Ah Yamba. It’s sometimes referred to as the new Byron but I believe it’s special in its own right. It doesn’t have as many cafes, restaurants and bars but it has enough. It also doesn’t have the crowds and the traffic either. Instead it’s got that sleepy town, community vibe, which I love and should definitely be a stop on anyone’s Sydney to Byron Bay road trip.
As a wannabe local, here’s my guide on where to camp and what to do in this beautiful town just south of Byron Bay.
Where: Mid North Coast, NSW, Australia
Getting there: 7 hours drive North of Sydney
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Where to stay
Geographically, Yamba stretches across a large area encompassing the lighthouse on the hill, the town centre, the marina, and the working part of town. When planning your visit, make sure to stay in and around the historic town and the hill around the lighthouse, which leads down to Main Beach.
Camping in Yamba
Camp at Calypso Yamba Holiday Park
Calypso Yamba Holiday Park is conveniently nestled between the town, the wharf and Turners Beach. It’s not the most private campsite as a result but its location makes it the perfect base for exploring everything on foot. This is where I recommend camping to be close to the best cafes, restaurants and beaches.
Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort
Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort is located along the Marina. I haven’t stayed here myself but based on location you will need to drive to the beaches and cafes and restaurants in Yamba’s town centre and up on Yamba Hill.
BIG4 Saltwater @Yamba Holiday Park
BIG4 Saltwater @Yamba Holiday Parkis another option within the Yamba area, located along the Clarence River. It is nowhere near the town but is popular with families as a place to base themselves to explore Yamba and its surroundings.
Accommodation in Yamba
When booking an apartment for the week I’ve always stayed on Yamba Hill close to the beaches and cafes and restaurants here. Specifically, I have stayed in 2-bed apartments called Lighthouse Unit 1 and Lighthouse Unit 2 and their location is amazing.
Things to do in Yamba
You could spend a long time in Yamba exploring all five beaches, the cafes and restaurants, and neighbouring Angourie (just say the names “Anne, Gary” and you’ve got it). It’s the place I like to call my second home having spent almost three weeks in Yamba.
I’ve never tired of it after numerous visits, road trip stops and even a couple of weeks living and ‘working from home’ during the Covid-19 pandemic. I love it. So here are my top things to do when staying in Yamba.
Check out Yamba Main Beach in the morning
You get a choice of five beaches in Yamba and Main Beach, well, it’s the main one. It’s a hive of activity, especially in the mornings, with an active Surf Life Saving Club and Beach Swimming Pool. If visiting over a weekend head down to The Kiosk (open Fri-Sun only) for coffee and breaky with an ocean view.
Spend time at Turners Beach
Great for surfing, popular with (friendly) locals and dolphins seem to be regular visitors here.
Walk from Pippie Beach to Main Beach
Popular with dog walkers, this is the biggest open stretch of beach. Walk South towards Angourie, or walk North and pick up the path that takes you around Yamba Point to Convent Beach and then onto Main Beach. Takes about 30 minutes at a steady stroll.
Head into town for coffee, lunch and boutique shops
Yamba town centre is not very big but it has a nice mix of cafes, bakeries and boutique shops to spend a bit of time wandering around.
Spend time by the marina
A good way to see the marina is at Yamba Shores Tavern. Get a courtesy bus to enjoy a drink on the river.
Less than a 10-minute drive away, a trip to Angourie (pronounced as if saying the names ‘Ann, Gary’) is a must-do when camping in Yamba. Check out Spooky Beach and the freshwater Blue and Green Pools. Have lunch at Cafe Angourie and return in the evening for an upmarket Italian meal at Barbaresco. I’ve only ever heard good things.
Food & Drink
One thing I love about Yamba is the food. There are plenty of options, all within walking distance of each other. It’s still a small town, so there aren’t too many outside of the ones listed but here’s my pick of the best places I’ve visited (and keep going back to each time I’m in Yamba).
- Grab a coffee on Yamba Hill or a tasty salad for lunch at Gather. The cake here is also very good.
- Head to The Kiosk for breaky at Main Beach if you’re there over a weekend (open Fri-Mon from 7am).
- For the best sit-down breakfast in town, head to Yum Yum Angourie Cafe and General Store.
- For the best coffee in town, head to Good Days.
Restaurants and bars
- For drinks with a view, check out the Pacific Hotel. It claims to have the “absolute best views of the Pacific Ocean in Australia”, and it probably does. The interior is old club-style and yup, the views are epic.
- For dinner Paradiso Restaurant & Bar is your place. Serving up delicious pan-Asian food and Bao buns in a cool Balinese setting. With pumping sunset tunes and an impressive bar, it has a great vibe for pre and post-dinner drinks too.
- For Indian curry fans, Indian Fusion Tapas Bar & Restaurant is a must. Coconut based southern Indian curries are its specialty but they are seriously good (the prawn vindaloo is delicious and not English vindaloo blow-your-head-off spicy). Grab a seat outside for sunset and the views are pretty special too.
- For burgers head to Brgr Spot.
- For Italian, your options are The Italian on the Hill (more fancy) and Sassafras Pasta & Pizza Restaurant, which is in a family-friendly setting.
These are all the places and things I’ve done in Yamba over all the time I’ve spent there. I hope you visit, explore and fall in love with the small-town vibes Yamba beholds.