Moderately hazardous: 4-6
Highly hazardous: 7-8
Extremely hazardous: 9-10
The main Merimbula-Pambula Beach (NSW 671) is one of the longest on the far south coast. The beach begins at the low sandy Merimbula inlet then sweeps in a broad east-facing arc (Fig. 4.424 & 4.25)) for 5.9 km to the shaly rocks at Pambula. It is backed by a low regressive sand barrier that formed following the rise in sea level 6500 years ago and has built seaward 300-400 m as a series of low densely vegetated foredune ridges. In the north these are now covered by residential development, with access and parking to Main (Merimbula) beach, while the Merrimbula Airport occupies the centre. A surf club existed at Merimbula Beach for some years, however it is now defunct and the beach is patrolled in summer by lifeguards. Most of the central beach is undeveloped, with two vehicle tracks leading to the beach. The southern end is accessed via Pambula and leads to Pambula Beach settlement with its beachfront caravan park and Pambula SLSC (founded 1930) (Fig. 4.26). The beach consists of fine to medium sand, which combined with the waves averaging 1.5 m, maintains a low gradient beach and double bar system. The inner bar runs the length of the beach and is usually cut by rips every 200-300 m, resulting in up to 30 rips along the beach (Fig. 4.425). A longshore trough separates it from the outer bar, which is cut by more widely spaced rips. At Merimbula the beach runs into the lake mouth with its strong tidal currents and deep channel and forms extensive tidal shoals and channels extending 400 m off the inlet. At Pambula a strong rip often runs out against the southern rocks.
Bar Beach is usually quiet and popular, though adjacent to the deep tidal channel. Rips dominate Merimbula-Pambula and to a lesser extent Little, so use caution and swim in the two patrolled areas.
The Merimbula Bar and Pambula Bar are both well-known and popular spots when working. Both break over the river mouth tidal sand shoals with potentially long rides: the left at Merimbula holding to 3 m and Pambula requiring larger seas to work. In between are numerous beach breaks on the inner an outer bar.
The northern lake mouth and southern river mouth are both accessible and popular, while persistent rip gutters are usually found the length of the beach.
Merimbula is a major coastal town of 5000 located on the northern shores of Merimbula Lake, which flows out in lee of Merimbula Point. The points protrudes 1.7 km to the southeast and forms the northern boundary of 5 km wide Merimbula Bay, with Haycock Point on the southern boundary. In between the two points is 13 km of shoreline, including the long Merimbula-Pambula beach, and five smaller beaches (NSW 670-675).