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Weekend trip from Sydney, Australia: Pambula
When I went, I took a Premier Motor Service coach bus from Sydney Central Station right to Pambula, which takes about 6-7 hours. Another option is to take a Regional Express (REX) airline to Merimbula, which is also on the Sapphire Coast and only about 10-15 minutes away.
Where to stay
While there are a few hotel options in Pambula, my recommendation is to check out the Holiday Hub Beach Resort. What's great about this accommodation is that it has something to offer every kind of traveler. For people who are looking for luxury and comfort, the resort offers villas, apartments, and cabins with full linens, televisions, and kitchens, as well as an on-site spa and heated pool. When I stayed here I chose the more rustic option of camping out right next to the beach in a tent. At night, my friends and I would roast marshmallows over a camp fire, play games, and stargaze while in the morning the salty sea air and scratching of kangaroos trying to get into our food would give us a unique wake up. While cabins and villas range from $100-$220, you can get a powered camping site for about $40-$70 and a tent for around $40. The tents are a decent size and you can comfortably fit 2-3 people inside.
Because you will be experiencing the best that nature has to offer, outdoor BBQ's and beach picnics are a must. If you stay at Holiday Hub, they provide free BBQ's, which I used for 85% of my meals. However, if you'd like to go out to eat, there are also some great restaurants in the area.
Wharf Restaurant and Aquarium
My favorite restaurant that I ate at was in the nearby Merimbula and was called Wharf Restaurant and Aquarium. My friends and I explored their basement aquarium, filled with beautiful as well as odd-looking sea creatures like moray eels, catsharks, and sea pens, before we sat down to eat. The restaurant has fantastic seafood and on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 11:30 AM there is also a fish feeding you can participate in.
PB's Cafe is a waterfront restaurant that serves awesome burgers and fries, allowing for a laid back lunch in a beautiful setting.
The Original Fix
The Original Fix is well-known for its homemade ice creams and chocolates as well as their specialty teas and coffees. You can also order a filling lunch for under $10 with many gluten-free options. Their lasagna is delicious and you can even sit outside while you enjoy your purchase.
There are a range of other specialty and budget-friendly options, like the Broken Oar Bar and Grill which is right in Pambula Beach, the Tura Beach Tavern which has delicious $10 pizzas, and the Cantina Tapas and Wine Bar for a drink and small plates in an ambient atmosphere.
Do and see
There is a lot to do and see in Pambula, especially in terms of exploring the outdoors. Here are some of my reccomendation:
I spent an hour and a half horseback riding through fields, forests, and rivers with Oakland Trails Rides. I had never been on a horse before, and although choosing one and climbing up onto its back was a little unsettling, the instructor was extremely helpful. Surprisingly, even when the horse decided to start sprinting, I didn't fall off thanks to the tips and tricks she gave the group beforehand. Their number is 0428 957 257 or you can contact the Sapphire Coast Tourism Board.
Tour Ben Boyd National Park
Encompassing more than 25,000 acres, Ben Boyd National Park provides endless opportunities for hiking, fishing, canoeing, and swimming. There is a lot to explore, such as folded sandy beaches, lush forests, rocky outcrops, historical lightstations, and set trails, such as my favorite, the short coastal walk from Pambula River to Severs Beach. For those with some time and energy, there is a 3-day "Light-to-Light" trek you can do that stretches from Boyds Tower to Green Cape (about 18 miles). Although a bit long, the hike is very easy as well as scenic with a variety of landscapes and even opportunities to see migrating whales. Click here for more information on Ben Boyd National Park hikes.
When I was in Pambula, I went sea kayaking with Ocean Wilderness Sea Kayaking. The day began with a lesson on how to paddle the kayak and what to do if it tips over before exploring Pambula Bar and Pambula River, enjoying mountain scenery, and stopping on the beach for lunch. One thing that I will never forget is at one point my group and I noticed some pointed fins sticking out of the water and swimming right towards the kayaks, cuing the "Jaws" theme-song to play in my mind. We all started panicking about the oncoming shark attack when all of a sudden the animals began jumping out of the water. Turns out, it was actually a friendly group of dolphins.
There are some great diving spots along the Sapphire Coast, and although not directly in Pambula, the town of Merimbula is less than 10 minutes away. Merimbula Divers Lodge is a reputable company that allows participants to do boat dives, shore dives, cave dives, and dives of historical shipwrecks like the SS Empire Gladstone, the Tasman Hauler Wreck, and the Henry Bolte Wreck. Divers will also get to experience some of Pambula's unique and extremely colorful marine life, like enormous hot pink crabs, blindingly white sea slugs, and neon yellow weedy sea dragons, which look exactly like a cross between a leaf and a sea horse.
Surfing and Stand Up Paddle Boarding
My friends and I took a surf lesson with Coastlife Adventures when we were in Pambula and found the experience to be really worthwhile. The tutorial we received before actually going into the water was thorough and the instructor had us all mimick the steps to get from laying on our stomachs to standing with our boards on the beach. Once in the water, most of our group of 10 made it the standing position while riding a wave, which is definitely an exciting feeling especially if it's your first time surfing. The company has also recently added stand up paddle boarding to their list of featured activities, which is also a really fun and interesting water sport, especially while in the sparkling Sapphire Coast waters.