This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure
Yamba NSW is a great place for families to visit, with plenty of things to do. With beautiful beaches and national parks, it’s a perfect destination for enjoying the great outdoors along Australia’s East Coast. We have put together the essential list of things to do in Yamba, including tips for visiting with kids and things you should consider when planning your trip to the underrated New South Wales coastal town.
Yamba has grown in popularity as a holiday destination due to its proximity to the rainforest and beautiful campgrounds, and of course, the glorious beaches! It should be an essential stop on your East Coast of Australia road trip!
Getting To Yamba NSW
Yamba is located around 3 and a half hours from Brisbane, and around 8 hours north of Sydney. It sits along the New South Wales North Coast in the Clarence Valley and is only around an hour from Coffs Harbour and other popular northern beaches destinations such as Byron Bay and Ballina. It’s also under 2 hours from the Gold Coast.
The Grafton Regional Airport is the nearest airport to Yamba, approximately 50 minutes away by car, with daily flights available from Sydney. Gold Coast Airport is approximately 2 hours drive from Yamba.
You can hire a car from either airport and you will be able to explore more of New South Wales’ beautiful coastline!
When Is The Best Time To Visit Yamba
Yamba is a fantastic destination for families with kids, and you can find plenty of things to do there at any time of the year. Although it’s equally great for anyone who wants a coastal destination.
The best time to visit Yamba is from September through to May when temperatures are warmer, yet rainfall is lower.
If you’re looking to spend a lot of time in the outdoors and enjoy the beautiful beaches and water activities, visiting in summer is a popular option. This is also when Yamba is busiest and prices will increase for accommodation.
We recommend that if visiting the area during peak season during the Summer school holidays (December – January) then it’s worth booking accommodation well in advance as it does get very busy!
Where To Stay In Yamba
You will have plenty of options for accommodation in Yamba. There are a number of hotels within walking distance of shops and restaurants or resorts that are slightly further from town but offer a quieter option.
Here are some of the best places to stay in Yamba:
Best For Families: BIG4 Saltwater at Yamba Holiday Park – This is one of the first places you’ll see when entering Yamba and it offers a variety of accommodation options and fun facilities for kids.
Best Budget Accommodation: Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort – On the banks of a river, this resort offers a range of accommodation options and family facilities.
Central Location: Yamba Beach Motel – 3-minute walk from Yamba Beach and 6 minutes by foot from Yamba Lighthouse.
The Best Things To Do In Yamba
Whether visiting Yamba with kids for a family holiday or spending a relaxing weekend together with your partner, Yamba has lots of great things to do and attractions you won’t want to miss!
Here are the top things to do in Yamba NSW:
1. Visit Main Beach – Ocean Pools & Rock Pools
Main Beach is essential for anyone who loves to spend time at the beach. It’s a popular hub of activity for beachgoers and outdoor enthusiasts, with beautiful ocean views stretching far.
Although our favourite thing about visiting Main Beach is the ocean swimming pools and rock pools.
There are two ocean pools. The larger Yamba ocean pool is usually filled with water, while the smaller one goes up and down with the tides, making it fun to explore at different times of the day. You might even spot a fish or two swimming around.
This is perfect for anyone who doesn’t love the waves of the ocean so much but still enjoys spending time in the saltwater, with the scent of sea air. It’s also a safer option for swimming with small children.
And if it’s too cold for swimming, you can still spend an hour or two exploring the rock pools along Main Beach. These are some of the coolest rock pools we’ve seen in Australia and while we certainly aren’t rockpool experts, there were some really impressive underwater ecosystems to discover as you walk along the rocky ledges.
This is certainly a popular spot for families, both local and visitors to Yamba.
Check out our video from our recent visit to the Yamba ocean pool and rock pools:
2. Walk Along The Break Wall
A walk along the break wall at Yamba is a popular activity as the sun lowers in the afternoon and great for avoiding the heat of the day if you’re visiting in summer.
The break walls are at the mouth of the Clarence River between Turners Beach and Whiting Beach on Hickey Island, designed to give the river some protection and prevent both sand build-up and large waves from impacting the commercial and recreational fishing boats.
3. Yamba Coastal Walk
Walking from beach to beach along the Yamba Coastal Walk is a great way to discover all the best Yamba has to offer, before finishing off for some food at one of the many places in this beautiful town.
