Stretching over 100km north from the Victorian border, the Sapphire Coast of NSW has so much to see and do. Here are just seven to give you a taste of this wonderful region.
From its famous Oyster Trail and superb range of restaurants to a truly stunning coastline, the Sapphire Coast—so named for the glorious colour of its waters rather than the gemstone—has so much to offer.
Our recent trip to this under-valued region showed us that even within Australia’s most populous state, there are still destinations many of us have never been to or perhaps even heard of.
Check out our video of the amazing things you can do on the Sapphire Coast:
And even with famous towns like Bega (of Aussie cheese fame) or Eden (the popular coastal town and cruise port) within the Sapphire Coast’s realm, this exact midway point between Melbourne and Sydney gets overlooked.
And let’s not forget the oysters.
The Sapphire Coast is home to the great concentration of the finest Sydney Sydney rock oyster farms in the country. Reason in itself to get to the Sapphire Coast on its own!
But here are some more:
1. Fresh oysters straight from the lease
Did you know Sydney rock oysters are Australia’s only native rock oyster? They’re also under threat of being out-competed by other species like the Pacific oyster—an introduced variety from Japan.
Visiting places like Broadwater Oysters in Pambula offers the unique experience of learning to shuck your own oysters right on the shores of Pambula Lake where they grow in abundance.
All the food in the Sapphire Coast is incredible. Even the local curry house is worth visiting; the Cafe Tandoori Indian restaurant in Pambula is so good it’s ignited a side mission in me to explore more regional curry spots!
– Right on the waters of Merimbula Lake, Valentina serves beautiful predominantly seafood dishes and occasionally does special events like their ‘Eau de Terroir’ oysters and wine degustation. You can read more about that here.
– Wheeler’s Seafood Restaurant in Pambula, which has been here in one form or another for over 100 years and also has its own oyster farm, is a must-visit. Our full review here of Wheeler’s explains why, but essentially the food, service and ambience here is wonderful.
– High above the historic Merimbula Wharf, which looks out across the Merimbula Lake inlet and the town’s main beach, the Wharf Restaurant & Aquarium matches its unparalleled views with flawlessly wholesome and hearty seafood dishes.
And once you’re sated, a mooch through the adjoining aquarium downstairs shows you some of what’s swimming in your view (but never on the menu!) upstairs.
– A special mention should also go to Dulcie’s Cottage and Kitty’s Bar, both in Merimbula. We didn’t manage to visit these two because they were under refurb, but everyone’s been telling us how good they are.
3. Pubs, breweries and distilleries
– Longstocking Brewery and Oyster Bar in Pambula not only makes its own beers on-site (I could drink their pale ale all day!) but also tasty wood-fired pizzas. This chill venue often has live music and is part of Oaklands Barn, a co-operative with shops, bakeries, cafes, a barber’s in an old double decker bus.
Here’s more about Longstocking and Oaklands.
– Half an hour north is the Tathra Hotel and Brewery, a beautiful old building perched on the cliffs looking out at the ocean from its headland. Service here is wonderful, as is the food and beer.
– Northwest of Tathra in the little village of Stony Creek is North of Eden Distillery. Famous for its ground-breaking Oyster Shell Gin, this craft distillery does have a small cellar door you can visit for a tasting. Make sure you book ahead though.
4. Pinnacles Loop Walk, Pambula
With such a beautiful, rugged coastline, this region is made for bushwalks with a view. The beach-line between Pambula and Eden is part of the Beowa National Park and has some great walking trails.
The Pinnacles Loop Walk is a fairly easy 1.1km loop that takes you down to the Pinnacles—a striking cliff face of white sand and red gravel clay.
5. Long Point Lookout, Bar Beach and Middle Beach in Merimbula
Thanks to its complex coastline, Merimbula has a number of peninsulas and promontories worth exploring.
Long Point Lookout is a lovely walk that takes you through a tea tree forest out to the end of the headland. It’s an easy 2km return walk that’s also suitable for wheelchair users with some assistance.
From the lookout, you can see down to Middle Beach and as you go, you can see across to Main Beach too. This is the perfect opportunity to walk off a big lunch at the Wharf Restaurant just up the road and near beautiful Bar Beach.
6. Eden’s sea pool
Aslings Beach Rock Pool, at the southernmost point of Aslings Beach quite close to town, is possibly the most beautiful sea pool we’ve ever seen. Yes, that includes Icebergs, sorry Bondi.
Shallow, secluded and butted against the red layers of the ancient cliff rock face, the pool ripples gently with each wave that washes fresh seawater in.
I’m sure there’s an easier way to get to it, but with the tide still high, we had to scramble up and over a craggy rock to the pool. Well worth it though.
7. Pamboola Wetlands
Just off the main drag through town (actually the Princes Highway), the Pamboola Wetlands is a 202-acre sanctuary where paths and bird hides thread through ponds, billabongs, swamps and mangroves.
Once an ancient floodplain and a favourite hunting ground of the Thaua People of the Yuin Nation, the Wetlands were turned into farmlands, then the original site of Pambula town, then from 1897-1997 it was a racecourse.
It’s now a vast expanse of estuarine and freshwater wetlands, home to endangered birds, mammals and marine life that you can explore at will with as much or as little time as you have to hand. And you could easily spend all day here.