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NSW Top Tourism Town Finalist

Welcome to

Small Tourism Town: population of less than 5,000 people, but more than 1,500

09:00 Mon 29 April - till - 17:00 Mon 13 May.

Members of the public may lodge only one vote for one town in each category. See Terms & Conditions.

Magical Merimbula 
A seaside escape for every age! 

Hello fellow adventurers and parents! If you’re like me, constantly on the lookout for the perfect family getaway, then grab a piece of paper and write down Merimbula! Located on the far south coast of New South Wales, Merimbula is in the middle of the coastal drive between Melbourne and Sydney. For  Canberrans seeking sunshine, sandy beaches and a splash of adventure, it is only a short 3-hour drive to our seaside gem. 

Escape to Merimbula, let my family - husband and two kids (age 8 & 10) - take you on a memorable adventure, an unforgettable weekend escape. On arrival to Merimbula you will be greeted by the salty breeze, the promise of endless activities, fun and the warm welcome, the true magic of Merimbula! 

Merimbula offers a diverse range of attractions and experiences that cater to all ages and abilities, adults, and children alike. Whether your little ones are animal lovers, thrill seekers, or simply enjoy building sandcastles by the shore, you’re guaranteed a memorable experience. 

Your first stop will be Potoroo Palace, a wildlife sanctuary nestled amidst the lush greenery of the Merimbula bushland just a short 5-minute  drive from the town centre. As you stroll through the grounds you are greeted by kangaroos, wallabies and even some friendly emus! The kids will be ecstatic to get up close and personal with these Aussie icons and will even have the chance to hand-feed some of the resident animals. The Sanctuary is a not for profit that helps with rehabilitating and caring for our natural wildlife, with knowledgeable staff whose passion for conservation is contagious! 

Next, head to the Merimbula Aquarium and Wharf Restaurant, where you embark on an underwater adventure without having to get wet! The aquarium will transport you to somewhere truly magical with colourful clownfish, seahorses, sea slugs and a massive groper, a glimpse into the fascinating world beneath the waves. After your exploration, why not indulge in a delicious meal, feasting on freshly caught seafood while overlooking the ocean and beautiful  natural lake inlet and estuary. Locally owned and operated for over 30 years and adjacent to the Merimbula Wharf, it’s a popular choice for travellers and locals alike. The wharf is a great  spot for fishing, and you may even spy a stingray gliding between the piers!

Bar Beach Destination NSW - 1

For those wanting to soak in the radiant beaches, rugged coastlines, and crystal waters all at once , head to Merimbula Air Services for an experience of a completely different kind. Flying over the ocean you will spot seals, dolphins and between August and November whales as they make their way to the South Pole with calves. From this vantage point you will soon discover exactly why it’s called the Sapphire Coast!

All this excitement will surely make you and your tribe hungry, and  in Merimbula, you’re spoilt for choice with delicious options! From Fresh Fish and Chips at Crankys Café to options for the more mature palate at Wheelers Restaurant or Tidal there is something for everyone. All the eateries in Merimbula are locally owned and operated and many have the “support local” ethos when sourcing their ingredients. 

Of course, you will need somewhere to rest your head after all this exploring so time to talk accommodation options! Where you stay can truly elevate your holiday experience. Merimbula offers a range of options to suit every family’s needs and preferences. If you’re looking for a luxurious retreat, Coast Resort is a fantastic option. Offering self-contained apartments with all the comforts of home, Coast Resort provides the perfect base for your Merimbula adventure. 

For those who prefer a more outdoorsy experience, NRMA Merimbula Beach Holiday Resort is an excellent choice. With camping grounds, cozy cabins, and amazing   amenities such as a swimming pool, water park, tennis courts and a playground, this rustic getaway is all you need for a comfortable stay. And for the families seeking a beachfront escape, Beach Cabins Merimbula is another easy choice. Their unique, self-contained cabins are situated right on the beach allowing you to wake up to the sound of crashing waves and stunning ocean views. 

This is just a small taste of what you and your family can experience in Merimbula. Whether in Summer or during the other seasons, Merimbula has so much to offer you – moderate temperatures, clear mornings, and cool nights. Every season is special!

When you visit Merimbula, you are supporting a regional  community, where 90% of the businesses are family owned and operated, evidenced by the warm and welcoming customer service you will experience. From the minute you arrive, you’re treated more like a local or a new friend. So, pack your bags, round up the kids and get planning your visit to a stunning, natural, and unforgettable destination. Merimbula.


Vote for this top town in the 2024 Top Tourism Town Awards


Whale Breaching David Rogers Photography - 1

Day 1
It’s time for a weekend away, time to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and come to the coast for some well-deserved sunshine and rest.

Canberra is only a three-hour drive away from Merimbula, so get up early and make the drive down the Brown Mountain to Merimbula.
The kids are ready to go as soon as you pull up, so you head in for brunch at The Waterfront Café – the kids are kept entertained by the Pelicans playing on the water. You finish your coffee while the kids play at the park before walking over to the Merimbula Marina ready for your Whale watching cruise, these operate from August to November with Ocean Discovery Tours running for the remainder of the year. The Captain, Simon, has told you that it will be a calm day with lots of whales and their calves already spotted playing just offshore.

Everyone has had a blast on the cruise and have worked up an appetite. Wanting to explore more of the magic of the ocean you head over to the Merimbula Aquarium and Wharf Restaurant where you enjoy locally sourced fish and chips whilst enjoying the stunning view of the Lake and the wharf. After lunch you venture underneath the restaurant into another world of sea creatures at the Aquarium.
It’s been a big day, so you head to your accommodation for the afternoon to enjoy some downtime by the pool. Your key is waiting for you at the stunning Coast Resort on Fish pen.
Once the sun starts to kiss the horizon you pop on your favourite dress and some lipstick ready for some more delicious seafood at The Lakeview Hotel. Here there is something for everyone and you dine on oysters grown on the Merimbula Lake and a cheeky cocktail.  

It's dark by the time you drive back to your accommodation, and everyone is ready for bed. You fall asleep listening to the waves crash on the shore.



Domestic travel presents an opportunity for families to foster deeper connections and rejuvenate away from the demands of daily life. Merimbula provides an idyllic setting conducive to open communication and quality family time. Our aim is to position Merimbula as a haven where families can unwind and create lasting memories.

DeeGees Photography Mitchies Jetty - 1
Potoroo Palace courtesy of Destination NSW - 1


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