Posted on: March 7th, 2019 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
If you hate Mondays, just head to Cairns.
Here, every day of the week feels like the weekend.
Located in Australia’s far north Queensland, time is almost nonexistent in this tropical oasis of rain forest and reef.
Known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, people from all over the world travel to Cairns to see this extraordinary natural wonder.
But there’s so much more to explore in and around Cairns. Here’s our list of the top things to do in Cairns.
14 Things to Do in Cairns
1. See the Great Barrier Reef
Image: Tourism Australia
If you’re heading to Cairns, you’re heading to the Great Barrier Reef. It’s one of the top things to do in Cairns – no trip is complete without seeing the reef.
As the largest reef system in the world and one of its most precious natural assets, seeing the reef is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Cairns is the base for most excursions setting out to the reef, with options even for those who’d rather keep their feet on the ground.
Since the reef sits about 158 miles away in the ocean from Cairns, snorkeling cruises are the most popular way to see the reef. Non-swimmers can opt for tour operators that cruise out to a large pontoon by the reef, where underwater observatories, glass-bottom boats and semi-submersible vessels reveal the incredible underwater world of the reef all without dipping a toe in the water.
For the more adventurous, introductory scuba diving sessions are always on offer. Nothing beats seeing the vibrant colors of tropical fish, flitting in and out of breathtaking coral formations, up close on a dive.
Half the fun about visiting the Kuranda Rainforest Village is actually getting there.
Surrounded in the verdant rainforest of the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics, one of the best ways to get to Kuranda is riding the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway.
This scenic cable car ride lifts you up over this expansive rainforest system for an incredible 1.5 hour float above the Wet Tropics. Opt for a glass bottom cable car to see the millions of shades of green below you. Descend through canopy tops and stop at different stations offering boardwalk tours through the stunning rainforest and educational centers.
The village of Kuranda itself is a hub of local creatives who find inspiration in the rainforest and ancient culture of the Djabugay people belonging to this region. Markets featuring hand-made crafts, artisan goods and local produce line the village, perfect for finding a treasure to take back home.
From Kuranda you can explore the rainforest on self-guided walks, join a riverboat cruise and visit the Rainforestation Nature Park. Meet and cuddle a koala at the Koala Gardens, where you can also get up close to kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and other native Australian wildlife.
Change out furry marsupials for feathers and wings at the Butterfly Sanctuary and Birdworld, easily accessible from the Kuranda Heritage Markets.
End your visit with a ride back to Cairns on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. This scenic train ride winds through the tropical rainforest over bridges and tunnels built by pioneers over 100 years ago. Dole out a little extra cash for gold class seats and receive complimentary morning or afternoon tea consisting of local delicacies, wines and lagers.
3. Discover Indigenous Australia at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Image: Adam Bruzzone
Learn about the world’s oldest living civilization at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.
This award-winning park is one of Australia’s top destinations for learning about its indigenous culture through the eyes of the local Djabugay people.
Witness dreamtime stories about the creation of Earth come to life through performances, dances and breathtaking visual experiences.
Dancing is a large part of the Djabugay culture, so you can expect a hand pulling you up on stage and learning traditional dances and songs.
Join a bush food trail led by an Aboriginal guide and walk through the Tjapukai parklands, learning about the traditional uses of native plants.
Hear the sounds of native Australian animals come to life through the resounding notes of the didgeridoo. Learn about this unique instrument and its integral place in Aboriginal culture.
Kids will also love the spear and boomerang throwing. With something for everyone to enjoy, Tjapukai is not only one of the best things to do in Cairns with family but also one of the best ways to learn more about authentic Australia.
4. Explore the Daintree Rainforest
Image: Tropical North Queensland
Ready to meet a green dinosaur?
Just two hours north of Cairns is the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, where you’ll meet the green dinosaur, dating back up to 120 million years.
Although this species isn’t an actual dinosaur, once you step into the Daintree Rainforest you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
And you’d be right to feel so – the Daintree Rainforest is part of the oldest rainforest system in the world, even older than the Amazon!
The green dinosaur is one of many unique plants that make up the natural wonders of the rainforest. Explore the many walkways and viewing platforms stretching out from the Daintree Discovery Center, where you can learn about the origins of this ancient rainforest.
