Ten Things You Didn't Realise You Could Do on NSW's Sapphire Coast
Discover picturesque swimming holes, wild mountain rides and seafood trails along this glistening coastline.
in partnership with
If you're after beaches with fewer footprints in the sand, seaside wilderness escapes and untouched national parks, then set your sights on the New South Wales Sapphire Coast. Spanning from Eden to Bermagui, the region offers exhilaration and tranquillity in equal measure. When fishing, scuba diving, wildlife encounters and even roller coasters are on the list of potential holiday activities, you're sure to find fun that'll suit you within this gem on the NSW far south coast.
The region is perched on the border of NSW and Victoria, and those driving from either Melbourne or Sydney will arrive here in around six hours. There is also now a direct flight from Melbourne to Merimbula. Wherever you're coming from, consider these ten incredible Sapphire Coast experiences for your holiday itinerary.
Please stay up to date with the latest NSW Government health advice regarding COVID-19.
EXPLORE UNDERWATER SEASCAPES
Whether you're an intrepid deep sea diver or have only just bought your first set of flippers, there's a diving experience to suit your under-the-sea skills on the Sapphire Coast. Dive Eden offers scuba diving certification courses, boat dives, free diving sessions and snorkelling tours. The sparkling waters of the NSW far south coast are home to all manner of aquatic life. So, you can expect to meet weedy seadragons, cuttlefish, octopuses and even seals and dolphins above the rainbow coral beds, depending on where you dive.
If you're staying a few nights in Eden while you get scuba certified, check out the Eden Beachfront Holiday Park for family-friendly accommodation right by the shoreline, or Snug Cove Villas for views over Eden's wharf.
HIKE ALONG COASTAL CLIFFS ON A MULTI-DAY TRAIL
The Light to Light walk is an epic 30-kilometre expedition that runs between two historic lighthouses — Boyds Tower and Green Cape Lighthouse — and should be tackled over two or three days, staying overnight at Saltwater Creek and Bittangabee campgrounds. The path is relatively easy but covers remote and constantly evolving terrain, so come prepared with sturdy shoes, plenty of water and swimmers for cooling ocean excursions. Along the route, you can expect vast cliffside grasslands, deserted beaches, banksia woodlands, regular whale sightings, towering red rock formations and seabird companions.
If you're walking solo, you'll want to stock up on supplies at Eden and start out from Boyds Tower. This way you can finish the trip with a night or two at the heritage Green Cape Lightstation Keepers' Cottages or the rustic Telegraph Station Bunkhouse. Otherwise, there are fully catered walks with local guides offering varying levels of camp luxury along the trail.
MEET RARE NATIVE WILDLIFE
Continue your wildlife tour at Potoroo Palace, a sanctuary and conservation centre in the undulating hills of the Bega Valley. The creatures you'll meet here are of much smaller stature than the Sapphire Coast's sea giants, but are equally endearing. The star is, of course, the native long-nosed potoroo. These adorable fuzzy fellows are the size of a small cat and have pointed noses which they use to sniff out grubs and truffles (their favourite snacks). The sanctuary houses other native critters including kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, echidnas, bandicoots, flying foxes, emus and more.
Want to spend more time around animals? Book a stay at Bumblebrook Farm Motel, a stunning farm stay near Candelo that is home to highland cows, sheep and ducks.
CHASE THRILLS AT AN OUT-OF-TOWN AMUSEMENT PARK
Roller coasters and wild water slides might not feature on many Sapphire Coast postcards, but locals will insist you spend a day on the rides at Magic Mountain. This beloved amusement park sits just outside Merimbula and offers hours of old-school family fun. Adrenaline junkies can brave thrilling twists and turns on the Doom Tube water slide, then test their Tarzan skills at the treetop ropes course. There's mini golf, jumping castles and go-kart racing for holidayers who prefer to stay at ground level, and plenty of space and facilities for a barbecue or cafe lunch. Be sure to check operating hours before planning a Magic Mountain adventure, as this can change seasonally.
That night, rest your weary head in an oceanside bungalow at NRMA Merimbula Beach Holiday Resort.
