Ultimate Guide of Things to Do in Yamba NSW

Are you wondering if Yamba is worth visiting on your East Coast trip? It might seem like a quiet coastal town, but there are so many things to do in Yamba you are going to want to make sure you stop for at least a few nights. Northern NSW local Kathy Marris, who has been visiting for years, shares her tips with us below so you can hone down and decide what to do when you visit this NSW north coast gem.

There is no doubt that Yamba packs a punch as a cosy and compact beachside holiday destination. The town has it all, boasting a vibrant mix of award-winning restaurants, funky cafes and boutique shopping, plus it has a wide range of accommodation options. It’s an extremely popular holiday town for families and couples alike.

The meaning of the name Yamba could either be aboriginal for headland or the word “yumbah”, an edible shellfish.

Understandably, the traditional custodians of the Yamba region, the Yaegl and Bundjalung people, would have fished the river and tributaries for food. Today Yamba still is essentially a sleepy fishing town that is evident with the number of fishing boats moored in the river.

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Where is Yamba NSW?

A popular holiday spot on the north coast of New South Wales is the coastal town of Yamba, located on the mouth of the Clarence River. Blessed with an idyllic location on both the river and stunning beaches, there are many things to do in Yamba.

Map Sydney to Yamba
Drive from Sydney or Brisbane or fly into one of three nearby airports.

Yamba is located 674 kilometres north of Sydney or 181 kilometres south of Tweed Heads on the Queensland border. This far north New South Wales town on the Clarence Coast is easily accessible from the Pacific Highway.

Visit Natural Attractions in Yamba, NSW

Visiting Yamba, you will soon see that it is brimming with many natural attractions. With five pristine beaches and two more at nearby Angourie; the mighty Clarence River and its islands; rocky headlands and cliffs; natural freshwater pools; and national park and nature reserves teeming with wildlife and flora.

Mouth of the Clarence River Yamba
Views like this one of Clarence River’s mouth in Yamba are hard to beat

Beaches in Yamba

There are eleven beaches to choose from in Yamba, more than enough for a new beach every day on a week-long visit. Here are seven we love.

Turner’s Beach

Protected by the break wall and headland, suitable for both a swim or a surf. Easy walk to town.

Main Beach

Sunrise at Yamba ocean pool
Sunrise at Yamba Ocean Pool. Credit: Destination NSW

Located in the bay with the Surf Club, ocean pool, and adjoining parklands. Also safe for swimming and surfing.

Whiting Beach

A long and flat beach with practically no waves; so is perfect for kids, kayakers, and stand-up paddle boarders.

Pippi Beach

A stretch of 1.6-kilometre beach that is perfect for a beach stroll, with the southern end being an off-leash dog area.

Pippi Beach, Yamba.
Pippi Beach, Yamba.

Convent Beach

Secluded, private, and sheltered by surrounding cliffs, with plenty of trees for natural shade. Great for swimming.

Angourie Point

The famous Surfing Reserve at Angourie is an exposed point break that has reliable surf.

view from Clarence Lighthouse towards Yamba Beach
Magnificent view from Clarence Lighthouse towards Yamba Beach

Spooky Beach

Angourie’s other surf beach is fringed by beautiful Pandanus trees with a gentle shore break.

Explore the Clarence River

The Clarence River is a popular spot for watersports and fishing. Hickey Island Reserve is surrounded by water on both sides, this reserve includes Whiting Beach and Hickey Island Beach. It is a family-friendly place to swim, kayak, stand-up paddle or picnic. 

Scenic country views across the Clarence River and Valley.
Scenic country views across the Clarence River and Valley.
  • Palmers Island – One of the biggest islands on the Clarence, is made up of fertile farmlands and has two Caravan Parks.
  • Rock Cliffs at Yamba Point – Explore around the rocks and take in the majestic views from the rock cliffs at Yamba Point, near Turners Beach. Trek all the way up the headland to Yamba Lighthouse.
  • Break wall – Stroll out along the break wall at the mouth of the river and see if you can spot marine life such as Dolphins.

See Blue and Green Pools

Located only 8 kilometres out of Yamba in Angourie are the natural freshwater pools ideal for a cool-off on a hot summer day. Blue and Green Pools have a rocky cliff face at one end where, if you’re brave enough, you can plunge into the deep waters below.