Join a cruise on the Daintree River and spot native wildlife such as saltwater crocodiles and bright cassowaries. You can even zip-line through the verdant canopies and take in the stunning views over the endless shades of green and cascading streams below you.
Our favorite way to explore the rainforest is on tours led by Aboriginal Kuku Yalanji guides, native to the Daintree region. As traditional caretakers of the land, they offer historical and cultural insight into the way their people used the rainforest for food, medicine and shelter for over 9,000 years. They’ll lead you through hidden streams and spots inaccessible to the general public, giving you a truly unique experience of the world’s oldest rainforest.
Don’t miss out on Cape Tribulation, a spectacular bay where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef. It’s the only place in the world where to World Heritage-listed sites collide!
5. Relax at the Cairns Esplanade
Image: Tourism & Events Queensland/ Andrew Watson
Worried about stingers in the ocean?
No worries, just head to the Cairns Esplanade.
Located in the center of town right along the water’s edge, relaxing at the Esplanade is one of the best things to do in Cairns to cool off from the tropical heat.
The esplanade’s tremendously large man-made lagoon offers a beautiful spot for a safe swim in place of a beach. A sandy shore dips into crystal clear waters, dotted with splashing fountains and patrolled by lifeguards during the day.
A boardwalk runs along the esplanade, right by the pool, perfect for a walk or jog by the water. Grassy parkland surrounds the lagoon, with shady spots to lay out a picnic or enjoy local bands play live music.
Free fitness classes also run throughout the week, ranging from aqua aerobics in the lagoon to yoga and pilates. If you’re in Cairns on a Saturday check out the Esplanade markets for locally made arts and crafts.
6. Roam the Cairns Botanic Gardens
Image: Friends of Botanic Gardens Cairns
For a small taste of tropical rainforest right in the city, visit the Cairns Botanic Gardens.
Here you can explore exotic plants from tropical regions across the world, including plants from the jungles of South East Asia, South America and Queensland. These unique plants can be found in the Flecker Botanic Gardens, a conservatory highlighting some of the rarest tropical plants in the world.
Get a glimpse of what Cairns once looked like on the Rainforest Boardwalk, winding through a lush patch of rainforest ecosystem, home to endangered species of the region.
Stroll through the Fitzalan Gardens, a picturesque section connecting three separate gardens by paths and footbridges crossing through giant palms and ancient trees. There’s always a secluded nook or cranny here to hideaway and relax in the tranquility of the gardens.
Explore the journey of plant evolution at the Gondwana Heritage Garden. Its main trail traces through the evolution of plants from the very first bacteria that developed into the flowering plants we see today.
Walk around the freshwater and saltwater lakes in the gardens, where you can spot native birds, frogs and turtles or bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds.
As one of the more tranquil things to do in Cairns, visiting the gardens makes for a perfect half-day activity.
7. Discover Treasures at the Markets
Image: Tourism & Events Queensland/ Andrew Watson
What better place to get fresh produce than in the tropics?
At Rusty’s Market in Cairns, the local fruits and vegetables on offer are practically straight from the tree.
Here you can find arguably the best tropical produce in all Australia. You’ll catch the fragrant aroma of the market before you see it. Fruit and veggie lovers will find a wide variety of produce from avocados and mangoes to banana blossom, taro and cassava. You can also find boutiques selling hand-made jewelry, crafts and clothing, perfect for a souvenir.
Take a break from shopping and pick up a snack at one of the many stalls featuring local sellers. Some of the best Vietnamese bahn mi sandwiches are found here. If you’re in Cairns for a few days, Rusty’s is the perfect place to pick up some ingredients for preparing fresh meals at your accommodation. The market is open during the day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
If you’re more of a night owl, then head to the Cairns Night Markets, open from 4pm – 10pm every day of the week. These lively markets offer an almost overwhelming variety of Australian souvenirs, t-shirts, custom-made jewelry and other trinkets. Grab anything from Asian cuisine to fresh Australian seafood at the food court for dinner. You’ll want to find a dessert at one of the stalls offering Australian snacks such as kangaroo and emu jerky or gelato.
This wildlife park combines a natural rainforest ecosystem with a challenging ropes course all in one attraction.
Don’t let the size of the park fool you. Though it’s not as large as other wildlife parks throughout Australia, its intimacy allows for personal wildlife encounters you won’t find in other places. The knowledgeable and passionate staff present informative talks on the wildlife, including snakes, lizards, birds, and Goliath, the gigantic saltwater crocodile. You can even pose for a picture while cuddling a koala – a bucket list photo op!
However, the main highlight of Cairns Zoom is its myriad of obstacles courses throughout the complex. Test your balance on the Slackline tightrope walk and cross above trees and tropical rainforest foliage or climb the Pirate Climb rope net to the top of the Power Jump.
Kids will love the Hi-Zoom obstacle course with its challenging wall climbs, tunnels, rope swings and zip lines. Just one look at it and the little ones will dash straight in line. Though a turn at the course is an extra cost, the reward of completing it like a champion is worth every dime.
9. See Tropical Marine Life at the Cairns Aquarium
Image: Cairns Aquarium
Stepping into the Cairns Aquarium is like stepping through the depths of the ocean. The range of aquatic life you’ll see here is even better than what a diver sees.
The Cairns Aquarium highlights the incredibly diverse marine life native to the Wet Tropics and the Great Barrier Reef. As the oldest rainforest in the world and the world’s largest reef formation, the marine life from these two World Heritage sites is absolutely unreal.
The aquarium recreates over 10 different habitats encompassing these delicate ecosystems, creating a natural home for a variety of marine life. See the brilliant colors of unique crayfish and giant prawns of the Creek and Streams exhibit. Catch a glimpse of the some of the world’s most bizarre fish, the Freshwater Sawfish, in the Waterways and Billabongs exhibit. There are even exhibits showcasing snakes, lizards and frogs from the tropical rainforests as well as exotic insects and spiders.
One of the main attractions is the Great Barrier Reef Gallery, showcasing the colorful reefs, coral and tropical fish that call this natural wonder home. You can also interact with starfish, sea cucumbers and lizards at the Touch Tanks.
The aquarium also offers presentations to give you a deeper understanding of the marine life on display. It’s one of the best things to do in Cairns on a rainy day, or a perfect substitute for a Great Barrier Reef.
Located less than an hour’s drive away from Cairns, Hartley’s is the perfect day trip for young families.
The park is made up of four different habitats showcasing different wildlife. Meet the beautiful flightless cassowary at the Cassowary Garden on a boarded walk through lush eucalyptus trees rising out of lily padded wetlands. See alligators, lizards and turtles on the Wildlife Discovery Trail, winding into the wildlife amphitheater where the Snake Show and famous Crocodile Attack Show highlight the day.
You can also meet other native Australia wildlife such as wombats, koalas and kangaroos at the Gondwana Gateway section of the park, where you’ll learn how evolution shaped Australia’s unique animals. Don’t miss out on the koala feeding to see these sleepy creatures in action!
The absolute highlight of Hartley’s is the lagoon boat cruise. Embark on a journey through Hartley’s Lagoon, gliding along side enormous crocodiles right in the water! All of nineteen crocs laze in the water, enjoying their natural wetland habitat. Cruising into the lagoon gives visitors an impressive insight into crocodile behavior just as they would act in the wild.
11. Soak Up the Sun in Northern Beaches
Palm Cove Beach
Cairns is not the place to go for the beach. In fact, there is no beach in Cairns.
But don’t cross Cairns off your list just yet. There are so many incredible beaches not even an hour away from Cairns. You’ll have the perfect beach day yet.
Just 20 minutes north of Cairns lies Trinity Beach, a favorite with the locals. The gentle rolling waves, soft golden sand and extremely laid back ambience will have you instantly rolling out your towel and laying out in the sun. Lifeguards patrol the beach during the summer months and a net is cast out during stinger season to keep out unwanted jellyfish. Barbecue areas nestled within the surrounding palm trees are perfect for a picnic out at the beach.
Palm Cove is also a popular respite from the hustle and bustle of Cairns. Only 30 minutes away, Palm Cove is surrounded by a boutique beach town with an array of upscale resorts and classy bars and restaurants for an intimate night out. The beach itself is fringed with palm tress rising high with a gentle lean into the serene, blue waters. A pier juts out into the sea, offering a boarded walk above the sea foam and spray of the fresh ocean breeze.
Yorkey’s Knob, about 20 minutes away from Cairns, is for the adventurers. It’s popular for water sports such as jet skiing, kite surfing and wind surfing. An onsite kite center offers rental gear and introduction courses on kite surfing.
