It’s not all about beaches and surfing, discover the best things to do in Yamba in New South Wales as we share our personal highlights of this increasingly popular North Coast town.
If you’ve not already heard of the beautiful coastal town of Yamba yet, you’ll soon hear how it’s becoming the next Byron Bay. We’ve heard this all before in Queensland when we lived in Agnes Water which has been talked about supposedly becoming the next Noosa over the last 20 years.
It’s kinda a shame when small towns are hyped up and locals fear their town will never be the same, even though if it was ever to happen, it won’t happen overnight.
In saying that, we did notice new housing developments popping up in Yamba during our recent visit, which will ultimately drive prices up and the fear of pushing locals and the authentic vibe of the town further away.
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Why is Yamba always known to become the next Byron Bay?
We’ve recently come back from our third visit to Yamba and personally didn’t believe the hype about it becoming the next Byron Bay. Firstly, Yamba is a 1h15m drive from the Ballina Airport, the nearest airport. Australians love convenience so if there’s no airport nearby, it’s going to be hard to change the town at speed.
The small town would need a big makeover to become Byron Bay with an influx of hipster cafes and restaurants to swing by at all times of the day. When we arrived at 3pm on a Sunday, we struggled to find anywhere still serving food.
But, what makes this town special is the authenticity, the laid back vibes and of course the stunning beaches and unique Angourie Blue and Green pools.
Obviously, Yamba attracts surfers but what’s also nice about this town is that you don’t feel like you’re constantly walking into a photoshoot as it can feel like walking down the street in Byron Bay (I say this because we had just spent three days in Byron before coming to Yamba and we noticed a massive difference).
Yamba is a classic Australian beach town that hasn’t been taken over with high rises, big resorts or fast food places, which is down to the locals protecting it over the years. How long it stays like this, I’m not sure. In this guide, we’re sharing our favourite places to visit and support the local businesses in this lovely coastal town in New South Wales.
If you’re looking to visit new places in NSW or simply want to discover an untouched beach town that has charm and character, Yamba could be the holiday option for you. It’s a coastal town in NSW we would come back to time and time again for a chilled out and relaxing beach holiday with epic ocean pools to float in.
Where is Yamba?
If you’re still unsure what on earth we’re talking about, Yamba is located exactly 1h30m from Byron Bay in the north and at the same time to Coffs Harbour in the south. It feels like it’s off the beaten path even if it’s a 15-minute drive off the Pacific Highway.
There are supermarkets in town like Coles and Woolworths but if you’re looking to go shopping, you’ll find more shops in Byron Bay.
If you’re driving from Sydney, it will take you 7 hours.
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Best things to do in Yamba
While the town meanders around the Clarence River, the beaches in Yamba are such a big draw card, so we’ll start by giving you a rundown of them all to check out.
There are so many Yamba beaches to choose from, so let’s get started and share some of our favourites you should make the effort to check out!
1. Main Beach
I think I always expect the Main Beach in town will be a big beach, but Yamba Main Beach is actually quite small. It’s a beautiful beach and actually one of my favourites as there’s something which feels quite magical about it.
Have lunch up at Pacific Hotel and soak up the views of Yamba Main Beach or enjoy spending time in the ocean pool here. It’s also popular with surfers too.
2. Turners Beach
Turners Beach is another popular surfing beach in Yamba and is a stunning stretch of sand complete with picnic benches to sit and watch the surfers. It’s located on the other side of Main Beach which can be seen from the Yamba Lighthouse.
3. Whiting Beach
Around the corner from Turners Beach will bring you to Whiting Beach which is a long beach and a bit more secluded than the popular Turners Beach or Yamba Main Beach.
4. Convent Beach
Convent Beach is just around the corner from Yamba Beach which feels more of a secluded beach although it’s quite rocky here but still worth a visit.
5. Pippi Beach
We made a beeline to Pippi Beach as it’s a dog-friendly beach in Yamba. Go to the far southern end for the off leash dog area, but we also noticed that the northern end looked beautiful too.
