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8 Reasons Why You Should Visit the Gold Coast Right Now

Posted on: April 10th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Broadwater Marina Mirage Aerial

Why You Should Visit the Gold Coast

Sun-kissed skin, sunny beach days, stunning rainforests and iconic Australian moments are what the Gold Coast is all about.

Whether the beach calls your name or you’re after adventure, the Gold Coast awaits.

Get a peek into the good times that never end – even after the sun sets. Here are our 8 reasons why you should visit the Gold Coast right now.

Boundless Beach Days

Girl walking along beach with paddleboard at sunrise

The Gold Coast boasts a fabulous collection of Australia’s best beaches. Their crystal blue waters, incredible surf breaks and breathtaking high-rise backdrops make Gold Coast beaches irresistible to any kind of beach goer.

Venture to Surfers Paradise Beach, the famous beach hotspot of the Gold Coast, and roll out a towel for a lazy sun-kissed day.

The new foreshore at Surfers Paradise is bustling throughout the day with walkers, cyclists and skateboarders taking advantage of this beachfront boulevard vista overlooking the surf and sand.

Like the Surfers Paradise of yesteryear, beachside shopping, dining, bars and clubs continually offer the complete holiday experience all in one compact destination package.

Broadbeach, south of Surfers Paradise is a precinct full of cafes, restaurants, retailers and is a friendly beachfront. Just a little further down the coast is Burleigh Heads, acclaimed for its beachside village vibe and array of excellent cafes.

Visitors flock to the Southern Gold Coast for its change of pace. From here, you can look back towards the Surfers Paradise skyline in the distance and really feel you’ve slowed down.

The surf is spectacular and the southern suburbs exude old-school beachside charm combined with world-class oceanfront hotels, restaurants and an array of retro festivals.

Live Like a Local

People sitting in a cafe overlooking the beach Destination Gold Coast

If you are looking for the quintessential “Aussie lifestyle” then head to the Gold Coast with its miles of sandy beaches, urban sophistication and incredible natural environment.

The city’s growth and continuing popularity as Australia’s number one holiday destination is a testament to the relaxed vibes and welcoming atmosphere that the city exudes.

The Gold Coast offers a variety of opportunities to scratch beneath the surface and live like a local.

Drop into one of it’s seriously cool micro-breweries that offer live music and food trucks, or browse its vibrant street food markets. Join the “clubbies” at the local volunteer Surf Life Saving club for a drink and world class views.

Or just take some food down to the beach, fire up one of the free BBQ’s, grab a spot among the locals and take it all in.

Conquer Your Fear of Heights on the SkyPoint Q1 Climb

Q1 SkyPoint Climb, Gold Coast

Sure, the Q1 Resort tower is the highest point in all of Gold Coast, but don’t let that scare you!

The SkyPoint Climb at Q1 is Gold Coast’s answer to Sydney’s Bridge Climb, and an absolute must-do for the best views over Gold Coast.

Starting on level 77 of SkyPoint Observation Deck, you’ll shimmy into a full body suit and strap on a harness before a safety training by a professional and friendly guide.

Harnessed to a purpose-built safety rail system, you’ll find the guided climb up to to the summit unbelievably easy. As the best way to see the true beauty of the Gold Coast, the 360 degree views make the climb truly worth it. The swells of the ocean against the coast, the lush hinterland and even views from Brisbane to Byron Bay are all yours to take in.

Rise with the sun on a morning climb or watch the city lights illuminate the evening with a night climb. You can even include a dining option with your climb – the night climb boasts a delicious shrimp tagliatelle!

As one of the best photo ops in Gold Coast, your guide will snap photos of you and your group with the backdrop of the gorgeous city skyline in the distance. By then you’ll have forgotten all about any fear of heights!

Taste the Incredible Food Scene

People in a busy bar Etsu at night

The Gold Coast’s food scene has evolved so much in the last few years, it’s a full-time job just keeping up with the latest openings.

From hatted restaurants (the Australian equivalent to Michelin stars), quirky cafes and food trucks to wine bars and craft beer taphouses, there’s something for every palate.

Relish elegant beachfront hotel dining in Surfers Paradise or sample delectable seafood on rooftop restaurants in Burleigh Heads. Get your Asian fusion mix in Broadbeach, where you’ll find creative dishes to delight your taste buds.

The locals swear by street eats such as ramen from Muso and Double Zero’s Neapolitan style pizza.

Chill out at al fresco eateries such as Sandbar with its brunch seaside menu, or see why the good tunes and pizza of Justin’s Rooftop make it a popular favorite with the locals.

Get Up Close with Wildlife at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Close-up of a koala looking at the camera

The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is the unsung attraction of the Gold Coast, home to one of the world’s largest collections of native Australian wildlife.

Catch the mini train circling around the sanctuary for easy access to the various exhibits and encounters.

Here you can pet the curious kangaroos and feed the rainbow lorikeets perched on your shoulder.

Watch an exciting crocodile feeding or catch the Dingo Walk, where you’ll get to feel the stunning white coat of Marrok, a pure white alpine dingo. Don’t miss your chance for that iconic Australia photo shoot while holding a koala!

For a unique experience, visit the hospital where you can witness the conservation team operate on sick and injured animals. The vets warmly welcome visitors and explain every aspect of their process. Now THAT’S getting up close and personal!

Head for the Hills in the Gold Coast Hinterland

Mount Tamborine women laughing at falls and walking Witches Fall Bush Walk

Hidden beneath the Gold Coast’s bold first impression is a serene hinterland filled with thriving rainforests, stunning waterfalls and fantastic walking trails. The best part is it’s all within just an hour’s drive from the hustle and bustle of Gold Coast.

Venture into the ancient, world heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests and explore its gorgeous national parks. Lamington National Park offers plenty of walking trails for all fitness levels, decorated by cascading waterfalls along the way. Walk among the shady tree canopies on the Tree Top Walkway near O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.

Take a break from the sand and find your zen in the swimming holes throughout the forest, such as the Currumbin Rock Pools.

Springbrook National Park is full of hidden gems such as caves, spectacular waterfalls and a natural bridge arch. Wherever you’re wandering throughout the rainforest, keep an eye out for kangaroos and wallabies peeking out from their bush retreats!

Catch these unique pockets of the rainforest you might’ve otherwise missed on a small group tour, our favorite way to explore the Gold Coast Hinterland.

Shop ‘Til You Dop

The Village Markets Burlegih Heads Destination Gold Coast

You won’t find a love for local markets and high-end shops alike greater than the at the Gold Coast.

Browse the stalls of handmade items and uniquely Australian products at the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets.

Feel the bohemian vibes of the Village Markets at Burleigh Heads, where you’ll find boutique stalls of fashionable and locally designed clothes along with delicious street eats.

Luxury shopping gets no better than at Pacific Fair’s offer of high-end designer digs and glamorous department stores.

An experience unto itself is Harbour Town, Australia’s largest outlet shopping center featuring premium Australian and international brands. In other words, a shopaholic’s dream.

Stay Up Late

Busy crowd outside cocktail bar Miami Marketta

When the sun goes down, the adults play.

By night, the Gold Coast’s vibrant nightlife welcomes the party-loving night owls, cocktails in hand, at laid-back music venues and rooftop bars.

Energetic, enthusiastic, electric, eclectic! These are just some of the words that sum up the social scene that Surfers Paradise was built on. Surfers Paradise comfortably maintains its position as the good-times hub of the Gold Coast.

For a generous flow of craft beer, stop by Balter Brewery for a nice, cold pint and hang out with its down-to-earth crowd.

Indulge in exuberant luxury at The Star’s 24-hour casino or mingle with the locals at a true Gold Coast rooftop icon – The Island.

Experience a taste of international street food and nightlife at Miami Marketta, a small venue housing 25 food vendors and fantastic live music.

Whether you’re looking for a wild night out in the city or a more relaxed end to your day, the Gold Coast’s extensive nightlife has something for all night-owls.

Ready to Go to the Gold Coast?

Incredible beaches, lush hinterland, theme parks – there’s no end to the reasons to visit the Gold Coast.

This iconic tourist destination is a must for a glimpse into the quintessential “Aussie lifestyle.”

Feeling the call of the Gold Coast? Let’s start planning your trip today! As experts in Australian travel, we’ll help plan your vacation to include a stay in the Gold Coast. We know it’ll be a highlight of your trip!

I Want to Go to the Gold Coast!


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Things People Say After Seeing the Great Barrier Reef

Posted on: April 4th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Things People Say After Seeing the Great Barrier Reef

Forever a huge draw to Australia, seeing the Great Barrier Reef never fails to inspire a huge rush of emotions.

As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the reef is on the bucket list for nature-lovers and travelers alike.

But what is seeing the reef really like?

Are the colors and marine life as vibrant as you see in the postcards?

Is the reef still quite a sight to see?

Our clients weigh in on their Great Barrier Reef experience – and some unexpected surprises.

“We loved the helicopter ride at the reef because it gave us a feel for how large the reef is.”

Great Barrier Reef from above photo credit Sheri Hardin

Photo by: Sheri Hardin

With a scenic helicopter ride over the reef, Sheri Hardin was able to take in the immense size of the reef from a different perspective.

When you’re snorkeling up close to intricate coral gardens and gazing at the colors around you, it’s easy to forget the enormous size of the reef.

Made up of over 900 islands stretching over 1,600 miles along the coast of Queensland, the reef is approximately the same area size as Japan – and visible from outer space!

This means no two spots of the reef are the same – the marine and reef life in the northern part of the reef is different to that in the south.

But the reef takes on an entirely different look when gazed at from above.

The tantalizing blue waters of the reef blend into almost luminescent shades of turquoise – truly breathtaking to behold.

“I did not know snuba was available but was happy it was. It’s like scuba diving but you pull your tank above you.”

Sheri Hardin snuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef

Sheri Hardin snuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns

Fascinated with the reef by air, Sheri wanted to go beyond snorkeling to get as up close to the reef as possible.

From glass bottom boats to semi-submersibles, she could easily see the reef without even dipping a toe in the water.

