When I was young I obviously drove my mum and dad mad sometimes, because they would tell my sister and I to hop in the car because we were going for a drive. The drive we took was usually down the South Coast of NSW as it was easy to reach from our home in the Sutherland Shire. The drive taken was usually to a sea side town. One sea side town in particular was Kiama. I can’t count the amount of times I have visited Kiama but I know it rather well. So come with me and I’ll show you the best things to see and do in Kiama on a day trip or longer.
Table of Contents
Where is Kiama?
Kiama is found on NSW’s South Coast. It is roughly 120 km south of Sydney in the Illawarra region and takes about 1.5 hours to reach from the Sutherland Shire. The distance from Sydney makes this a great day trip. But if you have more time, it is a great weekend escape from Sydney. And it is a great place to include for a visit when doing the big lap of Oz.
How Do You Get to Kiama?
You can get to Kiama by road or by rail.
To Kiama By Road
Like a lot of NSW, and Australia for that matter, it is far easier to see the sites with a car. To get to Kiama by road, you can travel along the Grand Pacific Drive or follow the M1 highway. Once in Kiama, this day trip has stops at places in and around Kiama that will be far easier to get to with a car. There is public transport but it isn’t extensive, and you may be waiting quite a while to get to places. And if you only have a day, then a car is far easier to get you around. If you don’t have a car, you can rent one. Get details, pricing and availability from DiscoverCars – this is where I go when I need to rent a car.
To Kiama By Rail
To get to Kiama by train, catch the South Coast Train and alight at Kiama train station. The train trip is very scenic as you pass through the Royal National Park and along the South Coast on your way to Kiama. Kiama Train Station is right in town, so you don’t have to walk too far to reach the best things to see and do in Kiama on this day trip.
When is the Best Time to Visit Kiama
Anytime is a good time to visit Kiama. Be prepared for crowds on the weekend, long weekends, school holidays and during the warmer months. But different seasons bring different weather and Kiama can be visited in them all!
What to See and Do in Kiama
If only doing a day trip to Kiama, I suggest you stay around Kiama township as this is where many things to see and do are. If you can stay for a weekend in Kiama or longer, then venture out to the other places around Kiama. Here’s the best things to see and do in Kiama NSW on a day trip.
Kiama has some great things to see and do but most people know it for its famous Kiama Blowhole. First spotted by explorer George Bass in 1797, the blowhole is the first thing people want to see and do in Kiama on a day trip. Kiama Blowhole would have been forming for millions of years as the sea hit the basalt rock eroding the softer rock and creating sea caves, thus creating the holes of the blowholes. Hopefully, it will be ‘blowing’ for you on your Kiama visit as some days it is just hums and other days you can hear it roar as the water soars into the sky. In fact, this is how Kiama got its name. Kiama translates to ‘where the sea makes a noise’. And boy oh boy, does it make a noise on some days. If you can take your eyes away from the blowhole for a moment and look out to sea, you may just see a whale or two breaching as they migrate up and down the coast.
Kiama Blowhole – just blowing a little
There are different level platforms to watch the Kiama Blowhole so move around and see it from as many angles as possible. And on a very good day be prepared to be blown away and be sprayed by ocean spray!
The Kiama Lighthouse stands behind the Kiama Blowhole on Blowhole Point. It was established in 1887 and rises some 36.5 metres above sea level. It’s not open to the public, but you can still get a great photo shot in front of it.
Kiama Ocean Rock Pool
Leaving the Blowhole, follow the path along the coast and if warm enough have a swim in the ocean rock pool. New South Wales is known for having rock pools for swimming along its coastline. And you will find on in Kiama.
Kiama being situated on the coast has a small harbour with docks where fisherman bring their seafood catches. If there at the right time, you could purchase some fresh fish. The Kiama Harbour is situated in front of the grassy foreshore where you could relax after lots of walking around Kiama. If there on a Sunday, on the third Sunday of every month markets, with lots of local craft and produce are held and you could purchase some local treats.
Kiama has always been a seaside town with fish and chip shops, cafes and boutique shops. My mum and dad would often buy my sister and I some fish and chips to eat in the park overlooking the harbour before our drive home to the Sutherland Shire. Kiama has now grown and is the hub in the Kiama Municipal Area. So a walk up and down the Main Street to check out the shops is a great thing to do while in Kiama. Shops range from op shops to boutique stores so you can grab a bargain or purchase a unique item. Depending on how long you browse in the shops and eat in the cafes and restaurants you could spend a couple of hours along the Kiama’s Main Street.
Looking up the main street, Terralong Street, Kiama
Little Kiama Blowhole
Yep, there is a little blowhole in Kiama that is much smaller than the Kiama Blowhole, and that is why it is called the Little Kiama Blowhole. To see the Little Blowhole, you can access it by walking along the Kiama Coast Walk or drive to Tingira Crescent to see it. Some Kiama locals believe the Little Kiama Blowhole blows more consistently than the Kiama Blowhole. But I will leave you to make up your own mind on that one!
Swim at one of Kiama’s Beaches
If you are visiting Kiama on a hot day and your plan is to enjoy a swim, you can head to the Kiama Rock Pool as suggested before, or visit one of the beaches. There are several beaches between Shellharbour and Seven Mile Beach at Gerroa that are easily visited from Kiama.
