Terrigal is the most popular beach getaway on the Central Coast.
The beach is backed by great cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Terrigal is like a mini-city on a beach. Think of a mini-Manly. This place definitely makes for a great escape from Sydney.
plenty of tips to help you plan your visit – like the best things to do, where
to eat and the best places to stay.
The name 'Terrigal' originates either from the Aboriginal word Tarriga, meaning 'where one can find wild figs', or Tarragal, meaning a 'place of little birds'.
This town has great accommodation and eating options that suit everyone.
It’s a particularly relaxing spot for families. Kids can swim in the gentle waves and the beach is patrolled by lifesavers. Plus restaurants and shops are a stone throw from the beach.
This area is also picturesque…
An old news article defines this area as one of the “prettiest spots in this picturesque district”. It’s hard to disagree… The curving 2.8 km beach extends to Wamberal Beach on one side and is bordered by a rising landform on the other. I must admit, there are great ocean views from wherever you stand in this town. You can’t get away from the views.
This place is also lively…
It’s populated with lively people, lively bars and early risers who are already in the water before the sun rises. In the evenings cars queue to get into town to go out for the night. People are having drinks on terraces or heading to restaurants. Music from Florida Beach Bar can be heard throughout town.
The only thing I don’t like here is the traffic congestion and time it takes to find parking. This town is very busy during summer holidays. But we enjoy visiting outside school holidays and long weekends. Terrigal is definitely the most dynamic town on the Central Coast.
All attractions listed below are within 30 minutes’ drive from here. If you’re looking for more things to do on the Central Coast, here are useful pages:
There are two beaches in this town:
The main beach, Terrigal Beach, is at the southern end of a nearly 4-kilometre long stretch of sand. (Wamberal Beach lies in the middle and Spoon Bay at the northern end.)
This beach is popular for swimming. It’s patrolled from the beginning of the school holidays in September to the end of the school holidays in April. The waves are generally small because it’s sheltered by the headland. Toddlers can also have a dip in the protected rockpool.
Besides, it’s a great beach to hang out. There’s a paved walking path behind the sand and a grassy area that’s shaded by tall pine trees. And there are toilets and a cafe right on the beachfront.
Read more on the beach and see photos.
The other beach is at Terrigal Haven. It’s a small and sheltered beach in a cove. It’s one of the most child-friendly beaches on the Central Coast. We often used to swim there when the kids were very young. There are also picnic tables and barbecues.
Surfing is also popular here. Experienced surfers surf off the point or at Wamberal Beach. And beginners surf in the smaller waves near the shore – if you want to take surfing lessons check out Central Coast Surf Academy.
Other than surfing and swimming, there are many more activities you can do in the lagoon and in the cove.
At the lagoon, there are paddleboards for hire in front of Clan Lakeside Lodge. In the cove at the Haven, you can kayak, fish, stand up paddleboard and snorkel. There’s also a boat ramp. Besides, several fishing charters operate from the Haven:
Diving tours also operate from the Haven. Pro-Dive Central Coast offers diving trips to the HMAS Adelaide. This naval warship was scuttled off the coast to create a diving site.
Terrigal Haven and the Skillion are my favourite spots in this town. I already talked about the beach. But The Skillion is the most popular landmark here. This bluff rises up to a lookout with views of neighbouring beaches and rugged cliffs. There are stairs and a handrail.
Also, follow the path around the Haven – there are great ocean views. There’s also a dog exercise area.
The Marine Discovery Centre is a great place to spend a couple of hours with the kids. Children learn about the local marine life. There’s a display of sea animals and kids can touch some creatures in one of the basins. The tour is followed by a short movie and activities for children to reinforce their learning. $5 adults, $3 child, $13 families. 11 Terrigal Drive.
Terrigal markets – First Saturday of the month on the beachfront from 9 am - 3 pm. There are clothes, candles, jewellery, soaps, relishes & chutneys and more.
Car Boot Sales – First Sunday of every month at
Lions Park corner of Terrigal Drive and Willoughby Road from 7.30 am - 1 pm.
