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12 Exciting Things to do in Kiama, NSW (surprising beauty!)

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Kiama, NSW, is one of the most idyllic small coastal towns south of Sydney.

It’s known for its iconic Kiama Blowhole, a cliffside cavern where seawater shoots into the air during rough tides, but there are so many more things to do in Kiama it’s worth visiting for more than a day trip from Sydney.

Credit: Destination NSW

This quiet coastal retreat offers a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of city life in Sydney, and offers coastal walks, whale-watching opportunities, great surf and blissful beaches.

Whether you’re looking for nature, beaches, cultural experiences, or to discover the craft beer and foodie scene, don’t miss these top activities!

Things to do in Kiama, NSW

1. Check out the Kiama Blowhole

Couple watching the water plume from the Kiama blowhole.
Credit: Destination NSW

Of course I knew about the Kiama blowhole before visiting. The famous spouting water drawing visitors from across the globe.

I thought the Kiama blowhole would be far out from the town, not a five minute stroll from the main street on the headland – and I mean THE main street.

‘Kiama’ means “where the sea makes a noise,” accurately describing the Kiama Blowhole. It’s the most popular attraction in Kiama.

Under certain conditions, the blowhole can spray 50 litres of water up to 25 metres (82 ft) in the air. Prepare for the possibility of getting drenched.

There is a second less famous blowhole in Kiama, known to the locals as “Little Blowhole.” It’s a smaller, more narrow basalt stack, which makes it more reliable than the Kiama Blowhole, and can be just as spectacular.

It’s located at the Little Blowhole Reserve, Tingira Crescent, Kiama, 2km south of the main blowhole.

Sometimes, the famous Kiama blowhole just might be a hole. Like it was for us.

A close up of a rock
The blowhole becomes a hole

It all depends on nature folks. We got a glimpse of it the next morning. It was spouting a bit of a puff, enough for Kalyra to scream “It’s blowing!!”

We saw the blowhole blow.

It was completely unexpected. A little quiet dose of serenity in a different side of Australia coastal life.

You won’t be overrun by tourists when you arrive. You could even possibly have the whole place to yourself.

2. Enjoy the Relaxed small-town vibe of Kiama, NSW

flowers and colorful bushes on a sidewalk
Old terrace homes turned into cafes and restaurants

I was surprised when after researching places to stay in Kiama it didn’t return much.

“What do you mean there are not that many places? It’s Kiama, the home of the famous blow hole. There must be streets full of holiday units, caravan parks and B & B’s.”

Thank goodness there isn’t.

Kiama is a sleepy, seaside village on the south coast of New South Wales. The kind of place you expect to see on the coastline of Wales or Ireland.

A little girl standing in a field
Kalyra at the Kiama lighthouse

It’s black and rugged and the headlands and rolling green hills somewhat remind me of Ireland.

Instead of the hills rolling into bare, craggy mountains like on the Emerald Isle, here they move into the escarpments so familiar of the Australian bush.

It’s bloody beautiful. It’s quiet, it’s lazy, it’s simple, and laid back.

people sitting on a bench
relaxing on the headland

If you like an evening stroll and a day spent whiling away in cafes then Kiama is for you.

If you love spending the day at pristine beaches with plenty of sand for you to lay on, then the surrounding beaches are for you.

3. Go on a Coastal Walk in Kiama

Surf beach kiama
A relaxing Kiama coastal stroll

If you are a surfer, I doubt you’ll have to fight for waves. Kiama is for you. As we walked on our Kiama coastal walk from the blowhole to Surfers Beach we could hear the surfers yahooing as they rode a wave into shore – a wave they did not have to fight to get.

two girls walking on kiama beach
Surf Beach- the waves all to yourself

If you like heading off into the bush for cool, relaxing walks or scaring yourself over steel walkways on top of the canopy then Kiama is for you.

The Kiama Coast Walk is probably the best way to see the scenic coastal beauty of the area.

The walk is 20km, but divided into three sections so you don’t have to hike the whole thing.

You can either hike Minnamurra River to Kiama Blowhole, Kiama Blowhole to Loves Bay or Loves Bay to Gerringong.

I recommend the Minnamurra River to Kiama Blowhole section as you can then hike back into town.

4. Visit the nearby Minnamurra Rainforest

initials etched into tree in the Minnamurra Rainforest Kiama (3)
Love in the Minnamurra rainforest

Head out to Minnamurra Rainforest to see the Minnamurra Waterfall and walk in the shades of the towering trees and ferns.

The Minnamurra Rainforest is in the Budderoo National Park in NSW. It’s a short day trip from Sydney and an easy visit from Kiama.

You can wander the network of elevated walkways through the rare remnant rainforest that once reached throughout the Illawarra.

There is an easy, hour-long rainforest loop walk includes suspension bridges, viewing platforms and lookouts and interpretive signs along the way.

It’s an ideal shady escape in summer. You’ll have a bird’s eye view over this primeval world as you wander the elevated walkway.

bridge going over tree Minnamurra Rainforest Kiama (3)
Minnamurra Rainforest

The waterfalls walk starts halfway through the Rainforest loop at Minnamurra Rainforest Centre.