Scenic coastal views across Angourie Blue Pool
Scenic coastal views across Angourie Blue Pool. Credit: Destination NSW

National Parks Near Yamba

  • Yuraygir National Park – Hike through this extensive park that commences at Angourie Point and extends along the east coast as far south as Coffs Harbour. The 65-kilometre multi-day coastal walk takes you through magnificent coastal flora, wildlife spotting opportunities, majestic coastal views, lagoons, and creeks.
  • Clarence Estuary Nature Reserve – If bird watching is your thing, this extensive nature reserve located on Dart Island is where you’ll find numerous species of water birds.
  • Iluka Nature Reserve – For nature lovers, this is one of the largest remaining littoral rainforest regions in the state with a rainforest walking track.

A Checklist of 18 things to do in Yamba

Yamba does offer visitors and holidaymakers many choices when it comes to either relaxation or for those wanting a more active holiday. Although it’s possibly more popular as a summer holiday destination, there are still plenty of things to do in the cooler months. Activities like fishing, hiking, golf, and lawn bowling are all very enjoyable during winter.

The banks of the river near  town in Yamba
The banks of the river near town in Yamba

How many of these things to do in Yamba will you do?

  1. Soak in some sun, sand and swim at one of the many beaches.
  2. A great place to do some laps is in the protected ocean pool at Main Beach.
  3. Go fishing in the Clarence River or take a fishing charter.
  4. Catch the Clarence Ferry boat to Iluka.
  5. Surf one of the top choice beaches: Turners, Pippi or Main Beach.
  6. Check out Yamba Lighthouse perched high on the headland.
  7. Walk along the waterfront pathway to the mouth of the Clarence.
  8. Visit Yamba Museum to learn about the maritime history of the area.
  9. Set off on the Yuraygir National Park coastal walk.
  10. Feast on fresh prawns and seafood caught fresh daily.
  11. Kayak or stand-up paddleboard
  12. Enjoy a coldie at the iconic Pacific Pub with commanding views over Main Beach.
  13. Browse the Yamba River Market on the fourth Sunday of each month.
  14. Shop for local produce at the Yamba Farmers & Producers Market every Wednesday morning.
  15. Take a stroll along Clarence Street and check out some of the exclusive boutiques, surf shops, homewares and gift shops.
  16. Play a round at Yamba Golf & Country Club.
  17. Enjoy some rainy day activities with the family, such as ten-pin bowling, putt-putt and indoor rock climbing at Bowlo Sports & Leisure Yamba Club.
  18. See whales during the season with Yamba Whale Watch tours.

Day trips from Yamba

It’s worthwhile taking some day trips out of Yamba to explore some of the other Clarence Valley towns and attractions, extensive farmlands; the meandering river, and coastal scenery.

Here are a few suggested itineraries:

Angourie Bay, Angourie
Angourie Bay, Angourie Credit: Destination NSW.
  • Take a drive to Angourie – The surfing hamlet that is renowned as a world-famous point break, freshwater green and blue pools, the start of the Yuraygir coastal walk and surfing town vibe.
  • Explore the Clarence Valley – Harwood Mill, the amazing Harwood bridge across the Clarence, the riverside Harwood Pub, sprawling cane fields and macadamia plantations, Sanctus Brewing Co at Townsend, to Maclean, where you can drive up to the lookout for panoramic views of the Clarence Valley.
  • Jump on the ferry to Iluka – The sleepy fishing village with a laid back vibe, spectacular beaches, and rainforest walks.
  • Discover the Scottish town of Maclean – At less than an hour’s drive you will find tartan painted power poles, the coffee roastery of Botero, balancing rock formation at the Pinnacle, Maclean Stone Cottage & Museum, and McFarlane historical bridge across the Clarence.
  • Check out The Peach Farm at Mororo – Farm animals, peach picking and an organic cafe.
  • Take a day trip to the beautiful Brooms Head – A rocky headland that creates shallow rock pools at low tide.

Where to Eat in Yamba

There is plenty of great food on offer in Yamba, and you won’t run out of places to eat even on a week-long stay. The Clarence River Fishermen’s Co-operative (CRFC) is a must for a seafood picnic at least once!

Pacific hotel Yamba NSW
The Pacific Hotel offers diners the best views in Yamba

Other options you should check out include:

Where to Stay in Yamba

Yamba offers a wide selection of holiday accommodation, from holiday homes, holiday units to resorts, hotels, and motels.

There are also several caravan parks in Yamba and nearby Palmers Island that offer cabins, caravan, and camping sites. The nearest free camping area is at Shelley Head campground in the Yuraygir National Park, a six-kilometre walk south of Angourie.

About the Author: Kathy Marris lives on the Tweed Coast of Far North New South Wales and is a travel writer and blogger at 50 Shades of Age. She has travelled extensively throughout Australia, accompanied by her husband and dog, in a caravan and four-wheel drive. Kathy’s biggest passion is photography and writing about the places she has been to in Australia.

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