We have been to many beautiful destinations in Australia with our two little cavoodles, Ollie and Winky. But our recent trip to the Sapphire Coast of New South Wales, covering the region of Bermagui, Merimbula and Eden, has to be one of our favourite road trips.
Located 400 km from major cities like Melbourne and Sydney, Sapphire Coast or the Bega Valley Council (yes! the famous Bega cheese!), it is an ideal destination for those eager to escape the city for a coastal adventure. It’s the home to charming seaside towns like Eden, Merimbula, Tathra, and Bermagui. These coastal locations are famous for amazing oysters, whale watching, natural wonders, and other seaside activities. We have taken a few road trips from Melbourne to the Sapphire Coast with our dogs and fell in love with everything it offers. So here’s a guide to everything we did, so you can make some unforgettable holiday memories with your pups!
Dog Friendly Accommodations In Sapphire Coast, NSW
More than 60% of Australian families own a dog. So, it’s no surprise that dog-friendly travel is widely becoming popular. However, finding dog-friendly accommodation can still be challenging and relatively expensive. Refer to our previous blog post to know how we find pet-friendly accommodation.
We received an invitation from Reflections Holiday Parks to stay in their dog-friendly Cabins. And we were excited to explore convenient and affordable dog-friendly accommodation options. There are 30 Reflections dog-friendly Parks across NSW offering a range of affordable accommodation options to all pet parents at no additional cost. We chose the following two locations to explore the Sapphire Coast as they were centrally located to all the activities we wanted to do.
Reflections Holiday Park, Bermagui – We stayed three nights at the dog-friendly cabin (D35) in Bermagui. This was a newly renovated cabin accommodating six people. The cabin has all the amenities we need and more, including a full kitchen, a spacious deck with a BBQ, and fresh linen for beds. We were pleasantly surprised by how centrally located the holiday park was. We could, in fact, see the main beach from our cabin, walk to cafes and restaurants, take a stroll in the wharf, and walk to the blue pool for a fresh swim. While were were there we met so many other doggies camping with their owners and having the best time.
Reflections Holiday Park, Eden – This park was also centrally located near Ashlings Beach. The pet-friendly cabin we stayed in was smaller and older than the Bermagui location but still contained all the necessities, and we had a comfortable stay for a couple of nights. Our favourite feature was the deck overlooking the lagoon. Besides the beautiful view, especially at sunset, we often used it to brush and dry Ollie and Winks after their beach adventures.
Disclaimer: Our accommodation was offered as a part of a PR package from Reflections Holidays. We were not required to review the accommodation and facilities.
Dog-Friendly Activities In Sapphire Coast Of NSW
When you think of dog-friendly activities, this might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But in late Winter/ early Spring, the Sapphire coast is a prime destination to spot Humpback whales in their southern migration. We went whale-watching with Sapphire Coast Adventures and their tours take off from Bermagui, Merimbula and Eden. They allow very well-behaved dogs on some of their tours (call ahead to find out whether you can take your dogs with you) specially from Bermagui.
Our experience with Whale Watching
We booked our tour from Bermagui at first; however, it got cancelled due to bad weather, and we took the tour from Merimbula the next day. The tour is about two and a half hours, and depending on the timing, the vessel will have to travel far to spot whales. The day we took the tour was beautiful, but the sea conditions were harsher than usual. The crew did a fantastic job of navigating through the water and taking care of everyone. Given its late season, we were lucky to spot a few whales and a pod of dolphins. You will spot more whales if you go earlier in the season and during calmer conditions.
Ollie and Winky handled the harsh conditions better than most people on the ship, so much so that they got compliments from everyone. Other than regretting not carrying a raincoat for Ollie and Winks as they got drenched in water we absolutely loved the experience and would highly recommend it.
Renowned for their exceptional quality and distinct taste, Sapphire Coast oysters are celebrated as some of the finest in Australia. There are many oyster farms along the estuaries in Pambula and Merimbula. We had our fill of freshly shucked local oysters at Broadwater Oysters, which is also dog-friendly. You can also take guided oyster farm tours, some even on kayaks, to visit the oyster farms. We didn’t do this as it was not a dog-friendly activity. We made sure to taste more oysters in all the restaurants we visited. Notably, Valentina Restaurant in Merimbula served some of the finest oysters we’ve had this year.
