The Central Coast, located just over an hour north of Sydney, is a region offering expansive beaches and entry points to some of NSW’s greatest national parks. For me, it is the allure of small towns dotted with delicious restaurants and the promise of just the pool and the beach as your day’s activities, that continue to entice me to the area.
In particular, over the past couple of months I’ve spent time in Terrigal and from my time there, have collated this list for you so that you can ensure to get in all the greats on your visit.
The easiest way to get to Terrigal is to drive from Sydney, although public transport can get you there too. Within 90 minutes you’ll arrive from the Sydney CBD to the beach of Terrigal which makes this a great place to go especially when you have only limited time for your vacation. A weekend in Terrigal is more than enough to see everything…it really just depends how long you want to spend relaxing by the water. For me, the limit does not exist on this activity!
Unfiltered, Terrigal Beach
What to do in/near Terrigal
Whilst in Terrigal you can choose to participate in a range of different activities from surfing to day spas, kayaking to long walks with beautiful views, and exploring the nearby towns like Avoca and Long Jetty…and more.
If you’re happy to move around the Central Coast area there is a distillery to visit, Erina shopping centre, a reptile park, a chocolate and fudge factory, many homewares stores, a winery and multiple other attractions. More on these to come in a future blog.
On the sands of Terrigal Beach
Where to Stay
Accommodation in Terrigal is limited as far as hotels go with the Crowne Plaza Terrigal Pacific being your biggest choice. The hotel is very well positioned and I enjoyed my stay there though I did find that areas, including some of the rooms, are dated. Alternatives are largely air bnb options or an apartment/house arranged through a local supplier like Accom. You can rent everything from a short stay studio apartment through to a ten bedroom house, etc. There are great options for whatever type of holiday you are planning.
Where to Eat
Unquestionably I have the most to say about this particular topic in Terrigal…both because its one of the main things to do, and also because we found some exceptional hits and some unfortunate misses…read on for all the tips!
Bellyfish - 112 TERRIGAL ESPLANADE, TERRIGAL, NSW, 2260, AUSTRALIA
Good food, lovely staff and great setting right across the road from the beach
Whilst not my favourite Acai bowl, I did love everything else I ate there and will be returning FOR SURE when I’m next in Terrigal because I need to try their Sticky Date Pancakes (YUM!!). Would absolutely recommend this cafe! We also went to Bellyfish for lunch and again, the food is consistently good.
Bellyfish Acai Bowl and Halloumi Breakfast Bun
Ocean Haus - Shop 1/ 5-9 Campbell Cres, Terrigal, 2260, NSW, Australia
This surf shop with a cafe counter inside may not be your obvious choice for breakfast but it should be! The menu is limited but their toasted sandwiches are delicious and they offered one of the best cups of coffee we found in Terrigal. They also have an interesting juice range which I appreciated and their cold brew was fantastic! This casual little coffee shop would be a definite for me on any future trip to Terrigal!
Toasted Sandwiches, Cold Brew, Juice and Smoothie at Ocean Hous, Surf Store
Island Cafe - 104 Terrigal Esplanade, Terrigal, New South Whales, Australia, 2260
This Hawaiian inspired cafe also sits directly across the road from the beach and offers everything from a menu worth of Acai bowl options, to cocktails, a range of poke bowls and plenty of sandwiches and other main meals for both breakfast and lunch. I found that the food was somewhat hit and miss, however, the hits were really delicious and worth going back for! Really great juices as well at this cafe.
Island Time Surf Bowl and Classic Acai Bowl
** All three of these cafes are open for lunch as well but do close by around 2-3ish.
Joker and the Thief - Shop 6/90 Terrigal Esplanade, Terrigal NSW 2260
My favourite lunch in Terrigal for sure, this place is great any time of the day but do make sure to book or you won’t be able to get in - it is always that busy! They have some great gin cocktails that they’re known for and, my personal favourite, a whole menu of espresso martinis. As far as food goes, their salads and grilled calamari are the hands down winners. Definitely visit this place, night or day!
Blue Lemon Sushi - 4A Campbell Cres, Terrigal NSW 2260
We opted for the bento boxes and regretted the decision as we had heard the sushi was good and the bento box did leave quite a bit to be desired. It is a good local Japanese restaurant with definitely the right idea but ultimately, we left disappointed.
Thaiger Temple - Shop 1/100-102 Terrigal Esplanade, Terrigal NSW 2260
Presenting a cool looking bar area and positioned right across the road from the beach, Thaiger Temple is definitely an easy place to drop into for a quick bite. We found that as far as Thai restaurants go, this one left quite a lot to be desired, but also thought that this may be more of a night place than day…especially because of the bar.
Seabay - 62 Terrigal Esplanade, Terrigal NSW 2260
Easily our worst meal in Terrigal, this is one unfortunately I could not recommend. I LOVE Chinese food and found that I couldn’t eat this because it was just so unappealing in presentation and taste. Firstly the portions are enormous, secondly everything tasted like cabbage no matter what we had and thirdly, we were disappointed that the staff could see that we had not touched more than one bite of anything, asked us if it was okay and when we said no, they just brought us the bill full price. It was an expensive meal for such bad food, though I must admit, per dish, the food is cheap. I really wanted to like this one - I love Chinese food and was craving that day…and this was disappointing.
Food at Seabay
We also went back to Bellyfish for lunch which was great!
Arc. Est - Shop 7/18 Church St, Terrigal NSW 2260
Loved this place! We had such a good night there with great wine, delicious oysters to start and then a great meal. The staff here were absolutely delightful - so friendly and attentive - and we thoroughly enjoyed the night. This would be one that I’d return to when next in Terrigal for sure!
Oysters, Zucchini Flowers, Market Fish and Chocolate Mouse with Caramelised Banana at Arc sEt
Rhondas - 3/5 Kurrawyba Ave, Terrigal NSW 2260
Good Italian restaurant with an extensive menu, including a set and tasting menu, Rhondas has a nice atmosphere and Im sure on the weekends is truly packed! We enjoyed our food but it was the Nutella Ravioli for dessert that was the absolute winner of the evening - so good!!
Rhonda's Slow Braised Lamb Ragu and Nutella Ravioli
L’isle de France - 1 Ena St, Terrigal NSW 2260
This French restaurant is just outside of the main area of the town and though you could walk there, I’d be mindful of the fact that the restaurant is on a hill. With a hill comes a view though and that is definitely a main attraction for this restaurant. I thought that the food was good but nothing mind blowing - definitely a nice night and the steak was both well cooked and extremely generous in portion. Wouldn’t recommend the dessert here but the entree and main were good!
Terrace Grill - 4 Ash St, Terrigal NSW 2260
Undoubtably, this seemed like a restaurant for the locals and that was one of my favourite things about it! People seemed to know each other - table to table - and the waitstaff personally. You could overhear people saying 'my usual' and 'ooohhh I've never heard of that special before.' It was immediately friendly (in large part thanks to the larger than life Maitre D') and we quickly settled into the homely dining room setting on a horrendously rainy night.
We ordered the seafood platter...it was huge! It was also delicious and if you're a fan of seafood, this was great! The restaurant may not be 'anything special' to look at but look at this tower instead...nice right!
Suq - 80 Ocean View Dr, Wamberal NSW 2260
Located in the next town over, Suq is the kind of restaurant you drive from Sydney to have a meal at and go all the way home again…not even worrying about the drive because the food and experience is that good! If you’re going to the area, book a table early! We absolutely LOVED the food here! Designed to share, they recommend picking approximately 3-4 share plates between 2 people (not including dessert).
We had the Yellow Fin Sashimi in the tastiest dressing - delicious! - the Crab and Lobster snowball, the Prawn hotpot of Moroccan spices with roti bread and the Cape Grim sirloin, plus a side of parmesan corn. I’m listing our whole menu because I would comfortably recommend copying and ordering these exact dishes - they were fantastic!! The tuna and prawn hotpot were my favourites - unique, fresh and so tasty! We finished off with a passionfruit Creme Brûlée - also yum!!
Suq's Tuna Sashimi, Crab and Lobster Snowballs, Parmesan Corn, Sirloin, Prawn Hot Pot and Passionfruit Creme Brûlée
The chef came out to talk to us at the end of our meal - it was such a classy touch and really made all the difference in helping us to understand the unique combination of flavours, techniques and styles in the food and decor. The uber talented Owner and Chef, Michael Guirguis is from an Egyptian and Moroccan background but was raised around the world and studied food in about as many places. Since moving to Australia, Guirguis has opened and run successful restaurants in Sydney (Sirocco and Sorrel) and Terrigal (Novanta Quattro), and now makes his home back in Terrigal at Suq.
Loved loved loved. Will go back every time I’m in the area.
Dining at Suq
Joker and Thief - Shop 6/90 Terrigal Esplanade, Terrigal NSW 2260
I’ve already mentioned this as a great weekend lunch spot above but nightly, Joker and the Thief is one of the coolest bars in the area, with a fantastic cocktail menu and great vibe! They’re known for their signature cocktails cocktails but also have an Espresso Martini menu (good for me!). Definitely book ahead - especially on Friday and Saturday nights because this place is packed!
Classic Espresso Martini and Purple Haze cocktails at Joker and Thief
Mumbo Jumbos - 92 Terrigal Esplanade, Terrigal NSW 2260
A really fun, Mexican themed roof top bar right across the road from the beach. Depending on which night of the week you go you can enjoy different food or entertainment, but every night there is a good Mexican food menu and an even better drinks menu. Try the Pink Flamingo drink if you’re a fan of Tequila - it’s seriously delicious!!
Mumbo Jumbo's Pink Flamingo
Hands down, there are 2 places that offer the best coffee in Terrigal (and we tried a lot of them!)
The Surf Shop at Ocean Haus has fantastic coffee - especially the cold brew - so good!
My favourite Long Black of the trip (though all the coffee looked awesome) was from the Coffee Port - Shop 1/1A Campbell Cres, Terrigal NSW 2260.
Coffee from Coffee Port
Don’t mess around with the coffee….go directly to one of these two spots!! You’re welcome =)
Terrigal is such a great place to get away for the weekend. Whilst this blog is primarily focused on where to eat, know that the rest of your time can be spent peacefully on the beach, by the pool or, as I mentioned before, on one of the great walks in the area. The good thing is, with this much beach surrounding you, there really is no bad walk, no bad view. Just start strolling…you’ll find beauty very quickly!