Local's guide: Kiama

Most famous for its blowhole, Kiama is a classic country seaside town.

Highlights
  •  Hungry Monkey
  • Kiama Blowhole
  • Kiama Coastal Walk
  • Little Blowhole Art Bar

Back-dropped by green, rolling hills, it’s characterised by dramatic rocky coastline, sandy beaches and an attractive harbour. When you need to unwind, unplug or unleash – the Kiama area has everything you need for an unspoilt and unforgettable experience.

Where to eat

The most popular of Kiama’s growing seam of cafes – Hungry Monkey distinguishes itself by superb coffee, gourmet burgers and a gorilla mural. Nestled among craft and souvenir shops, the café serves food with plenty of zing: orange-blossom hotcakes, smoky pulled-pork burgers and Italian-inflected dinners. Not far from here is Silica. A café by day that becomes a pared back restaurant come evening with views out over Kiama beach. Fittingly, seafood is the focus, with rock oysters, kingfish sashimi, chargrilled octopus and scallops on the menu. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ve never been in more luck. The elaborate glazed pastry creations at Parfait Patisserie wouldn’t look out of place on a French boulevard. You’ll find a long glossy tube of mango and cream riding proudly on a pistachio meringue, as well as coffee mousse on a biscuit base that reveals a secret payload of caramel at its core.

Hidden on a hilly backstreet in Kiama, Little Blowhole Art Bar is a bar and share-food eatery that plays host to a changing collection of Sydney-esque contemporary art exhibitions and live music. The tapas menu includes a weekly share-style paella and the drinks list is a cool collection of local and internationally sourced wines and craft beers. Hugging the coast of Kiama, Penny Whistlers lets you take in the fresh sea breeze armed with a cup of coffee or a classic cocktail. Both the day time and evening menu options are sure to provide you with the nourishment to start or finish your day. Another worthwhile destination is Saltwater. Enjoy generous platefuls of grilled barramundi, crumbed calamari and parsley-flecked prawns offer a variety of ways to enjoy Kiama’s favourite fish and chips.

What to do

Home to some of the South Coast’s best beach breaks including Surf Beach, Boneyards and Seven Mile Beach, as well as some of the region’s greatest surf talent – Kiama’s culture is in the water. Unsurprisingly, learning to surf is a must-try in Kiama. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or you’ve ridden a wave or two before, there’s a surf school to suit any skill level. Check out Gerringong Surf School to find the right fit. It’s also a mandatory to make one of your stops at the Blowhole. For the most powerful action, swing by when the tide’s high and the swell is rolling in. You’ll get beautiful coastal views while you’re at it and, if you’re keen for a dip, there’s a rockpool close by. Less known, but also worth checking out, is Little Blowhole, found just south on Marsden Head.

Next up, you might want to conquer the Kiama Coastal Walk. All in all, it covers 22 sea-hugging kilometres, starting at Minnamurra River mouth and finishing at Gerringong. The way is dotted with beaches, headlands, basalt and patches of rainforest. While relaxation is almost inevitable, Kiama’s nature-based activities and attractions also keep people coming back. Feeling adventurous? Head to Illawarra Fly Tree Top Adventures and take the Treetop Walk – a 1.5km walkway nestled in the treetop canopy, or soar through the trees on the highest zip line in Australia. If you’re after a great food and wine experience, the Kiama Farmers Market is built around both beach culture and bountiful produce. Held every Wednesday at Surf Beach, it’s a true farmer’s market that cares about the origin of food and the protection of local growers, producers and makers.

Where to stay

To stay on Blowhole Point, book a Kiama Harbour Cabin. Available in one, two and three-bedroom layouts, these cute hideaways come with water views, private balconies, electric barbecues and spa baths. There’s also a tennis court onsite and the Blowhole is just 200m away, so you can max your chances of seeing it in action. If you’re after a touch of ‘The Hamptons’ in Kiama, head to Bellevue Accommodation. A Heritage building located on the town square, it offers six one-bedroom, fully self-contained individually designed contemporary apartments with a separate living and dining area – all opening onto wrap around balconies with beautiful views of the gardens.

The Sebel Harbourside is perched, as the name suggests, right on Kiama Harbour. Eighty rooms are spread over three levels, with many overlooking the water. For groups, there are two-bedroom apartments with country-sized kitchens. A warm, yet contemporary aesthetic runs throughout – with a flurry of red-toned woods, plantation shutters and bucket loads of natural light.

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