The next 6 beach towns to be explored in NSW
Wake up to serene mornings watching the waves roll in. Lazy days playing beach cricket on sunlit stretches of sand. Fish and chip feasts on the balcony with your crew. There’s nothing quite like a beach holiday for the ultimate reset and refresh.
With more than 2000 kilometres of sparkling shoreline, NSW has no shortage of coastal towns for an idyllic seaside getaway, and there are plenty without the busy crowds and booked-out venues. Offering under-the-radar holiday vibes yet garnering quite a buzz from new boutique stays and modern diners, these emerging beach havens should be next on your bucket list.
This laidback North Coast town has been tipped as being the ‘next Byron Bay’, but Yamba is deserving of its own street cred as an emergence of locally run cafes, restaurants and hotels make this a must-visit holiday destination. Just 90 mins south of its more famous beachside neighbour, Yamba has long drawn surfers from far and wide to ride Angourie Point, a National Surfing Reserve ranked among the top right-hand point breaks in Australia. New additions have made quiet nights a little more lively: The Wobbly Chook brewery pours craft micro beers, live music venue Last Rites has just opened to showcase local talent, while new boutique hotel The Surf draws design-lovers for its relaxed coastal aesthetic and rooftop pool overlooking Main Beach.
TripAdvisor awarded this South Coast region eighth place on its list of Top Emerging Destinations in the World for 2021. From Berry to Ulladulla and Bawley Point, it's no wonder Shoalhaven has reached global status; its pristine coast (Shoalhaven beaches are said to have some of the whitest sands in the world) meets rolling vineyards and emerald hinterland. The region is a popular sea change for fine-dining chefs (Cupitt’s Estate, Small Town, and the pioneering Rick Stein’s Bannisters by the Sea), and new boutique accommodation has made this patch of coast stand out, with award-winning Bangalay Luxury Villas at Shoalhaven Heads, private lakeside cabins at The Jackson Ranch in Bawley Point and countryside estate Tawillah Luxury Retreat in Milton.
NSW’s seal population has long favoured Narooma as the place to swim; a snorkel with fur seals off Montague Island is a bucket-list stop on any South Coast road trip. But now there’s even more reason to linger longer on land, as Sydney hospitality group Merivale dips its toes in the region’s turquoise waters, purchasing three iconic ocean-view properties, which has created quite a buzz around town. Venue’s purchased have included The Inlet serving up fresh fish and chips and seafood, the iconic Quarterdeck restaurant has turned tiki-style, with fruity daiquiris and fresh oysters served by the water. Just across the headland, boutique hotel and restaurant The Whale Inn was also snapped up by the company and is set for a new look and relaunch soon.
Named after the distinctive cabbage tree palms that line the region, Pacific Palms is home to some of NSW’s most underrated beaches and is located in the heart of the trending Barrington Coast region. Beach hop from the white sands of Elizabeth Beach to the surf at Blueys or Boomerang Beach, or explore the coastal wilderness of Booti Booti National Park. There are plenty of new places to eat, drink and stay: Sips at Moby’s is Pacific Palms’ newest beachfront bar and restaurant, next-door to four-star Moby’s Resort and a short stroll from Boomerang Beach, while further north in Forster, Isola Riva serves a Mediterranean menu overlooking Wallis Lake. Stay the night surrounded by rainforest at Tiona Treehouse Glamping tents on the lake side of Seven Mile Beach, or turn up the luxe-level at Wynola, a four-bedroom restored Queenslander with white-washed wood paneling, a wraparound verandah and complimentary bikes to explore the coastline.
One of the country’s top beaches just so happens to be 275 kilometres from the nearest coastline. Located along the Murrumbidgee River, inland Wagga Beach was voted ninth on Tourism Australia’s list of Top 20 Beaches for 2020, and deservedly so, with sandy banks to camp on, lush national parkland to explore and plenty of water activities. Just a five-min drive from Wagga Wagga, the heart of the Riverina, Wagga Beach is in close proximity to some of the region’s finest wine and diners (go for brunch at Mr. Lawrence, feast at Magpies Nest, drink at the Thirsty Crow Brewing Co.). Camp among native wildlife in Livingstone National Park, book a farm stay at the plush cottages at , or for ultimate romance, head an hour out of town to the romantic Kimo Estate cabins.
South West Rocks
A true hidden gem on the North Coast, South West Rocks has been a secret escape for those in the know for decades. The quiet town at the mouth of the Macleay River is beloved for its sandy beaches, national parks, family-friendly atmosphere, colonial heritage, but most of all, its obscurity. The secret may be out though, as more and more Sydneysiders head north for relaxed beach times and to hit the surf. Go for brunch at Malt & Honey and spend the night in the colourful bowling alley and bar at Social Alley. There’s plenty of cool places to lay your head, too: relax in luxury at the town’s modern beach cabins at Salt or spend the night up high in the Smoky Cape Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage.