Things to do in Kiama

Located less than a couple of hours south of Sydney, Kiama is a popular weekend getaway on the South Coast. When I arrived for the first time, I was quick to understand why. It’s one of the prettiest towns on the South Coast, with rolling coastal hills, beautiful beaches, enticing rock pools and plenty of vantage points to admire the coastline.

Whether exploring the streets and sights in town, or heading up to Minnamurra or down to Gerringong, there are so many things to do in Kiama to keep you busy for days. I’ve now visited this town a few times as I’ve explored the South Coast in my van and it’s one of my favourite stops.

In this guide, I’m going to detail all the best things to do in Kiama, from walks to beaches and nearby sights.

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Why Visit Kiama on NSW South Coast?

Kiama is the perfect place to escape the city for the weekend. It’s an attractive town built over the rolling coastal cliffs of Illawarra with dramatic beauty at every turn. There’s so many things to do in Kiama, that it offers something for everyone. From surf beaches to coastal walks, buzzing little cafes and high end boutiques, you could easily spend days in Kiama and never get bored.

While the town does swarm with visitors in the summer months, it’s peaceful for the rest of the year. I’ve always visited in autumn, when the water is still just warm enough to swim, the waves are picking up and it’s easy to relax and let time slip by.

It’s definitely one of my favourite towns on the South Coast (along with Ulladulla/Mollymook and Bermagui). If you’re planning a trip to Kiama, then here are the best things to do.

Read next: 20 Best Places to Visit on the South Coast

Sunset in Kiama
Sunset from the Kiama rock pool

How to Get There

Sydney to Kiama: 120 km or 1 hour 45 minute drive via M1

Kiama is 120km south of Sydney and is easily reached on the M1, via the famous Grand Pacific Drive and Sea Cliff Bridge. Driving is the quickest option, but you can also opt for public transport too.

There are frequent trains running from Sydney to Kiama on the South Coast Line every day. The journey takes around 2 hours 20 minutes one way. You can find timetables and fares here.

View of Kiama
View of Kiama

Where to Stay in Kiama

As a popular weekend getaway from Sydney, Kiama is filled with plenty of accommodation choices. Check out some of my recommendations below:

Kiama Shores || Perfect for a romantic weekend away, this property offers King Rooms with a patio right in the middle of town. Close to everything, the spacious rooms also have a private kitchenette and ensuite bathroom. Check prices here.

Surf Beach Holiday Park || Just 200m back from the beach, this caravan park offers cabins, bungalows, and villas, some with sea views. There are also powered and unpowered camping sites as well. Check prices here.

Sea Breeze Studio || A beautiful place to stay for a solo traveller or couple, this self-contained studio apartment is located to the northern edge of town overlooking the beach. While small, it’s reasonably priced considering you can wake up to the view of crashing waves from bed. Check availability here.

Kiama lighthouse

Best Things to Do in Kiama

There’s plenty of things to do in Kiama town, all within walking distance of each other. If you’ve only got a short time in Kiama, I can recommend visiting the following places:

Kiama Lighthouse

Built in 1887, this lighthouse stands tall on the headland known as Blowhole Point. It stands out as an important landmark along this stretch of coast and it’s always busy with visitors.

There’s plenty of car parking up at the point, along with a Visitor Centre, the big blowhole and Kiama rock pool. You can easily walk up to the lighthouse from town, and visit the other sights on the way. Otherwise, it’s a great place to park while you explore the headland.

Kiama blowhole
Kiama blowhole

Kiama Blowhole

Just in front of the lighthouse, you’ll hear the blowhole before you see it. The natural hole in the rock below the carpark has an opening of about 2.5m and when the swell is right, the water plumes can record heights up to 30m.

It’s considered one of the largest blowholes in the world, meaning many visitors flock to Kiama just to see it. There are a few different viewpoints around the lighthouse, where you can enjoy the natural show of water.

You’ll hear the growing pressure of the waves underneath the rock, until it’s suddenly propelled through the rock into the air at random intervals. It’s an impressive sight, at any time of the year, although winter can see it reaching its highest when the swell is right.

Little blowhole
Little blowhole

Little Blowhole

Many people miss the little blowhole because it can be hard to find, but it’s worth heading out to see it. You can either reach it by following the Kiama Coastal Walk south of town to Marsden Head, or by driving to Tingira Crescent.

