Dining, Drinking and Dolphin Spotting: Your Weekend Guide to the South Coast at The Waterfront Shell Cove
From sealife spotting to an entire waterfront festival dedicated to all things food and wine, here are the most unmissable Shell Cove experiences to elevate your weekend escape.
September 29, 2022
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Bordered by the sunny, sandy beaches of Wollongong and located less than 90km south of Sydney, Shell Cove is our pick of the season for those seeking an easy weekend escape. While it's packed with many of the natural wonders synonymous with the neighbouring NSW South Coast towns, the area's gorgeous, sun-soaked offerings make it a must-visit destination unto itself.
If you've never been to Shell Cove, it's time to change that.
With the help of Shellharbour City Council, with Frasers Property, we've put together a guide on some of our favourite places to eat, play and stay in this scenic and relaxing spot.
Given that Shell Cove enjoys direct access to the Tasman Sea, it should surprise exactly nobody that visitors will be able to enjoy some spectacular seafood at The Waterfront Dining Precinct. Test out the theory for yourself by tucking into fresh takeaway fish and chips at the The Salty Squid, or, if you aren't about the pescatarian life, sample the local beef burgers with milk buns at family-friendly restaurant Georgia Rose. Just be sure to finish things off at The Waterfront Tavern with a Caramilk Espresso Martini.
GET THE (DOUBLE) SCOOP
Did you even do a road trip if you didn't stop for ice cream? BLISS Ice Cream and Gelato makes it easier to get your warm-weather sugar fix — as well as a nice snap of your cone for Instagram — by offering over 50 delicious flavours of ice cream and gelato, alongside an equally impressive range of milkshakes, thick shakes and caffeine-fixing drinks.
A FOODIE FESTIVAL
If brunch, booze and all the bits in between aren't enough to entice you, then those looking for a little extra incentive to make the leisurely drive from Sydney to Shell Cove will find it in The Waterfront Food and Wine Festival this October. Headlined by Masterchef's Adam Liaw and renowned Indigenous chef Mark Olive, the weekend-long event will kick off at 4pm on Friday, October 28 (and continue on into the next day before ending on Saturday evening) — bringing together the South Coast's finest food makers and the region's award-winning wine, craft beer and spirit producers.
Think chefs, cheesemakers, baristas, bakers, brewers, winemakers and distillers showing off their best wares — and yes, there will be samples. You can also check out workshops and live cooking demonstrations from food experts — with delicious results.
LOVE YOU A BRUNCH
Sure, Sydney is known for its brilliant brunch spots, but those in Shell Cove serve theirs alongside a beautiful sea breeze — and Leaf Cafe & Co is one of the best. Located in the The Shell Cove Town Centre, Leaf prepares dishes like breakfast gnocchi daily, while roasting and grinding its award-winning coffee beans every single week… Which is probably how it managed to bring home four medals from the largest global roasting competition this year.
ON THE BEATEN TRACK
Whether you're a workout warrior, art aficionado or just keen to get your blood and creative juices flowing, be sure to check out The Waterfront's 2.5-kilometre promenade and harbourside boardwalks. As well as public artworks and outdoor exercise equipment dotted the track, there's a lot to love about the striking lookouts over the Tasman sea.
Prefer to head off the beaten track (literally)? The marina offers a number of casual berths for hire, that make it popular among boat owners. With sailors coming in from across Australia (including adventurous Adelaideans and others en route to Queensland), you'll be in good company should you opt to pull up ship and spend the day fishing from the boat ramp.
A HOLE NEW BALL GAME
You don't need to be Greg Norman to book a round at Links Shell Cove. While the picturesque golf course does service aspiring pro-putter with its challenging 18-hole course, it's also home to a brand new, mini-but-mighty golf course for those who are more pussycat than Tiger Woods. A scaled-down version of the original full-size golf course, the "Links" course is best suited for beginners and budding golfers who are, well, a little bit green, on the green.
The best way to get up close and personal with those dolphin spotting opportunities we mentioned in our introduction? By booking a tour with Shellharbour Wild. Begin your trip with a cruise from the Shellharbour Marina travelling south and exploring beautiful Bushrangers Bay and its calm turquoise waters, before driving up north to take in the panoramic views of Perkins and Windang Beach. Depending on the season you might cross paths with dolphins, whales or the fur seals sunbathing on the rocks of Five Islands.
It seems almost criminal to get halfway through an article on Shell Cove before we mention its beautiful beaches, and yet here we are. To make up for our misdemeanour, allow us to share some of the most scenic seaside spots that border Shell Cove.
As well as the unspoilt white sands and surfing swell you'll find at Shellharbour South Beach and Killalea Beach, be sure to check out Bass Point and Bushrangers Bay Aquatic Reserve. Popular with both locals and passing travellers, this sheltered site affords access to iconic snorkelling and diving excursions, only accessible through Shell Cove.
COMING SOON: THE CROWNE PLAZA HOTEL
Looking for iconic, deluxe hotel accommodation, with chic restaurants and bars, delicious food and beverage outlets, contemporary rooms and function facilities, and a resort-style pool? Then watch this space, with the Crowne Plaza Hotel expected to be opening at The Waterfront in 2025 — mark your calendars now.
A SPECIAL KIND OF SEBEL
Can't wait that long? May we suggest the Sebel Harbourside Kiama, in the meantime? Featuring a range of luxury lodgings, as well as a variety of entertainment and dining options, and views over the beautiful Kiama harbour you would be completely forgiven for spending the entirety of your stay onsite.
Insider tip: Don't do that, otherwise you'll miss out on the famous Kiama Blowhole and historic terrace shops, which are both but a short walk away.
If you prefer the experience of a self-serviced stay, check out this one by the beach (three minutes away to be precise).
With a stylish set-up and take-your-breath-away views of the ocean, this spectacular three-bedder is the ideal space for your Shell Cove stay. Plus it comes with a large alfresco balcony (including an inbuilt BBQ) so you can enjoy sunrises and sunsets all year round.
TOWNHOUSE FOR THREE
For a townhouse that gives city slick vibes without skimping on Shell Cove's signature South Coast charm, we recommend this stunning three-bedroom townhouse.
If you have a long list of luxury accommodation essentials, we can almost guarantee that this place is the one that will mark them off. Think top-tier furnishings, a master bedroom with a king-size bed, and waterfront views courtesy of its world-class marina location.
To find out more about Shell Cove and discover this scenic NSW location for yourself, head to The Waterfront Shell Cove.
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