Yamba is a charming, laid-back coastal town on the northern coast of NSW. It is just over a 3-hour drive south of Brisbane & around a 7-hour drive north of Sydney. It is also perfectly positioned about halfway between Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour, making Yamba a great place to visit during a road trip along Australia’s breathtaking east coast.
With numerous pristine beaches, fantastic surf breaks, impressive rocky headlands, and a quirky little town centre, Yamba makes the perfect destination for a coastal getaway. With its famous neighbour, Byron Bay, becoming increasingly overpopulated and losing its laid-back feel, Yamba has now been regarded as the New Byron.
During my recent trip, I visited Yamba after exploring Byron Bay. I must admit I enjoyed Yamba a lot more than Byron Bay! As beautiful and convenient as Byron Bay can be, it was way more overpopulated and over-touristed than I have preferred. On the contrary, Yamba offers an equally beautiful coastline with various surfing beaches, yet it still retains that unpretentious and laid-back vibe.
Since most people tend to visit Yamba as a day trip or a stopover during their east coast road trip, I have compiled a detailed 1-day itinerary based on my recent visit to help you explore Yamba in only one day. I hope this article is helpful to you.
Where to Stay in Yamba
Although Yamba offers fewer holiday accommodations than Byron Bay, it has a decent selection of accommodations at a much better price. On average, you can easily find a good selection of standard double rooms in Yamba at AUD 100 to low 200 per night, which can be hard to come by in Byron Bay.
Many of these accommodations are also perfectly positioned in Yamba’s compact town centre or along its beautiful beachfront, which are all very convenient for getting around Yamba.
With that said, since Yamba only attracts a limited number of backpackers compared to Byron Bay, you will typically have difficulty finding cheap hostel stays here in Yamba. However, if you are travelling with friends, you can still find budget-friendly bunk room options in places such as Pacific Hotel Yamba.
Hickey Island is a beautiful reserve at the mouth of Clarence River.
Surrounded by calm water and only a 5-minute walk from Yamba town centre, Hickey Island is a popular spot for a range of water sports. Guided kayak tours are available at Hickey Island, which can be a great opportunity for spotting dolphins. Kayak hires are also available at Hickey Island.
In addition to water activities, Hickey Island offers walking tracks and bike paths to bring visitors to the other end of Hickey Island. Various bird life around the island also makes Hickey Island the perfect spot for a peaceful and relaxing morning stroll.
With well-equipped picnic facilities and public toilets, Hickey Island also makes an excellent spot for a picnic if desired.
Whiting Beach is a long stretch of soft sandy beach on the northeastern end of Hickey Island. Protected by the breakwaters on both sides of the Clarence River Mouth, Whiting Beach is among the calmest and most peaceful beaches I have seen along the east coast.
This feature has made Whiting Beach a prime spot to swim for all ages. Kayaking and paddle-boarding are also very popular along this area of Hickey Island. People were fishing along Whiting Beach as well when I visited.
The only drawback about Whiting Beach is that dogs are not permitted on Whiting Beach, which can be tricky if you are travelling with your fur babies.
Yamba Farmers and Producers Market
After taking an early morning stroll around Hickey Island and Whiting Beach, make sure you also check out Yamba Farmers & Producers Market if visiting on a Wednesday.
Yamba Farmers & Producers Market is hosted in a little park, just outside of Hickey Island, between Whiting Beach and Turners Beach. It is only open on Wednesdays from 7 am to 11 am.
Being a favourite market among locals and visitors alike, the popular stuff does tend to sell out fast, so make sure you check it out early if possible.
Within Yamba Farmers & Producers Market, you can find a wide variety of locally sourced and made produce, ranging from fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat to tasty baked goods and gourmet treats. There is something for everyone to savour from this quaint little market.
Being perfectly positioned between two popular beaches and at the base of Yamba Breakwater, Yamba Farmers & Producers Market also serves as a great place to sample some delicious food for a picnic along the beach or the breakwater.
After visiting Yamba Farmers & Producers Market, be sure to stroll along Yamba Breakwater to check out where Clarence River meets the open ocean.
During a walk along Yamba Breakwater, you will find and be amazed by the contrasting view of peaceful water on the riverside and wild ocean swells on the ocean side. The breakwater also offers one of the best views of Yamba Lighthouse with the beautiful Turners Beach beneath it.
While walking along Yamba Breakwater, make sure you also pay attention to the water itself, as there are often pods of dolphins playing in the water.
Being one of the best fishing spots in Yamba, you will typically find people fishing along this rocky breakwater as well.
