Merimbula Wharf Merimbula Wharf

The ultimate travel guide toMerimbula

Life at this seaside playground on the Sapphire Coast revolves around the water. From walks that trace the contours of sleepy Merimbula Lake’s shores to sweeping strips of golden sand flanked by aquamarine seas and untouched bushland that welcome surfers, swimmers, fisherman, dog walkers and sunbakers alike. The call of the ocean also tempts many out on whale and dolphin watching cruises.

In among the kitsch motels of this New South Wales town, you’ll find a smattering of cool cafes and cocktail bars, not to mention restaurants with an abundance of wildly fresh seafood.

Top things to do in Merimbula

Beaches and fishing

When it comes to the top things to do in Merimbula, its the beaches rate high on the list. Merimbula’s Main Beach caters to almost every ocean goer’s needs: you can swim, surf, or fish from the five-kilometre-long stretch of golden silica, and there’s even an off-leash area for dogs too. Short Point Beach, located on a headland two kilometres from the town centre, is another swell spot for a stroll or surf, with plenty of rockpools to explore.

With its clear-as-glass turquoise waters little Bar Beach, on Merimbula Lake, is popular with families and SUP boarders. And while you’re there, schedule in a pit stop at the Bar Beach Kiosk during the summer months.

The town is widely known for its fishing scene too, with plenty of shore-based options. Try Merimbula Lake, Merimbula Wharf or Back Lagoon.

Nature and wildlife

There’s a plethora of good walks right on Merimbula’s doorstep. Start the day with a leisurely stroll along the Merimbula Boardwalk, while away a few hours at the wildlife-rich Pambula Wetlands, or visit the geological marvel that is the Pinnacles formation on the Pinnacles loop walking track, located in the Pambula-Haycock area of the Ben Boyd National Park.

Marine life is in plentiful supply on this stretch of the NSW coastline. Eagle-eyed walkers might spy whales or dolphins from the shoreline, or you can jump on a cruise for a better view.

Take a whale-watching cruise with experienced local operator Sapphire Coastal Adventures, which runs tours from both Merimbula and Bermagui.

Attractions and events

Families have a few local attractions to choose from, including the Potoroo Palace wildlife sanctuary and the Merimbula Aquarium. As for events, come for the March long weekend to experience the annual EAT Festival.

Merimbula accommodation

Caravan parks and camping

Clifftop NRMA Merimbula Beach Holiday Park not only occupies some prime real estate, it also packs a punch with its laundry list of amenities too (think a woodfired pizza oven, a sand volleyball court, a resort-style swimming pool complex and a sizable recreation room). It’s perfect for families and features pet-friendly sites too.

Located right next to a patrolled beach, with ‘roos roaming the grounds and a number of scenic walks at its doorstep, Discovery Parks – Pambula Beach has a loyal following of guests who return year after year and all the amenities you’d expect from a holiday park.

Hotels and resorts

Instead of boutique or chain hotels and resorts, Merimbula is filled to the seams with independent motels and apartment hotels, many of which are a touch dated. Among the top picks are the Merimbula Lake Apartments, and the Beach Cabins Merimbula.

Holiday homes and beach cabins

The master bedroom in this Merimbula Airbnb is an absolute showstopper: a whitewashed loft space with windows in every direction that frame the ocean on one side and the Pambula River mouth on the other. There’s also a glorious little glass veranda that leads off the main living space. Expect lots of thoughtful added extras too.

A home from home, this stylishly designed Merimbula Airbnb is just 200 metres from a surf beach and the Pambula River mouth. The two-bedroom stay is also pet-friendly.

Impossibly bright and airy, Lotte’s Hjem (a three-bedroom Airbnb) is a weatherboard cottage with a minimalist Scandi-chic feel that belongs among the pages of House Beautiful.

Merimbula restaurants and cafes

Sure, you can expect great seafood, but Merimbula’s top restaurants and cafes have plenty more to offer.

In need of caffeine? Visit minimalist Mormors. The coffee beans are from ONA and the breakfast and brunch dishes are a cut above.

For good old-fashioned hearty pub food, Merimbula RSL Club can’t be beaten. You’ll find all the classics at the club’s Coral Sea Restaurant (calamari, beer battered fish and chips, steaks and parmas), as well as a kid’s menu for little ones. There’s also a full Thai and Chinese menu at the pub’s bistro.

Dulcie’s Cottage is swoon-worthy both outside and in: a little 1950s caravan is parked in the beer garden, dishing up a range of burgers on organic milk buns, while the cosy timber cottage is lined with all manner of antique curios and vintage photographs, and serves up a mean cocktail.

Hop in the car and take the five-minute drive to Wheeler’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, in neighbouring Pambula. Home to its own oyster farm (which you can visit on a tour), it’s a standout in the region for exceedingly fresh seafood, which you can enjoy at the alfresco oyster bar or Modern Australian restaurant. See also the Merimbula Aquarium & Wharf Restaurant, which has ocean views and a seafood-heavy menu.

Getting to Merimbula

Fly direct to Merimbula from Sydney with Qantas or Rex Airlines, or from Melbourne with the latter. The NSW town is also a six-hour drive from Sydney, or a three-hour drive from Canberra. Make it a road trip, with this eight-day itinerary that starts and ends in Sydney and ventures all the way down south to Eden en route.

Best time to visit Merimbula

This coastal town has mild summers and cool, windy winters. If you want to escape the crowds then visit outside of September, March and January, and if whale watching rates high on your agenda then book a break that coincides with spring (typically whale watching tours operate between August and November).

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