Tag Archives: beach

Sydney to Jervis Bay: weekend roadtrip

SNAPSHOT:

Drive Down: Scarborough Hotel (brunch) –> Hyams Beach –> Chinamans Beach

Drive Up: Cambewarra Lookout –> Kangaroo Valley –> Fitzroy Falls –> Berry –> Kiama Blowhole

IF I COULD DO IT OVER:

Drive Down: Scarborough Hotel (brunch) –> Kiama Blowhole  –> Hyams Beach

Drive Up: Cambewarra Lookout –> Kangaroo Valley –> Fitzroy Falls –> Berry –> Sublime Point Lookout

MY IDEAL JERVIS BAY TRIP: 

Day 1: Scarborough Hotel (brunch) –> Kiama Blowhole  –> Hyams Beach

Day 2: Mollymook –>  Bendalong Point –> Washerwomans Beach, Conjurong Point –> Narrawallee

Day 3: Fitzroy Falls –> Kangaroo Valley –> Cambewarra Lookout –> Wineries

Day 4: Chinamans Beach –> Berry –> Kiama Blowhole  –> Sublime Point Lookout

Recently, my sister and I have been quite adamant to see every last bit of gorgeous coastline here in NSW because well, it’s so damn beautiful. Every chance we get- that our wallet allows- we’ll be off again, onto the next adventure.

In my years living in Europe, I’ve become really used to working with public transport. Mostly you can get around by bus, if not a train. If things got really tough you could fly or call an Uber but that was usually a last resort that wasn’t always completely necessary. Everything ‘just aroundt he corner’! But in Australia, it’s completely different. Man, if you don’t have a car, you won’t get to experience some of that absolutely-f*cking gorgeousness that is the rugged coast of NSW (and Victoria might I add). It’s absolutely breathtaking. There is just so much space, so much sky. You feel insignificant, significant, all at once. You feel the power of nature and you learn to respect it. The landscape here actually brings back memories of Yorkshire– just more tropical and coastal with more blue sky. OK, so it’s not like Yorkshire. Heh.

One weekend before Christmas, slightly on a whim, my sister and I found a great deal on a motel near Jervis Bay and decided to just head down- it was now or never. Besides, we wanted to see the whitest sand in the world and to catch some rays. Spring had not been kind to Sydney proper.

We booked a car the day of and headed off. We left at around 9am and we probably could have done with leaving earlier. Hindsight 20/20 and all that. As anyone that has experienced driving in Sydney will know, it’s not the most riveting experience driving out. But heading South rather than heading West is an easier drive. Before you know it you hit the Royal National Park and its easy, long winding highways. It takes about an hour and a half to get to the Scarborough Hotel, which is a good 20 minute detour off the main highway. Having said that, the views are definitely worth it. The food? Not super exciting. I don’t even think I took a photo of it, and as a Taiwanese person I love food photos.

The views are great though, and according to the friendly staff, during peak whale watching season you can see lots of ’em! So this is definitely worth a stop then! If you want to make sure you get a spot, do book ahead to call. Most of the tables with the best views had RESERVED signs on them, particularly for the popular brunch/lunch hours.

We decided to opt for maximum beach time after our little stop so headed straight for the holy grail: Hyams Beach. It’s where everyone says you should go! It was a hefty little drive from Scarborough Hotel, but we made it through. With some good tunes on (make sure you download the playlist as radio tunage can be rough) it makes the ride totally worthwhile.

We were lucky– the sun was out, there was barely a cloud in the blue blue sky, and the waves were gently crashing against the beach. Hyams Beach is actually set in suburbia (they all are outside of the big cities), so you have to park along a residential street. The street itself is quite long so you know, go for it. Find a spot! Despite it being a sunny weekend it took us under 10 minutes to find a parking spot.

