Jervis Bay does not even need to try. No special effort is required to get people to fall for the bay. It comes quite naturally. The area has an abundance of true beauty that appeals to most with a weakness for forest, beach and sea. Jervis Bay lies on the east coast of New South Wales and is less than a three-hour drive east of Canberra and three hours south of Sydney. It may not be a place you heard of, but for the Australians it is an obvious choice. With its long powder-white beaches surrounded by two national parks, Jervis Bay is a holiday favourite among city dwellers who want to unwind on the countryside. In this far-stretched coastal area, there are several small towns to visit. Huskisson in the middle of the bay is the largest town. There are a handful of high-quality restaurants to choose from and a lot of nice accommodation options. This is also a good base to start your activities on. For example, you can rent your own kayak to explore coves and sandy beaches or challenge your balance on a stand-up paddle board. Jervis Bay is suitable for everyone, from families with children to pensioners and backpackers.
Admire the sea that shifts in colours of turquoise, ice-blue and indigo, with your toes buried in bone-white to beige sand. The waters of Jervis Bay are protected as a marine park and dolphins, seals, turtles and penguins live here. But there are also large numbers of fish which makes scuba diving and snorkelling popular. To protect wildlife, fishing is prohibited in certain areas of the park. Whales that constantly are on a hunt for food and warmth can be seen off the coast Between May and November. During this period, it is peak season for whale-watching. You can spot humpbacks, but also playful dolphins just off the coast. If you are lucky, these can sometimes be seen directly from the shore, but you increase your chances drastically by joining a guided tour.
Jervis Bay is a playground mixed of sea and land. After a trip on the waters, you can discover national parks; Booderee in the south and Jervis Bay National Park in the north. Find your own spot to have a quiet picnic on, or a secluded beach to relax on. Cycle through the eucalyptus forest or walk to vantage points that provide panoramic views of the bay. When the day has come to an end in Booderee, spend the night in tents at campsites in the heart of nature.
Sights and experiences
With just over 1,000 inhabitants, the main town Huskisson is not very big, but you will find most things you need during a stay. Tourism is a major source of income and there are several tour organizers in the town. For example, test a cruise held by Jervis Bay Wild (wotif.com/things-to-do/jervis-bay-dolphin-watching-eco-cruise.a465734.activity-details). They offer various eco-certified tours to see dolphins and whales, or to simply discover the beautiful surroundings. Some boats have ramps which makes it easy for wheelchair users (check with the organizer which tours). It is also possible to rent a kayak, canoe or a SUP (stand-up paddle board) through them. If you want to discover life below the surface up close, you can head out with Dive Jervis Bay (divejervisbay.com). Join a snorkelling trip for half a day or do a test dive. They also hold diving courses for those who want their own certificate.
Along Dent Street in Huskisson lies Jervis Bay Maritime Museum (jervisbaymaritimemuseum.asn.au), which is open daily between 10-16. It is the perfect place to spend a rainy day. The museum is perhaps aimed mostly at those who are passionate about the combination of history, sea and ships. Whether it is time for breakfast, lunch or brunch, the café 5 Little Pigs (5littlepigs.com.au/the-menu) at 64 Owen Street in Huskisson will serve filling and fresh meals at great prices. Think mushroom burgers, caramel milkshakes and passionfruit pancakes. At noon, you can eat well at the Stonegrill at 48 Owen Street, who are specializing in meat and seafood. The food is cooked on the tables on hot stones and tastes wonderful. At Huskisson Hotel, you can have a glass of wine or beer, or why not continue to Husky pub for a drink or two (thehuskisson.com.au).
There are several beaches to visit along Jervis Bay. Hyams Beach is located south from Huskisson and is said to have the world’s whitest sand. Whether it is true or not, the beach is smooth and wide, and the water is warm and in shades of blue. From the beach, you have a beautiful view of the area. Murray’s Beach is another favourite. The smaller beach is located at the tip of the headland, opposite Bowen Island. You will get here by going through Booderee National Park and it is a great place for snorkelling. Just next to a campsite is Moona Moona Creek, a waterway that is well suited for families with children. At low tide, it is just enough water for toddlers to splash around and get acquainted with the surroundings. Other beaches nearby are Greenfield, Callala and Blenheim Beach.
