Need to reconnect to your number one? These five under-the-radar beach towns have everything you need for a romantic weekend of rejuvenation, conversation and relaxation.
A gorgeous, wild beach with just you, your plus-one and the birds (and maybe dolphins). A tiny wine bar with smiling service and freshly shucked oysters to share. An adults-only retreat where you can laze in a king-sized bed and stroll around secluded farmland. Feel more in love than ever at one of these gorgeous lesser-known coastal towns in NSW.
Killcare, Central Coast
Nestled in the embrace of Bouddi National Park, the pretty Central Coast village of Killcare is the perfect getaway when you want to take things at a slower pace. Life unfolds easily here. You may choose to start your day with a leisurely dip at Killcare Beach or its equally lovely neighbours, Pretty Beach and Lobster Beach.
If you’re in the mood for a stroll, there are plenty of trails through the national park, including the 8km Bouddi Coastal Walk. Follow the boardwalk from Putty Beach to MacMasters Beach, or just choose a scenic spot where you can gaze out to sea and watch for dolphins or migrating whales: the Gerrin Point Lookout is an excellent choice.
As daylight starts to fade and the water glimmers gold, a two-hour Twilight Cruise with Terrigal Ocean Tours is an ideal way to explore the coast from a different perspective, and perhaps meet the resident seals, dolphins and little penguins.
Retreat to your architecturally designed lodge at Bells at Killcare (which is opening in February 2024). With its private pool, ocean views from the Sunset Deck and location within a private bush retreat, it’s a special spot to unwind. Included in bookings are nightly dinners at the property’s restaurant, The Wildflower Bar & Dining, a champion of local produce. The sizeable kitchen garden provides herbs, greens, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini flowers and borlotti beans over the summer, found in dishes like linguini with Shark Bay crab and zucchini flower, or burrata with grilled peach, tomato, basil and hazelnuts.
Pambula, Sapphire Coast
Perched between the Sapphire Coast hubs of Merimbula and Eden, Pambula is the place to leave any stress at home as you focus on the simple joys in life, together. From watching birds take flight over the Panboola Wetlands to the magical sight of kangaroos grazing on in the early morning, Pambula lets you be closer to nature.
Start the day with a croissant date: the colonial-era main street is the place to pick up fresh-from-the-oven sourdough or pastries from Wild Rye’s Baking Co. For lunch, head to Broadwater Oysters and feast on a dozen fresh oysters beside the pristine waters where they were grown.
Delve a little deeper on a tour at Wheeler’s Oyster Farm, which runs every Saturday. This family-operated farm has been farming prized Sydney Rock oysters from Merimbula Lake since 1927 and can offer an insight into the history of aquaculture in NSW.
Retreat to RiverSong, an eclectic, stylish two-storey apartment with a little deck and breathtaking outlook. Waking up with views of the ocean from bed, coffee in hand – is there anything better? With plenty of places to curl up side-by-side with a book and a welcome hamper of wine, chocolate and antipasti to enjoy – this is the perfect place to escape from the world.
Broulee, Eurobodalla region
Locals of laid-back village Broulee in the Eurobodalla region know that any date should begin with a relaxing walk along the sand spit to Broulee Island Reserve, with the water sparkling a dozen different blues around you.
Or perhaps you’d rather head out on the water itself. Hire a kayak or stand-up paddleboard from tour company Region X and be prepared to spot all kinds of marine life in the crystal-clear waters, including fast-moving eagle rays.
If you enjoy throwing a line out mid-kayak, and talking until you run out of conversation, the fishing in this area is exceptional, with whiting, flathead and bream just some of the species found in abundance.
The sweet Mossy on Pacific has white fringed umbrellas in the courtyard to perch under as you dig into a vibrant salad or classic beef burger for lunch.
Want to make your trip a little extra special? Bed down at Jaguar Stay, a collection of six adults-only villas. Each one offers a king bed, private deck with your own plunge pool and firepit, a full kitchen and plush robes. If you can drag yourself away, spend misty mornings exploring the 65-hectare riverfront farm where the lodges are located.
If you need some big-town distractions, Batemans Bay is not far away, but we suspect you’ll find yourself adapting to this easy-going lifestyle very quickly.
It’s not just the four pristine beaches surrounding Bundeena that make it such a special escape. This tiny suburb in Sydney’s south, best accessed by a quick ferry trip from Cronulla, sits on the edge of Australia’s oldest national park, the Royal National Park, where the lush bushland is rich with hiking trails, pools and beaches. Love a waterfall? Winifred Falls, Wattamolla Falls and National Falls (where you can actually stand behind the water) are all popular options and make for a cute selfie together.
Live out your romcom fantasies and hire a rowboat to spend a few hours paddling up Kangaroo Creek from Audley Boatshed. Glide between sandstones cliffs lined with eucalypts and spot turtles popping their head up or even a kingfisher diving into the water. Reward yourself with a long lunch al fresco at the historic Audley Dance Hall Café – smoked beef brisket with flat breads or a chermoula-crusted-chicken salad will leave you replenished.
Other highlights include visiting one of Sydney’s most outstanding Aboriginal rock art sites, the Jibbon rock carvings. Additionally, on the first Sunday of the month, the area’s many artists open their studios for the Bundeena and Maianbar Art Trail.
Retire to the Bundeena Beach Shack for a cocktail on the deck, watching the sky turn lilac over the water as the sun sets, or enjoy a long soak in the outdoor bath.
Angourie, Clarence Valley
If you’re the kind of couple that likes to set trends and holiday at the next big beach spot, this is the option for you. Just south of the scenic holiday town of Yamba lies Angourie, a charming coastal village with just a handful of shops. What Angourie has in abundance, however, is spectacular surrounds.
You have a choice of beaches – Angourie Point has great waves for surfers, while the sheltered Angourie Back Beach is the place to go for a swim. Then there are the revitalising Blue and Green Pools, old bluestone quarries that flooded and were reborn as popular swimming spots. On days when you feel like staying dry, hike a portion of the magnificent multi-day 65km Yuraygir Coastal Walk, which follows old emu trails south, offering jaw-dropping views along the way.
If you had to design a quintessential small-town beach cafe, Angourie Cafe and Wine Bar would be it. This whitewashed shack with striped umbrellas beckons you in with a frangipani tree out front and a menu with dishes like salt and pepper squid tacos and a Yamba prawn roll. Pop in on Sunday afternoon for live music and a cocktail.
For chic accommodation, head up to Yamba. The Surf Yamba is perched on the headland and offers a heated rooftop plunge pool, or book the Signature Pacific King room at the Pacific Hotel with breathtaking views of the ocean from your private balcony.