Skip to Content

How to plan an epic Shellharbour holiday

If you’ve got a South Coast road trip in the works, here’s what you need to know about making a pit stop in Shellharbour.

Best time to go

It’s no surprise that the beaches are best enjoyed in the warmer months. However, Shellharbour gets pretty busy during the peak of summer. Make sure you book accommodation well in advance when travelling over summer and during school holidays.

South coast camping Shellharbour accommodation
The Shellharbour Beach huts. Picture: supplied.

The cooler months are great for outdoor adventures. Moderate temperatures during Autumn and Spring make for great hiking and cycling weather. Plus, you’re less likely to encounter loads of insects and reptiles out amongst the nature.

Must-see sights

Lake Illawarra is the perfect backdrop for a sunset picnic. Kick a ball around, have some some nibbles and watch the sky turn pink over this huge 33-square-kilometre lake. The children’s playground, kiosk and facilities will keep the kids entertained for hours.

Lake Illawarra wharf at sunset, Shellharbour.
Lake Illawarra wharf at sunset, Shellharbour. Photo: Tourism Shellharbour

When visiting Shellharbour, passing through the busy oceanfront strip is a given. But make sure you take the time to wander through the specialty shops and have a bit of morning tea at one of the local cafes. Explore the harbour area, take a dip in the ocean pool at the foreshore and soak up the relaxed vibe of Shellharbour Village.

Free things to do

Walk or cycle along the Lake Illawarra Art Trail. The three-kilometre stretch is dotted with sculptures and paintings from local artists, highlighting the local history, Aboriginal heritage and natural beauty of the area.

Go for a swim in the ocean pool at Shellharbour foreshore. If the waves at the beach are too hectic for younger swimmers, the protected ocean pool is a great place to cool off on a hot day. 

Shellharbour accommodation
Ocean pools at Shellharbour waterfront. Photo: Shutterstock

Find out what’s on at the Shellharbour Village Exhibition Centre. There’s always something exciting to discover and admission is (usually) free to the public.

Places to eat

Ocean Beach Hotel overlooks the harbour, offering spectacular views and delicious food. A late lunch on The Deck is the perfect way to fill in an afternoon. The Seafood Basket is a big win for hungry tummies.

If you like sweet treats, big burgers and delicious breakky, Shellharbour Country Kitchen is a must. The ‘Big One’ breakfast plate is on a whole other level and kids will love the pancakes, loaded milkshakes and ice cream sundaes.

Pancakes from Shellharbour Country Kitchen. Photo: Shellharbour Country Kitchen

Relish on Addison is also a favourite among the locals. Serving contemporary Australian food, they’ve got a few bigger tables for families and a selection of yummy sandwiches and lighter kid-friendly meals.


KidsFest comes to Shellharbour every May for a week of family-friendly fun with concerts, craft days and outdoor activities. It’s best suited for kids under 12.

Shellharbour accommodation
Don’t miss the fun at KidsFest this May. Photo: KidsFest Shellharbour

Vegemite Surf Groms Holiday Program at The Farm Beach gives kids a chance to learn to surf.. Each school holidays, little groms learn how to read ocean conditions, stay safe in the water and hang 10 like the pros.

There’s also a bunch of free events throughout the year. Carols by Candlelight in December, Movies under the Stars over Summer and Australia Day Breakfast by the Lake in January.


What we love about Shellharbour

Things to do in Shellharbour for every age

Filling hungry tummies on the South Coast

* Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you make a purchase through the links provided, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting the work we put into!