Framed by a lagoon, a calm cove called the Haven, a steep headland known as the Skillion, and glamorous hillside residential properties, Terrigal is a treat for those who love an outdoor coastal lifestyle. It’s also an ideal escape for city dwellers, with a thriving social scene and several exciting rooftop venues and outdoor terraces to enjoy drinks with friends.
Get to know Terrigal
Much more than a summer playground, the major appeal lies in Terrigal’s grand accessibility – beach, boutiques, cafés, markets, ice cream parlours, hotels, bars and fine dining are all bursting out of stylish shopfronts dotted along the bustling central Esplanade.
The word 'Terrigal' is thought to be based on the Aboriginal word ‘Tarragal’, meaning a place of little birds, but you’re more likely to spot dolphins, whales or rays these days. Terrigal beach is a modest 700m of the 2.8km stretch of golden sand that connects to neighbouring beach, Wamberal. The beach is patrolled from the start of the school holidays in September through to April, and you will find a small rockpool to its south and Terrigal Lagoon to the north.
Terrigal Haven, a mini beach separated by rocky headlands, is a favoured calm swimming spot for little ones and diving spot for adventurers. It’s hugged by a beautiful foreshore reserve featuring picnic tables, public bbqs, parking and amenities.
As you drive down into the heart of Terrigal, you’re immediately presented with panoramic views of the South Pacific Ocean, with the main shopping strip lined by charming Norfolk pines and places to sit and admire that million dollar view.
Terrigal Bucket List
What to do in Terrigal
1. Al fresco seaside brunching
Terrigal has a quality raft of modern café and brunch spots, some are local favourites, others are tourist hot spots. From the fresh and friendly Bellyfish Café and Island Time Espresso Bar or Freestate Café, their outdoor seating spills onto the sunny beachside boulevard. Try dog-friendly The Cheeky 3 for their generous lunch menu, or dip into Maccoa on the golden shores of Terrigal Lagoon for food and views across to The Skillion. For a bite right on the beach itself, grab a table at Surf Café Terrigal, directly below the Surf Life Saving Club.
2. Conquer The Sink challenge
This is a long-standing local ice cream eating challenge reserved for the extremely sweet toothed at Terrigal Ice Creamery. With over 50 ice cream flavours to choose from, including jaffa, liquorice and rainbow (of course), the crew will serve up a giant sink of icy scoops covered in cream and sauce for you to devour, complete with a photo to document the experience. We’d recommend calling in reinforcements for this one.
3. Quintessential beach day
Spend your day outdoors at Terrigal beach, with a relaxing swim in the waves or rockpool, hire a paddle boat to explore the lagoon, or read your latest book on the golden sand with public amenities, cafés, bars and boutique shops all within a minute’s walk. The day demands the classic Aussie beachside lunch at Terrigal Fish & Chip Co, or for a fruitier option drop by Acai Brothers for a bowl of goodness. Shower off, own that sea salt hairdo, and hunt for the perfect spot to watch sunset from one of Terrigal’s vibrant rooftop bars. See the evening off with a few scoops of pistachio gelato enjoyed at Yovida as you stroll the Esplanade.
4. Sunset and signature cocktails in a rooftop bar
Get those amazing summer holiday vibes all year round simply by nabbing one of the best seats in the house at one of Terrigal’s rooftop bars. Marvel at the view with a margherita at Mumbo Jumbo’s. Enjoy a Purple Haze at The Joker and the Thief. Sip on a Nutty Sailor at Pocket Bar. Or chill with a San Marco Spritz at Rhonda’s. The best thing about these rooftop spots? They all have killer menus too, from inspired bar snacks to tasty woodfired pizzas.
5. Fine dine on Modern Australian cuisine
Seaside villages offer something special when it comes to fine dining, especially when they source local seafood and seasonal produce to craft a modern Australian menu. Reserve a table by the window at the The Cowrie in Terrigal Heights, or revel in weekend Yumcha at the hatted restaurant, Yellowtail, with its everchanging creative menu by chef Scott Price. For a humble feast with a view of the stately Norfolk pines and ocean horizon try Seasalt at Crowne Plaza. Dine in Terrigal’s most historic building, the Old Post office, at Terrace Grill Restaurant & Bar. Or wind down with the tropical island vibes of Arc Est, stylish and simple, this restaurant is best described as Byron meets Bali.
6. Meet sealife in a local park
An exciting and interactive way for kids to learn about the world under the water awaits at The Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre. Located lagoonside along Terrigal Drive, this sustainable and ecocertified educational centre is focused on bringing the ocean to life for young people, with friendly volunteers and fresh food and drink next door for parents at Park Life Coffee.
7. Food and tunes at the Beeries
Just before entering central Terrigal, you’ll find a popular watering hole, Terrigal Hotel, with large outdoor areas, local beers on tap, plus a balcony overlooking the lagoon. Over the hill and down in the heart of this town you’ll discover the iconic Crowne Plaza Terrigal Pacific, offering beachfront accommodation to visitors for decades. In their curbside terrace you can catch live bands, food markets and the perfect spot for a sundowner at Terrigal Beach House.
8. Dive a world-class shipwreck or watch for whales
Just off the coast of Terrigal, 32 metres deep, sits a shipwreck – the ex-HMAS Adelaide – which has been transformed into an artificial reef and world-class dive attraction. Home to a healthy marine community of rays, fish and octopus, you can book a personal diving trip to the shipwreck with Pro-Dive Central Coast. Alternatively, stay above the surface and book a dolphin or whale-watching adventure (between May to November), with Andrew Jones, owner and skipper of Terrigal Ocean Tours.
9. Calm day in the Haven
Terrigal Haven is easily accessible via a short coastal walk from The Esplanade. If you’re an early bird, catch the worthy sunrise at Terrigal Point, the tip of a dog-friendly reserve. This site is also near a lookout where the retired Australian naval warship, the HMAS Adelaide, was scuttled in 2011 to form an easily accessible artificial dive reef. Breakfast begins with more beautiful views at the Cove Café, peering over the calm, crystal clear water that invites you for a swim or snorkel at Terrigal Haven. Stretch your legs with a steep but short walk up to the iconic Skillion, where you’re promptly greeted by a lookout across the headlands, from Avoca to Forresters Beach. Refuel nearby with fish and chips at the Haven Beach Café, book a table for an ocean-inspired meal at the Haven’s Reef Restaurant, or fill your esky with local produce to close out the day with a bbq in the Haven reserve.
10. Embrace the surfie lifestyle
You just can’t fight the feeling to lead a life by the ocean at Terrigal. Luckily, there are accredited professionals on hand to lend you a board and teach you how to catch that first wave. Try lessons with Central Coast Surf Academy, founded by ex-World Tour Surfer and local surfing celebrity Amee Donohoe, or BJ's Surf School who are also based at Terrigal. Not ready to brave the waves? Hang out with local surfers instead – enjoy a delicious nitro coffee, açai bowl or smoothie at Ocean Haus Surf Cafe, sporting a range of boards, fins, wetsuits and even cakes of wax.
11. Catch the monthly makers markets
With a fresh month comes a fresh serving of local makers, creators and producers at Terrigal Beach Markets on the beachfront. Held on the first Saturday of the month, the community event invites you to browse fashion, food, and various handmade items crafted by small businesses. Terrigal also offers a unique Car Boot Sale held on the first Sunday of each month (except January) at Terrigal Lagoon Reserve.
Take a look at what is around the corner from Terrigal
Terrigal shares its shores with the suburb of Wamberal, which is within walking distance and a great location for surfing. Wamberal is an ideal destination for a beachwalk from Terrigal, with café Malibu and Sal & Co brunch spots just moments from the sand. To the south of Terrigal, around the headland, sits North Avoca and Avoca Beach, which is another popular seaside village of the Central Coast with excellent surf conditions, monthly markets, and its own historic picture theatre.
If you’re keen to indulge in a little retail therapy in between beach days, Erina Fair Shopping Centre is also less than 10 minutes’ drive from Terrigal, with high street brands, boutiques, grocery stores, a gym, library, cinema, food court, restaurants and home to Erina Ice Arena.
Erina Ice Arena is a vibrant indoor recreational facility with public sessions that provide the perfect opportunity for anyone to experience ice skating - escape from the heat in Summer or embrace the cold for a complete Winter experience. They also have discos, ice hockey games and figure skating performances. To find a comprehensive list of session times and to book tickets, visit the website.
A little taste of Terrigal...