Idyllic beaches, chic cafes and a splendid national park make Sawtell a marvellous seaside escape on the beautiful Coffs Coast of NSW. Enjoy kayaking, fishing, surfing and bushwalking. In the Bongil Bongil National Park is a large koala colony, and whale watching is popular from rugged headlands.
Enormous fig trees on the charming main street provide shade for the enticing boutiques and the tempting cafes and restaurants with alfresco tables. Delicious fresh produce is a feature of one of the hottest events, the Sawtell Chilli Festival, a fun July day for the family with rides for the kids.
Adjacent the township is Sawtell Beach, which curves 2.1km from Bonville Headland in the south to Boambee Head in the north. At the southern end is the small Sawtell Island, a rocky reef that shelters Sailors Bay. Patrolled in summer, the beach is great for swimming, fishing and surfing.
An ocean pool is on Bonville Headland’s southern side where the Bonville Creek flows into the sea. The pretty creak meanders through the Bongil Bongil National Park, a great destination for fishing, kayaking, bushwalking and birdwatching. The enchanting Bongil picnic area has free gas barbecues.
C-Change Adventures offers kayaking tours in the park, and mountain bike trails weave through the wilderness where koalas doze in towering eucalypts bordering rainforest. Keep your eyes peeled for koalas on the Bluff loop walking track, an easy 2km route through rainforest to eucalypts on a ridge.
Another enchanting track is the Bundagaree Rainforest walk, a 6km loop. The colourful birdlife in Bongil Bongil is remarkable – over 165 species, including the wompoo fruit dove and the satin bowerbird, and there are breeding grounds for migratory birds such as the endangered little tern.
The Bundagaree trail leads to Bongil Beach, a 7km sandy stretch. The stunning beach is popular for fishing and walking, and experienced surfers carve up the waves, sometimes joined by bottlenose dolphins. You’re allowed to drive your 4WD vehicle onto the beach as long as you have a permit.
More adventure is on Sawtell’s northern edge at the lovely Boambee Creek Reserve, where kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are popular. You can hire SUPs and kayaks at the reserve. There are barbecue facilities, too. Boambee Beach begins here and sweeps north to nearby Coffs Harbour.