But Sheri felt a little courageous. Though scuba diving seemed daunting, she found the perfect balance with snuba.

With the help of marine biologists, tourism operators are always coming up with new, safe ways to see the reef.

One of these new ways rapidly gaining popularity is snuba, a perfect combination of snorkeling and scuba diving.

After strapping on her snorkeling gear, a snuba harness and light weight belt,  Sheri was ready to go.

Breathing from a scuba mouthpiece through a long air line attached to a floating air tank, she explored the reef with ultimate freedom.

No need to come up for air, no heavy equipment weighing her down. No diving experience necessary and easier than snorkeling.

The best part was seeing those hidden sea creatures easily missed by snorkelers!

“The Barrier Reef was great…We were thrilled!”

Barbara McHuron on a helmet dive at the Great Barrier Reef

Barbara McHuron on a helmet dive at the Great Barrier Reef

Although Barbara McHuron is terrified of the water, she was determined to see the reef in its full glory.

Glass bottom boats and semi-submersibles wouldn’t cut it.

After taking swimming lessons just for this trip to the reef, she was ready for a helmet dive.

Another fantastic way for non-swimmers to see the reef, helmet dives allow you to breath normally while walking among the fish and corals.

Once the crew secured the diving helmet on her, Barbara walked down the ramp steps to an underwater reef platform.

She was immediately greeted by curious fish as fascinated with her helmet as she was by them.

“Our favorite moment was when the crew did a fish feeding and the bigger fish came up to the barge.”

Snorkelers swimming with a Maori wrasse fish at the Great Barrier Reef credit Tourism and Events Queensland

On her Great Barrier Reef excursion, Haley Olson and her husband were given stinger suits for protection.

Stinger season was approaching, and it’s much better to be safe than sorry.

This turned out to be a good call after all, as they caught glimpses of jellyfish floating by.

But with the impenetrable protection of their stinger suits and the abundance of marine life in the water below, they quickly forgot about these stingers.

With colorful tropical fish of different sizes and incredible coral formations, it’s easy to get lost in the underwater wonderland of the reef.

Even more amazing is when a gigantic blue fish swims up to you and refuses to leave until you pet him.

Who knew fish could be so social?

On the Great Eight list of the Great Barrier Reef, the curious Humphead or Maori Wrasse fish is known to swim right up to snorkelers and divers.

This large blue fish grows up to 6 feet in length and weighs up to 400 pounds – quite the friendly giant!

Excursions out to the reef often include a fish feeding. Among the hungry frequenters is a Maori wrasse, charming Haley with its friendliness and dazzling shades of blue and green.

“I immediately came back up from the water and cried!”

Snorkeler swimming alongside manta ray above coral reefs credit Tourism and Events Queensland

Photo Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland/Fabrice Jaine

After donning on her fins and snorkel mask, Gretchen Ibarra carefully lowered herself into the water from the reef pontoon. She couldn’t see any coral at first, as there was something blocking her view.

A giant, curious manta ray had made its way close to Gretchen for a quick ‘hello!’

Gazing at the manta ray for a few moments, she rushed back to the water’s surface, eyes filling with tears.

The crew immediately congratulated her – this was a moment many people only dream about.

Also slated as one of the Great Eight of the Great Barrier Reef, these majestic and harmless creatures are big bucket list items for snorkelers and divers. As shy creatures that keep mostly to themselves, manta rays remain a bit of a mystery.

With a wingspan of up to 22 feet, seeing these creatures up close is an incredible experience you just have to see to believe. It’s like seeing a small car just glide past you underwater!

You’ll find manta rays hanging out in the waters of Lady Elliot Island, Osprey Reef, Heron Island and Lady Musgrove Island. The best time to see them is during the Australian winter months in May and June.

“A lot of people say the Reef is dead, but that’s not true. The locals say it is on a slow recovery right now and is still quite the sight to see!”

Nicholas Culhane posing with a sea turtle while diving at the Great Barrier Reef

Nicholas Culhane posing with a sea turtle.

Any fears Nicholas Culhane felt on his first diving trip were quelled by the extremely knowledgeable and outgoing crew onboard. His comfort was their utmost priority.

And as often happens – after his first dive, Nicholas couldn’t get enough.

But nothing could prepare him for the exhilarating rush when a sea turtle and 5-foot long reef shark joined him on a swim!

From parrotfish to clownfish to giant clams and reef sharks, the marine life he saw on the outer reef was plentiful and thriving.

More than 1,500 species of fish, over 300 species of molluscs, 30 species of whales and six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles call this reef their home.

Despite recent coral bleaching events affecting coral systems around the globe, the reef remains one of the healthiest and most protected reefs in the world.

Standard excursions out to the reef are joined by marine biologists who provide a wealth of information regarding the health of the reef and marine life.

In fact, tourism operators play an important role in managing its recovery and helping visitors learn about the reef.

Ready to See the Great Barrier Reef?

Arguably Australia’s most precious natural asset, the Great Barrier Reef is a must for any traveler visiting from around the world.

No matter the kind of person you are – whether you’re terrified of the water or can’t get enough – there’s a way to see the reef perfect just for you.

Glorious and packing unexpected surprises, the unparalleled diversity and natural beauty of the reef awaits.

I Want to See the Great Barrier Reef!


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9 Incredible Things to Do on Australia’s East Coast

Posted on: March 20th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

One of Australia’s many unique qualities is its dynamic coastline.

You’ve got warm tropical waters and the Great Barrier Reef in the north, Australia’s best collection of beaches along the central east coast and towering cliffs in the south.

One of the most popular and dream travel itineraries in Australia is traveling along its east coast.

You’ll find travelers from around the world making their way from Cairns in the tropical north all the way to Melbourne in the south.

But we’ll show you the best destinations you must visit while traveling along Australia’s east coast.

See the Great Barrier Reef

Scuba diving at Agincourt Reef Tropical North Queensland credit Tourism and Events Queensland

Whether you’re in Cairns or Port Douglas, you can’t pass up seeing the Great Barrier Reef.

This must-do in Australia is so insanely popular for good reason. It’s the largest living organism in the world yet looks entirely otherworldly.

Nothing beats those underwater views of this colorful reef wonderland, filled with tropical fish flitting in and out of sight.

The great thing about the reef is the numerous ways to see it. From glass bottom boats to semi-submersibles and underwater viewing observatories, you can see the reef without getting wet!

To see the ultimate splendor and beauty of the reef, you’ll need to take a trip to the outer reef. Check out our Great Barrier Reef guide for more details on seeing the reef in your own style.

Sail the Whitsunday Islands

Couple on bow bareboating credit Tourism and Events Queensland

Not many international travelers know about this hidden part of Australia. Situated between Cairns and the Sunshine Coast, this region sits on the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.

Surrounded by 74 idyllic islands and protected by the reef, the calm waters make this a paradise for sailing and bareboating.

And the 74 Whitsunday Islands are your playground of pristine wilderness.

Mostly covered in uninhabited national parks and secluded beaches, the Whitsundays are just waiting to be explored by the adventurous.

Be the first to walk on untouched beaches each morning. Discover cascading waterfalls and dry rainforest walking trails hidden on the islands. Or even camp overnight at designated camping grounds.

The best part is no license is required for bareboating!

See the Tantalizing Swirls of Whitehaven Beach from Hill Inlet

Couple looking out over Hill Inlet at Whitehaven Beach credit Tourism and Events Queensland

Let’s face it – there ‘s no end to the list of gorgeous beaches in Australia. You’ll find fantastic beaches all along the coast.

But there’s only a few that rank among the best in the entire world, and Whitehaven Beach is always counted in that number.

With sparkling, white sand so fine it squeaks beneath your feet and waters so clear and blue like something out of Photoshop, this beach is a gem of the Whitsundays.

Located on Whitsunday Island, you’ll need to take a boat tour to get to Whitehaven Beach.

Once you arrive, you’ll want to take the short trek to Hill Inlet, where swirls of white sand and turquoise water blend in stunning shades.

The sight alone is worth a trip to the Whitsundays.

Spot Whales in Hervey Bay

Whale Watching credit Tourism and Events Queensland

If you’re in Australia with the hopes of spotting a whale, you should make a stop in Hervey Bay. This coastal city near Fraser Island is one of Australia’s best spots for whale watching.

Between July and October you’ll spot humpback whales swimming by Hervey Bay – sheltered by Fraser Island, the calm and clear waters are perfect for resting their young.

Setting out on a whale watching cruise sometimes entails an amazing perk – the whales often like to venture close to the boats, showing off with spectacular breaches!

Go for a Dip in Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island

Girl standing in clear waters of Lake McKenzie credit Jules Ingall

As the world’s largest sand island and only site where rainforest grows on sand, Fraser Island is out to impress.

And with pristine freshwater lakes, creeks framed in greenery and long stretches of beaches prime for 4wd adventure, this island will become your next ‘happy place.’

Though the beaches at Fraser Island are not quite swimmer-friendly, Lake McKenzie more than makes up for it.

With soft white sand and unbelievably crystal blue water, Lake McKenzie is considered the crown jewel of Fraser Island. After one day on the lake here, no other lake will measure up.

Discover Hidden Gems in the Noosa National Park

Koala in tree in Noosa National Park credit Tourism and Events Queensland

For the perfect mix of coastal scenery, native wildlife and refreshing rainforest, spend a day at the Noosa National Park.

You’ll spot something new and breathtaking every way you turn. Koalas napping among eucalyptus trees, spectacular hidden bays and beaches, even wild dolphins and whales – this enviable national park has it all.

Boasting five walking tracks, the most popular is the Coastal Walk, winding through lush shady trees, rocky coasts and clifftops.

Stop for a refreshing dip at the beach in Tea Tree Bay and spot dolphins from Dolphin Point or Hell’s Gate.

Becoming increasingly popular with travelers, this hidden secret is a must on the Australian east coast.

Walk to the Byron Bay Lighthouse at Cape Byron

ape Byron Lighthouse at Byron Bay credit Destination NSW

Byron Bay sees the sunrise first in all of Australia. That alone sets the tone of this coastal town – the atmosphere is like a perpetual bohemian festival.

