Here’s what you need to know about taking a trip to the Sapphire Coast with kids.
Best time to go
If you’re hoping to catch the whales as they make their way past the South Coast, you’ll want to time your visit just right. The whales head north to warmer waters from late April to August and return around September-November.
Otherwise, the beaches are best enjoyed in the warmer months from December-February. The walking and mountain biking tracks and other awesome outdoor adventures on the Sapphire Coast make it a great Spring and Autumn destination too.
Must see sights
No stranger to the front cover of a tourist brochure, the Pinnacles in Ben Boyd National Park are a Sapphire Coast must-see. The bright red and white cliff was formed over 65 million years ago and contrasts dramatically with the deep blue ocean behind it. From the car park, a short walk through the forest will lead you to the Pinnacles and Long Beach.
The famous Green Cape Lightstation in Ben Boyd National Park is also not to be missed. Perched on the edge of the rocky peninsula, it’s a fantastic spotting local wildlife such as whales, fur seals, dolphins and albatross. You can take a tour of the lighthouse and even stay in the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage overnight.
Mimosa Rocks gets its name from the paddle steamer it sunk in 1863. The shipwreck still rests below the surface. The Mimosa Rocks walking track is accessible from the Aragunna car park and is wheelchair and stroller friendly.
A visit to Eden harbour is a must when visiting the Sapphire Coast. The busy port situated in Twofold bay welcome all kinds of vessels from cruise ships to navy boats. Eden Wharf has a few great seafood restaurants where you can feast on delicious fish caught hours before. This is also where lots of whale and dolphin watching cruises depart each day.
Fun free things to do
Get out and breathe in the fresh South Coast sea air on one of the regions walking trails. The Merimbula Boardwalk is a local favorite, winding amongst the mangroves and oyster farms. It’s an easy 1.75km stroll suitable for all ages and is suitable for strollers and wheelchairs.
Head to one of the headlands along the coast to catch the greatest show on earth. Best part? Tickets are free! BYO picnic rug and snacks and enjoy a sunset (or sunrise) looking over the ocean. Keep an eye out for whales passing by.
Cheese-lovers rejoice! Bega Cheese Heritage Centre offers free tasting sessions and talks about the history of dairying and cheese-making in the Bega Valley. There’s also a cafe overlooking the beautiful Bega Valley that sells top-notch milkshakes and yummy cakes (not free, but worth the coin).
On a sunny weekend morning, there’s nothing better than wandering through the local markets, perusing the freshly-baked, hand-crafted, home-made goodies on offer. Snapping up a bargain directly from the stallholders is the best way to support the local community and its economy. Most of the towns in the Sapphire Coast region have their own market, held monthly and sometimes weekly.
Places to eat
After exploring all the Sapphire Coast has to offer, no doubt you’ve worked up an appetite. No one ever leaves Eden Fishermans Club hungry. The Coast Family Buffet is a great way to sample the region’s seafood. There’s plenty of Western and Asian-style dishes too, plus a dessert bar to go crazy at.
Longstocking Brewery in Pambula is a great place for a long lunch. Specialty beers and ciders brewed by passionate locals are paired with award-winning Sydney Rock Oysters and yummy cheeses to complete the tasting experience.
Nestled among the green river flats and rustic buildings of Oaklands, kids can check out the petting barn, enjoy a trail ride and explore the gardens.
For a quick bite by the sea, Bar Beach Kiosk in Merimbula is a gem. Serving breakfast and lunch, they keep it simple with daily specials, seasonal dishes and damn good coffee.
Wild Rye’s Baking Co in Pambula is a great option for breakfast or lunch on the go. Choose from a range of artisan breads, pies, cakes and pastries fresh out of the oven Monday to Saturday. Honorbread in Bermagui is another world-class bakery on the Sapphire Coast. Sourdough is their specialty but they also do brilliant toasties and great coffee.
The Sapphire Coast is considered Australia’s best whale watching destination by Australian Geographic so it’s fitting that they host an entire festival dedicated these friendly giants. During November, the Eden Whale Festival takes over Twofold Bay, right in front of the Humpback Highway. Enjoy whale sightings from sea and shore, live music, exhibitions, market stalls and a fabulous fireworks display.
Music lovers won’t want to miss the Four Winds Youth Music Festival in Bermagui this November. The annual three-day festival brings young people together to share the joy of music and music-making. Local music groups, school bands, choirs and soloists put on fantastic live shows over the weekend. Kids under 16 get in for free!
Every year, Merimbula welcomes the annual Jazz Festival over the June long weekend. Around 700 musicians treat visitors to live performances across six venues. Jazz Picnic Day is always a highlight! If you’re looking to get your hands on some of the regions freshest local produce, go straight to the source.
The Bermagui Fishermen’s Wharf Growers Market goes down every Thursday afternoon from 2pm at Bermagui Harbour. Cobargo also hosts a weekly market on the main street every Saturday. In Pambula, you can grab your fruit & veg, plus a range of vintage clothing jewellery, knick-knacks and homewares on the second Sunday of every month.
Eden’s monthly market takes place on the third Saturday and brings together growers, bakers and wine makers from all over the Sapphire Coast. In Bega, you can snap up a bargain at the weekly produce markets every Friday morning. For fresh fish, head to Merimbula Seaside Market, held every third Saturday at the Fishpen.
I was blessed with parents who really saw the value in travel. After our first family trip abroad to Thailand, I became obsessed. I was hungry for anything new and different. I yearned to be in the middle of a city on the other side of the world with a suitcase in one hand and google maps in the other, stumbling around trying to figure out where I was going; literally and spiritually.