Historic Town Of Tilba
One of my favourite things to do while travelling is visiting local towns selling unique goods to bring home. These include Hahndorf in Barossa Hills, Loch Village in Gippsland and now, Bate St, Central Tilba in Sapphire Coast. When we visited, jacaranda trees and flame bottletrees were in full bloom, adding to the village’s charm. There are a few shops, cafes, a pub, and, most notably, the Tilba Diary shop, which stocks some great cheese, local produce, and delicious ice cream! Dogs must be on leash, and some shops do allow them in.
The not-so-hidden natural pools were among the best things we discovered on the Sapphire coast. The Blue Pool in Bermagui was within walking distance from the Reflections Holiday Park, Bermagui, but unfortunately, it was not dog-friendly. We highly recommend going there for a swim if you can leave your dogs back at the accommodation or have someone to take care of them.
Aslings Beach Rock Pool is also a short distance away from Reflections Holiday Park, Eden. It is smaller than the Blue Pool but by no means lacks the charm. It’s also dog-friendly. Ollie and Winks had the best time swimming, exploring the rocks and making other beachgoers play fetch with them.
Almost all beaches surrounding Sapphire Coast are dog friendly unless clearly stated in signs. Beares Beach in Bermagui is dog-friendly throughout the year, and others we visited, including Hayward Beach and Horseshoe Bay Beach in Bermagui and Aslings Beach in Eden, have dog-friendly zones which may depend on the season and time of the day. Hayward Beach is also home to Camel Rock and Horse Head Rock, must visit scenic spots if you are in the area.
Cafes, Restaurants And Where To Eat In The Sapphire Coast
I like to consider myself as a big foodie. Before going to a new area, I scour the internet to find the best cafes and restaurants in the area and make a list. So it’s fair to say we tried some of the best food Shappire Coast had to offer.
Bermagui and Narooma
We arrived in Bermagui after our eight-hour drive from Melbourne, and our options for dinner were limited, but the Bermagui Beach Hotel offered some delicious pub food that gave us an indication of what was on offer for the next few days. They have a large covered veranda where you can dine with your dog. While there, we visited Honour Bread every morning for a daily caffeine fix and breakfast. The Camel Rock Brewery has a spacious, dog-friendly outdoor area and serves pub food and drinks. Tilba Valley Winery and Ale House also have an ample dog-friendly outdoor space overlooking a lake. We only went there for a drink, but they do serve food there and, depending on the day, might have live music or other events.
Narooma is only a 30-minute drive from Bermagui, and we went there specifically to try Quarterdeck restaurant. The best part of this restaurant is not dog-friendly, but it is worth the visit if you can leave your dog at the accommodation or if others are travelling with you to take care of it. The deck at sunset was breathtaking, the ambience even more amplified by the visit from resident sting rays. The food was Mexican-inspired and delicious.
Merimbula and Pambula
If you love seafood, restaurants in this area are right up your alley. Wheeler’s restaurant is a prime spot to try out seafood, especially local oysters. They are dog-friendly and have a lovely covered veranda. The staff is wonderful and quite accomodating. We also tried Dulcie’s Cottage in Merimbula, another dog-friendly restaurant with a covered patio offering a good range of burgers. The food was delicious, and the outdoor space was beautiful, but the restaurant was severely understaffed, so expect long wait times.
The highlight of our food adventure and perhaps the best food we’ve had the whole year (note, I’m a foodie) has to be at Valentina restaurant in Merimbula. They offer a small seasonal menu full of local fresh produce. From start to finish, everything we had exceeded expectations. I’m not a dessert person, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved their take on French toast with passionfruit parfait. It’s a dish we will go back for. Unfortunately, this restaurant is not dog-friendly, but it’s worth finding an arrangement for a couple of hours.
The dog-friendly road trip to the Sapphire Coast of New South Wales offers pristine beaches, scenic trails, charming towns, and unmatchable culinary experiences, making the eight-hour drive from Melbourne worth it. The Sapphire Coast’s warm hospitality and abundance of dog-friendly activities, accommodations, and dining options will leave you eager to return for more. I know we will be returning soon.