Everyone is super relaxed, smiles are found at every turn and the surrounding natural beauty and sunshine cures all ailments.

This easy-going town is a favorite with Aussies – you’ll find that most visitors are in fact from within Australia.

And locals agree that an absolute must-do is the coastal walk up to the Cape Byron Lighthouse. Follow the boardwalk on Lighthouse Road, winding around irresistible beaches and surf breaks.

You’ll then ascend up the headland for sea cliff views over Byron Bay and climb up the track to the lighthouse. Your reward is the unbelievable view over Cape Byron – pristine blue water set against green coastal bush, all from the most easterly point of the Australian mainland.

Image courtesy of Destination NSW

Take in Ocean Views on the Bondi to Coogee Walk

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi NSW credit Tourism Australia

For breathtaking views along the coast in Sydney, you could do no better than the Bondi to Coogee Walk. This clifftop coastal walk stretches out almost four miles long, winding on the edge of some of Sydney’s most popular beaches.

This track is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, and is often broken up into sections: Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach and Bronte to Coogee Beach. With many rest stops, beaches and rock pools along the way, you’ll find yourself stopping throughout the track just basking in the beauty of it all.

Make a day of it and start with a morning swim and beachside breakfast at Bondi, rest at Bronte and spend the afternoon at Coogee.

Or do it all in one go and complete a jog along the track – with stunning ocean views at your side, you’ll enjoy this incredible coastal walk either way.

Road Trip Down the Great Ocean Road

Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road

The first thing you need to know about the Great Ocean Road is that it’s so named for its magnificent beauty – but also for its length.

Stretching 151 miles long along the southeastern coast, you’ll need to plan at least two days for the trip to truly enjoy the incredible sights along the road.

This makes the trip perfect for self-drivers in Australia.

The road itself begins in Torquay, a seaside town about one hour away from Melbourne and ends at Warrnambool.

Popular stops include Bells Beach for impressive swells from the ocean crashing against towering cliffs and Split Point Lighthouse on Aireys Inlet for gorgeous coastal views.

But an absolute must-see on the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles, gigantic limestone formations jutting out from the ocean.

Looking for More Things to Do on Australia’s East Coast?

Stretching over 1600 miles, a vacation along Australia’s east coast is no easy feat – but its one of the world’s most rewarding travel routes.

Need more ideas on planning your trip to Australia? Our Australia travel experts make it easy to plan the vacation of a lifetime. Let’s start planning your dream trip!

I Want to See Australia’s East Coast!


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Places to Visit in Australia | A Guide to the Whitsundays

Posted on: November 16th, 2017 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Top Things to Do in the Whitsundays

The Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Queensland are known as Australia’s slice of tropical paradise. This idyllic chain of 74 island wonders stun visitors from around the world with their green-clad beauty and secluded white-sand beaches.

Relaxing on Whitehaven Beach

With people as warm as the year-round weather and a holiday feel as relaxed as its calm, crystal clear waters, it’s no wonder the Whitsundays are the premier destination for a tropical escape in Australia.

You’ve seen the mesmerizing pictures of Whitehaven Beach and its pure white sand. You’ve pondered seeing the underwater wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef.

How about experiencing these spectacular icons all in one trip?

Make Airlie Beach on the Whitsunday Coast the base of your next holiday, and you’ll be on the doorstep of these beautiful destinations. As gateway to the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef, Airlie Beach is the ideal threshold into the island holiday of your dreams.

Whitehaven Beach

Australia is teeming with gorgeous beaches. There’s iconic Bondi Beach in Sydney, the golden beaches of the Sunshine Coast, and a beach so perfect to catch waves it’s named Surfer’s Paradise.

But your idea of tropical paradise is probably a bit more secluded.

At Whitehaven Beach every spot is perfect to relax on its pure white sand, and the only crowds you’ll see are a mere handful of people. This world-famous beach is the crown jewel of the Whitsundays, constantly rated as the best beach in Australia.

The powdery white sand is 98 percent silica, meaning the sand never gets hot no matter how hard the sun glares. And with shallow, crystal clear waters always hovering at 77 degrees Fahrenheit, Whitehaven Beach is like something out of a dream.

Walking on Whitehaven Beach

How to Get There

Whitehaven Beach is on Whitsunday Island, the largest island of the Whitsundays. Whitsunday Island is a pristine paradise, with no hotels or resorts in sight, and the only way to reach it is by sea or air. The numerous islands and surrounding reef protect the waters, making them calm and perfect for sailing or cruising to Whitehaven Beach from Abell Point Marina at Airlie Beach.

With waters so still and an ambience so relaxed, you might be aching for a little adventure. Embark on an exhilarating ocean rafting ride and jet through the Whitsundays to Whitehaven Beach. Feel the adrenaline pulse through you as the wind plays through your hair and the water splashes around you.

Once you arrive at Whitsunday Island be sure to take the fifteen minute walk to Hill Inlet for those unbelievable views so iconic to Whitehaven Beach.

Whitehaven Beach Hill Inlet, Places to Visit in Australia

The heavenly swirls of white sands and aqua waters will be an unforgettable image ingrained forever into your memory.

Though Hill Inlet provides a commanding view over Whitehaven Beach, the best way to see the otherworldly swirls are by seaplane or helicopter.

The soft shades of blue gently blended with white sand glimmer below as you fly overhead. Land on the beach for a dramatic entrance – for a beach as breathtaking as Whitehaven, such a grand entrance is only appropriate.

Whitehaven Beach is not the only gem you can see while flying over the Whitsundays.

You’ll find the heart of the ocean lies in the Great Barrier Reef of the Whitsundays.

Heart Reef

Heart Reef by Plane

White sand beaches, vibrant green islands and clear turquoise water – the Whitsundays are a picture of utter tropical romance. But the picture isn’t complete without Heart Reef, out to steal yours.

This stunning natural composition of coral is in the perfect shape of a heart. Located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, this icon has been the site of many proposals and declarations of love as couples fly overhead by helicopter or seaplane. Heart Reef photo credit Jason Hill

The spectacular view appears just as it does in photos on post cards – untouched and brightly colored.

A deluxe scenic flight through the Whitsundays can include a trip over Whitehaven Beach and Heart Reef – two jewels of the Whitsundays. You’ll be reeling from a romance high once you land back on ground.

A more cost effective way to see Heart Reef by air is in conjunction with a visit to the Great Barrier Reef. You’ll depart from the Great Barrier Reef platoon and fly over this romantic natural beauty.

Great Barrier Reef

There’s no way you visit Australia without experiencing the Great Barrier Reef. This mind blowing natural wonder is a definitive Australia destination.

At the Whitsundays, you’re located near the central section of the Great Barrier Reef, making the region ideal for exploring the reef. Airlie Beach and a few of the island resorts of the Whitsundays provide ample ways to experience the reef  so you can enjoy this icon in your own style.

Our favorite day cruise departing Airlie Beach out to the reef combines interactive adventures of snorkeling, diving, semi-submersibles and underwater viewing observatories allowing you to see the reef no matter your skill level, or lack thereof.

The reef in the Whitsundays boasts some of the most colorful fish and coral formations anywhere in the Great Barrier Reef. The shallow, warm waters of the Whitsundays provide excellent opportunities for snorkeling.

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef at the Whitsundays

If diving is your passion, you’ll be in heaven at the Whitsundays, where tens of thousands of fish and other marine life including turtles and dolphins call home.

Want to see the reef without getting wet? Glass bottom boats, semi-submersibles and cruise ships with underwater viewing observatories allow you to marvel at the underwater wonderland of the reef without dipping a single toe in the water.

Underwater Observatory of the Great Barrier Reef

Sailing

From sunny day trips to the Great Barrier Reef to leisurely charters around the Whitsundays, sailing is perhaps the best way to explore this chain of islands.

The Whitsundays offers some of the world’s best sailing, and what better way to fall in love with this island paradise than out at sea, enveloped in the glory of a gorgeous tropical sunset?

Sailing the Whitsundays

Airlie Beach offers numerous sail tours departing the marina for half day, full day, and even overnight sailing. One of our favorite luxury yacht tours includes gourmet meals, visits to snorkel sites and Whitehaven Beach – the ultimate all-in-one Whitsundays experience.

Or you may prefer to keep it simple and sail around the bays of Airlie Beach for fantastic views of the sea on a sunset cruise.

You may even hire a private yacht for bareboat sailing without a license or experience, and set course to the Whitsundays for your own island adventure.

Pioneer Bay Sunset

Airlie Beach

As the base for all this tropical island fun, Airlie Beach is the heart and soul of the Whitsundays. The vibrant and social atmosphere in Airlie Beach is infectious and its holiday daze will soon take over, ensuring you’ll never want to leave.

And many people who planned to only visit for a few weeks end up staying forever!

Airlie Beach Shore

With the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef at its doorstep along with its laid-back main street lined with boutiques, cafes and markets, it’s not difficult to see how the tropical charm of Airlie Beach seduces visitors from around the world to its shores.

You can sunbathe at the edge of renowned Airlie Lagoon, located in the heart of the town.

Airlie Beach Lagoon

And indulge in the freshest seafood and gourmet dining in one of many thriving cafes, restaurants and bars. Tip: Head to Fish D’Vine, an Airlie Beach institution, for locally-sourced seafood and a choice of 450 types of rum.

Whitsunday Coast & Hinterland

Just minutes from Airlie Beach is the lush green rainforest of the Whitsunday Coast. Discover quiet coves, waterfalls and scenic outlooks on one of many walking trails through the hinterland.

Take a break from the beach side and explore the tropical rainforest surrounds.

Cedar Creek Falls

Cedar Creek Falls

This hidden gem is a local favorite as a day trip into the Whitsunday hinterland. Best to see during the wet season, fresh water runs off the surrounding rocks into a crisp, emerald green lagoon.

Enjoy the dappled shade of the rainforest canopy above you as you swim in the refreshing waters of the rock lagoon, and take a lunch break with a picnic in these gorgeous surrounds. Only 30 minutes away from Airlie Beach, you won’t want to miss this hidden tropical oasis of the Whitsunday Coast hinterland.

