At the mouth of the Clarence River on the North Coast of NSW, Yamba is the coastal destination that holiday dreams are made of. The town’s beaches are blissful, with world-beating surf breaks and marine parks that brim with dolphins, sea turtles and migrating whales – all enveloped by national parks and wilderness reserves. And the town’s dining scene steals the attention of this part of the coast, even overtaking some of its flashier neighbours.



On the water

Just south of Yamba is Angourie Point, a National Surfing Reserve ranked among the top right-hand point breaks in Australia. It’s a popular spot for experienced wave riders year-round, with smaller swells also suitable for those still getting acquainted with their boards. For a dip closer to home, have a swim at Yamba Main Beach (and its scenic ocean pool), Turners Beach or Pippi Beach.

Surfer heading out for a morning surf at Turners Beach, Yamba

Turners Beach, Yamba

Meanwhile, keen anglers can catch plenty of fish either from the beach, along the estuary or off the rocks. You can hire boats or fishing kayaks, and drop into one of the numerous bait and tackle shops for tips on where the fish are biting. Both Reel Time Fishing Charters and Yamba Fishing and Charters offer expeditions out into the Pacific.

Pick up your paddle to explore waterways on a tour with Yamba Kayak, offering jaw-dropping experiences that allow you front-row, eye-to-eye encounters with dolphins along the estuary – you may even spot migrating whales, from May through November. A similar perspective is available when you cruise with Clarence River Ferries, which runs scenic jaunts and a passenger service to Iluka, on the northern side of the river.

Escape into nature

While Yamba is known for its epic beaches and waves, the surrounding countryside is just as alluring for its swathes of native forest – and all the outdoor adventures that ensue. Clamber to the Yamba Lighthouse, and then continue south on the 65km Yuraygir coastal walk all the way to Red Rock, following ancient emu trails in the Yuraygir National Park.

Seaside villages such as Brooms Head dot your route, which ends in the hamlet of Wooli, its narrow peninsula surrounded by forest, beaches and the Wooli Wooli River (known for providing perfect growing conditions for Sydney rock oysters). Just offshore, the Solitary Islands Marine Park covers 71,000 hectares, the protected reserve a haven for coral, fish, dolphins, grey nurse sharks and whales during migration. Snorkel or dive into this immense ecosystem with Wooli Dive Centre.

Aerial overlooking Yamba Ocean Pool in Yamba, Clarence Valley

Yamba Ocean Pool, Yamba - Credit: My Clarence Valley

Things to do in town

Be sure to explore the town either on foot or two wheels – hire your bike from Bike Shop Yamba. Retrace the steps of explorer Matthew Flinders on a self-guided walk exploring the town's historical highlights, including Flinders Well and Yamba Museum.

The main drag, Yamba Street, is home to a collection of charming boutique shops, such as One Country MouseFlots & Jets and The Corner Store. Literature lovers should make tracks for second-hand bookshop, The Nook.

Couples walking through the town past Yamba Bay Oysters, Yamba

Couple enjoying a walk through Yamba, Clarence Valley

Eat, drink & be merry

If you can drag yourself away from the beach, Yamba delivers a thriving food scene and an events calendar filled with festivals, markets and sports. Sample all the best locally caught seafood – including famous Yamba prawns – at fish shops and restaurants around town, such as SandbarClarence River Fisherman's Co-Operative and Yamba's Fisho. Visiting on a Wednesday? Take a walk through the fantastic Yamba Farmers & Producers Market, which hosts 45 permanent stallholders selling regional gate-to-plate produce.

Yum Yum Angourie Cafe and General Store has been a local favourite for years, drop in for a coffee in the sunshine at their outdoor tables and a chat with the locals. For gin cocktails, grab a seat at Clarence Distillery, and for craft beer, head to Wobbly Chook Brewing CoDon’t miss a meal at the 1934-built Pacific Hotel, where your ocean views are matched with a menu that pays homage to the region’s produce. Can’t bear to leave? Your room awaits.

Where to stay

You’ll find plenty of accommodation options in Yamba, from campgrounds and holiday parks  including Calypso Yamba Holiday ParkBlue Dolphin Holiday Resort and BIG4 Saltwater at Yamba Holiday Park – to an award-winning youth hostel, farmstays, luxury retreats and tiny housesThe Surf Yamba, a boutique hotel offering 12 rooms, has become somewhat of a town landmark, with a sunlit rooftop with a heated plunge pool overlooking the Main Beach. The Pacific Hotel, as its name implies, features Pacific Ocean views and cosy rooms.

Deckchairs overlooking the beach - The Surf Yamba - Yamba

The Surf Yamba, Yamba - Credit: Elise Hassey

Getting there 

It’s a scenic 7.5-hour drive north from Sydney to Yamba, or 3.5-hour south from Brisbane. You can also fly into the Clarence Valley Regional Airport on the outskirts of Grafton and hire a car for the 50-minute drive north. 

The Port of Yamba serves the entire Northern Rivers and New England regions including the towns of Grafton, Maclean, Ballina, Lismore and Casino. Cruise ships would sit at anchor in the harbour and passengers brought to shore on tender boats.

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