Unlike the popular shorelines north of Sydney – like the Central Coast and, closer to the Queensland border, Byron Bay – the South Coast still feels a bit like an open secret. So much of it remains untouched by development and rapid tourism: the beaches are still pristine, the villages still laid-back, the restaurants and pubs still unpretentious.

Visitors coming to the South Coast from Sydney will usually find themselves in Jervis Bay, and for good reason – just three hours’ drive from the CBD, it’s a good reminder of what a good old-fashioned beach town should feel like.

Take a dip at one of its many white-sand beaches, snorkel in the protected marine park or stretch your legs on a scenic walk. Whatever you want to do in the area, we’ve rounded up eight of the best Airbnbs where you can rest your head at the end of the day.

Barranca, Myola

Sleeps 2–10 / from $518 per night / two-night minimum On 20 acres of private bushland, Barranca’s Jervis Bay outpost (the original is in Kangaroo Valley) caters to both big group trips and romantic getaways. Marlu House is a three-bedroom retreat with an annex that contains two more bedrooms if you need them. It can fit up to 10 – take turns with the two bathtubs, barbeque and outdoor shower, then hop on the ferry to Huskisson. The Hideaway, meanwhile, is a tiny cabin offering privacy and seclusion on an old wildflower farm, with a king bed, brass outdoor shower, barbeque, deck and firepit.

The Driftaway, Wrights Beach

Sleeps 8 / from $920 per night / two-night minimum Waterfront accommodation takes on a whole new meaning at The Driftaway, so close to the edge of St Georges Basin it’ll feel like you’re floating above it. Bifold glass doors in the living area open up to the estuary, letting in the sounds and sights of the basin. There’s also a fireplace, a generous kitchen, a dining space and four spacious bedrooms. You can dip your toes from the private jetty, or it’s a short nine-minute drive to Hyams Beach, which is renowned for its fine white sand.

The Hatch, Huskisson

Sleeps 8 / from $800 per night / two-night minimum A short walk from Huskisson’s restaurants, cafes, pubs, shops and beaches, The Hatch is a coastal retreat that invites you to slow down and stay a while. The plant-filled back verandah has a barbeque and outdoor dining set-up, but the highlight is the above-ground spa – take a dip whenever you please. Inside, the house has four bedrooms, a full kitchen, cosy living space and a dining area with rattan furnishings to bring the outdoors in.

Cloud Nine, Vincentia

Sleeps 6 / from $748 per night / two-night minimum You might picture a beach house as a sun-filled, white-walled space with beige and light wood accents. But Cloud Nine dials up the sophistication with a charred timber exterior, a concrete fit-out, and black furnishings to contrast with its spectacular sunrise views. This luxury villa is situated on one of Vincentia’s highest points, with 180-degree views of the bay and Point Perpendicular (even from the shower). Enjoy a breather on the upper deck and see if you can spot whales or dolphins, relax in the egg-shaped freestanding tub, take a soak in the outdoor hot tub or gather round the firepit.

The Arc, Vincentia

Sleeps 4 / from $315 per night / two-night minimum With 6.5 kilometres of powdery white sand, Vincentia is one of the more popular towns around Jervis Bay. This two-storey townhouse is a short walk from Orion Beach and has a modern beach house feel to match, with crisp white linens, light timber furnishings and raffia accents. There’s a corner bath for relaxing in, as well as an outdoor deck with a barbeque and cosy reading nook complete with a beach umbrella and hammock. Collingwood, Greenfield and Hyams beaches are also nearby.

Akora Cabin, Hyams Beach

Sleeps 2 / from $555 per night / two-night minimum Celebrity interior designer Darren Palmer is behind this one-bedroom home just a short stroll from the world-famous Hyams Beach. Despite its size, it’s got a generous queen bed, living area, full kitchen, bathroom and laundry, plus a large deck and two outdoor spaces with day beds and dining and barbeque areas. The tree canopy affords privacy, although given its proximity to the beach, we don’t think you’ll be hanging around the backyard much.

Orana Home, Sanctuary Point

Sleeps 2 / from $260 per night / two-night minimum While most of the houses around Jervis Bay lean into their proximity to the beach, this tranquil cabin embraces its bush surroundings. Native trees peek in through the skylights, there’s a wood fireplace for getting cosy, the outdoor area lets you sit in nature for a while, and kangaroos and kookaburras visit every now and then. But if it’s beaches you’re looking for, some of the area’s best are a short drive away.

Bay Keepers, Vincentia

Sleeps 6 / from $529 per night / two-night minimum With a deck that overlooks the blue waters of the bay, this humble abode feels just like home – if home was a coastal beach house, at least. There are two queen bedrooms perfect for couples, with two single beds in the third room. One of the two bathrooms has a tub, and outside there’s an al fresco area with a barbeque, dining set and lounge. Bonus for pet parents: you can bring your pooch, too.

We hope you like the places we recommend on Broadsheet. Our editors select each one independently. Broadsheet may receive an affiliate commission when you follow some links.