This walk will take you from Pippi Beach, Convent Beach, Yamba Beach (Main Beach), Turner’s Beach and finishing at Whiting Beach, on Hickey Island. The whole walk will take you around 30 minutes non-stop, or take your time and enjoy the scenery over a few hours.
The Yamba coastal walk is a popular place for locals and visitors alike. It’s an accessible scenic walk that can be done at any time of day or night.
You’ll have plenty of chances to explore what this part of Australia has by way of flora and fauna on offer, including seeing Pelicans fishing in the water, Sea Eagles above you – even potentially spotting dolphins out in the sea!
For a much more challenging multi-day walk, for anyone who enjoys hiking, the Yuraygir Coastal Walks have expansive tracks suited to 1, 2 or 4 day walks.
Other popular walking tracks, including some that form part of the Yuraygir Coastal Walk, include the following:
The Historic Yamba Hill Walk – Medium grade 3km walk
The Historic Yamba Flat Walk – Easy grade 3km walk
The Angourie Walking Track – Medium grade 10km walk each direction
Angourie to Brooms Head Walk – Medium to hard grade 18km walk each direction
4. Picnic Beneath The Yamba Lighthouse At Yamba Point
If you want a flat grassy area to lay down a picnic blanket, there are plenty of places to do so near Yamba Lighthouse at Pilot Hill.
You can’t go up the lighthouse itself, but don’t let that stop you because the views are phenomenal from up here, even just for a quick stop to check out the scenery.
You can make your way here by car or if you’re feeling more adventurous and energetic, climb your way up, taking the Yamba Rotary Walking track. Your efforts will be rewarded with the coastal views from each direction.
5. Try Local Brews At Sanctus Brewery
If you’re looking for a chilled out activity in Yamba with some great experimental brews and occasional live music, head to Sanctus Brewing Co.
The brewery is situated in Townsend, not too far from the Yamba town centre with an impressive taproom and fenced outdoor dining area for enjoying a relaxed Sunday session with friends or a meal with the family.
The brewery is open seven days a week from 11 am for mid-morning snacks, lunch and dinner and the friendly staff are happy to share their knowledge of what’s on tap with you.
While this might not be the most exciting experience for kids, there is plenty of room for them to play outdoors and food for the whole family to enjoy together.
6. Visit Whiting Beach On Hickey Island
Whiting Beach is a great place for families with young children. The water here faces into the Clarence River and not to the ocean so there are no waves. Plus it’s also very flat.
Whiting beach offers calmer swimming conditions due to its location facing towards the Clarance River rather than out at sea. This makes it perfect for little ones who want nothing more than some time splashing around while parents relax nearby.
It’s only 10 minutes from Whiting Beach to the centre of town, so you can easily head back for some yummy food once you’ve had enough of the sun, surf and sand.
Tip: The best views of Hickey Island are from the cliffs at the southern end of town, with a short walk taking you right down to Fisherman’s Point for some stunning coastal scenery.
7. Visit The Angourie Blue and Green Pools
The Blue and Green Pools are two of Yamba’s natural wonders. They are located in nearby Angourie, which is around 7km from the Yamba town centre.
Angourie’s Blue Pool and Green Pool have a beautiful and mysterious history. Once it was just an ordinary rock quarry but when the freshwater spring became disturbed, the Angourie Blue Pool is now full of crystal clear water that shines blue in the sun!
Now both the Angourie Blue and Green Pools are popular for swimming and cliff jumping. Although it’s the scenery that really stands out!
You can reach the Blue and Green Pools by heading to The Crescent, with parking at the end of the road and the paths will lead you to the Blue Pool first, followed by another path to reach the Green Pool.
Do take note though, at certain times of the year, the pools are not safe for swimming due to the presence of algae and signs will advise accordingly.
When the pools are closed, there is still a large saltwater rock pool next to the Blue Pool that you can swim in. It’s especially great when the tides are high.
While in Angourie, make sure you also visit Spooky Beach, which is within walking distance from the pools and with a mostly gentle shoreline.
Angourie Point is another place to stop while you’re in the area. Angourie Point is not a swimming beach. That being said, it’s worth checking Angourie Beach out just to see its beautiful bay with an imposing rock shelf extending 150 metres down from Spooky Beach on one side of the point break – known as “Life or Death.” This section has been named due to its treacherous nature.