12. Go White Water Rafting
White Water Rafting the Tully River
Wet and wild in Cairns means rafts and oars.
The raging rapids of the Tully River, about two hours from Cairns, offers some of the best white water rafting in all Australia.
Thrill seekers can join extreme white water rafting tours where raft flips, swimming the rapids and jumping from high rocks is not only allowed, but encouraged!
Less risky rafting with the right amount of torrents is also available for beginners.
For easier grade 2-3 guided rafting, the Barron River is the perfect rafting spot. Only 20 minutes away from Cairns, joining a half day rafting tour gives you the excitement of white water rafting while still leaving time to enjoy the rest of your day.
One of our favorite tours transports you right from your hotel in Cairns to the river of your choice for a guided rafting experience. Experience one of the best things to do in Cairns and ask your About Australia destination specialist about booking this adventure for you.
13. Skydive Over the Great Barrier Reef
Skydiving over Cairns
You don’t really hear about people proclaiming “that was awful!” after landing from a skydive. Usually it’s more incredulous laughter, an indescribable sense of accomplishment and an adrenaline rush that makes you feel like you can do anything.
Sounds like the thrill of a lifetime!
What better way to tick this adventure off your bucket list than over the most incredible natural formation in the world?
If you’ve never been skydiving before, this is the perfect place to give it a go. Any fear and nerves you’ll feel will blend in with the exhilaration of the jaw-dropping views around you.
Take in the vast, aquamarine ocean as you plummet towards the turquoise stretch of coral-framed reef. The tropical rainforests of Queensland are spread out before your eyes, and you’ll descend onto a perfect beach landing.
Tandem skydiving – where you jump off a plane attached to a certified skydiver – is the most popular form of skydiving in Cairns. Booking this in advance is essential – skydiving in Cairns tends to sell out fast!
14. Try Your Luck at the Pullman Reef Hotel Casino
Image: Reef Hotel Casino Cairns
The Pullman Reef Hotel is more than just a hotel – it’s a Cairns icon.
Taking up an entire block, this 5-star hotel houses a fabulous casino, world class restaurants, live music, and the Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome.
Perhaps the best part about the casino is its rather intimate environment. With poker tables, pool tables, electronic darts, gaming machines and movie screenings on offer, there’s something for everyone.
Unwind at the electronic gaming machines and order a drink from BAR36, personally delivered to you. Join one of the gaming tables – the friendly staff are more than welcoming to new players.
Looking for More Thing to Do in Cairns?
As the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the World Heritage Daintree Rainforest, Cairns is Australia’s tropical paradise.
About Australia knows the best hidden gems and things to do in Cairns to perfectly fit into your Australia trip.
Want to get started on planning your vacation Down Under? Contact About Australia today to get the wheels in motion for the trip of a lifetime!
Posted on: February 13th, 2019 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
Cairns is all about tropical vibes. Suits and ties are exchanged for shorts and sunglasses. Days feel like the carefree, relaxed summers of your childhood and nights instantly put you into holiday mode.
As gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics – the oldest rainforest system in the world – your visit to Cairns will no doubt be a busy one.
But if you’re looking for other things to do in Cairns, we’ve gathered a list of local must-see gems. Here’s our list of 7 favorite free things to do in Cairns.
7 Free Things to Do in Cairns
1. Spend a Day at the Cairns Esplanade
Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland
Some people prefer the beach, others prefer the pool.
At the Cairns Esplanade, you get the best of both worlds.
This local landmark combines a large man-made lagoon with a small sandy shore, so you get the feel of a beach at the pool. The crystal clear waters offer a fresh respite from the tropical heat, along with shaded areas to help keep you cool. Lifeguards patrol the lagoon during the day.
A lush, green park surrounds the lagoon, with soft grass perfect for laying out and sunbathing or enjoying a picnic lunch. The park also features picnic benches and BBQ grills free to use, but be sure to get in early to snag a bench!
If you’re in Cairns during the weekend, you can enjoy live bands play in the park from 2pm – 5pm. Feeling a bit more active? Take to the wide boardwalk surrounding the lagoon, equipped with free fitness equipment and a playground for the kids. Continue on to Muddy’s Playground, a small splash park perfect for younger children.
