Salty air, sunshine, surf and long stretches of sand – Kiama sums up everything that’s great about the South Coast of New South Wales. Bring your stamina and your sense of adventure, and get set for a wild long weekend immersed in nature.
Walks along verdant clifftops with views across a shimmering ocean; a Farmers’ Market where you’ll find locally foraged truffles and freshly plucked fruit and vegetables; and funky bars where you can sip something refreshing while breathing in invigorating salt air.
Then there are the adventures. While small, it packs an impressive punch for those who love the great outdoors. Here are some of the best things you can do in Kiama on the NSW South Coast.
The Kiama Blowhole is reason enough to swerve off the Princes Highway and join the throngs of tourists cheering as the surf spits through the rocks. This natural attraction was formed from basalt lava some 260 million years ago and is the largest of its kind in the world.
When the swell is running from the southeast, you’ll see it in all its glory: a two-and-a-half-metre opening in the rock face plumes at heights of 30 metres. Grab brunch at Diggies Kiama, a few steps away on Blowhole Point. Then, join crowds of locals for a walk along the foreshore that winds up at the rock pool.
Kiama’s Little Blowhole is a great alternative on really busy days and can be very reliable in a north east swell.
Surfing in Gerroa
15-minutes south of Kiama is Gerroa. This town raised many surfing legends, and with good reason. This whole region has dozens of diverse reef and beach breaks, all within a 20-minute drive from each other.
Follow in the footsteps of Australian surfing superstar Sally Fitzgibbons and sign up for lessons on the very beach where she rode her first wave. You might start as a grommet, but with Surf Camp and Gerroa Surf School you’ll be carving up the waves in no time.
Kiama Coast Walk
Take an afternoon walk on the Kiama Coast Walk. Undeniably one of the country’s most scenic trails, the route stretches along 20 kilometres of dramatic cliffside coastline.
You’ll zigzag along green pastures and a railway line that disappears into tunnels carved more than 120 years ago. Regardless of which section you choose to walk, marvellous ocean views are guaranteed.
Hit the road for a one-hour drive inland, where you can soar 35 metres above the forest on Australia’s highest zipline. The Illawarra Fly Zipline Tour will take you deep into the rainforest. It’s a Jurassic landscape where three flights, two suspension bridges and four cloud stations tower above a lush tangle of green.
Glide from one tree platform to another to the sound of birdsong – broken only by your excited screams. Step things up by visiting for the once-a-month twilight tour then fly through the forest like a bat under the cover of darkness. Be sure to book in advance.
Kiama Farmers’ Market
Time your visit to coincide with the Kiama farmers’ market, held every Wednesday on Manning Street. The farmers’ market is located a pebble’s skip away from Surf Beach and it’s where local growers, producers and makers come to sell their wares. Run by locals, the markets offer everything from herbs and vegetables to fruit and flowers that are all harvested on the same day.
If you’re visiting on the weekend, check out Kiama Seaside Markets, Kiama Makers and Growers Market or Gerringong Rotary Market.
Just north of Kiama, you’ll find the Cathedral Rocks: towering basalt formations carved over millions of years. Wait until night falls and you’ll be treated to a sky filled with glittering stars.
This sheltered beach wraps around the north side of the Bombo peninsula, offering pristine snorkelling and stand-up paddleboarding conditions. Boneyard is a popular spot for secluded picnics, family swims and even surfing, with wave chasers tackling the right-hand reef breaks.
Wine and Dine in Kiama
You can’t miss Silica, set on Kiama’s surf beach and delivering coastal views and stellar seafood in equal measure. Here, the menu is built around fresh, locally sourced produce. Order inspired dishes like chargrilled octopus with bronze fennel and parsley oil, or roasted barramundi with pickled grapes.
There’s plenty available for carnivores as well – apple-glazed quail and grilled kangaroo loin are favourites among locals. If the salt air has made you particularly peckish, opt for the six-course tasting menu. Otherwise, find a patch of shade under the nearby stand of Norfolk pines and grab crisp battered fish and chips to go.
The Pines Pantry
The Pines Pantry is a dairy lover’s delight in the heart of Kiama. The cheese, yoghurt and artisan gelato sold here is made using milk from the store’s own regenerative farm. Order fresh soft and semi-hard cheeses to stock your picnic hamper, and be sure to leave with a scoop of banana-and-coconut gelato in hand.
Keep the coastal culinary vibes going at Wildginger, where the cocktails are strong and the Southeast Asian food sensational. Small wonder, given that the chef trained under Thai-cooking legend David Thompson. Everything on the menu, from the Peking duck with crispy wontons to the Penang-style perch curry, is inspired and nuanced.
There’s a lot of life in this place come lunchtime when the place is pumping out its signature southern fried chicken burgers with jalapeños and hot sauce. No ode to Americana is complete without a menu that includes a ‘bad boy’ of ground Angus beef, pacific battered onion rings, bacon and chipotle aioli. Be virtuous and order the roasted vegetable salad of zucchini, heirloom carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, broccolini and mixed leaves.
This intimate alleyway bar is perched on top of a hill in the back streets of Kiama. Inside, you’ll find a shiny disco ball, live music on Sunday afternoons and excellent share food. Visit during the day to sit out the front and enjoy the ocean views.
Motivate yourself to walk along the Kiama coastline to this cool café with killer harbour views. On a busy morning, you’ll share the café with cyclists and mums pushing prams all scrambling for the vanilla bean porridge with spiced caramel apples and gingernut and almond crumble. This café by day doubles as a destination for dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Take note of the Penny Whistlers’ pop-up whisky nights if you are partial to a glug of spirits.
The Shed Gerroa
Check in to The Shed, which (despite its understated name) is a design-lovers dream. Expect an industrial-chic vibe, all exposed steel beams, 5.5-metre-high ceilings and polished concrete floors. There’s a plunge pool and outdoor firepit overlooking more than 40 hectares of farmland all the way to the ocean.
Sebel Harbourside Kiama
Book in for a night at the Sebel Kiama Harbourside, just footsteps from the Kiama Harbour. With 80 beautifully appointed guest rooms and a handful of dining and entertainment options, the Sebel is a wonderful base for you next South Coast escape.
Driftwood Beach House
If you want to stay and play for longer than a day, the Driftwood Beach House is a charming option. The enchanting 1850’s weatherboard cottage is within walking distance of the famous Kiama Blowhole and historic terrace shops. It’s the perfect escape for couples, friends and families, featuring a thoughtfully renovated interior and sparkling water views.
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