Boodeere National Park (parksaustralia.gov.au/booderee) is south from Huskisson and Vincentia. It costs about eleven dollars per car for an entry that is valid for 48 hours. Visit the Visitor Information centre at the entrance to find out more. Here are examples of different routes within the park that you can take (parksaustralia.gov.au/booderee/do/itineraries). The park is best explored by car or bicycle. Within the national park, you will find Cape St George Lighthouse which you can reach via Old Lighthouse Road. Just before you reach the lighthouse, there is a vantage point where you get a beautiful view of the bay. North lies Jervis Bay National Park (nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/Jervis-Bay-National-Park). The park resembles its neighbour Booderee National Park, and the main attraction is the proximity to the water and the invigorating forests. There are several hiking trails to try out. Popular ones are White Sands Walk and the slightly tougher hike along Scribbly Gum Track (nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/white-sands-walk-and-scribbly-gum-track). Bring your water bottle, swimwear and sunscreen and take a well-earned break at one of the white beaches.
Good to know
Jervis Bay Visitor Information Centre can be found at 11 Dent Street in Huskisson. They have brochures and maps of the area. Boderee Visitor Centre at Village Road is open every day of the week. There you can buy entrance tickets to the National Park, fix a camping permit or just get tips on what to do and see in the national park. The website Jervis Bay Tourism (jervisbaytourism.com.au) has helpful information for those who is planning a stay. You will also find some guided tours happening in Jervis Bay on Wotif’s website (wotif.com/things-to-do/search?location=Jervis+Bay).
Warnings and preparations
The area is popular all year round, but peak season for bathers and snorkelers occurs in the summer months between December-February. Winter and autumn are, however, very popular amongst those who want to go on whale watching. To do this, May-November is the time to go. If you want to camp in Booderee National Park, you do best in planning this early on since the spots go quickly. You can book a campsite up to four months in advance (parksaustralia.gov.au/booderee/plan/camping.html).
It takes just over three hours to drive from both Canberra and Sydney to Jervis Bay (wotif.com/Car-Hire). Car is undoubtedly the smoothest way of transportation. This way you can get around between national parks and beaches. However, you can get to Jervis Bay by bus and train. From Sydney, take the train to Nowra and from there change to bus. If you travel from Canberra, it is much trickier. Take the bus north to Wollongong and then go south from there. It will be a long detour, but it is possible.
There is a shortage of hostels in Jervis Bay’s neighbourhood, but campsites are plentiful. In Booderee, there are campsites at Green Patch, Cave Beach and Bristol Point. Reservations can be made online four months in advance here (govbookings.rms.com.au/obookings3/Search/Index/2440/1/?Rd=1&X=1). Green Patch is the only one of the three where you can drive in all the way, which might be suitable for families with children. The campsites at Cave Beach are located on a cave right next to the beach and is extremely popular, particularly amongst surfers who want to play in the waves. Should you sleep here, you must carry all your things 300 meters from the parking lot, so it is best suited for those with lighter luggage.
There are many different accommodations to choose from in Huskisson, most with walking distance to the beach. Huskisson Beach Motel (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Huskisson_Beach_Motel.htm) at 9 Hawke Street is a clean, fairly simple hotel with free parking. They have 33 rooms for rent with free WIFI. Breakfast can be purchased. Another nice option is the Huskisson Bed & Breakfast (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Huskisson_Bed_and_Breakfast.htm) at 12 Tomerong Street. All rooms have been painted white to make the most out of the light. Rooms have queen beds and a private bathroom with shower and bathtub. Breakfast is served with fresh fruit juice, coffee or tea, fresh fruits with muesli and eggs and toast. Ii is just a few minutes’ walk from the waterfront.
A little higher on the price scale, you will find Hyams Beach Seaside Cottages (hotelscombined.com/Hotel/Cottage_1_Hyams_Beach_Seaside_Cottages.htm).