Shellharbour is an idyllic seaside destination on the NSW South Coast.  You can relax on beautiful beaches, learn to surf, wander through rare littoral rainforest, enjoy fishing and boating, explore a World War II shipwreck, visit museums or play a round of golf at a picture-perfect course.

You will find a selection of outdoor cafes and restaurants in Shellharbour Village, the buzzy ocean-front strip near the pocket-sized harbour. On either side of the harbour are the main beaches: Shellharbour North Beach and Shellharbour South Beach. The 1929-built Ocean Beach Hotel looks over the neon blue harbour.

Couple enjoying a cycle in the afternoon by the beach in Shellharbour

South of the village is the heritage-listed Bass Point Reserve where you will be surrounded by stunningly beautiful littoral rainforest while on a walking trail. You can discover more about Bass Point’s ancient past on a sign-posted Aboriginal cultural heritage walk, home to one of the most important indigenous historical sites in NSW.

Six shipwrecks can be found off the waters off Bass Point, the first dating back to 1879. The Bass Point Marine Area features one of the most outstanding diving and snorkelling spots in Australia. Discover this underwater world in the Bushrangers Bay Aquatic Reserve, a protected embayment with amazing undersea cliffs teeming with sea creatures.

Couple ready to dive in Bushrangers Bay, Shellharbour

Surfers will be thrilled to find some of the best waves in Australia in the Shellharbour region. The Farm and Mystics in the Killalea State Recreation Area are declared National Surfing Reserves, a register of Australia’s iconic surfing locations. Hone your skills on a lesson with a local surf schools such as Pines Surfing Academy.

Between May and November, head to one of many scenic vantage points to spot whales migrating along the coast. Bring your bicycle or hire one to cycle along the spectacular Shellharbour coastline or around the foreshore of Lake Illawarra. The lake is a popular for stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and other fun water sports.

Surf at the Farm in Shellharbour

The picturesque Links Shell Cove Golf Course is nearby and a top spot for a round with a view. After golf, grab lunch at the Tavern in the clubhouse. Another popular spot is The Shellharbour Club, nicknamed Shelly’s. There is a vibrant street market-style dining area called the Precinct, and the club’s entertainment caters for all ages.

Shellharbour is a two-hour drive from Sydney along the spectacular Grand Pacific Drive. You can also catch a direct train to Shellharbour Junction Station and the journey takes about two hours. Places to stay include the beachside holiday parks, campgrounds, resorts and houses to rent.