6. Spooky Beach
Don’t be scared off by Spooky Beach which is a lovely beach near to the famous Angourie Green and Blue Pools. It’s popular with surfers and has picnic tables so you can hang out there and have lunch if you like.
7. Green Point Beach (dog friendly)
We were pleasantly surprised by Green Point Beach. Although there’s lots of rocks to walk over to get to the small stretch of beach, there’s something quite magical about it. We really liked it here and would easily sit on the small stretch of sand while our dog would enjoy playing and sniffing around the rocks!
8. Angourie Blue & Green Pools
What makes Yamba really special is the Angourie Blue and Green Pools. The once rock quarry next to the ocean really is a sight to be seen! The walk down to the pools takes a few minutes from the car park and is so unique, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything else quite like it in Australia.
You’ll come to the Blue Pools in Yamba first, but check to see if you can swim in this one because there is green algae in there at certain times of the year.
When you walk onto the beach from the Blue Pools, simply turn right and walk along the path for about 100 metres and you’ll come to the Green Pools. There’s something really special about this swimming hole that you’ll soon realise it when you get there.
The towering cliffs that light up the pool protect it with a beautiful energy. When we visited, there were a few people swimming here and climbing up the cliffs to jump in. If you do this, just be super careful. Bring a picnic and and you could hang out here all day!
9. The incredible Angourie rock pools
When you walk onto the beach from the Blue Pools, you’ll see the incredible Angourie rock pool in front of you. It’s got to be one of the best natural rock pools I’ve seen in Australia. It’s large and would make a brilliant lap pool, but what makes it special is that the water is crystal clear. No photos do this rock pool justice – trust me!
10. Angourie Point Beach
When we first visited Yamba, it was when we found Angourie Point Beach that made us truly appreciate this gorgeous coastal town. This beach feels more off the beaten path and it’s one we’d come back to time and time again in the future.
Things to do in Yamba
Looking for more things to do in Yamba? Look no further! Here’s a few other reasons you might like to visit this NSW gem.
11. Yamba Lighthouse
The Yamba Lighthouse is a spot everyone needs to come to when they are in town. With excellent views over looking Yamba Main Beach, Turners Beach and Whiting Beach in the distance, it’s a great spot to come and bring a picnic for the day.
12. Salty Gypsy sunrise yoga
Book a sunrise yoga session with Salty Gypsy on Yamba Beach to start your day in the best way possible. They also run surf lessons in Yamba and Women’s Only Retreats and Adventure Eco-Yoga Retreats as well.
13. Picnic at Turners Beach
Looking for more picnic spots in Yamba? You can’t go wrong with setting up camp at one of the picnic tables at Turners Beach. It’s a lovely spot to watch the surfers and feel like you’re a world away from it all.
14. Walk along the break wall
The Yamba break wall is situated at the mouth of the Clarence River in Northern NSW. You can access the break wall from Turner’s Beach.
15. Explore the Angourie Walking Track
If you’re looking for a lovely coastal walk in Yamba, why not do the Angourie Walking Track? This 10km return walk will take you from Angourie Beach to Shelly Beach Campground and take around 3-4 hours to complete. It’s definitely one on our list to complete next time we’re in town! Find out more about it on the NSW National Parks website.
16. Try the multi-day Yuraygir Coastal Walk
Looking for an epic multi-day hike in Northern New South Wales? The Yuraygir Coastal Walk is a 65km multi-day hike which takes around 4 to 5 days to complete from Yamba to Red Rock, passing through Yuraygir National Park.
Located on the Clarence Coast, this is a fantastic walk for whale watching during the season, snorkelling and stops at beach campgrounds along the way. Find out more about completing this epic Yamba walk on the New South Wales National Parks website.
