13 reasons to spend your winter break in Kiama

With pristine beaches, crystalline waters and fantastic surfing, Kiama is a beloved summer destination. But, stick around for the winter months, because Kiama heats up when the temperature drops. Find all you need for a memorable holiday in Kiama on the South Coast of New South Wales.

Framed by pristine beaches, lush green hills, farmland, and rainforest, Kiama is a coastal country town just 120km south of Sydney. Kiama is a picturesque retreat famous for its blowholes, world-class surfing conditions, and an adorable main street lined with shops, restaurants and cafes. While seaside boroughs are synonymous with summer holidays, Kiama boasts a range of year-round attractions that make it worth a visit or two throughout the winter season. These are some of the best affordable things to do in Kiama on a winter escape.

See Kiama Blowhole & Lighthouse

Whether the sun is shining, the rain is falling or the winds are whipping up a storm, the Kiama Blowhole is one of the best things to do in Kiama and should be the first stop on your winter weekend itinerary. 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. While there, check out the lighthouse, then grab an afternoon snack at Diggies Kiama cafe just a short walk away. While there, drop into the Kiama Visitor Information Centre for some expert tips on seeing the region. Kiama’s Little Blowhole is another fantastic natural phenomenon to check out and can be very reliable in a northeast swell.

Kiama Blowhole
Kiama Blowhole © Peter Izzard

Go whale watching

From May to July, humpback whales migrate north, then from September to November they return south with their calves, passing right by the coastline of Kiama on both journeys. Whether you’re watching from the shore, or out on a boat with Shellharbour Wild in the throng of the action, witnessing these animals as they embark on their cross-ocean adventure is one of the best things to do in Kiama. You can spot these majestic animals from the Kiama Coast Walk from points such as Blackhead Reserve, Bombo Headland, Kiama Harbour, Blow Hole Point and Gerringong Whale Watching Platform.

humpback whale breaching in Kiama
Humpback whale breaching © Lachlan Hill

Taste wine at a winter festival

Crooked River Wines in Gerringong is a family-owned and operated establishment that’s been producing top-notch drops since 1998. Visit the cellar door for a tasting or reserve a table at the restaurant to sample the local flavours of Kiama. Then, June long weekend sees the Winter Wine Festival 2024 take over the estate, with performances by Ash Grunwald, The Rubens and Icehouse. Expect Saturday 8 June and Sunday 9 June to be filled with wine, entertainment and good times. If spirits are more your thing, check out Distilled hosted by The Co-Op Gerringong and Orphan Music. Enjoy tastings of locally made spirits, live music, specialty cocktails and food trucks throughout the two-day event.

Surf the best waves of the year

Although the temperature may drop in winter, Kiama’s waters remain invitingly warm and the waves are at their best at this time of the year due to wind swells and southwesterly fronts. Avid surfers should pack their winter wetsuits and look forward to riding the waves sans crowds. Fifteen 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.

Stroll the 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 and is one of the best things to do in Kiama, regardless of what time of the year it is. Zigzag along green pastures and a railway line that disappears into tunnels carved more than 120 years ago.

Kiama Coast Walk
Kiama Coast Walk

Shop at Kiama markets

Winter is the time of the year when many of us hibernate indoors, whip up hearty and delicious meals and savour the warmth of tea and hot chocolate. Stock up on supplies by visiting one of the markets in Kiama. If you’re visiting on the weekend, check out Kiama Seaside Markets or Gerringong Rotary Market.

If you’re looking for things to do in Kiama mid-week, drop into 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

Kiama Maker's and Grower's market is a great thing to do
Enjoy the freshest produce at Kiama Farmer’s Markets © Destination NSW

Experience Bombo Headland

One of the best things to do in Kiama is spend an early winter sunrise walking through Bombo Headland. The rock formations here are the result of blue metal quarrying in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and together with the basalt columns that line the shore, the landscape is unearthly and bewitching – especially at sunset when the waves crash against the walls dramatically. It’s a popular spot among landscape and travel photographers.

Bombo Headland Quarry is a cool place to visit in Kiama
Bombo Headland Quarry © Destination Kiama

Witness Cathedral Rocks

Just north of Kiama township, you’ll find 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. Alternatively, visit at sunrise or sunset to see the rocks set against a riot of colour – it’s no wonder this is a hotspot for photographers. Make sure to hashtag #kiamansw when you upload your pics!  