The Esplanade also offers free fitness classes throughout the week, ranging from aqua aerobics in the lagoon to yoga and pilates.
Swimming, grilling, workouts and music – there’s something for everyone at the Esplanade. The best part is it’s all free!
2. Browse the Markets
Rusty’s Market. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland / Andrew Watson
Cairns is famous for its local markets, with Rusty’s Market as the main attraction.
Rusty’s Market is known to draw in visitors from out of town for the freshest produce in Queensland. Early risers are rewarded, too – open only from Friday to Sunday, Rusty’s begins from 5am to 6pm. Fruits and vegetables are freshly gathered in the morning then carted off to the market, making it all truly farm-to-table.
You’ll find everything from mangoes, durians and leafy greens to tropical nuts, lychees and pineapples. Many local vendors also sell their wares at Rusty’s, such as turmeric products, hand made natural soaps and lotions, pastries, and knits.
In the evening you’ll want to hit up the Cairns Night Markets, a mecca of creative sweet treats and Australian souvenirs. Open from 5pm to 11pm every day of the week, browsing the night markets is a great way to spend your free evenings.
With an incredible array of souvenirs, here is where you should do your souvenir shopping. You’ll find staples such as T-shirts, fridge magnets and key chains along with more unique items such as indigenous Australian art, koala dream catchers, and even a stall where you can get a fish pedicure!
If you’re craving something sweet, choose from fish-shaped cream puffs, waffle desserts on a stick, churros served with ice cream or crepes. That doesn’t even touch the full list of sweet treats you’ll find at the Night Markets’ food court, where you’ll also find an array of Asian cuisine sure to get your mouth watering.
3. Explore the Cairns Botanic Gardens
Rainforest Boardwalk, Cairns Botanic Gardens
Get a taste of the rainforest at the Cairns Botanic Gardens. Located near the center of the city, the gardens and its walking paths offer a tranquil escape from the bustling city.
Open every day from 7:30am to 5:30pm, you can enjoy a quiet stroll through its unique gardens, each vastly different from the next. The Watkins Munroe Martin Conservatory houses some of the gardens’ most valuable and rarest plants along with a collection of local butterflies. Step inside and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped right into a bubble of rainforest.
Take to the Rainforest Boardwalk, winding through an ecosystem of tropical palm trees towering over a floor of green ferns. Discover the tropical fruit trees and vegetables of the grounds surrounding the Saltwater Lake, or look out for native birds while you enjoy a picnic by the gardens’ Freshwater Lake.
The Gondwana Heritage Garden displays Australia’s unique flora tracing back from the beginning stages of evolution of its native plants. You’ll find species of plants that were among the first flowering plants in the world.
You can also explore a collection of local plants used by the indigenous people of the region for over 40,000 years at the Aboriginal Plant Use Garden. See a Chinese-style garden at the Zhanjiang Friendship Garden, a perfect spot to stop and take in the tranquility of the gardens.
Join a free guided tour every day beginning at 10am for deeper insight into the gardens, or simply spend a quite afternoon.
4. Visit the Cairns Art Gallery
Cairns Art Gallery
Once you get past the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics – the undisputed stars of Cairns – you’ll get to see the hidden gems the city has to offer.
The Cairns Art Gallery, just a block away from the Cairns Esplanade, is a small but elegant gallery showcasing local, contemporary and indigenous art.
The gallery is comprised of three levels in a heritage building, beautifully styled in classical-inspired architecture. Each level is dedicated to carefully curated pieces and rotating exhibitions featuring everything from photo collections, installations, thought-provoking modern art and Aboriginal artifacts.
After exploring the gallery, pop in to Perrotta’s, the on-site cafe serving up delicious coffee, tasty breakfast options and zesty lunch and dinner menus. Outside seating underneath a shaded verandah creates the perfect ambience for al fresco dining.
The gallery shop offers a great range of specialty gifts, jewelry, books and toys inspired by the in-house exhibitions and collections. You’ll also see pieces from local artists on sale, a perfect memento of your visit to the gallery.
5. Relax at the Northern Beaches
Palm Cove, Tropical North Queensland
Nothing beats a day at the beach, especially in the sun-kissed beaches of Australia.
However, Cairns has no beaches. At least, not within the city itself.