It is an elevated walkway and paved track which passes streams, the Minnamurra River, moss-covered rocks and feathered ferns.

It offers breathtaking views over the rainforest canopy and canyon and has viewing platforms at the lower and upper Minnamurra Falls.

5. Witness Illawarra Fly for Valley views

family looking through viewfinder at Illawarra Fly Kiama
Views over Kiama from Illawarra Fly

The Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures and Walk is a 500 metre steel walk in the treetop canopy about 30 metres above ground.

It ends at a spiral tower, rising 45 metres above the forest floor and giving beautiful views from the escarpment over Illawarra, the valley farming lands and the ocean.

We say go to the rainforest or find some views from the escarpment that come for free.

The Illawarra Fly was good, but way overpriced. The Illawarra Fly also has the highest zipline tour in Australia.

people walking on Illawarra Fly Kiama
Illawarra Fly Kiama

The Illawarra Fly Zipline Tour involves flying on a series of elevated cable spans and navigating suspension bridges from one tree platform to another, 35 metres above the forest floor.

6. Relax on the Kiama Beaches

Scenic aerial overlooking Werri Beach, Kiama.
Credit: Mark Fitzpatrick; Destination NSW

Being on the coast, Kiama is not short of beaches. In the town, the two main beaches are Kendalls Beach and Kiama Surf Beach, which as the name suggests, is a great spot for surfing.

If you’ve never surfed before, this is a great beach to get surfing lessons. Gerringong Surf School, located just 15 minutes drive out of Kiama, offers lessons for beginners, both adults and children, and offer private and group lessons.

golden sandy bombo beach
Bombo Beach

Some other beautiful beaches in the area are Bombo Beach, which has amazing rock formations, Werri Beach, which is another good surfing beach, and Seven Mile Beach, which was once used as a runway by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith for the first commercial flight between Australia and New Zealand.

Minnamurra Beach, also known as Mystics, is a hidden gem with a gorgeous rocky headland and volcanic outcrop.

For something a bit different, Boneyard Beach has a pebbly surface and is sheltered by the bay, so the water is calm enough to launch a stand up paddle board or for young kids to paddle in.

7. Look for whales from Minnamurra Whale Watching Platform

: Couple taking photos on the scenic Minnamurra Headland overlooking Rangoon Island
Credit: Destination NSW

The South NSW coast is well known for its marine life, specifically humpback whales who frequent these waters in the winter months (May to November).

Fortunately, you don’t have to go far to see them. The Minnamurra Whale Watching Platform, which is located above the headland of northern Jones Beach in Kiama Downs, is a good place to see them.

From its height, it offers a clear vantage point of the ocean spanning for miles, and on a calm day, you may spot some whales breaching. Even if you don’t see whales, the view is still pretty.

8. Grand Pacific Drive

Overlooking Stanwell Park Beach on the Grand Pacific Drive
Overlooking Stanwell Park Beach on the Grand Pacific Drive

The Grand Pacific Drive is a scenic drive that spans from Royal National Park to Shoalhaven.

It extends for 140-km along the coast, passing through Wollongong, Shellharbour, and Kiama. If you’re driving from Sydney, no doubt you’ll drive along this route without realizing it, but make sure you make a note of the stops along the way.

A highlight of the drive is the Sea Cliff Bridge. If you want to plan a road trip to Kiama from Sydney, then take a look at the Grand Pacific Drive website for some ideas for places to stop. You can see more in our post on things to do in Wollongong.

9. Cathedral Rocks

cathedral rocks with tide pools

Although famous for the Blowhole, this is not the only rock formation worth seeing in Kiama. Cathedral Rocks are a basalt rock formation that’s been shaped by waves in Kiama Downs.

They are best seen at sunrise when the waters are calm, which reflects the morning rays onto the rocks and casts them in an ethereal glow.

10. Take the kids to Jamberoo Action Park

Children enjoy the water slides at Jamberoo Action Park, Jamberoo
Credit: Destination NSW

If you’re visiting in the summer, then you might want to cool off at Jamberoo Action Park, a seasonal water theme park (September to April) and features water slides, pools and amusement rides.

11. Bombo Headland Quarry Geological Site

quarry filled with water surrounded by rocks

Another place to check out the unique rocky landscape in Kiama is Bombo Quarry Headland Geological Site, a heritage listed former quarry known for its unique rock formations.

I mentioned earlier that Kiama reminded me of Ireland – well, that might be because of Bombo Headland Quarry, which reminds me of the famous Giants Causeway.

12. Kiama Farmers Market

The Kiama Farmer's Market
Credit: Destination NSW

We love a farmer’s market, and if you happen to be visiting on a Wednesday between 3pm and 6pm, make sure to head to the Kiama Farmers Market and pick up some fresh produce for a picnic.

You can find only the best and freshest fruit and veg from local growers, as well as crafts and arts by local artisans and crafters.

Other South Coast NSW Travel Tips

If you’re visiting other parts of the NSW South Coast, check out these other guides!

Have you been to Kiama before? Do you know any other great things to do in Kiama? Let us know in the comments.

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