My favourite is Seven Mile Beach at Gerroa as my sister lives in Gerroa and I visit often. Other beaches include:
- Jones Beach is a popular surf beach close to Cathedral Rocks just north of Kiama.
- Bombo Beach is north of Kiama. This is the long beach you can see from the train before you arrive in Kiama. It is a favourite spot for local surfers.
- Kiama Surf Beach also known as Main Beach is a small beach with excellent facilities so bring a picnic or BBQ and enjoy the grassy area behind the beach.
- Kendall’s Beach is next to Surf Beach and is a popular choice for families.
- Easts Beach is one of my favourite beaches in Kiama as it is a well-sheltered beach and is very close to the caravan park.
See the Little Blowhole on a day trip to Kiama
Eating in Kiama
Kiama has many eateries ranging from fish and chip shops to trendy coffee shops to first-class restaurants and ice creameries. And enjoying some food in Kiama is one of the best things to do in Kiama – well, in my opinion. Depending on what you feel like, you can take your pick from all the cafes. Sit inside or out and watch the people walk by. If looking for a meal, I can highly recommend one of my favourite burger restaurants, The Hungry Monkey Gourmet Burgers @ 5/32 Collins Street, Kiama.
Try a burger at The Hungry Monkey in Kiama
Extend Your Stay in Kiama to a Weekend or Longer
Even though Kiama is a great day trip, why not extend your stay for a day or two to make it a great weekend escape from Sydney or a stop on your big lap of Oz. Kiama and its surrounds has a lot to offer.
Where to Stay in Kiama
There is plenty of accommodation in and around Kiama. Easts Beach Caravan Park is the perfect spot if you are towing a van or camping. There are also a couple of caravan parks at Gerroa. Otherwise check out Booking.com for accommodation options.
Other Things to See and Do in the Kiama Municipal Area
Visit the small surrounding towns
You find Kiama in the Kiama Municipal Area that is also home to the small towns of Minnammurra in the north, Gerringong and Gerroa in the south and Jamberoo in the west. These small towns have a lot of history and Gerringong and Gerroa have great beaches. Much of Gerringong overlooks Werri Beach which has a great fish and chip shop. When you walk through Gerringong township you will discover some great boutique shops, a surf shop, fabulous bakery and a couple of restaurants with exquisite water views.
Gerroa is a sleepy town south of Gerringong. It overlooks the magnificent Seven Mile Beach (which is actually 12km long). There is plenty of fishing, swimming and surfing to be done here. There is even a walk that takes you through the bushland behind the beach. And one place to stop is at the Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Lookout across the road from the Gerroa Fisherman’s Club along Crooked River Road – which, by the way, has great meals. The lookout offers panoramic views over Seven Mile Beach and the National Park. It was here, well down on Seven Mile Beach, that Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s famous aircraft called the ‘Southern Cross’ took off on 11 January 1933 in his historic and record breaking flight across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand. Seven Mile Beach was chosen for the take-off because it is long.
Overlooking Gerroa from the Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Memorial Lookout – that’s a concrete plane on the ground
The small town of Jamberoo lies west of Kiama and at the base of the lush Jamberoo Rainforest. To get there you will drive through undulating farming land. The town is only small with a few shops and a couple of coffee shops. There is also Jamberoo Pub which has great pub meals. The current owner is the nephew of the late Johnny Warren who grew up in the area, played soccer in the area and for Australia before becoming a much-loved TV soccer host. The pub has much memorabilia of Johnny and if you love soccer, you will love walking around and be mesmerised by what you see on the walls. My favourite photo is of Pele talking to a small boy. This boy is the current owner of the pub.
Jamberoo is also home to the Jamberoo Recreation Park. This is a great place to visit on a hot day to enjoy all the water slides and cool down. Or you could drive up into the Jamberoo Rainforest and cool off at a waterfall. Two of note are Minnamurra Waterfall and Carrington Waterfall.
Go for a Walk
Kiama Coast Walk
There are a number of walks you can go on in the Kiama area. The most notable is the Kiama Coast Walk starting in Minnamurra and ending some 20km south in Gerringong. The walk is graded as a 3 or medium walk with a mix of surfaces to walk on, but the views are to die for! I’d only do this walk if I specifically came to Kiama to do it as you may not have time to do other things in Kiama and surrounds. Most people do the walk in three parts:
- North Section – Minnamurra to Kiama Blowhole – 8.5km long taking about 3 hours to walk.
- Mid Section – Kiama Blowhole to Loves Bay – 6 km long taking about 1.5 hours to walk.
- South Section – Loves Bay to Gerringong – 6 km long taking about 2 hours to walk.
Bombo Headland Quarry Walk
The Bombo Headland Quarry Walk starts at Bombo Beach. This short 2km walk will take you to see clusters of hexagonal basalt columns which are now internationally recognised as a geological phenomena. Plus there are fabulous ocean views.
Are You Ready to Discover Kiama on a day trip or longer?
A day trip to Kiama NSW should be high on your to do list. You could just come to visit Kiama or it could be part of a road trip along the Grand Pacific Drive where you visit many places on NSW’s south coast. If possible, extend your time in Kiama as it has a lot to see and do. If you have been to Kiama I’d love to hear from you. Or if you are planning a visit and have any questions, ask away in the comments.