The best water-based fun you can have in NSW

When it comes to tracking down fun-filled water experiences in NSW, there’s really only one question to ask yourself: just how fast and how crazy are you prepared to go?

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

Jan 2022 -
min read

How much fun can one person have on the water? A whole lot, if these experiences are anything to go by. Here’s how to boost your JQ (joy quotient) in the ocean, under waterfalls, down rivers and at theme parks.

Kayaking on Pambula River, South Coast

Kayaking on Pambula River, South Coast

Canyon the Blue Mountains

Don’t go chasing waterfalls just to stand there and merely admire them – abseil right through their gushing, oh-so-fresh waters on an epic canyoning trip in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains and feel the smile reach right down into your booties. A canyoning expedition within the nooks and crannies of these majestic mountains is a rush in every way. Your adventure with a tour company such as High and Wild might involve leaping into pools of water, boulder scrambling, swimming, wading and bushwalking.

Empress Falls in Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains - Credit: David Hill

Holiday on a houseboat

Imagine rolling out of bed and leaping straight into the refreshing waters of a gently flowing Australian river. Wake up differently by booking a houseboat with fave friends or family – and enjoy the thrill of all-day dive-bombs, an ever-changing view, cruising along with the waterbirds and perhaps even hooking dinner from the river. Head to Moama, on the New South Wales-Victoria border, home to Executive Houseboats, or point yourselves towards Able Hawkesbury River Houseboats at Wisemans Ferry north of Sydney to make houseboat magic happen.

Paddle the Sapphire Coast

Dip a paddle into the ocean or waterways along the stunningly beautiful NSW South Coast and really feel alive. Coastlife Adventures offers kayak tours off the coast of Merimbula – a prime spot for spying dolphins and whales – and along the serene Bega River. Prefer to stand up and paddle? Book into one of Coastlife’s group lessons on SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) at Merimbula Lake to look like a total pro. 

Man heading out for a morning of stand-up paddleboarding at Tathra Beach in Tathra, Sapphire Coast

Stand-up paddleboarding, Tathra Beach

Spy a stingray

Clamber into a glass-bottom kayak and peer right through it to see the stingrays, fiddler rays, blue swimmer crabs, octopus and fish inhabiting the sand flats, mangroves and seagrass beds of Cullendulla Creek. The creek, at Batemans Bay on the South Coast, is part of a protected marine sanctuary and this particular way of seeing the marine life is super eco-friendly while still being lots of fun. Operator Region X also caters to your tastebuds with several kayak tours on offer that include pizza and oyster-themed paddles.   

Region X

Kayak tours with Region X

Have an (ocean) blast

Hold onto your hair. In Port Macquarie, Port Jet Cruise Adventures bills its Ocean Blast trip as “the ultimate coastal fun ride” – and fulfils its big promise by taking you to sea on one of the state’s fastest commercial boats. Hang on tight as the captain shows off the boat’s zippy acceleration and nimble turns, all while riding the swell and seeing the Mid North Coast town from an aquatic angle.

Wave Rider, Port Jet Cruises in Port Macquarie, North Coast

Port Jet Cruises, Port Macquarie

Ski Lake Mulwala

Lake Mulwala, an hour’s drive west of Albury, is a man-made reservoir created along the Murray River. Ski, wakeboard or kayak this stunning lake that is punctuated with ghostly river red gums. Mulwala Water Ski Club, the world’s largest licensed water ski club, houses a pro shop that can help out beginner to advanced skiers with all their needs.

Couple enjoying an afternoon of kayaking along Lake Mulwala in Mulwala, The Murray

Kayaking on Lake Mulwala

Hug the Humpback Highway

The number of humpback whales frolicking along Australia’s East Coast (their route is known as the Humpback Highway) is growing every year. Head to Newcastle, a 2hr drive north of Sydney, to see the whales and their calves breaching, tail-slapping and pirouetting from June to November with CoastXP Tours. The 2hr cruise might also include sightings of dolphins and New Zealand fur seals, as well as a great offshore view of Newie.

CoastXP Tours, Newcastle

CoastXP Tours, Newcastle

Try new thrills and spills

During 2020, Jamberoo Action Park near Kiama, almost a 2hr drive south of Sydney, set to work creating a thrilling new water-ride precinct. When it debuts, Velocity Falls, which will have an Australiana theme, promises volumes of water, racing at speed and the experience of zero gravity. There are heaps of different attractions throughout the park but for more sedate thrills or when you need to regroup, float along the Rapid River in a donut ring. You can even link hands with friends for a joy-filled group float.

People enjoying the water theme attractions at Jamberoo Action Park

Jamberoo Action Park, Kiama area

Shred it

No boat or driver is required at Cables Wake Park in Penrith in Western Sydney, where you can wakeboard, kneeboard and water ski to your heart’s content, including conquering some interesting features positioned in the water. Shred as hard as you can or grab some extra coaching to improve your technique and really wow your friends. Some repeat visitors even take gymnastics lessons to add spectacular new tricks to their repertoire.   

Man enjoying an action-packed experience at Cables Wake Park, Penrith

Cables Wake Park, Penrith

Zip around Sydney Harbour

There are sedate ways to see Sydney Harbour – and then there are extreme jet-boat jaunts that show off all the architectural icons while giving you goosebumps and a good spray of harbour water with spins, power-braking and other tricky manoeuvres. Throw on the waterproofs and head out for a thrill ride with Oz Jet Boating (with its smiling red shark boats), Harbour Jet or Thunder Jet Boat.


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