Conway National Park

Conway National Park Tourism and Events Queensland

Another popular escape into the rainforest landscape of the Whitsunday Coast is at Conway National Park. The diverse beauty of its green-clad hills, secluded beaches and panoramic outlooks over the Whitsundays is enough to lure in travelers from Airlie Beach.

Walk on a wide range of bushwalking trails winding through the park and catch sight of the many butterflies in different shades of blue, yellow and orange flutter about you in the forest. Take in the views of the Whitsundays from Mount Rooper Lookout. Discover the quiet seclusion of Coral Beach and watch as hundreds of tiny crabs run across the sand.

Best Places to Visit in Australia for Tropical Paradise

Whitsundays Secluded Beach

Not too many people know about the Whitsundays region in Queensland. When people think of a trip to Australia it’s usually to the typical destinations – the Sydney Opera House, Ayers Rock in the Outback, and the Great Barrier Reef as accessed from Cairns.

Sure, those are fantastic places to visit in Australia, but for that tropical island getaway of your dreams there’s no other place as perfect as the Whitsundays.

Whether it’s solitude and rejuvenation, fast-paced action or relaxation, you’ll find it all in the Whitsundays.

Ready to make your escape to the Whitsundays? Contact our Destination Specialists to start planning your idyllic island vacation.

I Want to Go to the Whitsundays!

 Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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22 Free Things to Do in Sydney

Posted on: August 10th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Sydney is a world-class city with limitless ways to entertain yourself and enjoy the sights.

They say that the best things in life are free, so take a tour of Australia’s most famous city with our list of free things to do in Sydney.

Explore the Sydney Harbour

The whole Harbour area is many visitors’ first-stop on a tour through Australia. You can stroll along the edge of the water and take pictures of stunning Harbour views.

Then, take a walk across the Harbour Bridge and wave to the climbers above you!

Take a look at more things to do around Sydney Harbour.

free things to do in sydney

Get Cultured at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

This Sydney mainstay will leave you in awe at the amount of amazing artwork that is on display. Australian and International works displayed in a quirky, art-deco building right inside The Rocks district.

free things to do in sydney

Photo: Tourism Australia

Soak Up the Sun

You can’t think about Australia without thinking about those sunny, golden beaches. Sydney’s beaches are some of the best and most popular in the country. Whether you’re looking to lounge and want to learn to hang-10 and surf the famous break, you can’t go wrong with a day at Bondi, Manly, Coogee or any other Sydney beach.

free things to do in sydney

Photo: Tourism Australia / Andrew Wallace

Listen to the Buskers at Circular Quay

In this bustling Harbour-side plaza you’ll find plenty of street-musicians performing for the masses. Everything from folk duos, solo musicians and didgeridoo players fill the air with the sounds of local and native tunes. It’s free to listen, but of course a busker always appreciates a good tip!

Walk the Clifftops from Bondi to Coogee Beach

Can’t decide which beach to pay a visit? How about all of them?

There are plenty of great walks in Sydney and the surrounding areas, but the walk from Bondi to Coogee Beach may just be the most spectacular. A constructed boardwalk sits perched high over seaside cliffs and runs the entire length, connecting 5 of Sydney’s sunniest beaches.

Walk along and make a stop at each beach, from surf-mecca Bondi to the sandstone-striations of Clovelly.

Bondi to Coogee Beach Walk

Visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship

This tranquil oasis in the middle of Sydney CBD is the perfect place for a peaceful pit-stop under a pagoda.

 

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Walk Through Chinatown

Sydney’s Chinatown is ranked one of the 10 best in the world. While you could go all out and try a smorgasbord of authentic Chinese cuisine – including the world-famous Golden Century Seafood Restaurant, where you can pick your own catch of the day from the fish-tank lined walls – walking through this Chinese cultural mecca in Sydney is just as satisfying.

Plan to be there on a Friday night to see Chinatown transformed in to a buzzing, outdoor night market.

Peruse Paddington Markets

One of the oldest markets in Sydney. Paddington Markets have plenty to browse through with arts, crafts, hand-made trinkets and goods and more. Walk around and enjoy the vibe of this market with Aussie locals. The market is open Saturdays from 10am to 4 pm.

free things to do in sydney

Photo: Masaru Kitano snaK Productions

Take a Free Guided Walk of the Royal Botanic Gardens

We make no secret about our love of the Royal Botanic Gardens. There’s no better place in Sydney to see such a diverse collection of flourishing flowers and lush, green plant life. The best part? You can take a free walking tour to get the in-depth low-down on this floral wonderland.

Tip: Be sure to stop for a picture at Mrs. Macquaries Chair for one of the best views from the park of the Harbour and Harbour Bridge.

Royal Botanic Garden View

Free Festivals

If you plan your trip around certain times of the year, you can take advantage of Sydney’s packed schedule of annual festivals. See the city all lit up during Vivid Sydney from May-June, see art installations, music, dance, talks and more at Sydney Festival in January, see beautiful blooms at the Cherry Blossom Festival in August and many more.

*Tip: If you miss Vivid, you can see the Sydney Opera House lit up every night with the mini light festival, Badu Gili. This 7-minute art-installation projected on the “sails” of the Opera House happens each night at sunset.

free things to do in sydney

Photo: Destination NSW

Roam Through the Oldest Park in Australia

Hyde Park is a 40-acre park smack in the middle of Sydney. At nearly 140 years old, it was the first park established in the entire country. This communal green space is manicured and pristine, with tree-lined avenues, monuments and memorials, fountains, flowers and more. Post up on a bench for a bit of people watching or take a leisurely stroll.

Explore The Rocks District

This 18th century historic Aussie settlement (one of the first ever established) has a storied past of convicts, gangs and other sordid affairs. Since then, the area has cleaned up it’s act and is perfect for a historical walk over cobbled streets, past renovated, centuries-old buildings. The Rocks is also home to two of Sydney’s oldest surviving pubs.

free things to do in Sydney

Photo: Tourism Australia

See The Rocks Museum

This unique museum is located in a restored 18th century warehouse. You’ll find a historic collection of artifacts and artwork that follow the timeline of the Rocks District, from pre-settlement to present day. Fun, interactive exhibits make this museum a history lesson that’s fun for the whole family.
free things to do in sydney

See Amazing Architecture

Sure, the Opera House is the architectural wonder that put Sydney on the map for beautiful buildings, but the industrial design of other sites will give even the most discerning eye something to geek out over.

Australia Square Tower

Australia Square Tower

St. Mary’s Cathedral

free things to do in sydney

See Local Music at a Free Gig

Sydney has an active live music scene and you can find free shows going on any night of the week, from free jazz nights at Venue 505 to free gigs and DJ nights at the chic Oxford Circus.

Stop into the Queen Victoria Building

While Queen Victoria Building (QVB) is a shop-til-you-drop paradise, you don’t need to spend anything at all to enjoy this Sydney staple. QVB makes for a great stop on a sightseeing tour of Sydney. The Victorian architecture, glass roof, tile work, stained glass panes and animated-diorama Royal Clock show an attention to detail unheard of in modern shopping malls. There is even a free historical tour.

free things to do in sydney

Image Credit: Daniel Boud; Destination NSW

See Great Works at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Curating some of the finest international and Australian art in the world, this free museum is perfect for an afternoon of art and culture. On Wednesday nights, the Gallery opens it’s doors until 10 p.m. for lectures, film screenings and more.

Stroll Through Everleigh Market

With all the usual trappings of a farmer’s market, including organic produce, coffee, juice and takeaway food, this market makes for a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Everleigh Market is adjacent to Carriageworks Art Space, so along with produce and food there are plenty of vendors offering local art and handmade goods.

See the City from Observatory Hill

Photo ops abound in this park overlooking the Harbour and Harbour Bridge. Post up for a photo, pack a picnic lunch or walk the grounds taking in the gorgeous views along the way.

free things to do in sydney

Photo: Tourism Australia

Let the Kids Play at Darling Harbour Playground

Imaginations will run wild in this inventive, outdoor activity center that will allow your children to rediscover the act of “play”. Modern and built from the ground up with ziplines, giant slides, a mega-swingset, climbable net-tower, sand diggers and much more.

Explore the National Maritime Museum

Enjoy free entrance to selected galleries and exhibitions in this museum dedicated to Aussie Naval and marine history.

Take in the View from North Head Lookout

Gaze out over views of rugged cliffs and rocky coastline that only Australia can provide. Take the scenic walking track from Manly Wharf and arrive at North Head.

free things to do in sydney

Spend Your Down Time with These Free Things to Do in Sydney

You no doubt already have a packed itinerary with plenty of the amazing tours in and around the city. But during your down time, spend some time with these great sights. We think it will take a while to exhaust this list of free things to do in Sydney, so hopefully you have enough time in the city to try them all!

If you’re ready to start planning your trip and looking for even more suggestions and tips, talk to one of our Destination Specialists. We’ll get you set up with the perfect itinerary for you and make it so the only thing you have to worry about is what to see next.

Add Sydney to My Trip

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).

15 Amazing Restaurants to Try in Sydney

Posted on: August 10th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Sydney has deservedly earned a reputation as Australia’s global city. It serves as the country’s financial center, it’s tourism capital and it’s probably the city that most people easily recognize (thanks Sydney Opera House!).

And you don’t become a world-class city without the world-class cuisine to go along with it. Check out our list of restaurants to try in Sydney and see why you’ll never go hungry in this foodie mecca.

Cheap Bites on the Go

Sydney is a big city with a lot to explore. If you like to keep moving when you’re exploring the Harbour city, pop into these walk-up and takeaway stands for a quick bite of delicious, affordable fare to fuel you for sightseeing.

Big Bite on PittBlink and you might miss the entrance to this lunchtime favorite. The sandwich is the perfect food while you’re out and about. Big Bite does them to perfection. Simple, fresh ingredients piled as high as Ayers Rock.

