Quaint coastal towns and beautiful beaches - NSW's Sapphire Coast is a holiday haven
1) THE BEACHES ARE OUT OF THIS WORLD - AND YOU’LL HAVE THEM TO YOURSELF!
Barragga Bay Beach - one of the Sapphire Coast's many beautiful beaches
There’s a bounty of pretty, white sand-filled beaches to be had here. Some are so remote you have to walk for days to reach them, but you don’t need to do a Robinson Crusoe to get adequate beach space, especially given that there’s 150 of them, and that this stretch of coastline is still very much off the tourism radar. NSW regional areas, in particular the sapphire coast, have beaches aplenty to explore!
Standouts include the 300-metre long Barragga Bay Beach, which is bordered by rocky headlands and speckled with dip-worthy rock pools. For surfers, Cuttagee Beach is a go-to, and if you love coastal walks then the 7.5-kilometre Bermagui path will take you through several beaches and lookout points. For families, the patrolled Horseshoe Bay is set in the centre of Bermagui, so there’s plenty of amenities on hand. Likewise, Tathra Beach combines epic stretches of white sand with a grassy foreshore, skate park and kid’s playground.
Merimbula’s Bar Beach is the perfect spot for a swim
At Merimbula’s gorgeous Bar Beach you can enjoy join other in-the-know locals and travellers an al fresco post-swim brekky courtesy of the adjacent Bar Beach Kiosk shack. And for those that prefer swimming out of the ocean, then there’s Wallaga Lake - one of the biggest coastal lakes in NSW - and Bermagui's Blue Pool. A ‘must-see’, this natural ocean pool lies at the base of a rocky cliff face and has a small pool for toddlers, along with the main lap pool.
2) IT’S AN ADVENTURE-LOVERS PARADISE
Sapphire Coast's Bundadung Mountain Biking Network covers 50-kilometres of trails
Surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, windsurfing, kiteboarding, canoeing, scuba diving, sailing and snorkelling all available throughout the region. On land, you can bush walk, climb, abseil or explore by horse back and - for small and big adrenaline junkies alike - mountain bike. Steeped in Aboriginal history, the Bundadung Mountain Biking Network covers 50-kilometres of single tracks that snake through the coastal bush hills of Tathra.
3) THERE’S CHARM IN SPADES
The charm-infused riverside village of Pambula, NSW
Packed with quaint towns, cute cafes, vintage shops and quirky boutiques; the rural charms of the Sapphire Coast are guaranteed to win you over.
Make tracks to the riverside village of Pambula where historic shopfronts on the main street give a nod to its gold rush past. The main drag houses specialty shops, such as an artisan bakery, coffee roasters and sculpture gallery, and you can’t go past the Aladdin’s cave that is Merv’s Shed - a trove of antiques and bric-a-brac.
After you’re shopped out, reward the kids patience by taking them to Oaklands Barn - a collection of businesses including a garden centre, art gallery and cafe - where they can get up close with an array of animals, from pigs and goats, to alpacas and sheep.
4) IT’S A HAVEN FOR FOODIES
Shop for local produce at the Growers Markets at Bermagui Fishermen’s Wharf
Whether you’re eating in a simple cafe, or dining out on white linen tablecloths, given the amazing local produce and proximity to the ocean, being well fed is a virtual guarantee here. You can see this paddock-to-plate ethos in action nowhere better than at the weekly local Growers Markets at Bermagui Fishermen’s Wharf.
Wine, meat, olives, fruit, preserves, as well as ready to eat treats - it’s the perfect pitstop to pick up a picnic. Speaking of, cheese-lovers will need to load up at the cheese Mecca of Bega and no trip to this part of the world would be complete without sampling one of its most famous exports: oysters.
The Sapphire Coast produces some of the most renowned oysters in NSW
At Tathra Oysters the Rodely family have been farming their Sydney rock oysters since 1988 and have received more than 180 awards during that time. Supplying some of Australia’s most chichi restaurants, including Rockpool and ARIA, you can bypass the large bill by heading to their unassuming suburban HQ, where you can get freshly shucked oysters for next to nix. For sitting down eats, Bermagui’s il Passaggio is great for lip-smacking pizzas and pasta, while the nearby hipster cafe-cum-co-working space, Mister Jones, would give any Melbourne coffee shop a run for its money.
5) THE AREA IS PACKED WITH NATIONAL PARKS
For show-stopping scenery heads to Mimosa Rocks National Park
Show-stopping headland views, beaches, lagoons, rainforest pockets and historic sites to explore - with eight national parks here, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Lying between Bermagui and Tathra, Mimosa Rocks National Park is a good place to start. Bordered by a ragged coastline of volcanic rock, its succession of beaches offer plenty of fishing, surfing, snorkelling and birdwatching. For a view you’ll never forget, head to Bunga Head for sunrise, and watch the rocks turn pink in the morning light.
At Ben Boyd National Park there’s also plenty of opportunities to get snap-happy with its array of lookouts taking in expansive views along the coast and the sapphire blue waters of the Pacific, alongside surf beaches, rugged bays, and historic lighthouses.
6) IT’S ONE OF THE BEST PLACES IN THE WORLD TO SPOT WHALES
The town of Eden, NSW, is one of Australia's whale watching hotspots
With postcard-perfect looks and the third deepest natural harbour in the southern hemisphere; visiting Eden you can see just why it was once considered as a site for Australia’s capital. It’s also one of the only places in the world that humpback whales feed on their southern migration from September to November, meaning that chances of getting up close and personal with these giants of the ocean are pretty high.
Outside of whale-spotting season, you can enjoy Eden’s Killer Whale Museum year round. Between 1830 and 1930 the town was the heart of Australia’s whaling industry and its most famous exhibit - the skeleton of Eden’s legendary killer whale, Old Tom - will have you balking in disbelief once you hear the incredible tale.
Situated halfway between Melbourne and Sydney, by car it’s a three-hour drive from Canberra, or a six-seven hour drive from either Melbourne or Sydney. Merimbula airport provides daily flights to both Melbourne and Sydney.
WHERE TO STAY
NSW, Mimosa Rocks National Park, Tanja Lagoon Camp offers safari-style glamping
Nestled within Mimosa Rocks National Park, Tanja Lagoon Camp is glamping at its finest. Surrounded by vibrant wildlife, each luxurious safari tent overlooks a coastal lagoon and comes complete with an adjoining bathroom and kitchen.
For an indoors contrast, check in to Eden’s most historic property, the convict-built Seahorse Inn Hotel . Positioned right on the shores of Twofold Bay, is boasts stunning views and old world charm in equal measure.