15 Best Things To Do On The South Coast: Road Trip Guide For 2023
Looking for things to do on the South Coast NSW, and thinking about doing a South Coast road trip from Sydney to Eden or anywhere in between? If you’re unsure where to stop, what to see, where to eat and much more, we’re breaking it all down in our guide after our recent trip.
We couldn’t find a lot of information about a South Coast NSW itinerary, so luckily for you, we have written up loads of guides explaining all of the best tourist attractions, best beaches, towns and so much more.
Table of Contents
Where we stopped along the way
We did a 5 day South Coast road trip from Sydney to Eden which is a 6 hour drive. Now we could easily drive that distance in one day, but our trip felt very rushed considering how much we wanted to do.
Our 5 day itinerary looked like this, spending one night in each place:
Sydney – Jervis Bay – Batemans Bay – Bega – Eden – Berry – Sydney
We actually wanted to spend the night in Narooma or Bermagui instead of Bega, but all accommodation was booked out because of good reason. Both towns are stunning and it was obvious why they were booked out when we visited them. Bega was the only let down for us. We didn’t really like the town and it definitely didn’t have that wow factor like the rest of the coastal towns we visited.
Here’s our tips for how to spend your holidays on a NSW south coast road trip from Sydney to Eden.
Skip Shoalhaven on your road trip
I would still recommend driving straight to Jervis Bay from Sydney on your NSW South Coast road trip. Want to know why? There are so many amazing places to visit between Sydney to Jervis Bay, that you could easily do these on a Sydney day tip or weekend getaway.
If you are interested in exploring the Shoalhaven region between Sydney and Jervis Bay, check out our popular guides which include some amazing hidden gems you need to see:
Jervis Bay is only a 2h30m drive from Sydney so I would head straight there after work so that you can wake up in this slice of paradise to make a head start on your road trip! We spent the day in Jervis Bay Marine Park and loved seeing sunrise on Hyams Beach, and we went on the Jervis Bay Passage Tour which is excellent. After all these years of visiting this coastal town, we learnt so much about it and saw some jaw dropping sights.
If you have more than a week to spend on this road trip, I would recommend spending three days in Jervis Bay.
There are some fantastic tours I highly recommend doing if you have the time:
Head over to Bendalong Point which isn’t only a beautiful beach, it’s famous for being home to stingrays. I heard you can swim with stingrays here and it’s true!
We were so surprised to see kids feeding loads of stingrays who come right up to the beach here. It’s an incredible sight, but be careful where you’re here. I personally wouldn’t feed them and certainly wouldn’t pat them like a dog like some people were doing.
I probably wouldn’t stay here on my South Coast road trip, but it’s definitely worth stopping by to see – we’ve not seen anything like it in Australia before!
3. Stay in Mollymook or stop by for lunch at Rick Steins
We loved The Gantry at Bawley Point which honestly feels like a hidden gem. The little jetty is great for jumping off into the crystal clear water and it’s a fab spot for a swim.
5. Stay in Batemans Bay for beautiful beaches
30 minutes from The Gantry 1h30m from Jervis Bay
We stayed at The Esplanade Hotel which was amazing to wake up to the sunrise over the water in the morning here. It’s centrally located and walking distance to the various Batemans Bay restaurants and cafes. Check out our Best Things To Do In Batemans Bay guide to discover our favourite places to visit here.
We’ve driven through Batemans Bay before, but what we weren’t aware of until recently are the amazing beaches here, which you can read about in our Best Batemans Bay Beaches you need to visit. We specifically just fell head of heels for Depot Beach in Murramarang National Park. Honestly, it’s one of our favourite beaches in New South Wales, and one of the best South Coast attractions you need to see for yourself.
Where to stay in Batemans Bay
I would recommend staying two nights in Batemans Bay, if not longer if you have time.
We stayed at The Esplanade Motel and it’s fantastic! Modern rooms, right on the water, walking distance to shops and restaurants. Perfect!
The Isla – modern, hip hotel – perfect for couples or friends
Mogo is a touristy hippie town that you’ll drive through on your NSW South Coast road trip. Famous for the Mogo Fudge, it’s a great pit stop to mooch around the shops here before heading over to the famous Mogo Wildlife Park.
Swing by the Mossy Point Cafe for food here – we loved this cafe! You can also go kayaking at Mossy Point which you can read about in our Best Places To Go Kayaking In Sydney and NSW. When we visited, there was a local live band playing on the grass which gave it a really cool vibe while we spotted rays off the jetty.
7. Stop by Bodalla for an ice cream
30 minutes from Mogo
Bodalla is another touristy blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town you’ll drive through on your NSW South Coast road trip. Stop by the Bodalla Dairy for an ice cream and pop into the pub. You’ll see a beautiful slice of the stunning South Coast countryside from here, it’s worth having a drink here.