Lentil as Anything – This not-for-profit local concept is a restaurant with a mission. The all-vegetarian menu has no set prices and is completely pay-as-you-can-afford. They believe that those who can pay will and those who can’t still deserve a spot at the table. The food is great, but supporting the mission is even better.

restaurants to try in sydney

Hot Star Large Fried ChickenThis unassuming takeaway stand is a local favorite and easily missed by tourists. Taiwanese fried chicken is sort of a mix between the chicken shops of London and Nashville Hot Chicken in the U.S. Hot Star Large Fried Chicken markets on chicken that’s “as big as your face” and caters to the business lunch crowd and after-bar partiers alike.

restaurants to try in sydney

Cafes and Coffee

Sometimes what you really want is the perfect meal to go with your morning pick-me-up. Try these breakfast/brunch/lunch/whenever-you-want spots for a taste of Sydney’s cafe culture.

Workshop Espresso – You might not know it, but Australia lays a pretty hefty claim as being the country that invented avocado toast. We can’t completely verify that claim, but if Workshop Espresso is any indication, they’ve at least mastered the art! A quirky, walk-up spot with coffee, sandwiches, pastries and of course, avocado toast.

restaurants to try in sydney

Marlowe’s Way – Tucked in to a small alley off the main thoroughfare, you might miss this casual-café at first glance. But once you find this cherished “hole in the wall”, you’ll be glad you took the time to explore a little. The hip-spot is the perfect café to mix with the locals while tasting great coffee and a quick bite.

KafeineWith a name like that, you know they take their coffee seriously. Professional baristas serve crafted coffees and lattes while the culinary team in the back of the house cooks up breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Kafeine serves high-quality diner items with a twist, like a pulled-pork burger, satay lemongrass-chicken salad and much, much more.

restaurants to try in sydney

Noodle Houses and More

Ramen is having a bit of a moment in the U.S. right now, but Aussies have been hip to the pulled noodle bowls for years. Taste Japan’s culinary influence on the land Downunder with these noodle houses.

Gumshara Ramen – This authentic noodle house is located in a food court in Chinatown. Perfect for those days when you’ve worked up an appetite walking around Sydney. Locals love Gumshara Ramen for an affordable, quick bite while out and about in Sydney.

restaurants to try in sydney

Chinese Noodle Restaurant – Sydney is a city that wears its Asian-influenced cuisine on its sleeve, as you’ll notice with the abundance of Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and other restaurants packed in and around the CBD. What sets Chinese Noodle Restaurant apart from many are is its famous hand-pulled noodles made fresh daily. Stop in for a hearty bowl of noodles just a few minutes’ walk from Darling Harbour.

Ippudo – This centrally located noodle house is a Japanese-based chain of ramen shops. But being a chain doesn’t mean Ippudo is lacking on authenticity or flavor and their noodles are consistently considered some of the best in Sydney.

Date Night in Sydney

If you’re on the trip of a lifetime with your partner or significant other, make it extra special with a night on the town in one of these chic lounges with cocktail menus that go toe-to-toe with their world-class dinner menus.

Rabbit Hole Bar + DiningHip digs serving modern Australian cuisine and well-curated cocktails. Bartender Doug Laming specializes in “molecular mixology”, a term that means combining science with drink mixing. If you’ve ever wanted to try a “powdered cocktail”, a “vodka foam” or a “spherified olive” – and believe us, you need to try it at least once! – Rabbit Hole is your place.

restaurants to try in sydney

GPO Cheese + Wine RoomStep in to this underground cellar for a wine and cheese paired date night. You’ll love the low-key atmosphere and cobbled walls that give this spot the feel of a 19th century winery. Your sommelier will find the perfect wine to pair with fondue pots, cheese boards, charcuterie plates, antipasto and desserts for an unforgettable date night experience.

Bar TapavinoSpanish tapas, the small, shared-plate style of food and drinks was all over the place a few years ago. The tapas-boom seems to have finally plateaued a bit in the U.S., but the communal, small plate style of cocktails and food is perfect for a date night out. Bar Tapavino’s emphasis on Spanish wine and upscale tapas is the perfect way to kick off a night out, or wind down from your day in Sydney.

The ApolloThis Aussie take on Mediterranean cuisine is helmed by one of Australia’s most exciting chefs. Jonathon Barthelmess’ restaurants are heavily awarded and he brings his experience and his heritage, to Sydney’s newest haven for Greek cuisine. You’ll find Mediterranean staples like lamb, yogurt sauces, fried cheese with honey and, of course, piles of warm, fresh pita.

restaurants to try in sydney

Uncle Ming’s BarThis casual hideaway is teeming with ambiance. Step in to the dimly-lit basement bar and you’ll feel like you were transported to another dimension. Munch on Asian-inspired bar food like dumplings, prawns, edamame and wings while sipping on signature cocktails and sake. The atmosphere of Uncle Ming’s is unbeatable for a casual date night out in the CBD.

Dining With a View

Sydney is a beautiful city. What better way to enjoy those amazing city views than alongside a delicious meal and drink?

Cafe SydneyWide, panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows surround this popular cocktail and dining spot. Gaze out over sweeping views of the Sydney Harbour and Harbour Bridge while you dine on upscale cuisine.

restaurants to try in sydney

Bennelong Restaurant + BarLocated inside the famed Sydney Opera House, the interior of this airy space is like the cavern of a ship. Wide, iron girders between huge glass windows provide amazing views of Sydney CBD and skyline. The Sydney Opera House is an architectural wonder, but Bennelong is a can’t miss destination in it’s own right.

restaurants to try in sydney

Sydney Cove Oyster BarServing fresh seafood in an unbeatable waterside location. With views of the Harbour and Harbour Bridge so close, you can hear the water splashing while you dine.

Treat Yourself with These Amazing Restaurants to Try in Sydney

Sydney is home to hundreds of amazing restaurants, bars, cafes, takeaway spots, food trucks and much, much more.

Contact one of our expert Destination Specialists for more recommendations. We’ll help you build the perfect itinerary, ensuring you have plenty of time to taste your way through Sydney.

I Want to Try These Sydney Restaurants!

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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If You Love Wine, You’ll Love Hunter Valley – Drive the Vineyards

Posted on: August 10th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Australia has a bit of a reputation as one of the beer-drinkingest capitals of the world. There are few things that go better with warm weather, contact sports and barbecues than an ice-cold brew and Australia has all of the above in spades. With year-round warm weather in the tropical north, to Aussie Rules football, cricket, rugby and the occasional soccer match, there are plenty of occasions to imbibe Downunder.

However, Australia’s world-class wine industry is quietly preceding it’s love for lager and the Hunter Valley wine region, bottling world-class wines since the early-19th century, has a lot to do with it.

If you love wine, embark on a Hunter Valley driving tour and see why this collection of postcard-perfect vineyards and wineries should top your list of places to see when you’re in Sydney.

Take the Scenic Route

hunter valley driving tourHunter Valley’s beautiful vineyards and cellar doors are no doubt the destination of choice on a  drive out to the wine region. But in the Valley, the journey plays just as big a role in a trip to wine country. As you depart Sydney, your scenic drives takes you north, passing Yengo National Park. This World Heritage-listed wilderness area is a dense, green forest of native Aussie trees and plants. The Park is also home to ancient Aboriginal Australian cultural sites dating back thousands of years.

You could also spot plenty of native Aussie animal species like kangaroos, wallabies, gliding possums, wombats and more, in the wild.

Once you make it to Hunter Valley, gaze out your window upon vast stretches of neatly arranged grape vines. Hills and valleys rise and fall and grazing animals dot the green landscape as the winding road snakes its way around the Valley.

hunter valley driving tour

This is wine country at its finest.

History in a Glass… Or Two

The Hunter Valley is the oldest wine region in Australia. More than 150 vineyards dot the fertile landscape west of Sydney. Vineyards dating back to the 19th century are still in operation here.

hunter valley driving tour

For your first step back in time, drive out to Drayton’s Wines. The Drayton family planted their first vine saplings more than 150 years ago and the winery remains in the hands of the family to this day. Six generations of Drayton vintners shaped this legacy vineyard in to what it is today and you’ll want to stop in for a taste of history along with a taste of their classic Hunter Valley Shiraz.

Next on your list of vintage vineyards, you’ll want to make a stop at Mt. Pleasant Estate. This turn of the century winery has a laundry list of accolades under its belt, but all you need to know is that Mt. Pleasant’s wine and history is pure Hunter Valley.

Then, visit the crown jewel of Hunter Valley wineries at McGuigan’s Winery, located in Pokolbin, the idyllic heart of Hunter Valley wine country. This winery is best known for winning the International Winemakers Award 3-times in its history, an almost unheard of feat among vintners. Explore this cellar door and dig in to their winning varietals like shiraz and chardonnay.

Learning with a Twist

Love wine, but can’t put in to words why? Do you hear the other tasters around you talking about the bouquet but there’s not a single flower in sight?

It sounds like you might need Wine School. Drive out to Hunter Valley Resort, where you can join up with a class of other wine amateur wine connoisseurs and have an expert guide you through a proper tasting.

hunter valley driving tour

You’ll learn about the winemaking process from harvest to fermentation to bottle finish. Your guide will walk you through the grounds of the vineyard to see up close how the rows of lush vines are grown and harvested.

Then, class begins in the Resort’s Wine Theatre where the history of wine comes alive. Of course, throughout the class you’ll taste and assess various varietals of whites and reds. Wine School is the perfect primer for the rest of your tasting tour and will give you an appreciation for the layers of complexity in a single glass of wine that you never even knew existed. With 38 wines from 8 local producers, you’ll have plenty of ‘homework’ to do without leave property.

hunter valley driving tour

Cleanse Your Palate

Like we said, there are a lot of wineries in the Hunter Valley, but you don’t have to burn yourself out packing in too many at once! Be sure to spend some time experiencing everything this quaint region has to offer.

What goes better with wine than an artisan, craft cheese? Head over to Binnorie Dairy Cheese Factory, where you can try and buy dozens of different cheeses straight from the artisans themselves. You can also stop by the Hunter Valley Cheese Company, one of the oldest dairies in the Valley region.