Turners Beach is a soft sandy beach nestled on the ocean end of Yamba Breakwater. Being partially protected by the breakwater and nearby headland, Turners Beach serves some fabulous surf breaks, making it an excellent place for both swimming and surfing.
In addition to its pristine sandy beach, you can also find a range of fascinating rock formations along the eastern end of Turners Beach. These tall rock formations also make great spots for admiring the wild Pacific Ocean in very close proximity.
When I say close, I mean when you are standing on some of these rocks, you can literally have the ocean waves splashing on the rocky cliffs right beside you & feel the water splashing on your face. There were no fences to stop people from going to the cliff edge when I was visiting. However, I highly suggest keeping a safe distance when you are there, as the waves can be pretty unpredictable!
If you are interested in fishing, I did see a few people fishing among these rock formations. I’m not sure how fruitful they were, but you may want to give it a go too.
Perfectly positioned right beneath the headland where Yamba Lighthouse stands, you can also find a small walking track just behind Turners Beach to head up Pilot Hill and check out the charming Yamba Lighthouse.
With that said, this short uphill walk can be challenging for some people. If that is the case, you can also take a 2-minute drive up Pilot Hill instead.
Yamba Lighthouse is an ivory-white lighthouse with beautiful blue trims. It is built near the edge of a stunning grassland on Pilot Hill and has been navigating ships in and out of Clarence River since 1880.
Although visitors can not access the inside of Yamba Lighthouse, the lookout beneath Yamba Lighthouse is worth a visit in its own right.
From the lookout, you can get a spectacular bird’s eye view of Clarence River Mouth, Yamba Breakwater, Turners Beach, and Iluka in the distance. With the soft grassland and impressive views, this spot is also perfect for a family picnic.
Just around the other end of this grassland, you can also obtain a breathtaking view of the idyllic Yamba Beach and the iconic Pacific Hotel Yamba.
If interested, a replica of the historic Clarence River Lighthouse can be found across the road from Yamba Lighthouse. This building complex is quite interesting to check out as well.
Yamba Beach is also known as Yamba Main Beach. It is one of the most beautiful and well-equipped beaches in Yamba.
Located just a stone’s throw away from Yamba town centre, Yamba Beach offers free car parks, clean public toilets, convenient outdoor showers, great cafes, and ocean-front hotels. Picnic facilities are also available at Yamba Beach.
In addition to the various facilities, Yamba Beach offers a sandy beach with beautiful surf breaks, making it an excellent place for surfing, swimming, and sunbathing.
Towards the southern corner of Yamba Beach, you can also find a beautiful rock pool, Yamba Ocean Pool. With ocean waves continuously splashing into the pool, it is a refreshing and photogenic spot for a cool swim year-round.
To conclude your visit to Yamba Beach, you may wish to also check out Yamba Surf Life Saving Club or Pacific Hotel Yamba for a meal or a drink overlooking the stunning Yamba Beach.
Yamba Town Centre
As a small coastal town, Yamba offers a very compact town centre, with most restaurants and shops centred along Yamba Street, between Convent Lane and Wooli Street.
Although smaller than nearby Byron Bay, Yamba Town Centre still offers a good selection of grocery stores, bakeries, cafes, and restaurants. In my experience, it was a lot more enjoyable walking around the streets of Yamba in comparison to the overpopulated and over-commercialised Byron Bay.
Although serving different cuisines, many restaurants around Yamba are sourced from local produce, giving them another reason for you to check out. There are also a few cute boutiques around the town centre, which can be fun to check out as well.
Yamba is famous for its prawns, so make sure you also savour some local prawns during your visit. You can find them in the restaurants and shops within Yamba Town Centre. For the freshest catch of the day, you may also wish to check out the shops along Yamba Marina if interested.
Other Beaches in Yamba
Yamba is known as a surf town because of the numerous surfing beaches around Yamba. In addition to the beaches mentioned above, there are a couple more beaches near Yamba Town Centre, which I highly recommend if time and weather permit.
Convent Beach is another stunning surfing beach in Yamba. It is located south of Yamba Beach but well tucked away by the surrounding park and cliffs. Because of this, it is less frequented by visitors than other beaches in Yamba, making Convent Beach feels like a secluded private beach.
Dolphins are regularly spotted along Convent Beach, so look out for these cuties when visiting!
Pippi Beach is a long stretch of sandy beach south of Yamba Point. It is an excellent place for a sunset stroll. In addition to being a surfing beach, it is also a popular dog-friendly beach, with its southern end being an off-leash area.
Dolphins also frequent the water along Pippi Beach, making it a great spot to spot dolphins as well.