Avoca Beachside Markets – Fourth Sunday of the month at Heazlett Park in Avoca Beach from 9 am – 2 pm. They’re my favourite markets. They sell quality clothes and homeware and delicious food. There’s also entertainment for the kids and live music. These markets are worth the 10-minute drive. Read more on Avoca Beachside Markets here.
Greedy Guts Markets – Second Friday of the month at Florida Beach Bar, Crowne Plaza Hotel, from 5.30 pm - 10.30 pm. There’s live music and delicious plates from street food pop-ups like Filipino cuisine from Pasalubongs Filipino Soul Food, Gourmet burger from Cheat Day Burgers, Paella from Tapas Market, Street tacos from La CALLE, Peruvian Street Food from Ola Chola and more.
Hire pedal-boats, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards at Aquafun on Avoca Lake. Choose a specific amount of time you’d like to have the boats for and swap as many times as you like. Older children can go on their own. Aquafun is my daughter’s favourite activity. Open Sept-May on weekends and school holidays. Located on Ficus Ave in Avoca Beach.
The single-screen Avoca Beach Picture Theatre screens quality movies. They show independent and foreign films. They often hold special evenings such as French or Italian. And you can enjoy a glass of wine with a movie. This movie theatre was nominated as one of the “ten most beautiful cinemas” in the world. And it has received several awards. Located 69 Avoca Drive, Avoca Beach.
Ken Duncan is renowned worldwide for his stunning panoramic images. He has received many awards over the years. You can visit his gallery for free and have lunch and coffee at the gallery’s cafe. It’s a nice couple of hours to spare. You'll see photos of iconic locations on the Central Coast. Open 10 am – 5 pm daily except New Year’s Day, Australia Day, Good Friday, Anzac Day, Christmas & Boxing Day. Located 414 The Entrance Road, Erina Heights.
Distillery Botanica is the best place to taste and buy gin. Taste and buy award-winning liqueur made with plants, such as aniseed and lemon myrtle. Gin is made with Australian natives. Philip Moore has won many awards including the 'Herb Liqueur of the Year' in Germany and a silver for gin in London. Open Wed to Sun 10 am – 5 pm. Located 25 Portsmouth Road, Erina.
Bouddi Coastal Walk is a stunning 8-km coastal walk between Macmasters Beach and Putty Beach. It’s one of my favourite walks on the Central Coast – the views are amazing. Also the walk gives a good workout and you can swim at beaches along the way.
Six String Brewery serves handcrafted beers. The beer is unpasteurized and free of additives and preservatives. Local musicians perform in the weekends. The place is family-friendly. Located 4/330 The Entrance Road, Erina.
Block 'n Tackle Brewery serves handcrafted beer, and they offer tasting paddles and delicious food made by WTF. Block & Tackle is family-friendly. Located Unit 1, 11-13 Cochrone Street, Kincumber.
Bamboo Buddha Cafe is a vegetarian cafe with a meditative vibe. It’s located in a peaceful and lush sanctuary at Holgate. (If you’re going to Erina Fair Shopping Centre the cafe is only a short detour.) The cafe is dog-friendly, and kids love feeding the fish in the koi and goldfish pond. Have a coffee there if you’d like somewhere peaceful and different. Located 221 Wattle Tree Road, Holgate.
Booking.com is a great website to search for accommodation in Terrigal. It allows you to compare the cost of different places and see what’s available for your dates. This website also allows free cancellation on most rooms.
There are many good restaurants in Terrigal. It’s the place to go on the Central Coast for fine dining. I’m not going to name them all, but below are some of the locals’ favourites.
Located 1 hr 30 min from Sydney and 1 hr 20 min from Newcastle via the M1.
Parking: traffic is congested here. So it’s better to find parking straight away when you get here and walk the rest of the day. Free parking is available at one of the following 3 carparks. Click on the link for directions on Google Map:
Free Multi-storey carpark on Wilson Rd – it’s the best carpark closest to the shops and main beach. Better to get there from the backway rather than following The Scenic Highway along the beachfront.
The Haven carpark – it’s a great spot for parking, but it’s a 10 minutes’ walk to the main beach and shops.
Beside the Surf Life Saving club – closest carpark to the beach, but it’s full most of the time and it’s a 2-hour car park.