Merimbula Beach, Merimbula, NSW © Dee Kramer Photography

Guide to the Sapphire Coast

Whale watching, humpback whale, Eden NSW © Faunographic

Explore Eden

Eden is one of Australia's best whale watching locations and boasts the third deepest natural harbour in the Southern Hemisphere. The port of Snug Cove is a great place to see fishermen return with their fresh catch. Or pop in to Sprout Eden for local produce for breakfast and lunch. Visit the Killer Whale Museum and learn about Australia's early whaling history, then head out on a whale watching tour (between September and November). Divers will love a shipwreck scuba dive; you can even stay at the Merimbula Divers Lodge. Follow the Light to Light Walk between Boyds Tower in the south of Ben Boyd National Park to Green Cape Lightstation at the northern end of the park.

Bega Valley, South Coast, NSW © Destination New South Wales

Get a taste for Bega

Bega is known for its award-winning cheeses, made from milk produced in this area. The town is the business centre of the Sapphire Coast, but feels anything but urban. Start at the Bega Cheese Heritage Centre, which is home to the Bega Visitor Information Centre. Taste local cheeses, or try a milkshake, coffee or ploughman's lunch in the cafe. Take a walk around town and enjoy the work of local artists in the Bega Valley Regional Gallery or the artist-run Spiral Gallery. Have a picnic alongside the Bega River, or visit Biamanga National Park and enjoy a walk to the tranquil Mumbulla Creek Falls or along the Biamanga Aboriginal Culture Walk. Just north of Bega is the stunning Brogo Dam – hire a canoe here and explore.

Wharf Locavore and Tathra Beach, Tathra, NSW © Destination New South Wales

Experience the waters and wine of Tathra

Follow the Tathra-Bermagui Road along the sea-sculpted coastline of Mimosa Rocks National Park to Tathra. Along the road you'll see Mimosa Wines & Drystone Restaurant, as well as galleries and cafes, so leave enough time to explore. You can spot penguins and seals from the historic Tathra Wharf. Pop in to The Wharf Locavore for coffee, lunch and local art, or try Fat Tony’s Bar and Grill for a taste of the local seafood. Snorkel around Mimosa Rocks before enjoying the serene sanctuary of Bournda National Park. Camp next to grazing kangaroos and wallabies at Wallagoot Lake. Mountain bike riders will love to explore the rolling bush tracks of Tathra Mountain Bike Trails, a network of more than 50 kilometres (31 miles) of track.

Snorkelling at Tathra, Sapphire Coast, NSW © Destination New South Wales

Get out, on and under the water

There are so many ways you can get out, on and under the water on the Sapphire Coast. In summer, you can hire a kayak or try stand-up paddleboarding with Merimbula Stand-up Paddle in the calm waters near Merimbula and Bermagui. Coastlife also offers stand-up paddleboarding, as well as surfing lessons, on the beaches of Merimbula, Tathra and Pambula.

Bar Beach, Merimbula, NSW © Destination New South Wales

Try watersports and oysters at Merimbula

Picturesque Merimbula has long been a popular holiday town. You can fly here from Melbourne or Sydney. Have a surf at the sweeping stretch of Main Beach or picnic beneath tea-trees and banksias at Short Point and Tura BeachCruise, sailboard or canoe on Lake Merimbula on your way to the river village of Pambula, where many of the buildings date back to the 1850s. Walk around the freshwater lagoon at Pambula Beach and taste the town's famous fresh oysters at Broadwater Oysters on the Pambula River. The Bar Beach Kiosk in Merimbula serves up simple food and coffee overlooking pretty Bar Beach.

Bermagui Fishermens Co-Op Ltd., Bermagui, NSW © Destination New South Wales

Fish and feast in Bermagui

Bermagui is a pretty harbour town on the northern tip of the Sapphire Coast. Hop on a boat charter and throw in a line for big game or reef fish. Take a dip or snorkel in the Blue Pool, an idyllic natural rock pool, before heading to Wallaga Lake for swimming, boating, bushwalking and camping. It has special significance for the local Yuin Aboriginal people. In the middle of the lake lies Merriman Island, named after Yuin elder King Merriman, and many Aboriginal middens and artefacts have been found around the lake. The island isn't accessible to the public but you can admire it from afar. Head to the Fishermans Wharf right on the harbour for modern Italian at Il Passagio.

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