We parked ourselves on the beach for the better part of the afternoon. It did get busier and busier on the beach, with lots of families coming out to play in the shallow water. I don’t know if it was because we were so inexperienced with Antarctic waters or because HOLY HELL IT WAS COLD. We only managed to literally dip in and out a few times. The longest we stayed in the water was probably 5 minutes?

We got a little tired of the screaming toddlers (big shout out to mums and dads here, you are absolute heroes) so we decided to head over to Chinamans Beach. We didn’t even need to move our car, it’s literally 300 meters up the road from Hyams Beach. You can go straight down the stairs once you reach the end of Cyrus St or you can head straight into the bush. The walk is less than 10 minutes and then you come out at the other end of Chinamans Beach where it’s guaranteed less busy and touristy. If you fancy, you can also head up the stairs and do a nice little coastal walk and find even more secluded beaches. The sand is EVEN sqeakier here because it’s not half as busy as Hyams Beach.

We decided to have a super early night so that we could catch the sunrise at Hyams Beach the next day. Obviously, what else are you going to do if you’re on the East Coast of Australia?! So after a really quick boring dinner we headed off to sleep in our motel with Harry Potter playing on TV. God love the Christmas season.

The next morning, it was looking a bit cloudy. Unfortunately for us, it meant that one or two sunrise photos later, it was already too bright and we didn’t actually catch any sun rising. Damn. But it was now not even 6am and we had the whole day ahead of us! What do do… Kangaroo Valley of course!

Now, I definitely recommend spending a good few days in this area because there is so much to do. Apart from great beaches there are also wineries and lots of great walks too.

As pictured above, you can do the Cambewarra Lookout (experienced drivers needed for this one. Lots of hairpin turns to get up this mountain). You can’t really tell from the clouds, but that bay-like thing far ahead? That’s Jervis Bay! You can (almost) see the gorgeous half-moon bend of Hyams Beach. When the sun did pop out for a second I swear I got sand glare. Here, you can have a cup of coffee or brekkie at the cafe or you can also just head straight to Kangaroo Valley and explore the funky little shops, cafes, and restaurants.

From Kangaroo Valley, another windy drive up a mountain will get you to Fitzroy Falls. Beware, when you’re coming from Kangaroo Valley, the Fitzroy Falls entrance is on the right and can be easily missed if you’re not looking out for it!

Fitzroy Falls is great for several reasons. You can do a short walk of just 800m or you can do a longer walk of up to 3/4km. It’s definitely worth your while as views are rather spectacular and quite reminiscent of the Blue Mountains! Parking for a regular car is $4 and that’s it, no other entrance fees. There’s also a cafe and visitor’s centre here so if you wanted to refresh before/after your walk it’s definitely doable.

From here, sis and I were starting to get hungry so we decided to get back in the car and get some more driving in before it hit brunch time. Destination: Berry Sourdough Cafe.

It is literally famous FOR MILES. People go up from Jervis Bay to eat there, like it’s a really big deal. And having had their sourdough now, I understand why. It is SO YUMMY! My sister and I bought a loaf of bread each that’s how good it is. And also had a pain au chocolat because that was also RIVETING.

Sis had a hummus dish with poached egg and avo salad, and I had a spicy chorizo omelette. Both were absolutely outstanding although there was a little too much hummus on the plate.

 

After this, we went for a little walk around town (one main road), taking in the charm of village life. There are plenty of ice cream shops to choose from and a pharmacy to save you with some bug spray (trust us it comes in handy).

We then headed to Kiama Blowhole, which was about a 45 minute drive Northward. The Blowhole is a rather popular stop but you have to be lucky. The wind and wave conditions have to be right to see awesome water sprays coming up from the rock formation along the coast. Instead, we opted for a lovely little dip in the ocean pool.

The rain started really pouring down so the trip was a little bit over for us. The clouds kept threatening rain and delivered. Gah. So off home we drove from here. There were quite a few stops that we missed out on that we definitely would have done had the weather been a bit more forgiving. Ah well, gives us an excuse to go again next time!!

