Adventure awaits on the NSW South Coast, a place where the shoreline – carved by volcanic activity over millions of years – cradles surf beaches and secluded bays, where whales breach and blow, and ancient rainforest clings to sheer escarpments. Base yourself in charming towns and cities, while enjoying a surfing, hiking, fishing or diving expeditions.
Let’s face it – blissful beaches are a big draw on the South Coast. However you choose to explore, whether by boat, paddling a kayak or atop a stand-up paddleboard, you’ll experience calm bays, white stretches of sand, rainforest-laced coves and cerulean water as your backdrop. Add to this seemingly endless marine-rich reefs.
Near Shellharbour, don mask and fins to scuba dive and snorkel at Bushrangers Bay, a sheltered aquatic reserve home to everything from sea urchins to tropical fish. Similar expeditions are on offer in Jervis Bay and Ulladulla. The region’s rivers offer family-friendly spots to splash about – head to Kangaroo River for a swim and kayak.
If you like your water to come with waves, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re an experienced surfer or jumping on a board for the first time, the South Coast offers surf opportunities for all inclinations. Seasoned surfers will love the big waves at Killalea Reserve, a National Surfing Reserve at Shellharbour. Other options include the challenging ‘Wedge’ break in Kiama, Wreck Bay just south of Jervis Bay, and the consistent clean waves of Merimbula Bar. If you’re new to the sport, sign up for professional tips at one of the many surf schools.
Whether reef fishing or deep-sea fishing, the South Coast attracts avid anglers for good reason. You can cast out a line from land or boat around the Jervis Bay and the Shoalhaven region, a magnet for bream, whiting and flathead. The coastline and estuaries around Batemans Bay and the Eurobodalla region also offer a variety of fishing settings, from beach angling to off a dinghy on the river to leisurely charter-boat cruises deep at sea.
Between May and November, more than 30,000 whales travel along the east coast of Australia. Dedicated lookouts sprinkle the South Coast, but chances are you’ll spot them (and dolphins) from just about any clifftop perch. For a closer look, join an ethical whale-watching cruise, which take you out to sea without disturbing these gentle giants. From September, waters off the Sapphire Coast are particularly busy, as the whales pause here to feed their young before journeying on to Antarctica.
Life amid nature makes you feel good and there’s nothing quite as invigorating as being surrounded by soaring forest or feeling sea spray on your face. Discover the ancient pathways of Eurobodalla’s dramatic fossil-rich – and national park-studded – coastline. Wander the beaches and woodlands of Beowa National Park, formerly Ben Boyd National Park. Or uncover green escarpments, craggy inlets and the wet-and-wonderful Kiama Blowhole while tackling the epic Kiama Coast Walk.
The South Coast of NSW delivers plenty of action for those who like to explore on two wheels. Whether you prefer going off-road on forested mountain bike trails, or cruising scenic beachside tracks and dedicated cycleways, this mode of transport not only gets your heart pumping, but also delivers a behind-the-scenes glimpse to the destinations you’re visiting. If you’re in Shellharbour, don’t miss the shared path that weaves along the shoreline, taking you past stretches of sand and nature reserves, and paralleling Lake Illawarra.
It’s one thing to take in the South Coast from a clifftop or the water. It’s quite another adventure to glimpse it from the air. Adrenaline junkies routinely throw themselves out of planes to skydive onto the beach at Wollongong, and then – just north of the city at Stanwell Park – catch thermals from the Bald Hill Lookout. Conditions here are so good, the area has become known as one of the best coastal areas to hang-glide and paraglide in the world. Good news: tandem rides are available. Once you’ve visited Albion Park’s Aviation Museum, take to the sky yourself on a bi-plane tour or helicopter safari.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.