Heading to the Sapphire Coast? You’re in for a treat. Families will find a host of fun activities and attractions to fill their days. Here are our top picks based on age.
0-4 year olds
The Sapphire Coast region is covered in stroller-friendly walking tracks. The Goodenia Rainforest loop near Merimbula is perfect for youngsters. Walk the 1.2km track under a canopy of lilly pilllies and through a gully of ferns. There’s a great picnic spot with barbecue facilities to refuel after your walk.
On a hot day, there’s nothing better than kicking back at the beach. The Sapphire Coast has plenty of safe, protected spots for a swim. Bermagui Beach is a great option for toddlers. It’s patrolled year round and has an enclosed playground and a few rock pools nearby. Cuttagee Beach is also a nice place to cool off. The ocean feeds into a shallow lagoon where younger kids can float, paddle and chase tiny fish.
Meet a few Merimbula locals at Potoroo Palace. This not-for-profit animal sanctuary is home to Long-nosed Potoroos, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and echidnas, all native to the South Coast. Watch one of the talks to learn more about the residents of the sanctuary or have a special animal encounter with your favourite cuddly creature.
5-8 year olds
Little ones will love visiting the penguins on Montague Island. Just off the coast, a short ferry ride from Narooma, you can visit NSW’s largest colony of little penguins. It’s also the perfect place to go snorkelling and swim alongside the resident fur seals. You can even stay in the lighthouse keeper’s cottage on the island.
If you want a safe spot for even small kids to go swimming – head to Lake Wonboyn, 30km south of Eden, where the calm lake drains into the sea. It’s a popular fishing spot for lake and river fish too. You can hire rods and get bait at the local store.
For a day of laid-back laughs, Mandeni Family Fun Park is sure to be a hit. The 400 acre park has a kids mountain biking course, archery, jumping pillow, paddle safari, mini golf and a water gold driving range for big kids. All the activities, plus access to beautiful barbecue and picnic areas are included in your family pass.
9-12 year olds
Kids who are keen to tune up their surfing skills should check out Coastlife Adventures. Their Surf Grom School teaches kids vital surf survival techniques and how to catch waves at the beaches of Tathra, Merimbula and Pambula.
Back on dry land, a visit to Magic Mountain is a must. There’s mini golf, roller coasters, jumping castles and water slides. Pack a picnic to enjoy in the park or grab lunch from the Burger joint or one of the local food trucks in summer.
For kids who love a good cuddle, head to Oaklands Barn in Pambula. You’ll meet ponies, alpacas, goats, pigs, cows and more friendly farm animals. There’s also a cafe, gift shop, brewery and art gallery on site.
Teens can hit the water in a kayak from just $15 at Bermagui River or join a SUP tour in Merimbula and glide across the lake with a local expert.
Another active adventure for older kids is hitting the mountain bike trails in Tathra. The tracks in the area are regarded as the best in Australia. The Bundadung Trail is a good place to start. The tracks are well signposted and lead down to a quiet beach. If you haven’t brought your own bikes, you can hire them at Tathra Beach or Bike on Andy Poole Drive.
Magic Mountain is fun for all ages but older kids with a need for speed will love tearing down track in a mini Grand Prix car or taking on the toboggan ride.
Your teenagers may not appreciate the majesty of the the ocean’s migrating giants so dedicating an entire day to whale watching may be out of the question. But there is a way to make whale spotting fun the whole family. Tie your laces and head into Bournda National Park. Swim at secluded beaches, wander through thick forest and climb up to spectacular headlands to search for whales waving their tails on the horizon.
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.