whales and Dive Jervis Bay is one of them. You’ll go out on the boat and, when you see the whales approaching, jump in the water with a snorkel and goggles.
Sometimes the whales will swim around you, sometimes they’ll pass close by, sometimes they’ll even stop and play a bit. You never quite know what you’ll get and that’s part of the adventure. It’s quite amazing to be in the same water as these giants of the ocean.
The whale season is from about April to July as they’re heading north, and then from around mid-August to November as they head south again.
It’s said that Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay has the whitest sand in the world. I mean, it’s something that’s pretty hard to prove, so I guess it might. Anyway, it’s definitely very white, as are the other beaches near it on the southern part of the bay.
If you’re coming to the area to relax, then just hanging out at the beaches is one of the best things to do in Jervis Bay. They look a lot different to the golden sands that you usually see along the east coast.
Some of the best beaches in Jervis Bay, aside from Hyams Beach, are the nearby Chinamans Beach, Breenfield Beach, Blenheim Beach, and Nelsons Beach.
These beautiful squeaky white beaches are also all connected with a walking track called White Sands Walk that hugs the edge of the bush.
On the other side of the bay, away from the crowds, are small intimate options like Honeymoon Bay, Silica Cove, and Target Beach.
Booderee National Park
There are also beaches in Booderee National Park, which I’ll mention in a moment, but they’re not the only reason to come here. I think Booderee is one of the real highlights of Jervis Bay and worth a day (or more).
Booderee National Park is a bit different to others in New South Wales because… well, because it’s not technically in NSW. It’s actually in ‘Jervis Bay Territory’, which is Commonwealth land that follows the laws of the ACT.
Other than the small settlement and naval base at Jervis Bay Village, the whole area is protected national park.
The beaches here are beautiful and also have the white sand the bay is famous for. But because you normally need to buy a parks pass to visit (it’s free until the end of 2020), less people come here.
Murray Beach is one of the most popular options, but I love the landscape of Cave Beach. There are other choices you can discover as well.
There are great walks in Booderee National Park. For something short(ish), the Telegraph Creek Nature Trail is a 2.4km loop with signs explaining the vegetation you’ll see along the way.
One of the best options is the 5.4km loop trail called Munyunga Waraga Dhugan, which has a lot of information panels along the way about the culture and nature of the park.
Or you can challenge yourself with a day-long walk around the St Georges Headland, which is either 11.4 kilometres direct or up to 20 kilometres with detours along the way.
It’s also worth visiting the Booderee Botanic Gardens, which are the only ones in Australia owned by Aboriginal people. There are different sections with information about bush tucker and medicinal uses of plants.
Day trips from Jervis Bay
And, while there are plenty of things to do in Jervis Bay itself, you can also easily access some of the other highlights in this part of the Shoalhaven region.
Milton may be a country town but it has an upmarket style. It’s surrounded by fertile farmlands and a lot of the excellent produce that’s grown around here ends up in the town’s restaurants.
There are great country pubs in Milton, as well as antique stores and small art galleries. It makes for an interesting cultural break away from the coast.
The region around Jervis Bay is also home to a number of wineries and, because of the maritime climate, the product is quite different to a lot of the other wines in New South Wales.
To do some wine tasting, I would recommend heading up to the area around Shoalhaven Heads, where there is a collection of good wineries quite close to each other.
Look out for a specialty of the region here called Chambourcin, a variety sometimes called the “South Coast Shiraz”. It’s relatively light but with a bit of a mocha cherry taste.
Finally, another good choice for a day trip from Jervis Bay is the small town of Berry, not too far inland from Shoalhaven Heads.
The main street of Berry has charming heritage buildings but the crowd makes it feel quite fashionable (it’s a popular day trip destination for Sydneysiders). There are a lot of homewares stores and other local products.
The Garden is a great choice for lunch, you can choose from almost 50 types of tea at the Berry Tea Shop, or indulge your sweet tooth at the famous Berry Donut Van or the Berry Chocolatier.
Cameron and Troy, who run the chocolate shop, also show people the best local produce and wineries with their Foodscape Tours around the region.
THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN JERVIS BAY
The Jervis Bay accommodation is quite spread out, although there’s a lot around Huskisson and Vincentia. Holiday homes are popular for long stays, but I’ll recommend some easier options here.
A large site with a pool, playground and water access, Jervis Bay Holiday Park is a perfect option for families and casual holidays.
Right in the centre of Huskisson, the Jervis Bay Motel has modern comfortable rooms with easy access to restaurants.
In a relaxing site amongst the gum trees, Bay and Bush Cottages has a series of cool unique accommodation options.
The series of seven cute cottages at Hyams Beach Seaside Cottages are well-equipped and right on the coast for a wonderful boutique experience.