If you’d like to get a bit adventurous on your trip in wine country and get a true bird’s eye view of your lush surroundings, you can board a hot air balloon for a float over the pristine valley. Or, if you’re really up for an adventure, try skydiving from up high! There’s really nothing like the adrenaline rush of jumping out of a plane several thousand feet in the air!

You can even take a horseback or Segway tour of parts of the Hunter Valley. Trot or roll through pure Aussie bush land where you could even see wild kangaroos or a wombat or two.

hunter valley driving tour

There are plenty of other shops like antique stores, cafes, galleries and more, so you’ll always find something new and exciting to try in the Hunter Valley.

And if you’re a fan of hitting the links, the Hunter Valley also hosts some of the most beautiful golf courses in Australia. Relax with a cup of world-class wine on an 18-hole award winning course ranked among the best in Australia.

Detour to Port Stephens

Located just about an hour east of the Hunter Valley, Port Stephens is a charming coastal city that you’ll want to make some time for. Explore the busy esplanade with its quaint shops and cafes. Then, gear up for a bit of adventure if you’d like. Try out sand-boarding on the more than 20 miles of sand dunes at Stockton Beach. If you’ve never heard of sand-boarding, it’s exactly as it sounds: riding a board down the steep side of soft sand dunes. It’s just like surfing in the ocean, but without the whole swimming thing!

Port-Stephens

And if you didn’t get enough Aussie wildlife in Hunter Valley proper with the wild ‘roos and wombats, hop aboard a local Port Stephens cruise ship for some dolphin spotting. More than 150 bottlenose dolphins call Port Stephens home, making it the dolphin capital of Australia!

Of course, you can always just spend your time relaxing on more than 26 golden-beaches like Box Beach and Zenith Beach. The perfect side-trip for your stay in wine country.

Wind Down in Wine Town with a Hunter Valley Driving Tour

There’s nothing like a relaxing trip to a winery. There’s just something about those rolling, rural hills that’s undeniably pleasant. And when you do it at your own pace by driving yourself from Sydney, you can spend your time the way you like at some of your new favorite places.

hunter valley driving tour

Need a few more recommendations? Not sure how to go about booking a car hire halfway around the world? Get in touch with one of our Destination Specialists for a free consultation today. We can show you where to go and tell you how to get there for a worry-free trip to picturesque Hunter Valley.

Add The Hunter Valley to My Trip

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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Why You Should Spend 5 Nights in Sydney

Posted on: August 10th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Why You Should Spend 5 Nights in Sydney

Most people tend to spread themselves too thin when they travel abroad. But the depth of your trip, meaning the quality of time you have experiencing the culture and sights of a given destination, is just as important as the quantity of things you see and experience, if not more.

When we plan vacation itineraries, we are very careful to include the minimum amount of time it takes to thoroughly enjoy a city. This usually means spending 3 – 4 nights. That varies, of course, with what our clients want to see and how much time they have to see it. In a perfect world, we would want everyone to spend at least 5 nights in Sydney.

Sydney is Australia’s largest and most cosmopolitan city. It boasts some of the world’s most iconic landmarks and authentic Aussie experiences. The city itself has a plethora of things to do and see, while the greater surrounds hold enchantments for lovers of nature, wine and beaches.

From world famous sites like the Sydney Opera House to world class beaches to wildlife you only find in Australia, Sydney has everything you need for a quintessential Aussie experience.

And with plenty of time to have a quality experience, your vacation in Sydney will have the depth to keep you sated when you return to the ‘real world’.

Here are just a few things you can fill your time with while you stay in Sydney for 5 nights.

City Sights and Opera House

5 nights in sydneyGet your bearings and feel out the lay of the land in Sydney with a city tour. By taking a city tour early in your trip, you’ll be able to figure out how to get around and eye a few spots you may want to return to for a closer look later in the week.

Sydney is a huge, diverse city and deserves exploring. However, many strapped-for-time tourists make a mad dash for the Opera House and miss everything else Sydney has to offer.

5 nights in sydneyLuckily, with a week in Sydney you won’t be strapped for time.

Of course, the Opera House and Harbour are a must visit. Start off with an insider walking tour of the world famous venue. You’ll hear the behind the scenes scoop and controversy surrounding the building’s construction.

Whether you take a organized tour or make your own way around the city, here are some sights you won’t want to miss!

Darling Harbour

This bustling marina precinct is just adjacent to Sydney CBD makes for a great stop along a city tour of Sydney. Take advantage of Sydney’s excellent public transportation and take a ferry from the Opera House to this beautiful, waterside location. You’ll have near limitless options for dining, shopping and other activities

Queen Victoria Building

Shop like the locals do at this beautiful, Victorian-era building right in Sydney CBD. This architectural masterpiece was built back in 1890 and has since undergone a complete restoration to its original beauty. Take in the airy windows, stained glass and a fully operational, vintage lift all restored to their 19th century glory. There is plenty to see at QVB and the building is worth a tour even if you’re not up to shopping ’til you drop. Want to learn more? We’ve written a guide to the Queen Victoria Building‘s rich history as a shopping staple in Sydney.

Royal Botanic Gardens

This impeccably manicured mecca of native plants and pristine greenery is perfect for a pre or post Opera House walk. Go for a walk through the beautiful garden grounds, spot local Aussie wildlife like sulfur-crested cockatoos and flying foxes and find prime photo-ops overlooking the Harbour. The Royal Botanic Gardens are saturated in color, from the 2,000+ bloom rose garden, to the lush-green Glasshouse, ferny and native succulent gardens.

Check out our guide to the Royal Botanic Gardens for more reasons to visit.

The Rocks District

Step back in time to the earliest days of Sydney settlement. Just a quick walk from Circular Quay, The Rocks district was the home of the first European settlement in Australia and features some of Sydney’s oldest buildings, shops and pubs. These days, The Rocks serves as a pedestrian friendly district with great views of the Harbour, Bridge and historical buildings.

Museums

You could spend an entire afternoon touring the museum district within walking distance of the Harbour Bridge. For modern works, you’ll want to stop at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. A hip, diverse collection of cutting-edge art is housed in this building whose architecture is a work of art in and of itself. Then, check out The Rocks Discovery Museum for a historical look at The Rocks district through the years. Adjacent to Circular Quay is the Museum of Sydney, with informative and diverse collections and exhibits of Sydney history.

Tip: If you want to see more of Sydney outside of the CBD, but still want the option to walk at your own pace, get a spot on a hop-on, hop-off bus. You can ride the bus route around Sydney, including the beautiful suburbs outside the CBD, and hop-off wherever you’d like to walk around and see the sights up close.

Barangaroo

Dip your toes in the Harbour at Sydney’s newest waterfront destination. Adjacent to The Rocks, this mixed use district has green spaces, restaurants, shopping and the chance to see Sydneysiders at work and play.

Sunny Beaches

With Sydney’s excellent infrastructure and public transportation, getting to some of Australia’s most popular beaches is easy. Hop on a city bus or train, take a ferry or go for a quick drive to Bondi Beach. This sunny spot is the perfect destination for casual beach goers, hardcore surfers, locals and tourists alike.

This horseshoe shaped section of coastline features golden sands and brilliant, turquoise waters. The surrounding esplanade is home to a dining precinct featuring some of the best beach side restaurants and cuisine.

5 nights in sydney

Photo: Tourism Australia / Andrew Wallace

Spend some time on the beach soaking up the sun or learning how to surf. Bondi Beach is famous for its surf schools, teaching all skill-levels how to ride the waves of the sunny Aussie coast.

If waves aren’t your thing take a dip at the Cliff-side Bondi Icebergs pool (or ‘baths’) where you get a front row seat to watch the surfers without getting sand in your shorts!

Then grab a bite to eat from relaxed al fresco cafes before spending the rest of the afternoon walking from Bondi to Coogee Beach.

The scenic, clifftop coastal path along sheer cliffs connects Sydney’s most well-known beaches along a pedestrian boardwalk. Soak up the sun all along the way as you beach-hop Sydney’s coast. Each beach has it’s own feel and quirks and whether you’re catching waves at each one or digging your toes in the sand, this is one of the best ways to see Sydney’s beaches.

Spend a day at the beach like a local by heading to Manly Beach.  This Sydney suburb can be easily reached by ferry from Circular Quay.  It’s a beautiful white sand beach where you’ll see Sydneysiders doing the three S’s – surfing, swimming and snorkeling.  Manly Beach is a great place to get active for the day – bike rental, paddle-board lessons, surf lessons, kayaking, amazing walking trails and much more. And, of course, plenty of pups to wash down an Australian beer if it gets a little hot!

Hop On Hop Off Ferry

Spend a day seeing many of the sites listed above with a Hop On Hop Off Ferry pass. Travel on the harbour highway and skip the maze of commuter timetables as you cruise to 11 famous Sydney Destinations.

  • Circular Quay
  • Darling Harbour
  • Taronga Zoo
  • Fort Denison – A former penal site with an interested history.
  • Manly
  • Watson Bay – A suburb with a great beach, bird life, vibrant green parks and Gap Bluff, South Head, where you might just spot some whales in the winter months.
  • Luna Park – Known for it’s iconic smiling face of the Moon, this amusement park is great for children and the young at heart.
  • Shark Island – A pristine park in the middle of the harbour, perfect for a picnic
  • Garden Island – A military base where The Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre
  • Barangaroo
  • International Convention Center – Worth a look for the stunning architecture alone!

Food and Dining

Of course, you wouldn’t be in a world-class city without world-class dining options right in the heart of the city. Whether you’re in the mood for a 5-star, fine dining experience or just a quick bite to go from a food truck, Sydney is never short on great food.

You can find everything from Vietnamese to-go carts, upscale Italian dining, Australian gastropubs, eclectic French cuisine and more.

scoysterbarAdjacent to the Opera House, discover some of Sydney’s best seafood restaurants, like Sydney Cove Oyster Bar and GRAZE, sitting in the perfect spot for views over the bay while you dine.

Or head over to Chinatown for your pick of authentic cuisine, noodle bars and dumpling houses like China Town Noodle King, Golden Century Seafood Restaurant and more.