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Bai Sha Wan Minus Tourists

If you’re looking for a tourist’s guide to BaiShaWan with this post… you’re halfway there. If you want a quiet beach to yourself with as few Chinese tourists as possible, then yes you should read on. I’m not going to talk too much about Kenting either… I just want to remember the beautiful weather tbh…

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What a baller. This is the first time I use baller. And also the last. #ChineseTourist #Superman
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Look at them all, pretending to love water… This was around 2pm.

I went in the beginning of November, midweek. It was a bit of a last-minute decision that we made on our day off. The sun was so hot that we happily paid the 300NTs for a parasol even though we only stayed for a couple of hours (for that price you can actually stay for the rest of the day). Both times we went, it was obvious there were lots of Chinese tourists milling around. But guess what? There’s a trick to this. Most people enter onto the beach through the ‘main’ entrance, where the campsite is with the bars (there also used to be shops). Well, if you just keep driving a little further down (as if you’re Kenting-bound), there’s a massive parking lot too, with very few cars. On both week days that we were there, there were also no people actually enjoying the beach for being on the beach. I even have photos to prove it! Below you’ll see photos of about 10am on Thursday morning, where there were no people!

It’s such a lovely place to chill out. The water was exceptionally gorgeous, too. I wouldn’t recommend trying to tan in the sun too long though… it got pretty damn hot after a while.

Top Tips:

  1. Go early. Late afternoon is Tourist High Tide
  2. To avoid Chinese tourists, try and go as far down the beach as possible (see above for how, relatively easily)
  3. Get a tent. It’s not expensive and will save you that horrific sunburn later
  4. BYOB. There are so many 7’s on that main road you might as well buy a few beers. Maybe bring a cooler bag. Also clean up after yourself!
  5. There ARE jelly fish. They’re small ones (so small I didn’t realise I got stung til like 3 days later, ha oops).
  6. Bring a snorkelling mask, or, failing that, just your swimming goggles. You just might see some ocean wildlife. The water gets deep real quick.
  7. Great place for watersports. If you go down to that middle bit of the beach like I say, there’s a few guys that’ll do some funky water sports with you. Definitely fun!

You’ll Find Me in the Water @Xiao Liuchiu

They say that the water of Xiao Liuchiu is super clear, and that the difference is stark between mainland Taiwan and this beautiful coral island. Boy, they weren’t wrong. We couldn’t really get excited about the prospect of spending the next 24 hours on the island as we disembarked because… well… it was raining. We were met by an old lady from our B&B who showed us to our bikes, and then led us into the small city centre of Xiao Liuchiu, where, in one of the back alleys, we were shown a courtyard to park our bikes.

After checking in and deciding we didn’t want the discounted ticket for all the caves and hikes, booking our all-you-can-eat BBQ dinner, and being told if the weather was good at night we’d go stargazing, we headed out on our motorbikes anyway because well… we’re in Xiao Liuchiu. So what if it was raining? We weren’t going to sit inside all day. In hindsight we probably should have gone to the caves… it would have been dry inside at least. But oh well.

We took our time riding around the island. We stopped several times to take in the view that the island had to offer, despite being shrouded in cloud and rain. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer, and asked my friend to stop by a small, natural bay. There were people swimming in the sea despite the rain, and I couldn’t help myself. It’d been ages since I’d been in the ocean and as soon as my feet reached the water, I was sold. The water was beautiful. I mean, the Med was going to have to work hard to top it. The water felt warm and cool to the touch. We wouldn’t get cold if we stayed motionless, but it wasn’t exactly warm either. We must have stayed by the sea for an hour before donning our 30NT raincoats again, this time completing a circle around the island and heading back to the B&B for a shower.

 

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Our BBQ, round 1. I stopped counting after round 3.