SPY SEALS AS YOU BATHE IN AN OCEAN POOL
This renowned ocean rock pool juts out from the cliff face along Bermagui's Scenic Drive and provides a protected spot to swim and snorkel. Go on a sunny day dip at low tide and you'll see the crystal waters reflecting the blue of the sky — this spectacular colouring earned the swimming hole its name. Along with glorious views of the headlands, you may also be able to spot whales and dolphins frolicking in the waves and, if you're lucky, watch seals dive off rocky outcrops while you float in Blue Pool.
There are steps down to the water and bathroom facilities on-site. If you want to stay in the seaside town of Bermagui, the historic Bermagui Beach Hotel is perfect for country pub fans and only an eight-minute stroll to the ocean pool. Other charming accommodation options include the colourful Seaview Beach Houses and the pet-friendly cabins and caravans at Reflections Holiday Park.
RECLINE AND DINE BY THE BAY
After a day of exertion in the surf and sun, Valentina is an ideal spot to recuperate while you taste some of the region's finest produce for lunch or dinner. This calming space perched on the edge of Merimbula Lake has ceilings draped with linen and lit by a soft glow from smoothly carved wall sconces. Lay claim to a luxuriously cushioned window bench or curved booth and order from the seafood-focused menu. Pair the region's famed oysters with grilled octopus and a serve of stracciatella with figs. Cool down at the end of your meal with honey ice cream, served with fresh mango, macadamias and tapioca.
This oasis is in the heart of Merimbula, and the nearby Coast Resort provides sophisticated accommodation to match your Valentina dining experience.
BECOME A LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER
You'll need to travel nine kilometres off the Narooma coastline to reach this secluded gem. Barunguba (aka Montague Island) is part of a nature reserve and can only be visited on a guided tour or if you're staying at the island accommodation. To get the island (almost) all to yourself, you can book a stay at the Montague Island Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage, which sleeps up to twelve people, or the Assistant Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage, which sleeps seven. While you're there, you can walk around the tiny island spotting seals, dolphins, whales and the resident penguins.
KAYAK INSIDE A TOWERING GORGE
About an hour's drive inland from Bermagui you'll find the snaking waterways of the Brogo River. This little corner of the Sapphire Coast is perfect for a peaceful paddle. Start your journey at Brogo Dam, where you can alight on a BYO canoe or kayak from the boat ramp, or hire a vessel from the nearby Brogo Wilderness Canoes. As you cruise along under the willow trees you can spot water dragons, goannas and occasionally a shy echidna.
If you paddle out to Nelsons Creek, simply sit back and take in the towering walls of the gorge. You're right on the edge of a national park here, and there isn't much in the way of eateries or amenities, so come prepared with a riverside picnic, water and any other necessities. Meanwhile, Rock Lily — a 100-acre bushland retreat with a one-bedroom mudbrick cottage — is where you'll want to spend the night.
SHUCK A SEA FEAST
Oysters are a bit of a Sapphire Coast speciality – there are five different oyster estuaries along this section of coastline, each subtly imbuing different flavours in their sea treats. While many local haunts serve up these salty bivalves exquisitely, the Oyster Barn by Merimbula Gourmet Oysters is something rather special. This family-run producer offers fresh oyster takeaways straight from the farm, or you can enjoy seafood dining on its deck. You'll soon be feeling like a local as you gaze out over Lake Merimbula while slurping a local sea bounty.
CHARTER A BIG GAME FISHING VESSEL
If you simply can't get enough seafood, it might be time to catch some for yourself. The Sapphire Coast is abundant with prime fishing real estate, whether you cast from the shore or a boat. If you're in it for a prize catch, you can charter a big game fishing vessel. Fishpen Charters has been running boats from Mitchies Jetty in Merimbula for three decades and can help steer you towards bountiful seas. Jump on the three- or five-hour fishing trips, or book a private session for up to ten people. Round out your trip by cooking up your catch and toasting to the Sapphire Coast.
Start planning your great escape to New South Wales this season by visiting the Visit NSW website.
Top image: Light to Light Walk, Destination NSW
Published on May 03, 2021 by Olivia Gee