Travel 20 minutes north of Cairns and you’ll come across what are known as the Northern Beaches. The closest and a consistent favorite beach is Trinity Beach, where gentle waves, soft golden sand and its relaxed ambience make it perfect for rolling out a towel and soaking up the sun. Lifeguards patrol the beach during the summer season, and a net keeps out jellyfish during stinger season so you can enjoy a swim.
Palm Cove is another favorite only 30 minutes away. This is the sort of beach you see on the covers of travel magazines, with its serene, blue waters, soft sand and splendid sunsets framed by relaxed palms. A pier juts out into the sea, offering a boarded walk above the sea foam and spray of the fresh ocean breeze.
Yorkey’s Knob is for the adventurers, popular for water sports such as jet skiing, kite surfing and wind surfing. Only 20 minutes away from Cairns, this is the place for an adventurous beach day trying your hand at extreme water sports. If you’re interested in giving kite surfing a go, an onsite kite center offers rental gear and introduction courses.
6. Discover Local Waterfalls and Swimming Holes
Swimming at Crystal Cascades. Image: Tourism & Events Queensland / Andrew Watson
There’s a local secret to staying cool during the hot Cairns summer – swimming holes and waterfalls.
In fact, many locals completely skip the beach and head straight to these hidden gems for a cool, refreshing swim. Surrounded by lush, shady rainforest, these natural rock pools and waterfalls are hidden tropical oases only minutes from Cairns.
The Crystal Cascades is a popular spot due to its close proximity to Cairns (only 15 – 20 minutes away) and its several different rock pool. Water cascades down a mountain rising out of the rainforest, creating many spectacular waterfalls splashing into the refreshing pools. Small streams running over collections of smoothed rock create natural water slides, just be careful to watch out for people before you slide down! This spot is easily accessible from a carpark, with barbecue and toilet facilities available.
Stoney Creek Falls, located 20 minutes from Cairns, is hidden beneath the pristine wilderness of Barron Gorge National Park. This sparkling waterfall cascades down into a refreshing swimming hole, surrounded in crystal clear rock pools and streams. There’s a walking path running along the creek that takes you to an old weir, a popular spot for relaxing and taking in the tranquility of the untouched rainforest around you.
Freshwater Creek, just 10 – 15 minutes from the city center, is a continuation of Crystal Cascades. This clear stream runs under towering, verdant trees and through smooth stones, offering a shady, cool respite. Picnic benches and barbecues are available throughout different spots along the creek.
7. Climb Walsh’s Pyramid
This adventure is not for the faint-hearted.
But if you’re an experienced hiker looking for the best walks in Cairns, Walsh’s Pyramid is the perfect challenge.
Located about 30 minutes south of Cairns, Walsh’s Pyramid is the highest freestanding natural pyramid in the world. Ascending over 3000 feet, this amazing natural formation rewards climbers with truly incredible views out to Cairns.
The whole walk takes about 4 – 7 hours to complete, best started early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. The marked trail to the summit is rocky and steep, so you’ll need to use your hands for many parts of the hike. Take as much water as you can, and when you think you’ve packed enough, pack even more. You’ll also want to pack snacks to keep you energized throughout the walk. Dab on a good layer of sunscreen.
You’ll likely see many runners summiting the pyramid, training for the annual “Pyramid Race” that takes place every August. They’ll make climbing the pyramid look easy, but don’t feel pressured to keep up. You’ll want to be able to say you’ve climbed the highest natural pyramid in the world!
Try These Free Things to Do in Cairns
As home to the Great Barrier Reef and the spectacular Wet Tropics, your visit to Cairns is sure to hold once in a lifetime experiences. For the free moments you may have in between, these free things to do in Cairns offer a true local’s Cairns experience.
Posted on: December 17th, 2018 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
Visit the Great Barrier Reef Between June & July to Swim with Minke Whales
First recognized by scientists less than 30 years ago, the dwarf minke whale is both elusive and super friendly.
There is so much we don’t know about these whales despite their proclivity to search out human company.
Scientists don’t understand why, but these whales are extremely curious and will often spend hours swimming around snorkelers and divers, giving quite a show! They are known to follow a boat around for hours, stopping for a look at each new dive site.
When to Swim with Minke Whales
Minke whales are the most common of the great whale species, found in abundance throughout the world’s oceans. They are mostly found in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Antarctic Oceans.