8. Stay in the beautiful Narooma
30 minutes from Bodalla 1 hour from Batemans Bay
Everyone told us to stay in Narooma, but accommodation was booked out at the time of visiting for good reason. It’s a stunning NSW South Coast town that really deserves a few days spent here. Wondering why? Check out our Best Things To Do In Narooma guide before you go. But here’s some reasons why…
Firstly, you’ll need to dedicate 3 hours to go on the Montague Island tour. Now you can simply do a boat cruise and tour around the island, but the real gem is to either snorkel or dive with seals at Montague Island.
As one of the top things to do on the South Coast, this really is a bucket list item you need to tick off.
Word of advice – when booking the tour, make sure you have time either side of your trip, because our tour got cancelled due to the weather conditions.
Narooma has some of the bluest water you’ll see on the East Coast of Australia. The water is exceptional here, and so are the beaches. Head over to the Surf Beach in Narooma to visit the famous Cathedral Rocks, and stop by Narooma Marina for food at Salt cafe. From here you can hire kayaks, bikes and even house boats (something we’ll definitely do next time!).
Don’t miss out on seeing the famous Australia Rock in Narooma, a natural rock that literally looks like the map of Australia.
Mystery Bay on the NSW South Coast simply is absolutely stunning. The beaches here are absolutely sublime and worth staying here because of how beautiful it is if you can’t get into Narooma if you’re visiting during the school holidays. Read our Mystery Bay Guide to learn more about this beautiful New South Wales town you need to visit.
You probably won’t see a more beautiful touristy town than at Central Tilba. It almost looks like a movie set because it really is beautiful but it’s a must visit on your South Coast road trip through New South Wales.
You could spend a couple of hours here walking around the shops, but make sure you check out the Tilba Dairy for cheese and ice cream, Tilba Teapot Cafe, and sit outside of the Dromadery Hotel and people watch while having a drink here.
Just an FYI – we also went to check out Tilba Tilba and there’s nothing here, so it’s not worth visiting.
11. Stay in the beautiful Bermagui
20 minutes from Central Tilba
I would definitely have stayed in Bermagui after visiting here. It’s a stunning beach town with beautiful beaches, various activities and would make an amazing holiday here alone. Situated 5 hours from Sydney, I would visit on either a long weekend or during the Christmas or Easter holidays. Check out our Best Things To Do In Bermagui guide for everything you need to know about visiting this gorgeous town, but here are some of the highlights:
Visit the amazing Horse Head Rock and read our guide for how to find it. You should also keep an eye out for Camel Rock as well, and don’t forget to swim at the beautiful Blue Pool in Bermagui. Have dinner at sunset at The Bermagui Hotel.
While you’re here, I recommend doing a day trip to Cobargo for lunch. Check out the shops as well and support this community, especially after the devastating fires they went through a few years back which pretty much destroyed most of the area.
Where to stay in Bermagui
The Anchorage Bermagui – perfect family friendly hotel apartments with outdoor swimming pool in the centre of town.
I 100% recommend camping in Mimosa Rocks but if you can’t get a spot, camp or stay in the nearby town of Tathra. There are some good cafes in Tathra too if you’re looking for places to eat. We had breakfast at Wild Orchid Cafe and it was great!
13. Eat oysters in Merimbula
30 minutes from Mimosa Rocks
On your way down from Mimosa Rocks National Park, swing by the secret Tura Headland Rock Pool which is a really cool swimming hole at the end of the headland. It’s a 20 minute walk from the Tura Headland car park, but worth visiting, especially if it’s a nice day.
Merimbula is well known for oysters, just like most of the South Coast is. You’ll see plenty of signs on your road trip pointing you to local oyster farms. If you’re waiting until you get to Merimbula, head over to Wheelers Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Farm.
Magic Mountain in Merimbula is a popular attraction and a family fun park, and you can also book a Montague Island tour from here as well, so you don’t need to do it from Narooma. Make sure you check out our Best Things To Do In Merimbula Guide to help you plan your trip.
15. Stay in Eden for the whales and epic ocean rock pool
10 minutes from The Pinnacles
While Eden might not have the same charm as some of the other NSW South Coast towns like Central Tilba or Bermagui, I recommend ending your South Coast road trip in Eden. Wondering why you should come here? Check out our Best Things To Do In Eden Guide, which includes all of the Eden attractions and sights you need to see.
Some of the highlights include; the impressive Aislings Beach Rock Pool which really is amazing in person. While you might be thinking that the Blue Pool in Bermagui will be enough for rock pools to visit, the Aislings Beach Rock Pool is so unique, it really does give off those ‘another planet’ vibes. Make sure you walk right up to the pool which is located on the right hand side of the beach. You won’t really understand how amazing it is until you see it up close.
But you know, Eden is famous for being a whaling town. Go visit the Eden Whale Museum, and plan your visit for the Eden Whale Festival in October.
Where to stay in Eden
Seahorse Inn – we loved our stay here! The room is big, the beds are so comfy and we had a great stay here. Highly recommend!
Discovery Parks Eden – family friendly camping with cabins and villa accommodation, right next to the beach and within minutes of Eden.