17. Family friendly ILuka Rainforest Walk
A 35 minute drive from Yamba will bring you to the other side of the mouth of the Clarence River and to the Iluka Rainforest walk. Wondering what makes this walk special? It’s part of the World Heritage Listed Gondwana Rainforest which is part of the largest and oldest sub-tropical rainforest in the world which stretches all the way from Barrington Tops and up to Lamington National Park in Gold Coast. We’ve seen quite a bit of the Gondwana Rainforest and it’s not to be missed!
The Iluka Rainforest Walk is a family friendly walk which is just 2.6km one way and will take you between 30 minutes – 1h30m return. You’ll pass through ancient strangler fig trees and plenty of diverse wildlife. Don’t miss this Yamba walk in Bungjalung National Park.
18. Yamba River Markets
The Yamba River Markets take place every fourth Sunday of the Month at Ford Park on the Clarence River from 9am-2pm. Support local businesses and buy local produce, arts and crafts and watch local musicians perform at this chilled out market when you’re visiting Yamba.
19. Yamba Cinema
If you’re looking for things to do in Yamba when it’s raining, you can’t miss the family run Yamba Cinema which showcases newly released movies.
20. Play a game of lawn bowls
The Yamba Bowling Club is right in the middle of town and worth popping into if you’re looking for more things to do in Yamba!
Places to eat in Yamba
Looking for the best Yamba restaurants and places to get a drink? Here are some of the places which stood out for us. During our recent visit to Yamba, we ended up having to cook dinner at our accommodation because we couldn’t find any dog friendly places to eat on a Sunday night.
21. Pacific Hotel
As far as local pubs go, the Pacific Hotel in Yamba is a trendy pub full of surfers and locals which sits overlooking Yamba Beach. It’s a shame there’s not a deck over looking the beach but there’s a courtyard out the front of the pub.
We’ve been here a few times now but on our recent visit, because we had our dog, the only spot we could sit was with the smokers in the courtyard so we didn’t stay as we wanted to get some food. Just giving you a heads up if you’re thinking of bringing your dog and you’re non smokers too.
22. Woobly Chook Brewery
The new Yamba brewery in town called Woobly Chook Brewery is worth a pop into. Located right in the heart of town on Coldstream Street, this micro brewery serves up local beer and loads of merchandise too if you’re into buying brewery tshirts etc.
23. Yamba Life
When we arrived in Yamba around 3pm on a Saturday, the only place we could find that was still serving food was Yamba Life. We picked up a salad and a chia pudding and both were excellent. If you’re looking for good healthy takeaway food to take down to the beach, this is the place to come to.
24. Angourie Cafe & Wine Bar
We stopped off at Angourie Cafe & Wine Bar for an acai bowl as it was a super hot day and we loved this little place. It’s the kind of place you could easily bring your laptop and work from for the day, while feeling like you’re on holiday. They have live music on Sundays but we’d also come back in the evening too.
25. The Italian On The Hill
We made a beeline to the Italian On the Hill when we first came to Yamba and it really doesn’t disappoint. One thing I remembered is how amazing the pannacotta truly is – make sure you order it!
Other restaurants to consider
We’ve got a few other places on our list to visit next time and we’ll update this article to let you know what we thought of them. Our list includes:
Sassafras – this is super popular Yamba restaurant and even had loads of people waiting outside when we drove past it. We also went to check out the Yamba Shores Tavern which is located just slightly outside of town which is essentially a club. We couldn’t get in as we had our dog but it’s worth a mention if you’re looking to a traditional NSW club to eat at.
We’ve also got The Mexican, Irons and Craig, The Black Cafe, Norfolk Bistro and Sandbar on our list to visit next time!
Where to stay in Yamba
We’ve stayed in loads of different places around Yamba but we’d personally stay in Angourie next time just because it really is lovely on that side of town, and much quieter. Plus, we’d have access to that epic Angourie rockpool as well.
Angourie Resort – Offers a day spa, an outdoor pool, a tennis court and a restaurant and is a 5 minute drive from Yamba Beach.