They are found off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand between March and December, but the best time to see minke whales is in June and July.
Despite their wide reach, swimming with minke whales only happens in The Great Barrier Ribbon Reefs in Tropical North Queenland, Australia. The great thing about this is that minke whales in the Great Barrier Reef are very social and communicative. Expeditions out to the reef regularly report seeing multiple whales in one day!
These multi-day Liveaboard expeditions depart from Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. These expeditions visit unique reef sites each day, offering more opportunities to swim with these gentle creatures.
This is one of the only animal encounters in the world that is entirely on the animal’s own terms. When a pod is spotted, a rope is tossed into the water. Groups of up to 10 swimmers hold on to the rope and the whales can approach or leave as they like. The whales are very generous with their time and once a pod is spotted, its rare if someone on the boat misses out on the experience while waiting their turn.
Things to Know Before Swimming with Minke Whales
Being in the water with these majestic creatures is described as a life-changing experience. It’s common for people to emerge from the water crying, screaming or just plain speechless.
If you want to add this encounter to your Australia bucket list, here are a few things you should know!
1. Every Australian winter, the minke whales make their annual migration from Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef from May to August. Plan your trip between June to mid-July for the best odds of seeing a pod. Peak season is in early July.
2. This special experience might take a bit of effort and luck! Only a handful of tour operators have permits to swim with minke whales and you’re never guaranteed an encounter. Increase your odds of swimming with the genial giants by taking a 3-7 night Liveaboard Excursion. In June and July, you’ll have a 98% chance of encountering the whales. It is recommend that you pre-book your excursion.
3. If you’re not keen on spending nights at sea, you can take a day-trip out of Port Douglas. These day-trips have an encounter rate of about 18%. This decreases your odds quite a bit, but if you do encounter them, you will feel as though you won the lottery! Either way it’s an amazing day out on the Great Barrier Reef. These day-trips often give discounts for multiple days out on the boat and they usually end up at different dive sites each day. So, you could stay a few nights in lovely Port Douglas and increase your odds by taking multiple trips out to the reef without feeling like you’re doing the same thing every day.
4. If you go in July, you might even have a chance to see and/or swim with Humpback whales too!
5. You can contribute directly to ongoing research including photo-identification, behavior research and conservation efforts from your minke whale encounter.
6. Dwarf minke whales are the smallest of the baleen whales. Like Humpback whales, they have no teeth, but a series of baleen plates that they use to trap and filter the food krill.
7. There is still much to be learned about these whales. For example, they have never been seen feeding on the Great Barrier Reef so it is assumed that they feed in Open Ocean while in the tropics, but no one really knows!
8. They are one of the fastest whales. They can travel at speeds greater than 20 knots or about 23 miles per hour.
9. Minke whales seem to prefer snorkelers to divers. They tend to get closer to and hang around longer when humans are not wearing large air tanks.
Want a chance to cross this amazing experience off your Bucket List? Visit Australia with the help of a Destination Specialist at About Australia. We can make your once in a lifetime trip Down Under fun and easy!
Posted on: November 2nd, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
There’s no better way to recharge than on an island getaway.
But maybe your idea of recharging isn’t all beaches and sun. Maybe it’s discovering wildlife, hiking through lush rainforests or sampling local delicacies.
With over 8,222 islands in Australia, you’re guaranteed to find your own personal island paradise. Each island boasts its own unique qualities that are part of what makes Australia unlike anywhere else in the world.
We’ve gathered a list of the top 12 stunning islands in Australia that will have you dreaming of your next island getaway.
1. Kangaroo Island
Image: Alan & Flora Botting on flikr.com
See wildlife the way it was meant to be seen – out in the wild. No place does a zoo without fences better than Kangaroo Island, located off the coast near Adelaide.
Its separation from mainland Australia has allowed for the wildlife to thrive among untouched wilderness. So yes, you’ll see tons of wild kangaroos, but if you want to get close to them head to Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park.
Though the wildlife is the main star of this island, it’s hard not to be mesmerized by the dazzling landscapes. Long stretches of beaches, turquoise waters and spectacular rock formations – no zoo could even touch this.
Head to Seal Bay to walk among sea lions, swim with wild dolphins off the north coast of the island or spot koalas hanging out on eucalyptus trees at Flinders Chase National Park. Don’t miss the stunning Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island’s signature landmark, looking like something straight out of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting.