Cathedral Rocks Kiama
Cathedral Rocks © Michael Borisenko

Explore Minnamurra Rainforest Centre

Perfect for families, friends and couples, Minnamurra Rainforest Centre is a beautiful little patch of nature with an accessible loop walk. Hidden away in Budderoo National Park, the waterfall, lyre birds, water dragons, suspension bridge and picnic area are a tranquil place in which to spend an afternoon – no matter the weather.

people walking over rainforest suspension bridge
Minnamurra Rainforest Centre © Mark Fitz

Adventure at Illawarra Fly

Hit the road for a 40-minute drive inland, where you can soar 35 metres above the forest floor 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 and fly through the forest like a bat under the cover of darkness. It’s one of the best things to do in Kiama, so be sure to book in advance.

Check out Boneyard Beach

This sheltered pebble beach wraps around the north side of the Bombo peninsula, offering pristine snorkelling and stand-up paddleboarding conditions year round. Boneyard is a popular spot for secluded picnics, family swims and even surfing, with wave chasers tackling the right-hand reef breaks.

Snorkelling at Boneyard beach is one of the best things to do in Kiama
Boneyard is a popular beach amongst locals © Mark Fitz Photography

Sample the flavours of Kiama

Parfait Patisserie

Parfait Patisserie is a sweet-lover’s dream in the heart of Kiama. Offering a wide range of French-inspired pastries, petite gateaux, cakes and breads handcrafted on-site by talented pastry chefs and bakers, Parfait Patisserie bake daily, ensuring whatever sweet treat you pick up is fresh and delicious.

The Blue Swimmer

delivering views of Crooked River and Werri Beach alongside stellar seafood, The Blue Swimmer has a menu crafted from fresh local produce. Offering a friendly and relaxing dining experience on the exquisite Gerroa foreshore, visit The Blue Swimmer for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Try the tuna ceviche with mango and cucumber salsa or the mussels with spicy n’duja, tomato and white beans.

Hungry Monkey

Hungry Monkey is famous for 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.  

Wildginger

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.

Dining at Wildginger is one of the best things to do in Kiama
Some of the mouth-watering dishes at Wildginger © Wildginger

Stoic Brewing

Local Gerringong father and son team, Steve and Andrew, founded Stoic in 2018 with the vision to create a community space that feels like home to all those who enter, where everyone can come together to enjoy locally brewed beer and cider. Steve and Andrew dedicate time and research to brewing the very best beer possible, ensuring a high-quality product and great service at the venue. Drop in to sample it for yourself.

Penny Whistlers

Walk along the Kiama harbourto this cool café with killer water 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. Penny Whisters is a café by day and 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. 

Penny Whistlers
Penny Whistlers

Stay in cosy accommodation

Cicada Luxury Camping

Cicada Luxury Camping brings together luxury, sustainability an accessibility to create an eco-tourism experience set within the Jerrara countryside, surrounded by the subtropical Illawarra rainforest. All the tents have private fire pits and a deck, breathtaking views of the Jerrara and Jamberoo landscapes, and elevated amenities.

Cicada Luxury Glamping
Cicada Luxury Camping

Eagleview Park

Check in to Eagleview Park and enjoy total tranquillity and privacy. This modern oasis offers panoramic views of Seven Mile Beach, Coolangatta Mountain and the Barren Grounds Escarpment. Relax by the fire or lounge inside the comfortable property with friends, family and loved ones.

Eagle View Pa
Eagle View Park

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 1850s 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.

Shutters by the Sea

Explore the beauty of Kiama from Shutters by the Sea. Located within easy reach of the region’s greatest drawcards, this coastal retreat is perfect for couples who enjoy walking, dining and relaxation. Open-plan and filled with natural light, guests have all they need for a comfortable and peaceful escape.

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 your next South Coast escape.

Read more:
Book your next winter getaway at one of these South Coast beach houses
Road tripping the South Coast of New South Wales
Best things to do in Orange on a long weekend

This article was produced with content supplied by Destination Kiama and is a Vacations & Travel digital exclusive. Be the first to see more exclusive online content by subscribing to the enewsletter below.

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