The only pictures I took of the first day were of the BBQ. Taiwanese people love a BBQ, and my friends and I were no exception. We were so excited about this BBQ, in fact, that we were the first ones to arrive (a small backstory: my friend Teresa and I didn’t even have a BBQ for the mid-Autumn Festival so we definitely felt ‘due’ a BBQ).

After dinner we headed out to a few bars that the island had to offer, but unfortunately it wasn’t very busy, especially considering it was Saturday night. In each of the two we visited, we were one of two sets of customers there. And when we were about to head into the third, we saw no one in there, so abandoned ship for the night. We got some fried chicken and vegetables instead, and took it back to our room to eat it instead.

 

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Breakfast out in the traditional courtyard of our B&B!

Early morning, because when traveling in Taiwan you start early and finish late. Breakfast was ready for us in a little basket, and we got to eat it al fresco as the sun was finally shining! Hooray! After a quick breakfast we snorkeled… you can read all about it here. It deserved its own post.

 

 

 

After the snorkeling, one of my friends took us to her ‘secret hiding place’ which essentially is a tiny beach hidden among massive coral rocks, where we could swim and take selfies to our hearts’ content. We must have been there for a good couple of hours, (me) taking in the sun, (us) bathing in the crystal-clear, warm water and taking photos.

By the time 11 o’clock came round, it started getting really hot. We were also getting a bit peckish, so decided to head off back into town to grab a bite to eat. But then, on the way back, we passed Venice Beach, which is the one of the few beaches on the island that has actual sand rather than small coral rocks… so… well, we had to stop and at least take a look. Besides, there were some Bao-a’s left from breakfast we could snack on in the meantime. So we headed on down and got to take in a pretty cool beach. The great thing about the island is that due to all the coral, the beach is shallow as, and so you can go in quite far and still only have water up to your knees. It’s really great for warming up that water and just soaking in the ocean.

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Me and ma girlz!!
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OK we had already eaten a lot of the food… but you get the idea…

Eventually we got hungry so we had to head back into town for some food. We went to one of the most famous seafood restaurants on the island (of course), where you ordered meals by the number of dishes you wanted, and it all came in quick succession. It was pretty darn good. I mean, I could have lived without the sushi because it wasn’t very fresh and badly cut, but the rest of the food was awesome. One of my friends also got us snails as a treat which was yum!

 

After lunch we went and had a late check out from the hostel, and washed up changing into summery clothes. The day was still hot and the sun was glorious. I lathered myself in sunscreen for the third time that day. We had some time before the boat took us back to Kaohsiung so we went for another little ride around the island, looking for vistas of sweeping oceans and the famed Xiao Liuchiu sea turtles. We did end up finding some down some country road that brought us to a campsite on a cliff, with the sea turtles swimming in the vast sea below us. It was absolutely gorgeous. My camera and photo skills are nowhere good enough for it so you’ll have to go to see it for yourself.

All in all, I would go back to Xiao Liuchiu but definitely not to go snorkeling. I wish that we’d had the time to do the caves because of the Dutch/Taiwanese history of the Black Dwarf Cave (a.k.a. Black Devil Cave…), and just to see what all the fuss is about. The island is tiny and takes about half an hour to get all around, which is really ideal for just zipping here and there exploring different corners and harbors.

And the water… oh… it was so beautiful. I could have laid in either the secret hiding place or Venice beach all day and had food brought to me. Seriously so gorgeous. I would go back just to chill by the beaches and really take in the island rhythm.

You can easily do Xiao Liuchiu in two days one night, but if you want some time to chill by the ocean and not worry about catching a boat, I would stay two nights. You might find that nightlife is a bit meh on the island, which is isn’t really an issue. If you really want a drink you can still go to one of the bars on the island, just don’t expect to have a wild night out. And if you get really bored you can always take a hiking trail as well.

TOP TIP: If you have water shoes bring them because the coral starts feeling like an intensive foot massage after a while of exploring beaches.

Here are a couple more shots of the day: