The Coast Track from Bundeena to Otford (Royal National Park)

Last updated: August 30, 2020

The Coast Track between Bundeena and Otford in Royal National Park is one of the most iconic coastal walking tracks in Sydney and in New South Wales.

From scenic lookout points and waterfalls, to swimming spots and isolated beaches, the 26 km Coast Track truly is a once in a lifetime hiking experience.

The Coast Track
Distance:26 km (one way)
Duration:1-2 days
Grade:Hard
Dogs:Not allowed

How to Get to the Coast Track

The Coast Track can be commenced from Bundeena in the north as well as from Otford in the south. Because it’s a long-distance, one-way walking track, the best way to get there is by using public transport.

Fortunately, both Bundeena and Otford are easily accessible via public transport.

Bundeena

Bundeena has a ferry wharf with an hourly ferry service running between Bundeena and Cronulla, across the Port Hacking River.

This service is provided by Cronulla & National Park Ferry Cruises, which means you can’t use your Opal card. Check the timetable for more information and cost. The Cronulla ferry wharf is very close to the train station.

Otford

Otford has a train station and connects with Sydney Central Station. On weekends, it takes one hour to travel between Central and Otford on the Illawara and South Coast train lines, which is very reasonable. Check the Transpost NSW trip planner website for more information.

If you do wish to travel by car, both Bundeena and Otford have free street parking options available.

Starting Point

The official starting point of the Coast Track is at the end of Beachcomber Ave (1) in Bundeena. The walk can also be started from the western end of Jibbon Beach (2), heading east to Jibbon Head, continuing south along the coast.

The below map has both starting points marked:

Map with starting point of the Coast Track

One Day or Two Days?

The big question is, should you be doing the Coast Track in one or in two days? The answer to that question depends on a few things.

1. Fitness

Contrary to what many people may think, the Coast Track can actually be done in one day. It certainly is a long track, but, apart from a few steep sections, the surface is mostly relatively flat.

In other words, if you’re a fit person and you have comfortable hiking boots, the track can be completed within 8 hours.

2. Pace

For some people, hiking is a way of working out. High pace, fresh air, and get those legs pumping.

For others however, hiking is more of a social activity, to be enjoyed with others, while maintaining a moderate pace with a bit of sightseeing thrown into the mix.

The beautiful coastline of Royal National Park

If you fall into the first category, one day will be enough. If you’re a social hiker, two days is definitely the better option.

3. Camping

If camping is something you enjoy doing, then make the most of it. Bring your hiking tent with you, and stay overnight at the North Era campground.

Keep in mind that permits to camp at North Era camping ground in the Royal National Park need to be booked in advance.

The Coast Track From North to South

Starting at Bundeena and finishing at Otford, the track is divided into two sections, with North Era campground as the milestone located somewhere in the middle.

If you’re planning on camping, North Era campground is a great option with toilet facilities and lots of space.

In general, signage along the way is good, and despite the fact that there are several intersections with other tracks, it is relatively easy to stay on the right path.

1. Bundeena to North Era Campground (18 Km)

The official starting point of the Coast Track at the end of Beachcomber Ave in Bundeena. This also happens to be the starting point of the track to the famous Wedding Cake rock.

Little Jibbon Beach along the Coast Track

Another option is to start the walk at the western end of Jibbon Beach in Bundeena.

From there simply follow the Jibbon Loop Track around Jibbon Head and Port Hacking Point, from where the track continues south along the coast.

Wattamolla Beach

One of the highlights of the first section of the Coast Track is the Wattamolla picnic area with beach and waterfall. It’s a popular family weekend destination for swimming, fishing, snorkelling and bushwalking.

Wattamolla Lagoon

From the picnic area, it’s worth doing a short detour to the Providential Point Lookout to enjoy beautiful views of the Tasman Sea.

Eagle Rock and Curracurrong Falls

Situated around 4km south of Wattamolla are two of the most iconic landmarks in the Royal National Park.

