Water World: Sydney to Jervis Bay Travel Guide

When it’s time to relax in a serious way, take a week-long road trip to the NSW South Coast. You’ll discover some of Australia’s best beaches and a multitude of ways to experience them, from sea kayaking to freediving.


Aerial view of the coastal town of Huskisson on Jervis Bay

Everyone marvels at the beauty of Sydney’s beaches, but they’ve got nothing on the endless stretches of sand and crystal clear waters of Jervis Bay, an easy drive south of the city. Days here can be spent swimming, fishing and taking long walks between more adventurous pursuits. Splashing with seals, anyone? It’s also a great whale-watching destination. Best of all, the welcoming seaside villages have enough cafes, restaurants, pubs and shops to ensure everyone’s got something to enjoy between trips to the beach. Don’t miss Booderee National Park, at the south end of the bay. Managed by Parks Australia and the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community, it boasts some of the most glorious beaches you’ll ever lay eyes on.


Snorkellers swimming with seals on a tour with Dive Jervis Bay, NSW

It seems all the living creatures love the clean, clear water off the Shoalhaven coast. When winter arrives, so do the humpback whales on their migrations both north and south. Join a two-hour tour with Jervis Bay Wild to see these huge mammals breaching and slapping their tails. It’s not unusual for them to come right up to the boat and partake in a little spyhopping. During summer, head out to see the dolphins and go boom netting instead.


  1. Royal National Park is a great place to pause on a trip south, either to cool off at the beach or stretch out on a walk. Set aside four to five hours to trek the 10-kilometre Curra Moors loop. It tracks through woodlands that come alive with wildflowers during spring, along stunning sandstone cliffs and past the Curracurrong waterfall.

  2. Consider overnighting in Kangaroo Valley. The town is surrounded by lush farmland set in a pretty river valley, with both adventure – kayaking, hiking, abseiling, mountain biking – and indulgence on offer. If you want to meet locals and visitors, find a table in the beer garden at the Friendly Inn before having dinner inside at the bistro.

  3. Sure, you can snorkel off the shore, but why not head out a bit further. During one of its tours, Woebegone Freedive will escort you by boat to sea caves, reefs and even seal colonies. Plus, you’ll also get an introduction to freediving – going as deep as you safely can while holding your breath.

  4. There’s no shortage of amazing stretches of sand around Jervis Bay, but don’t miss Murrays Beach. Pack a picnic, bring a snorkel and be prepared to stay a while. Some say this is the best beach in Booderee National Park and you’d be hard pressed to disagree. Explore what’s below the waves and keep an eye open for paddling little penguins, who are often seen here. The rock pools are full of life and there’s even a sea cave.

  5. This is one of the best spots for kayaking on the NSW coast. As well as bays and beaches, you’ll also find river estuaries and lakes to explore. The water is often crystal clear and when the weather is fine, there are few waves to rock your (tiny) boat. To see what’s beneath you, hire a clear-bottom kayak from Jervis Bay Stand Up Paddle.


Kiama Shores

Be a short walk from beaches and the blowhole at Kiama Shores. The updated rooms come in a range of options, from accessible queen rooms on the ground floor to king spa rooms with a balcony overlooking the pool upstairs.

Huskisson Hotel

It’s one of the prettiest beaches on Jervis Bay and the town has everything you could need, which is why a stay at the Huskisson Hotel, where some of the eight queen-sized guest rooms overlook the ocean, is recommended.

Walters’ Holiday Flats

At Hyams Beach most accommodation is in holiday houses. One of the most budget-friendly options, however, is Walters’ Holiday Flats, three two-bedroom apartments with private access to the beach.


A couple walking along the Kangaroo River with views to the historical Hampden Bridge at Kangaroo Valley, NSW

How long you need in this picturesque beachside haven depends entirely on your need for relaxation. Three days would be a minimum, but a week will allow adequate time to explore and chill out. Pick up a car from Apex Car Rentals at Sydney Airport then follow the Grand Pacific Drive south. It’s about a three-hour drive along the coast to Jervis Bay, but consider stopping at the Royal National Park, overnighting at Kiama or detouring inland to Berry or Kangaroo Valley.


A man wading through water at Murrays Bach sea cave in the Booderee National Park near Jervis Bay

Even more delightful beaches await if you continue driving south, with the lifestyle becoming more laidback the farther you leave Sydney behind. The Sapphire Coast blends the best of everything – oysters, wine, wilderness, sparkling beaches – with one of the best spots to watch whales in NSW, Twofold Bay. If you enjoy long walks, especially ones over multiple days, you’ll want to explore what you can do here.