Just under four hours by car south of Sydney and blessed with sun-soaked beaches, pristine waters and an oyster scene to satisfy the fussiest seafood connoisseur, Batemans Bay could be one of the New South Wales South Coast’s most underrated gems. We’ve rounded up the best things to do on your next beachside getaway.
Hit the surf
Batemans Bay is flanked by white sand beaches and crystalline water, so it would be a crime not to get your toes wet. Broulee Beach has something for everyone: the waters are relatively protected, making for calm conditions to swim in, and there’s plenty of rock pools to explore by foot. For the surfers, the beach boasts epic breaks to ride and if you’ve never surfed before, hit up the Broulee Surf School because there’s no time like the present to learn how to catch some waves.
Slurp farm fresh oysters
A large proportion of NSW’s famed Sydney rock oysters and their (usually) larger cousins, the Pacific oysters, are farmed on the South Coast and the best way to sample them is by sailing from oyster shed to oyster shed on a kayaking tour of the Clyde River. Under the guidance of oyster farmers Jade, Greg and Enola of the red-roofed, bright-blue Wray Street Oyster Shed, you’ll learn the fascinating science behind farming the succulent molluscs and eat the salty creatures, plucked fresh from the ocean each day, by the dozen.
Visit Mogo Wildlife Park
Just a 10-minute drive south of Batemans Bay, Mogo Wildlife Park is home to more than 250 species of animals, 44 of which are classified as rare or endangered, including rhinoceroses, snow leopards and Nepalese red pandas. For an unforgettable experience, book one of the special animal encounter experiences where you’ll be able to feed the park’s resident lion, play with meerkats and more. Conservation lies at the heart of everything Mogo Wildlife Park does and it is currently building an onsite veterinary hospital to aid in the rehabilitation and care of wildlife.
Go whale watching
From around June to July the South Coast sees the annual northern migration of thousands of Southern Right and Humpback whales, while August to November hosts the southern migration. The best place to catch the show on land is to head to Murramarang National Park, a 20-minute drive north of Batemans Bay. Take the walking track from Pretty Beach to Snapper Point lookout and keep your eyes primed on the horizon as you traverse the wilderness – you might even see falcons, shearwaters and albatross along the way. Another excellent lookout spot is slightly further north in Meroo National Park: set up camp and pass the day with a leisurely picnic at Stokes Island.
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The lively waters curving along Batemans Bay make for excellent snorkelling and a popular trail begins at Maloneys Beach, just 12 kilometres north of the town, where you’ll spot incredible rock formations and vibrant fish flitting around their crevices. Afterwards, head five kilometres south to Sunshine Cove Beach where you’ll find lobsters, abalone and red morwong among the rocky reefs and seaweed. The last stop is Guerilla Bay, home to a small rocky island that provides calmer waters to explore to the south and more lively waters to the north.
Where to eat
Start your day with a brioche cinnamon scroll, bacon and egg roll or pancakes with boysenberry ice cream, brûlée banana and maple syrup at Crumb Café. Afterwards, slurp oysters on a pier at Wray Street Oyster Shed or hit up The Milton Hotel – also known as the “House of Dangerous Ales” – where craft beers are freshly brewed on site and woodfired scallops with ponzu and kombu butter are on the menu.
For more elevated fare, visit the hatted Sandbar restaurant. In this intimate venue, chef David Tinker plates up elevated modern Australian dishes in a five-course tasting menu that changes depending on what fresh, seasonal and local produce is available, but can include veal shin with potato chartreuse and shiitake velouté.
Where to stay in Batemans Bay
Holiday accommodation has never looked as good as The Isla. The newly opened hotel features sunny orange accents, terrazzo and breeze blocks aplenty, this retro-style stay channels relaxed Palm Springs vibes. Drive up straight to the door of your room or suite – there are 18 to choose from – and drop your bags: here you’ll find organic Leif toiletries, a smart TV with Chromecast, a Nespresso machine in the kitchenette and luxurious king-sized beds. There’s even an outdoor heated pool. Opt for the Grande Suite for the ultimate family getaway – it houses four and comes with its own courtyard and plunge pool.
Image credits: Dee Kramer/Destination NSW (Aerial of the Clyde River); Alan Benson/Destination NSW (Oysters); Jason Ierace/Destination NSW (Wray Street Oyster Shed pier); The Isla.