There’s a small carpark and viewing platform down off Tingira Crescent from where you can wait for the blowhole to burst. Some people argue that it’s often better than the main blowhole, but I think they’re both worth visiting while in Kiama.

Kiama Coastal Walk
Kiama Coastal Walk

Kiama Coast Walk

Stretching for around 22km one way along the coast, Kiama Coast Walk is one of the best things to do on the South Coast. The stunning walk reminded me of a longer version of the George Bass Coastal Walk in Victoria, as it winds its way along the rolling cliffs.

The Kiama Coast Walk begins in Minnamurra and heads down through Kiama and finishes in Gerringong to the south. It’s a long walk to do in one go, especially as it’s one way. I broke it into sections to complete it over a few different days instead.

It’s rated as easy-moderate, but does have many hills, although nothing overly steep. The trail follows a combination of footpaths, mowed grass trails and gravel tracks. It’s signposted, although I would say in some places it can be hard to follow, especially when it goes through Kiama town and follows footpaths. So, keep an eye out!

Some of the highlights along the way include the Minnamurra Lookout, Cathedral Rocks, Bombo Headland, Kiama Blowhole, Little Blowhole and Werri Beach. All of these places can also be visited individually, but walking is a good way to see them.

Walking to Bombo Headland
Walking to Bombo Headland

Grab a Coffee and Bite to Eat

Along both Terralong Street and Manning Street, you’ll find plenty of places to grab a bite to eat and a coffee. While the cafes get packed on weekends full of visitors, I recommend getting in early if you want a seat at a table.

Some favourites include Saltwater Cafe for seafood, Wild Patch Cafe for coffee, gluten free options and healthy food, and The Hungry Monkey for brunch, especially their burgers and pancakes.

Shop the Boutiques

Kiama is filled with pretty boutique shops worthing checking out. Whether you’re looking for a gift or just window shopping, you’ll find a wide variety of shops, including a book shop, clothes shops and local collectives selling handmade things like candles, jewellery and soap. There’s also a couple of good op shops.

Kiama rock pool
Kiama rock pool

Kiama Rock Pool

On Blow Hole Point, this is Kiama’s famous rock pool. The free swimming pool is just down from the lighthouse and blow hole, and is one of the most beautiful on the South Coast. Bordered by coastal rocks, this pool is popular for both visitors and locals alike.

There’s a small carpark right by the rock pool with toilets and a cold shower. Locals come everyday for their cold water swim in the early morning, but it can be busy all day long, especially in summer.

I went in for a dip at sunset a couple of days in a row, when it was much quieter and it’s definitely one of my favourite memories from my time in Kiama.

Swimming in Kiama pool
Swimming in Kiama pool

Kiama Ocean Pool

Around the bay from the rock pool, you’ll also find another ocean pool. This is not as popular, but still quite a nice place to do some laps or enjoy the view. There are toilets nearby and you can reach the pool by walking along the harbour path.

Kiama Beaches

There are a few beaches around town to check out during your stay in Kiama. Kiama Surf Beach is the closest and a popular spot for beginner surfers looking to take some small waves. The next beach to the south is Kendalls Beach, a beautiful spot for fishing, surfing and going for a quick dip. There are lifeguards in the warmer months.

Further south again is Easts Beach, a small cove right in front of Big4 Holiday Park. North of Kiama is Bombo Beach, a long stretch of sand that is popular for surfers, walking and relaxing on the sand.

Kiama pool
Kiama pool

Kiama Markets

If you’re a fan of markets like me, you’ll be happy to learn that Kiama is home to a few great markets.

Kiama Farmers Market is held in Coronation Park every Wednesday afternoon from 3pm to 6 pm. It specialises in fresh local produce and is the best place to pick up organic veggies and local honey.

Kiama Seaside Market is held on the third Sunday of every month, with some extra markets held on public holidays throughout the year. It’s held along Kiama Harbour Park, with over 100 stalls to browse through local produce, handmade products and crafts.

Kiama Makers & Growers Market is held on the fourth Saturday of every month on Black Beach. There’s usually around 70 stalls selling all sorts of arts and crafts handmade by South Coast locals. You can also enjoy some live music throughout the day.