Curracurrong Falls is one of the very few waterfalls in the world that drop straight into the ocean. When the winds are strong the water can often be seen being pushed back up, which makes for a pretty spectacular sight.

Curracurrong Falls and Eagle Head Rock

Right next to Curracurrong Falls is Eagle Head Rock, a unique rock formation that strongly resembles an eagle’s beak.

Two unique and spectacular sights, with usually very few tourists around, which allows for excellent photo opportunities.

North Era Campground

The only official camping ground along the Coast Track is located roughly 18 km south of the starting point of the walk. The ground consists of several bush camping sites in scenic, remote surroundings.

Overlooking the beach, the North Era campground is spacious and has toilet facilities, but is otherwise a very basic campsite.

Please note that bookings are essential, with a 1 night maximum stay to allow for other hikers to also enjoy a camping experience in this remote spot.

High sandstone cliffs in Royal National Park

2. North Era Campground to Otford (8 Km)

One of the perks of staying overnight at the North Era campground is that you can start the day with a refreshing morning swim with the beach literally right in front of you. Weather permitting of course!

Scenic coastal views along the Coast Track

The second stretch of the Coast Track is an 8 km hike from the camping ground to Otford.

This 3 hour adventure includes the Palm Jungle loop track, a challenging and exciting walk that takes in rainforest, cliff tops and secluded beaches.

Figure 8 Pools

The most popular sight along this track is the famous, but perhaps slightly over-hyped, Figure 8 Pools, which can be accessed via a short detour.

If visiting the Figure 8 Pools is part of your plan, make sure to check the tides beforehand because the pools are only accessible at low tide.

Figure 8 Pools in Royal National Park

The last point of interest along the Coast Track is the Otford Lookout, located at the south eastern end of the Royal National Park. Take a moment to enjoy the views and be proud of your achievement!

From the lookout it’s only a short stroll to Otford train station.

Is the Coast Track perhaps a little bit too long for you? Have a look at our list of awesome hikes in the Royal National Park to pick a shorter one!

Final Thoughts

The Coast Track is a superb, once-in-a-lifetime type hiking adventure, that requires a bit of stamina and a good level of fitness to complete. Make sure you prepare yourself well, and study the track before you go.

Public transport really is the best option to get there and conquer this walking track in the Royal National Park. Catch a ferry in Cronulla to Bundeena, and then travel back to the city from Otford train station, or vice versa.

The official starting point of the Coast Track is at the end of Beachcomber Ave in Bundeena, but the walk can also be commenced from the western end of Jibbon Beach, following the coastline around Jibbon Point and Port Hacking Point.

 

The Coast Track in Royal National Park

 
 
4 Comments
  1. I found walking from Otford to Bundeena to be significantly more difficult. It felt like the hills and stairs were never ending (we did take an accidental turn down to Hell Hole (which added a couple of kilometres and an extremely steep climb back up from the beach) and we gave up by Garrawarra farm carpark and called an Uber. I haven’t attempted starting from Otford since. Did you find this direction physically more difficult?

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for the feedback, Ash.

      I’ve only done this hike southbound so I’m not sure whether it’s harder starting at Otford. But I can imagine it is, because the track from Otford going north to the Figure Eight Pools is quite challenging, whereas the track going south from Bundeena is much easier. So when you start at Otford, you’re doing the harder section first. I’m sure the return trip down to the beach probably didn’t help either!

      Reply
  2. I’d like to do the Coast Track over two days in August, but don’t want to camp. The earlier comment mentioned getting an Uber out. Where are the best options for breaking halfway and restarting the next day using a taxi or uber service?

    Reply
    • There really aren’t any towns between Otford and Bundeena, so you’ll have trouble finding a place to stay unless you want to get a taxi (not a lot of Ubers in the national park) and stay at a B&B back in Bundeena or Otford/Helensburgh.

      Reply
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