Mountain Walks and Hikes

Not a city person? Tired of the hustle and bustle of the downtown sights? Get into the great outdoors with a day trip to see world-class Aussie natural wonder.

5 Nights in Sydney

Credit: David Ireland / Tourism Australia

Since you’ve got plenty of time in Sydney, take a short drive to Blue Mountains National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered the “Grand Canyon of Australia”. Rolling, rugged terrain, deep canyons and blue gum-trees as far as the eye can see cover the expansive vista.

A tour of the Blue Mountains provides unforgettable views from various lookout points in the park where you can spot tall waterfalls, sheer cliffs and famed rock formations like the Three Sisters. An expert guide drives you out to the Blue Mountains region, providing informative commentary and in-depth knowledge along the way.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also choose to participate in the hike portion of the trip. You’ll be dropped off at the trail head and make your way along a well-marked hiking trail. After you’ve worked up an appetite, a well-deserved lunch awaits before heading back to Sydney.

It’s the perfect way to experience the great outdoors and still have time for happy hour drinks at the Opera House.

5 Nights in Sydney

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains

For a closer look at Blue Mountains National Park, check out our list of things to do in the Blue Mountains.

Wineries and Vineyards

Craving a little of those famous Australian wines? How about a taste of Aussie Red and White with a trip to wine country?

Head out to the Hunter Valley wine region, just a short drive from Sydney proper.

5 nights in sydney

Photo: – Tourism Australia / Oliver Strewe

The Hunter Valley region is home to some of Australia’s best wineries. Embark on a tasting tour and experience award-winning wines in beautiful, green vineyards. Landscapes lined with rows of grape vines provide a picture-perfect backdrop to satisfy wine-lovers and fans of the great outdoors alike.

To really do the Hunter Valley justice, spend a couple of nights in wine country. Drive yourself along the rolling hills dotted with wineries, make a few leisurely stops and take your time in this relaxing region outside Sydney.

5 nights in sydney

Photo: Pernod Ricard Winemakers / Ernest Fraczak

If you’d rather let an expert do the driving for you, you can embark on a luxury-coach tour of Hunter Valley. You’ll visit a few of Hunter Valley’s most renowned vineyards and all you have to do is kick back, relax and remember to cleanse your palate between each tasting!

Aussie Wildlife

There’s nothing more iconic to Australia than its kangaroos and wildlife. Luckily, in Sydney you’re never far from experiencing wildlife up close.

Taronga Zoo, located just across the Harbour from the Opera House, is not only the most convenient place to see wildlife in Sydney, but maybe the most fun to get to. You’ll board a ferry from Circular Quay in Sydney CBD and cruise over to Taronga Zoo’s personal dock and wharf. Step right off the boat and into Taronga Zoo where you’ll see more than 300 unique species, including all of your Aussie favorites.

5 nights in sydney

Or, if you opted for the Blue Mountains tour, you’ll already be in a prime spot to visit the Featherdale Wildlife Sanctuary, where you’ll get to meet plenty of Australia’s native wildlife.

Man-made environments and walled enclosures not exactly the nature experience you were imagining?

What if you could see Australian wildlife that’s actually in the wild?

Take a day trip to the Australian Bush, just a short drive outside of central Sydney, and search towering forests for kangaroos, koalas, platypus’ and more.

The Southern Highlands outside of Sydney features thousands of acres of untouched wilderness, where animals run wild and free, just as nature intended.

See the Most of Sydney

To be honest, you could spend weeks seeing all that Sydney has to offer. Don’t shortchange yourself with a few short days. By the time you’ve traveled to the city it seems like it’s already time to leave the city.

Spend 5 nights in Sydney and get to know the city from the inside out. You’ll make some solid, unforgettable memories and a vacation with the depth you deserve.

  I Want to Spend 5 Nights in Sydney


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Combine Your Australia and New Zealand Vacation

Posted on: August 4th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

As native-born Aussies, we named our business About Australia because we’re truly all about Australia. We love nothing more than spreading the good word about our home country and all that it has to offer. From its beautiful beaches, unique wildlife, bush land Outback and Great Barrier Reef, we could go on and on about why you shouldn’t miss the land Downunder (and we have – for nearly 20 years!).

But as Aussies, we can’t forget our island-neighbors to the east in New Zealand. Aussies and Kiwis have a close kinship. We’re basically right next to each other, we’ve fought together in the trenches and our flags are a bit similar, to the say the least.

Of course, that’s not to say we’re above a bit of playful ribbing.

Just don’t say we sound the same – we take our distinct accents very seriously!

Unfortunately, a lot of folks forget about New Zealand when they’re planning a trip abroad (in fact, there are an alarming number of maps that leave off New Zealand entirely).

Here are a few reasons why splitting your time with an Australia and New Zealand vacation can make your trip an unforgettable, multi-destination grand tour.

You Can Drive On the Same Side of the Road

So maybe this isn’t one of the first things that comes to mind, but hear us out. If there’s one thing that Americans, Aussies and Kiwis have in common, it’s our shared belief that there’s nothing like the freedom of the open road. Packing the car up and heading out on a self-paced tour of the country is a bond we all share, know and love.

We just happen to do it on opposite sides of the road.

australia and new zealand vacation

Aussies and Kiwis both adopted left-side driving from the Brits way back when and the tradition continues to this day. The good news for those keen on a self-drive tour is that once you’ve mastered left-side driving in one country, you’ll be an expert in the next.

Get ready to tackle some of the most scenic drives on the planet.

Starting in Australia? You can race along highways that hug rocky coastline, with incredible views of open ocean on the Great Ocean Road – one of the top rated drives in the world.

Or take on a 4 day coastal excursion from Sydney to Melbourne, passing through beautiful national parks, nature reserves and beaches. You can even choose to stop off at a koala reserve and see the iconic piece of Aussie wildlife in person.

australia and new zealand vacation

Photo: Vaughan Brookfield

Then, hop on a plane and take the short flight over to New Zealand. From there, you can pick up another car and continue your road trip, tackling New Zealand’s North Island, South Island or both. You can drive out to Mt. Cook, see famous Lord of the Rings filming locations, or simply take a tour of New Zealand’s amazing beaches.

Take your time and get off-the-beaten-track with an Australia and New Zealand vacation road trip.

You’ll See Perfectly Contrasting Landscapes

Did you know that Australia and New Zealand were once attached at the hip? More than 85 million years ago as the super-continent Godwana broke up, New Zealand slowly drifted away. Maybe that’s why Aussie’s have always felt a fondness for their Kiwi cousins.

It’s a wonder then, how their landscapes could be so unique. Australia and New Zealand are so diverse that you could spend weeks in each and just scrape the surface of what each has to offer. A contrasting trip between the two countries will give you an appreciation of the natural world like never before.

Start off in New Zealand and visit famous volcanoes and geothermal sites. Rotorua is a steaming cauldron of the Earth’s magnitude. The scent of sulfur wafts in the air, a constant reminder of the power of geothermal heating below. You can harness this power in Rotorua with a visit to hot pools and bathe in hot, healing mineral water.

australia and new zealand vacation

From there head to Queenstown, the birthplace of adventure travel and the most famous bungy-jumping site in the world. There, you’ll take an exhilarating stunt-boat ride through Shotover Canyon.

Then, drive yourself through green rolling vistas to Hobbiton and see how New Zealand’s incredible landscapes inspired movie-magic.

Make your way to Australia where you’ll start off with back-to-back adventures to see the most iconic natural wonders of the world, Uluru (the Red Center), the Great Barrier Reef and the Kuranda Rainforestation Nature Park.

You’ve just seen beautiful rock formations, volcanic activity, a holy site that looks like the surface of Mars, a rain forest and the technicolor of the Great Barrier Reef. And you couldn’t do it anywhere else but Australia and New Zealand.

You’ll Experience Distinct Aboriginal and Maori Native Cultures

Both Australia and New Zealand have a rich, diverse cultural-history that deserves celebration. Australia’s native history dates back more than 60,000 years. Aboriginal Australians are the oldest human civilization in the world and their native culture is survived and celebrated to this day.

australia and new zealand vacation

Photo: Steve Strike / Tourism Australia

Aboriginal Australians most notable Australian destination is Uluru, or Ayers Rock, located in the Australian outback. Uluru is a red, sandstone monolith that Aboriginal Australians revere as a holy site. The striking rock formation and the surrounding red clay have given Uluru the nickname “the Red Center” – and it could no doubt stand in as an other wordly Martian landscape.

New Zealand has its own unique history in the native Maori culture. In the 12th century, settlers from Polynesia landed and developed their own culture they called Maori.

The culture of Maori people stands side-by-side in New Zealand daily life. Most historical and natural sites and destinations have both an English name and a Maori name, such as Mt. Cook / Aoraki, Milford Sound / Piopiotahi and White Island / Te Puia o Whakaari.

australia and new zealand vacation

Photo: Te Puia Maori Institute

Go on a country-hopping tour to experience the native culture of each country. You can go on a tour of the Red Center and see Uluru up close (believe it or not, it’s taller than the Eiffel Tower!) and then hop on over to Kiwi country, where you’ll receive an official Maori Hongi (greeting), roam the grounds of Te Puia Geothermal Reserve, view traditional artwork and culture at Maori Institute and enjoy a Hangi (traditional cooking method) feast.

You Can See Each Country’s Unique Wildlife

Australia and wildlife go hand-in-hand. With kangaroos, koalas and of course crocs (made most famous internationally by Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin) – there’s no shortage of iconic Aussie wildlife.

If your trip begins in Australia, make your way to Kangaroo Island just off the coast of Adelaide. The island is a wildlife-wonderland, with all of your Aussie favorites in their natural habitats.

australia and new zealand vacation

If you’re in Sydney, you’ll have plenty of options for wildlife touring and viewing. Stop by Tonga Zoo right in Sydney CBD, or make a day trip out to Featherdale Wildlife Reserve (this makes a great top over from a Blue Mountains tour) where you’ll have up-close encounters with kangaroos, koalas and more.

Did we mention that Australia also has the distinct honor of being home to the largest organism in the world with the Great Barrier Reef?

