Shellharbour is blossoming into holiday heaven on the NSW South Coast as more travellers discover its many charms. The spectacular coastal scenery is alluring, and the array of things to do is vast, including surfing, golfing, rainforest walks, fishing, boating, scuba diving or simply relaxing with a book on the beach.
Overlooked by the iconic Ocean Beach Hotel, established in 1929, the small harbour is a focal point with beaches on both sides. Shellharbour Village is also by the harbour, with its selection of boutiques, cool cafes and restaurants all ensuring a great waterside vibe.
Between May and November, you might even spot whales blowing or breaching as they migrate up or down the coast, with the harbour one of many scenic vantage points. Take your bike or hire one to cycle along the spectacular Shellharbour coastline or around the foreshore of Lake Illawarra. The lake is popular for stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and for its Art Trail.
Surf and turf
Surfers will find some great surfing breaks in the Shellharbour region. Shellharbour North and Shellharbour South beaches sit either side of the harbour, while The Farm (at Killalea Beach) and Mystics (at Minnamurra Beach) attract surfers from near and far. These two breaks are in the Killalea Reserve which is a designated National Surfing Reserve. If you’re not quite up to that standard, hone your skills in a lesson with local surf schools such as Pines Surfing Academy.
There is also plenty to see under the water, with scuba divers and snorkellers sure to love Bushrangers Bay Aquatic Reserve in Bass Point Reserve. The marine life under the old Gravel Loader jetty is magnificent. Bass Point is an important archaeological site with Aboriginal people regularly camping here 17,000 years before the pyramids were built in Egypt. Learn about this significant site on the self-guided Aboriginal Indigenous Cultural walk.
Swap your surf board for golf clubs at the picturesque Links Shell Cove Golf Course known for its stunning views. After golf, grab lunch at the Tavern in the clubhouse. Shell Cove is part of a massive development with a brand new marina due to open in 2021. Another popular spot is The Shellharbour Club, or ‘Shelly’s’ as the locals call it. There is a vibrant street market-style dining area called the Precinct, and the club’s entertainment caters for all ages.
Getting there and where to stay
Shellharbour is a two-hour drive from Sydney along the spectacular Grand Pacific Drive. You can also catch a train direct from Sydney to Shellharbour Junction Station. It is a scenic trip and takes about two hours. Or you can fly from Brisbane and Melbourne into Shellharbour Airport at Albion Park.
There is a great assortment of places to stay that cater for families, couples, groups or solo travellers. Keep it simple at a beachside holiday park or campground or opt for more comfort with a resort or even a luxurious holiday house.