Cathedral Rocks
Cathedral Rocks

Best Things to Do Around Kiama

If you have a little extra time, then there are some great things to do around Kiama. Within just a short drive, you can explore more surf spots, interesting rock formations and beautiful vantage points over the coast. Check out some of these spots:

Cathedral Rocks

Distance from Kiama: 4km

A distinct geological formation not far from Kiama is Cathedral Rocks. Years of erosion have slowly carved out these interesting basalt rocks. It’s a little bit of a hidden spot if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

You’ll find it by either walking along this part of the coast on the Kiama Coast Walk or driving along Cliff Drive in Kiama Downs. You can park somewhere on the side of the road. Cliff Drive is a dead end road, where you’ll find Boneyard Beach at the far end. Cathedral Rocks is just before that.

It’s meant to be most spectacular at sunrise, but I was there in the late afternoon instead.

Surf at Boneyard Beach

Distance from Kiama: 4km

At the end of Cliff Drive, you’ll find the walking trail down to Boneyard Beach. The Boneyard is a popular local surfing spot that is often quieter than anywhere else around Kiama.

It’s also a nice secluded spot to relax on the sand. I combined a walk down to Boneyard Beach with the nearby Bombo Headland Quarry, which can be done together in a nice little loop walk.

Bombo Headland Quarry
Bombo Headland Quarry from above

Bombo Headland Quarry

Distance from Kiama: 4km

This spot was totally unexpected to me and definitely worth visiting. It’s a famous geological site on Bombo Headland with towering basalt rock pillars and waves crashing over them.

If you take the trail up from Boneyard Beach, then you’ll get a nice panoramic view over the coastline and the Bombo Headland Quarry, before continuing down to the bottom. This is a great way to appreciate two different perspectives of the area.

Otherwise, you can also just reach the old quarry from Bombo Beach Carpark, which is a flatter and easier walk.

The interesting rock formations are the result of both natural erosion and blue metal quarrying from the 1880s and 1900s. It’s a completely unique place to see and I highly recommend taking the time to check it out on foot.

Bombo Headland Quarry from below
Bombo Headland Quarry from below

Minnamurra Lookout and Minnamurra Whale Watching Platform

Distance from Kiama: 6km

Just north of Kiama Downs, drive out to the Minnamurra Lookout and Whale Watching Platform. Very close to the beginning of the Kiama Coast Walk, it’s one of the prettiest views around Kiama.

From the carpark, you can easily reach Minnamurra Whale Watching Platform within 100m, offering views back towards Kiama. But I also recommend following the trail up a bit further north to find the beautiful grassy headland of Minnamurra Point.

This offers an incredible view down to the mouth of the Minnamurra River and further towards Minnamurra Beach.

Minnamurra Lookout
Minnamurra Lookout

Killalea Reserve

Distance from Kiama: 14.5km

Stretching north of Minnamurra, the Killalea Reserve is a must for any keen surfers. Named a National Surfing Reserve in 2005, the reserve is home to two epic surf breaks; The Farm and Mystics.

There’s also a campground inside the reserve, not far from Mystics which is perfect for those wanting to catch a wave early or late in the day. You can book through the NSW Parks website here.

There are always surfers out there all year round, but I found on a weekend it got really busy, even in autumn. When the swell is good, you should try to arrive early as the carparks do fill up quick.

Killalea Surfing Reserve
Killalea Surfing Reserve – Mystics

Saddleback Mountain Lookout

Distance from Kiama: 8km

For a bird’s eye view of the coastline, drive a short way up the escarpment to Saddleback Mountain Lookout, about 10 minutes away from Kiama. At the lookout, you’ll find viewing platforms just a few hundred metres apart.

You can see right down to the coast, across the farmlands, and as far as Cronulla in the north and Milton to the south. At just a short drive, it’s worth heading up for sunset for the best view.

Minnamurra Falls

Distance from Kiama: 15.5km

Just up from Jamberoo in Budderoo National Park, you can explore Minnamurra Rainforest Centre. A complete change from the coast, this dense forest is home to Minnamurra Falls, which can be reached on a 4.2km return hike.

While there are some steep sections, it’s mostly on elevated walkways and a paved track, so it should take only about 1.5 hours in total. It’s best visited after some rain to see it at its most beautiful.

Moon rise in Gerringong
Moon rise in Gerringong


Distance from Kiama: 11.5km

South of Kiama is the smaller town of Gerringong. Home to the 1.8km-long Werri Beach, which is also the end of the Kiama Coastal Walk, it’s worth a day trip from Kiama. There’s some great surf spots and a chance to walk along the long stretch of sand.

Head down to Gerringong’s Rock Pool for a cold water dip or head up to the Whale Watching Platform in winter to see if you can spot some humpback whales as well.

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