A Weekender's Guide to Jervis Bay
Paddle across clear waters, spot dolphins and dine in an adult treehouse.
April 28, 2023
Known for its pristine white sand beaches, Jervis Bay is a well-known escape for Sydneysiders come summertime — and yet during off-peak seasons parts of its 20 kilometres of shoreline will be completely deserted. If you're heading from Sydney, prepare for a three-hour drive south before you hit a vast oceanic bay fringed by national parks. Jervis Bay is one of the deepest bays in Australia, and all its underwater creatures live in a protected marine park. Whether you're paddling, snorkelling or lazing on the beach, you're bound to meet dolphins, rays, weedy sea dragons, Port Jackson sharks, fish and, from late autumn, whales, too.
EAT AND DRINK
Before you travel to Jervis Bay, make a reservation at Gunyah at Paperbark Camp, which you'll find just east of Huskisson in the pint-sized village of Woollamia on the banks of Currambene Creek. Designed by Sydney-based architects Nettleton Tribe, this warmly lit, timber-filled restaurant feels like a treehouse for grown-ups. It's built on stilts and positioned just under the canopy — perfect for spotting possums and stars. Paperbark Camp is also one of the best glamping sites in Australia, so consider spending the night.
For lunch, drop into Hyams Beach Cafe and General Store, where you'll not only meet the bay's cutest dog, Albert, but you'll also find a delicious midday meal. Owners Sue and Chris Alison, who run the cafe with their daughter Phoebe, grow much of the produce on their farm. Order a burger and you'll be rewarded with a stack of lamb (or chicken), salad and vegetables, lathered in house-made sauce and framed in soft turkish bread.
Hanging out for a late afternoon tipple? The Huskisson Hotel, right on the water, is the spot for it. The pub's got a massive, well-shaded deck and floor-to-ceiling windows, so the views are panoramic. Or, for craft brews at a dog- and family-friendly beer garden, head to Jervis Bay Brewing Co. The brewery is open Wednesday to Sunday for when you want to sample pale ales and XPAs with food truck snacks, or swing by to take a growler home for a barbecue on the deck.
For the big picture, grab your hat and start with a 90-minute dolphin cruise that takes travellers into the middle of Jervis Bay — searching for its 100 resident bottlenose dolphins, and when you return you'll have a good idea of just how epic the bay's proportions are.
Jervis Bay's still, clear, safe waters are an excellent place to paddleboard. Book a lesson with Jervis Bay Stand Up Paddle and, after learning the basics, you'll take a mini-tour, watching out for eagle rays and blue gropers diving beneath your board.
To go further afield, take a half-day or full-day tour with Sea Kayak Jervis Bay. You'll learn paddling techniques, trivia-comp-winning facts about the bay and, between paddling sessions, you'll stop for coffee, cake, fruit and a dip at a stunning beach. If you're feeling intrepid, venture away from the shoreline to Bowen Island. It's illegal to disembark, but there's stacks to see from your boat, including fairy penguins — approximately 5000 breeding pairs live there.
For a gentle stroll, take the White Sands Walk and Scribbly Gum Track — a 2.5-kilometre loop, taking in Hyams, Greenfields and Seamans Beaches. Make sure you check the National Parks website for any alerts before you venture out. In Booderee National Park, which stretches across Jervis Bay's southern headland, head to Cape St George Lighthouse for dizzying cliffs, diving sea eagles and tragic sailors' tales. Go to Green Patch for more white sand, possums, kangaroos and camping. And, for surf, make tracks to Cave Beach or Steamers Beach, both outside the bay.
For proximity to restaurants and shops, stay in Huskisson. And Hukisson Hotel, located right by the water is one of our favourite places to stay by Jervis Bay. Alternatively, the Huskisson Holiday Motel Cabins is great for those who don't want to be right in the town centre.
And if it's bushland and bird songs are more your jam, head to Hyams Beach. Back in the 1920s, a bunch of fishermen built a group of pocket-sized dwellings there, just 60 metres from the water. Now, they've been transformed into the Hyams Beach Seaside Cottages. Painted dusky pink, baby blue and canary yellow, each one has a little porch and ocean views, plus polished wooden floors and an ultra-comfortable, queen-sized bed inside.
Travelling with mates? JB Beach Houses gives you a choice of six holiday homes. You'll find the properties metres from the beach and right on the edge of the national park. At Scarborough, you're greeted by a spacious deck overlooking Hyams Beach — a dreamy place to watch birds, read and do absolutely nothing. There's space for up to eight sleepers and it has direct beach access for when you fancy a cheeky midnight dip.
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Top image: Jervis Bay by Hutchings Camps via Tourism Australia
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