From slurping down oysters knee-deep in briny waters to mooching around the markets, here are some of the top things to do in Merimbula.
It’s easy to see why Merimbula is so popular. The seaside town on the NSW South Coast really does have it all. From whales passing by during the season to wildlife, clear blue waters and national parks. Then there are the white-sand beaches, seaside markets and theme parks to keep you busy.
When you’re not in or around the water, set up camp at one of the local holiday parks in Merimbula or splash out on a retro-chic seaside stay. And make sure you take full advantage of the fact that the town is also on the map as one of the NSW South Coast’s best places to eat and drink. Discover all this and more with our pick of must-dos in Merimbula.
Merimbula is one of the best places to eat and drink on NSW’s South Coast. (Image: Destination NSW)
1. Eat your way along the new Gourmet Coast Trail
The Gourmet Coast Trail is a new immersive way to experience the South Coast. And although the trail stretches from Batemans Bay in the north all the way to Eden in the south, you can make Merimbula your focus by ticking off absolutely everything on the Merimbula Weekend Getaway itinerary.
The Gourmet Coast Trail is an immersive way to experience the South Coast. (Image: Gourmet Coast Trail)
Those in pursuit of the best places to eat and drink in Merimbula will appreciate the ease of plugging the various places into your satnav and enjoying everything from twilight drinks at Longstocking Brewery and Dulcie’s Cottage to dinner at the much-vibed-about Valentina.
2. Embark on a guided tour of the Sapphire Coast
Charge your fitness tracker and lace up your most comfortable hiking boots for the 27-kilometre Wharf to Wharf Walk, which you can undertake independently or with local guide Cam Read, of Sapphire Coast Guiding Co.
The coastal walk connects the towns of Merimbula and Tathra and can be done as an epic one-day hike, a three-day fully guided walk, or a two-day self-guided walk. The best thing about extending the walk over several days is that it will allow you more time to explore the villages, shops and eateries along the way. Sapphire Coast Guiding Co. also offer guided e-bike and kayak tours.
The coastal walk is a scenic journey through the towns of Merimbula and Tathra. (Image: David Rogers Photography)
3. Take the kids to a theme park
Whether you’re up for the mad Toboggan Run that twists and roars its way downhill, or you prefer the more sedate pace of a Magic Cup and Saucer ride, the Magic Mountain Merimbula offers a range of rides to suit everyone in the family.
Buckle up for the Sapphire Speedster Coaster and Grand Prix Cars or blast off down the Black Hole and Doom Tube, which will spit you out into a cool refreshing pool. This small theme park also has a maze and Tree Climb Challenge, which includes two hours of Ninja Warrior-ing around a course of rope bridges, high wires and wooden obstacles.
4. Visit marine life in Merimbula
Take your children on an underwater excursion without getting wet by steering them around the various marine exhibits on show at Merimbula Wharf Aquarium & Restaurant.
Learn more about local marine life when you gaze into the big, deep blue of the 70,000-litre oceanarium, which is home to some 90 per cent of local fish species, as well as squid, cuttlefish and seahorses.
Be there for feeding time (from 11.30 am, Wednesday and Fridays during the school holidays) to see the resident octopus unscrew the lid of a jar to consume its contents, then head upstairs to the restaurant, one of the best places to eat in Merimbula.
Get yourself a fresh seafood tower at the Merimbula Aquarium and Wharf restaurant. (Image: Destination NSW)
5. Play a round of golf
Most golf courses have 18 holes, but the Pambula Merimbula Golf Club has 27, which means you’re more likely to find a time to have a hit at the golf course, which is home to thousands of kangaroos and has a variety of challenging holes to interest all levels of ability.
The well-groomed golf course, which is wedged between Top Lake in Merimbula and Main Beach, held its very first tournament in 1966. Book a lesson with PGA professionals at the pro shop and then head to The 28th at the clubhouse for a pannini and cold beer. You can also enjoy a game of mini golf with the kids at Top Fun, at the top of town.
6. Walk along the boardwalk
Merimbula is derived from a local Aboriginal word meaning ‘two lakes’ in reference to the fact Merimbula Lake is located on the southern side of the town and Back Lake on the northern side. And part of the Bega Valley Shire Council’s strategic plan for the Merimbula Boardwalk was to enhance the visitor experience around Indigenous education in honour of the traditional owners of the land, the Yuin First Nations People. The boardwalk curls around mangrove forests, under the grey-green canopy of eucalypts and past oyster farms that are plentiful along this section of Australia’s Oyster Coast.
Walk the Merimbula Boardwalk to pass through mangrove forests and eucalyptus trees. (Image: Destination NSW)
7. Hit the shops in Merimbula
One of the most responsible ways to travel to regional centres around NSW is to #supportlocal. Visit fashion boutique Koko Maia to buy hypo-thermal garments from Australian-made Lou Lou Bamboo, and find everything from upcycled fashion to fresh produce, craft and curios at the Merimbula Seaside Markets on the third Sunday of the month.
You can also explore the Sapphire Coast Market Trail to snap up more local merch. Want a memento of your stay? Visit the website of acclaimed local photographer David Rogers to buy a print of the surrounding Mimosa Rocks National Park.
8. See whales and swim with seals in Merimbula
Sapphire Coastal Adventures departs from the Merimbula Marina between late September to late November and seeing these gentle giants roaming the open ocean makes for an impressive outing.
The skippers onboard the discovery tours know where the best spots are for whale watching on NSW’s South Coast. You can also take a tour out to Montague Island with Montague Island Adventures where you can snorkel with the seals and take a penguin tour.
Whale watching and penguin tours are on the agenda when you take a trip to Montague Island. (Image: Destination NSW)
9. Enjoy a reef fishing charter
Fishpen Charters has been operating off the NSW South Coast for the last 30 years. Keen anglers who want to introduce their children to catching their own fish for dinner should depart Mitchies Jetty, located on an elbow of land jutting into Merimbula Lake where the waterways are as smooth as glass.
Part of the pleasure of going offshore with Fishpen Charters is the four or five-hour jaunt out to sea, which, regardless of whether you hook a big one, will add to your feelings of contentment on the day.
The Merimbula Lake features waters as clear and cool as glass.
10. Feast on oysters
There are farm sheds and oyster bars dotted up and down Australia’s Oyster Coast and if your idea of heaven is slurping down a cheeky dozen then you should start your tour at Merimbula Gourmet Oysters.
Broadwater Oysters is also on the water’s edge and oyster aficionados will love the Tide-to-Table experience on offer, which includes a shucking class.
Book a Bermi & Beyond tour or, for the full farm-to-plate experience, follow the self-drive Gourmet Coast Trail to Wonboyn Rock Oysters and Wheeler’s Seafood Restaurant for some of the best oysters on NSW’s South Coast.
Oysters at Wheeler’s Seafood are harvested fresh from their farm. (Image: David Rogers Photography)
11. Mooch around Merimbula Seaside Market
Merimbula Seaside Market is held on the third Sunday of the month and it’s a magnet for locals who want to source fresh organic produce from local growers.
The market is set up at Ford Park in Merimbula, with specialist growers such as a local potato farmer, who sells a diverse range of tubers and Burragate Organics, who champion local small-scale producers and sells a range of fruit and vegetables as well as poultry and eggs. You will also find niche food vans selling everything from gluten-free donuts to Dutch pancakes.
Support local at the Merimbula Seaside Market.