Seaside pool at Yamba beach, with lighthouse in the distance
Holidays

How to spend the perfect day in Yamba

This sublime town in the far north of New South Wales still flies under the radar – for now. Get there before everyone else does.

By Shell on Dec. 14, 2021

Getting there: 200 kilometres (2.5 hours) south of the Gold Coast

In northern NSW, between Coffs Harbour and Byron, lies a sleepy village where the Clarence River tumbles into the Pacific Ocean. It’s home to surf, sunshine, sand and enviable wildlife encounters – basically the quintessential Aussie beach holiday destination.

Start your day with an early morning paddle-board, keeping an eye out for dolphins, turtles and whales, then head to Beachwood Cafe for a morning brew while you contemplate your next meal. This fishing town is famed for its prawns; fat, sweet and juicy. And you can pick them up fresh from trawlers as they ease into port daily. Or head to seafood co-op Yamba Prawn Shack, which also sells freshly shucked oysters and bugs – enjoy them sitting down or to take away.

You can watch the trawlers head back out to sea from the Pacific Hotel, the multistorey white block that’s a bit of a beacon in these parts. Opened in 1934, it doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to classic country pub meals. Think icy cold beer on tap, fish ’n’ chips and bulging burgers. And water views for days. You might even spot the ferry chugging north over the Clarence River to the nearby town of Iluka, gateway to World Heritage-listed Gondwana rainforest.

For an even better view, clamber up to the Yamba Lighthouse, illuminating the coast since 1880. It’s just as pretty as the Byron Bay Lighthouse, 130 kilometres north, but far less touristed. Which means you could have the breaching and blowing of offshore whales almost entirely to yourself. You can continue south on the Yuraygir coastal walk, a dramatic 65-kilometre trail that hugs ancient clifftop emu trails through national parkland, all the way to Red Rock. If you do lace up your hiking shoes, pack your snorkel and swimsuit, too, as refreshing hidden hamlets abound en route. Not to mention creamy Wooli Wooli River oysters for fuel.

Fresh air, exercise and sunshine are soporific; end your day at newly minted The Surf Yamba. Perched on the headland, the 12-room boutique hotel’s bow-like internal curves are kitted with furnishings in an ocean-inspired palette – blue and white, with splashes of canary yellow. And serious style dominates throughout, from the bespoke Scandi-inspired sofas to the organic amenities and linens. A rooftop pool awaits, offering views from Iluka to Angourie.

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