8. Sample Local Produce At The Local Farmers Market
The Yamba Farmers Market is the place you head on an empty stomach! You can find many delicious items each Wednesday morning from 7 am to 11 am in the Whiting Beach car park. With fresh fruit and veggies, organic meats, artisan products and more you are sure to leave with a full stomach and fully loaded reusable shopping bags.
If you’re only in town for a weekend, head to the Yamba River Markets instead. The Yamba River Market occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month at Ford Park, River Street and is a great place for breakfast. Grab a coffee to enjoy while you shop for fresh fruit and vegetables, meats and homemade jam.
Tip: Don’t forget to try the German-style bratwurst!
9. Hire A Boat
Get out on the water for a few hours by hiring a boat in Yamba. Check out Yamba BBQ Boat Hire or Clarance River BBQ Boats for a fun way to enjoy lunch out on the water.
The small pontoon-style boats have shade, a BBQ, seating and several of them also have toilets on board so you’re set for a morning or afternoon of cruising. Don’t forget your food – Yamba has some incredible seafood which is perfect grilled on a barbeque!
Or try your luck at fishing and cooking your catch fresh out of the water! The boats also have eskies for keeping your drinks, food or fresh fish chilled.
Best of all, no boat license is required for these boats so anyone can enjoy playing captain for a day!
10. Explore Iluka Where The Rainforest Meets The Ocean
If you want to step into the magical surroundings of rain forest head north to Iluka – it’s about an hour-long drive from Yamba NSW. Or take the Clarance River Ferry from Yamba, direct to Iluka instead.
The Clarance River Ferries offer daily services between the two destinations, approximately every couple of hours. You can find the timetable and current ticket prices on their website.
You’ll find plenty of things to do in this area. Fishing is a popular option that tops many lists of things to do in Iluka! With ocean and river access, Iluka is a fisherman’s dream – try Iluka Beach for bream, tailor or flathead.
The incredibly tranquil rainforest of the Iluka Nature Reserve awaits you with no shortage of wildlife along your journey. Take the 2.6km walk through the rainforest and feel like you’ve stepped into another world. The rainforest meets the coastline and it is spectacular.
Head out to the bluff, especially perfect at high tide, to catch beautiful views over both coast and inland rainforest while enjoying a family picnic. Depending on the time of year, you may even sight some whales from the viewing platform!
For a longer stay, the nearby Woody Head campground is a perfect spot to pitch a tent or van for a day or three.
BONUS: Day Trips From Yamba
If you’re still looking for more places to explore beyond beautiful Yamba, there are plenty more half and full-day trip options nearby. After all, Northern New South Wales offers up some of the most beautiful coastlines in Australia.
Just outside of Yamba, Brooms Head is a popular beach camping site with stunning rocky cliff faces and rugged landscape. What is really cool is the fact that you get to share the campgrounds with hundreds of kangaroos and other wildlife.
This is a great spot for fishing or swimming too and is located just 40 minutes from Yamba.
Byron Bay likely doesn’t need much of an introduction, being one of the popular hotspots along the North Coast of New South Wales, but in case you aren’t familiar with the area, it’s a trendy coastal town popular with free spirits and celebrities alike. You might even get a Chris Hemsworth sighting while in town.
Byron Bay is around 90 minutes north of Yamba, heading towards Queensland. The Byron Bay Lighthouse is iconic, with stunning views from the surrounding area and some great walking tracks.
For breakfast or lunch, head to The Farm and enjoy dining in the restaurant followed by the chance to get up close with the many farm animals. This is an experience the kids will love.
For a longer day trip, head 2.5 hours south to Coffs Harbour. A popular attraction for families is The Big Banana where you will find a water park, rides, skating rink and much more.
For nature enthusiasts, take a walk up Muttonbird Island for beautiful views and fresh air. Located just a short walk from the Coffs Harbour Pier. Other things to do in Coffs Harbour include the Treetop Adventure Park and Butterfly House.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly destination with stunning scenery, plentiful activities and easy access to beaches and rainforests, Yamba NSW is the place for you! With so much to see and do in this beautiful coastal town, kids will never be bored. There are plenty of safe swimming spots during the warmer months and many things to do in Yamba with kids all year round, no matter the weather!
Check out these NSW & Australia Travel Planning Resources: