9 Truly Amazing Stops on the Grand Pacific Drive, and Beyond

Written by: Dave Owen

Australia is widely – and rightly – regarded as one of the finest road trip destinations in the world. Its sheer size, diversity of landscapes, and seemingly endless coastline offers a catalogue of incredible drives.

The Grand Pacific Drive, found just south of Sydney in New South Wales, is undoubtedly one of the best, yet is often overlooked in favour of the more famous Great Ocean Road. Its 140-kilometre length makes the Grand Pacific Drive delightfully manageable, and along the way you’ll be treated to jaw-dropping ocean views, rainforests, charming coastal towns and cities, and much more besides. Even better, when you finish the route it’s easy to loop back to Sydney via more unforgettable locations, or keep the adventure going by heading further south.

There’s so much to see along the way that we recommend hiring a motorhome, so you can enjoy the road trip entirely at your own pace. Here are the Grand Pacific Drive stops you absolutely shouldn’t miss.

Royal National Park

The Grand Pacific Drive kicks off just an hour south of central Sydney in the beautiful Royal National Park. This is your first glimpse of the glittering coastline, and there are numerous opportunities to spot whales and dolphins, as well as adventurous walks through the bush. Camping facilities here make it easy to stay overnight so you can kick off your drive bright and early.


Royal National Park, NSW
Royal National Park NSW Australia

Wollongong

An hour of uncompromisingly gorgeous ocean views still won’t prepare you for the beauty of Wollongong. This charming seaside city sits squarely between an apparently endless chain of beaches and the striking, rainforest-capped Illawarra escarpment. It’s a great spot for relaxing on a golden-sand beach, or to climb the escarpment to snap Instagram-worthy views. Allow yourself at least a few hours to admire the landscape, explore the city sights, and refuel at any of a wide range of cafes, bars, and restaurants.


Wollongong Lighthouse and Harbour, NSW
Wollongong Lighthouse NSW

Shellharbour

Your next major stop takes you across the Lake Illawarra estuary and into the city of Shellharbour. Stop here a while to explore the littoral rainforest of Bass Point reserve, dive deep into a World War II shipwreck, or try your hand at carving the waves on some of the best surf beaches in the world, including The Farm and Mystics in the Killalea State Recreation Area. If you lose track of time, a nearby campground makes it easy to stay the night.


Shellharbour, Killalea State Park, NSW
Shellharbour in Killalea State Park

Kiama

Just as you might be thinking the Grand Pacific Drive can’t get any more magnificent, you reach Kiama. The village itself is as picturesque as they come, but it’s the surrounding coastal beauty that will win your heart: the ocean spouting twenty metres into the air from the famous blowhole under the watchful eye of the lighthouse, the gentle walking tracks around Bombo, and the cascading waterfalls and tranquil streams of Minnamurra Rainforest are all unmissable. You’ll have a tough time getting back in your car after this.


Minnamurra Rainforest, NSW
Minnamurra Rainforest NSW

Shoalhaven

Shoalhaven is actually numerous Grand Pacific Drive stops rolled into one ravishing region, giving you plenty of choices for what you see next. Need to relax? Stick to the coast and the white-sand beaches of Shoalhaven Heads and Mollymook Beach, or meet friendly kangaroos at Pebbly Beach. Still in the mood to explore? Head inland to explore the lush hinterland, try rafting in Kangaroo Valley or wandering through numerous pristine national parks. Shoalhaven can be whatever you want it to be. Allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy its wonders.


Kangaroo at Pebbly Beach, NSW. Credit – Destination NSW
Kangaroo Pebbly Beach NSW

Jervis Bay

We’re cheating a little here, as Jervis Bay is part of the Shoalhaven region, but this huge oceanic bay to the south of the area is well-deserving of its own mention. Its beaches are among the whitest in the world, and you simply have to find some time to enjoy the water, whether you take a quick dip or hire out kayaks or paddle boards. If you’ve had a long trip, this is the perfect place to unwind.


Jervis Bay, NSW
Jervis Bay NSW

Eurobodalla

Technically, you’ve reached the end of the Grand Pacific Drive. But there’s still so much more to see! Even if you’re tired of impossibly perfect beaches and coastal views (trust us, you won’t be), Eurobodalla offers the dazzling green backdrop of the Clyde River, diving and snorkelling in Bateman’s Marine Park, the quaint National Trust village of Tilba, and the chance to swap four wheels for a boat to visit Montague Island and its colonies of penguins, seals, sea lions, and more.


Seals underwater off Montague Island, NSW
Montague Island Seals

The Sapphire Coast

Honestly, it just keeps getting better. The Sapphire Coast is a natural wonderland, much of it classified by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve. That means you’ll find some of the most gloriously untamed nature in the state, from immaculate beaches – 83 of them in total! – to unspoilt rainforest. Coastal villages offer the chance to explore the area’s whaling history and sample some of the best seafood you’re ever likely to eat.


Sunrise at Tuross Head beach, the Sapphire Coast, NSW
sAPPHIRE cOAST nsw

Southern Highlands

This last stop should be considered a bit of an alternate, as you’ll only see it as part of the Grand Pacific Drive if you loop back to Sydney at the end or take an inland detour from Wollongong.


Southern Highlands, NSW
Southern Highlands road Australia

It’s worth the time, the Southern Highlands offering something truly different to any other stop on the drive so far. Away from the coast, the landscape is all rolling hills and lush wildlife, dotted with charming towns that offer ideal spots to rest, as well as beautiful gardens, galleries, and museums. Stop in Berrima to visit Australia’s oldest continuously licensed pub, the Surveyor General Inn. After such an epic road trip, you deserve to kick back with a drink.


Experience Amazing New South Wales

South Coast NSW Australia

New South Wales has so much to offer every kind of traveller, whether you want world-class beaches, vibrant cities, enchanting wildlife, or something else entirely. Our partners at StudentUniverse have a wide range of top New South Wales deals to get you there for less.

Image credit: Destination NSW

Check out these great experiences in Australia

Search

Ultimate Oz Package

from £595

7 days

Australia

This trip is the ultimate way to start your gap year in Australia! Whether for a working holiday or just...

UltimateOz Gap Year

from £520

8 days

Australia

The ultimate way to start your gap year in Australia! Whether for a working holiday or year of backpacking around...

In-Class TEFL Course in Sydney

from £1290

20 days

Australia

Join our 4-week TEFL in-class course in Sydney and become a TEFL/TESOL certified teacher of English as a foreign language.

Byron Bay Startup Internship Program

from £2800

30 - 60 days

Australia

Join one of the world’s most innovative gap year programs and find out why our alumni have gone on to...

Kangaroo Island Wildlife Adventure

from £250

2 days

Australia

Visit Australia’s third largest island, it is a giant wildlife park without any fences. This is a wildlife lovers dream,...

Cashier in New Zealand

from £549

182 - 365 days

New Zealand

Accelerate your adrenaline and launch your working holiday in New Zealand. Gap year jobs don’t come much better.

NZ Ski Instructor Paid Internships

from £5900

77 - 91 days

New Zealand

11 Week Level 1 & 2 Ski Instructor Internship - Train Level 1, Work, Train, Level 2 + Ski Work...

4, 8 and 12 Week Surf Development Courses

from £1900

27 - 84 days

Australia, New Zealand

Live out your dreams and discover a new way of life by joining one of our Surf Development Courses.  Enjoy...

Short-Term University Study in New Zealand

from £7000

120 days

New Zealand

Tester semester allows you to enroll at a New Zealand university for just one term. If you are trying to...

14 Day Surf Camp

from £999

14 days

New Zealand

Join us for an action packed 14 days of surf immersion! Live on the beach and enjoy the surf lifestyle...

Top tours in Australia

Search

Best of Australia

from £1999

In case you hadn’t noticed, Australia is an awfully big place. So big, in fact, that you’d need to come...

Australia Encompassed

from £2639

Sydney, Melbourne, Fraser Island, the Whitsundays – your crash course in all things Australia starts now. For 25 days, you’ll...

Sydney Discovery

from £548

All the glam. Much sparkle. Sure Sydney has a lot to offer, but get out of the urban jungle and...

Sydney to Brisbane Experience

from £639

Think Australia’s out of your league since you’re short on time and cash? Nope! This quick and economical Sydney-to-Brisbane jaunt...

Most of the Coast–Sydney to Cairns

from £1759

The route up Australia’s East Coast has earned its rep as one of the seemingly endless supply of must-do experiences...

Brisbane to Cairns Northbound

from £1555

Victoria has the Great Ocean Road, New South Wales has Bronte and Bondi, but head further north up Australia’s east...

Alice Springs to Kakadu

from £475

For travellers looking to discover Australia's wild and rugged heart, few trips compare to this six-day adventure through some of...

Down South & Outback

from £1646

Time to get down south and outback. A trip with the perfect mix of jaw-dropping scenery, masses of wildlife, cool...

Red Centre Adventure (Original)

from £582

The outback town of Alice Springs is a travel hub for visitors setting off to the explore the sensational range...

Outback and Kangaroo Island Adventure ex Yulara (Basix)

from £855

Capture the sprit of the Australia and witness its diversity on this adventure from the heart of the Outback to...

Find more amazing Australia inspiration

Search
[contact-form-7 id="4" title="Contact form 1"]