Much like the Aussies, New Zealander’s take their own native wildlife very seriously. They even gave themselves an affectionate nickname, Kiwis, based on the flightless bird that is their national pride and joy (it even adorns their currency’s $1 coin).

Dolphin Encounter Kaikoura New Zealand

Photo: Rob Suisted

Have you ever seen a video of an acrobatic dolphin doing 360-spins in the air, back flips, front flips and more, just for the fun of it? Dusky Dolphins are found in much of Australasia, but concentrated populations are best seen off of the New Zealand coast.

In Kaikoura, you can even jump in the water and have an up-close dolphin encounter in their natural habitat.

New Zealand is also home to plenty of other native animals like yellow-eyed penguins, glowworms, fur seals, Kea parrots and more.

If you love seeing unique, diverse and super cute animals that you can’t see back home, try an Australia and New Zealand vacation for the perfect opportunity to witness some of the world’s favorites up close.

Australia and New Zealand Vacation Adventures

Australia and New Zealand are two-peas-in-a-pod. Make the most of your trip half-way around the world with a stopover in New Zealand. You’ll feel like you’ve been on two vacations at the same time and have twice as many stories to tell when you get back.

Talk to one of our Destination Specialists and we’ll make sure your multi-country trip goes off without a snag. We can suggest the best routes to take and take complete care of your trip, from A-to-New-Zealand.

Add New Zealand to My Trip

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).

Places to Visit in Australia – A Guide to the Great Barrier Reef

Posted on: March 15th, 2017 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments

The Great Barrier Reef is a mind blowing natural wonder. It’s truly one of the best places to visit in Australia. It spans over 1,200 miles and harbors one of the richest ecosystems on the planet with over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands scattered along its expanse. If you’re traveling all the way to Australia, you’ll want to visit the Great Barrier Reef in all its glory. This amazing video produced by David Attenborough gives you an idea of what it’s like to explore the reef, but nothing can really do it justice. It’s one of those things you have to see for yourself.

There are a multitude of ways you can launch your reef adventure. Take the traditional route and dive or snorkel the reef, or stay dry on a glass bottom boat, scenic flight or adventurous sail. Maybe even find a more unique way to explore the reef on your own terms. Read more for your guide on exploring the Great Barrier Reef.

Snorkeling and diving

Don your mask and fins and get up close to the dazzling kaleidoscope of corals, sea turtles, rays, sharks and tropical fish of every color. Snorkeling is the cheapest and most popular way to have an aquatic adventure you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

A Day Trip on a Reef Cruise

Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef on a Day Cruise

One of the best ways to dive or snorkel the reef is to hop aboard a boat excursion. These are great because they take you out to 2 or 3 exclusive dive sites along the outer reef. All boats offer snorkeling, most offer diving for certified divers and a few even offer introductory dives for those who want to try out diving for the first time on the reef. Our favorite operators depart from Cairns and Port Douglas. If you want to make it out to famous dive sites like the Ribbon Reefs on a day-trip, you have to depart from Port Douglas. It’s a great town to stay in, but only a short transfer if you’re staying Cairns. These full day excursions tend to include lunch, snacks, snorkel gear, lycra suits and a guided snorkel tour with a dive master. Scuba diving and gear brings additional costs. Different boats offer different experiences. Some take you out to a single location with hundreds of other people, some offer a more exclusive experience and others go farther out into more remote locations to cater to the more experienced. Talk to an About Australia Destination Specialist to select the right one for you.

Liveaboard

Dive the Great Barrier Reef on your Australian Vacation

The best diving sites are located further from the mainland. Famous dive sites like The Ribbon Reefs with Cod Hole are best encountered on a 3 day Liveaboard. If you want to dive both the Ribbon Reefs and the remote and amazing North Horn at Osprey Reef, you’ll need to take a Liveaboard for at least a week. For the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience, embark on a 14-Day expedition. During these trips, you can swim with Minke whales (June-July), see Humpbacks (August – October), dive during a shark feed (totally safe, we swear!) and visit some of the most immaculate coral reefs in the world.

Liveaboards generally only offer diving to certified divers, but snorkelers are often welcomed at a discounted rate. Snorkelers on Liveabaords are normally accompanying their diving partners. We wouldn’t recommend it otherwise. There are usually only a few dive sites that will work well for a snorkeler on a 3-7 day liveaboard trip.

Island-based Diving

For astonishing diving or snorkeling, consider staying on a Great Barrier Reef island. Our favorites are Heron Island, Lizard Island, Elliot Island, Fraser Island, Hamilton Island, and Orpheus Island. Famous diver and documentarian, David Attenborough, has named Heron Island and Elliot Island as a few of his favorite dive sites. So, you’ll be in good company! A stay at most of these islands offer the added bonus of enjoying an all-inclusive resort. Most offer free use of snorkeling gear and motorized dinghies. From these islands, a diver easily take a short boat ride with a small group to a number of amazing dive sites. Snorkelers can see the reef right off the beach or venture further on their own reef bound boat. Your About Australia Destination Specialist can find you the best deal possible.

Luxury Snorkeling Experiences

Visit Whitehaven Beach on your trip to Australia

If you really want to treat yourself, try out a day-cruise or luxury catamaran tour in the Whitsundays. These small group tours offer exclusivity and comfort all while sailing around some of the most beautiful islands in the world. The ship will drop anchor and you’ll jump into the turquoise water to snorkel among the big sea turtles, anemone and schools of colorful fish. Most excursions around the Whitsunday Islands include a visit to the famous Whitehaven Beach. This long white-sanded beach stretches over four miles along the coast of Whitsunday Island. Unlike most beaches, Whitehaven is made up of 98% pure silica which gives it a bright snow-like complexion. The sand is a fine grain with a soft velvety feel. It also doesn’t retain heat very well, so you won’t burn your bare feet on bright sunny days. It’s the most photographed beach in Australia. You can clearly see why.

See the Reef without Getting Wet

If swimming isn’t your thing, you can still see the Great Barrier Reef without submerging into the depths of the South Pacific.

Glass Bottom Boats

Glass bottom boat tours are a great way to admire the underwater beauty of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Most boats are designed to accommodate as many people as possible while still allowing everyone a clear view of the tropical life thriving below them. Some boats come with tour guides who provide detailed descriptions of the different type of coral and marine life. If you have the opportunity, take a night tour to see the coral really come to life after dark. There are great glass bottom boat tours operating out of Airlie Beach, Cairns and Port Douglas. Some also offer scuba diving and snorkeling excursions which makes them a perfect option for mixed company.

Reef HQ Aquarium

Reef HQ houses the largest living coral reef aquarium. The building itself is quite small when compared to other aquariums, but the live ecosystem sets it apart from other aquariums you’ve seen. It’s a great introduction to the reef as friendly guides explain about the reef in an educational and entertaining manner. Be sure to stop by the turtle hospital.

Fly Over the Reef

Fly over the Great Barrier Reef on Your Australian Vacation

Behold the sheer magnitude of the Great Barrier Reef by taking to the sky and seeing the reef from above. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to fly over the reef while on your Australia vacation. From the Whitsunday Islands, you can take a flight out to Hardy Reef to snorkel, hang out in a semi-submersible, check out the underwater observatory or chill on the deck and get a massage. After, take the scenic view and fly over Heart Reef. Or skip Hardy Reef and soar over the heart of the Great Barrier Reef from any one of the Whitsunday Island resorts. Helicopter rides and scenic flights are also available from Cairns and Port Douglas. Stay at a resort like Lizard Island or Orpheus Island and a low-level flight over the reef is par for the course. You’ll be awed by the stunning beauty of the maze of reefs weaved together to form this natural wonder.

Reef Fishing

If you fancy yourself an angler, fishing on the reef is a must. Cairns and the Ribbon Reefs are probably best known for trophy black marlin fishing. About 30-50 miles off the coast lies a very special stretch of ocean called “Marlin Mecca” where more “granders” (100lbs or more) are taken than all the other combined fishing water in the world. Billfishing aficionados can try their hand at catching the big one every year late September through December. Lizard Island is the only land-based operation that offers access to “Marlin Mecca”.

There is also great light tackle fishing on select areas of the reef. Take a charter from Cairns or stay on a Great Barrier Reef Island for access to nearly every species of Pacific game inhabiting the ocean just adjacent to the reef and the continental shelf. It’s a great experience for fishing enthusiasts, offering some of the fastest game-fishing in the world.

Unique Reef Experiences

Looking for something a little more “out-of-the-box”? Maybe you aren’t a very good swimmer but you really want to explore the reef. Try one of these awesome tours.

Seawalking/ Helmet Diving

See the Great Barrier Reef without getting your hair wet. | Helmet Dive | AboutAustralia.com

A helmet dive is a perfect way for non-swimmers to explore the reef like pro divers. It’s quick and easy too. You start with a quick briefing. Then, you’ll don a large space-suit type helmet and you’re ready to go. A guide will take down about 6 people at a time. Jump into the water and hold on to metal tubing as your guide takes you around the ocean floor. You’ll be completely surrounded by colorful fish and coral and you won’t even get your hair wet. Children as young as 12 can participate, so it’s great for families. You can embark on this unique diving experience from Cairns or Port Douglas.

Submarines

Great Barrier Reef Submarines

Another great option for people who don’t want to scuba dive the reef is a tiny 3-person submarine. Two people, guided by an experienced pilot can explore the underwater world of the beautiful coral and exotic marine creatures without traditional scuba gear or training. Tours depart from Fitzroy Island, just a 45 minute boat ride from Cairns. There is always a safety diver trailing the sub while your experienced diver and submarine pilot doubles as a tour guide, providing vivid descriptions of the surrounding sea life and corals. This is a really fun and super safe way to see the Great Barrier Reef!

Are you ready to start planning your visit to the Great Barrier Reef? Check out some of our Great Barrier Reef Deals below, request a custom vacation quote or phone us toll free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).

 

You may also like: 16 Photos That Will Make You Want To Go To Australia Right Now | 11 Best Underwater Experiences in Australia | Great Barrier Reef, Best Australian Beaches & Dives | Vacation Deals