2. Phillip Island
Image: Tourism Australia
See the tiniest penguins in the world at Phillip Island, just about two hours away from Melbourne.
Phillip Island is famous for its tiny penguins, but its coastal scenery is just as spectacular in its own right. Gorgeous green landscapes crumble into rugged coasts and pink granite cliffs, stretching out into surf beaches with perfectly barreling waves.
Meet the local wildlife at the Phillip Island Wildlife Park or see koalas in the wild at the Koala Conservation Centre. Stop into one of the local restaurants for a classic fish and chips lunch and visit the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit for a race on Australia’s largest four-lane GP slot car track.
As the sun sets, settle into Summerland Beach for a spot to catch the nightly Penguin Parade.
3. Fraser Island
Image: Jules Ingall
For an island holiday with a more adventurous vibe, head to Fraser Island, just off the coast of southern Queensland. This unique island is the only place in the world where the beach never ends. Its ancient, cool rainforest towers over white sand, interrupted only by freshwater creeks and the clearest lakes you’ve ever seen.
Pack your swimmers and head to Lake McKenzie, a pure crystal blue lake ringed by soft white sand and verdant rainforest. Honestly, this lake beats out any chemically-treated pool in clarity. And it’s all untouched, pure rainwater!
One of the best ways to explore the island is on a 4WD. Drive down 75 Mile Beach and discover the SS Maheno Shipwreck or find a spot along the beach to try your hand at saltwater fishing. You might spot wild dingoes along the way, but only admire from afar!
4. Rottnest Island
Image: Tourism Australia
One of Australia’s favorite holiday island destinations is Rottnest Island. Located off the coast from Perth in Western Australia, many locals like to reach the island by their own boat. Ferries are also available through three ferry operators along Perth.
Though Western Australia is not often on many traveler’s lists, Rottnest Island alone is enough to add it to your bucket list. Impossibly white sand beaches with crystal turquoise waters offer fantastic swimming and snorkeling. Biking is the best way to explore the island, allowing you to beach and bay-hop across its sublime coasts to find your perfect swimming spot. The best part – no roads!
You’ll also meet Rottnest Island’s famous locals – the quokka. This unique Australian animal is found only in Rottnest Island, and has become popular for its photogenic smile.
5. Bruny Island
Image: Tourism Tasmania
Foodies rejoice! Culinary delights are the star at Bruny Island, perfectly paired with otherworldly landscapes.
About two hours away from Hobart in Tasmania, Bruny Island is well beyond the typical tourist trail. But once you step foot on the island you’ll see why it’s a true hidden gem.
Our favorite Bruny Island tour takes you to local artisanal shops showcasing some of Australia’s finest cheesemaking, chocolatiering and whisky distilling. You’ll also try some freshly shucked oysters, locally grown berries and premium wine. Every course on the menu is a stop on your journey!
Make the small journey to The Neck Lookout and see the isthmus connecting the northern and southern parts of the island. The view from the top is absolutely unbeatable.
6. Moreton Island
Want to get up close with dolphins? Moreton Island is your best bet. Just across Moreton Bay from Brisbane, Moreton Island is a must for dolphin-feeding, kayaking, shipwreck snorkeling and sandboarding.
Yes, sandboarding – it’s exactly like snowboarding except with sand! Riding down the large slopes of sand is a lot more fun than you might realize. You might find yourself climbing the slopes again and again, then simply wash off the sand with a dip at the beach.
With no roads on the island, this unspoiled paradise is perfect for relaxing walks and simply taking in the beauty of untouched nature. Be sure to stay after sunset for the chance to hand-feed wild dolphins at Tangalooma Resort.
7. Magnetic Island
Image: Tourism Queensland
A popular stop along the east coast of Australia is Magnetic Island. Located just 20 minutes off the coast of Townsville in Queensland, Magnetic Island promises extremely laid-back island vibes.
Time seems to be at a standstill on Magnetic Island, or “Maggie,” as affectionately called by locals. It’s easy to lose track of time here and just let the world go by.
Go for a dip in one of many sublime beaches or zip around the island on a hired mini moke, a small convertible perfect for island exploration.
Take the Forts Walk through historic WWII landmarks ending with incredible views across the ocean. Be sure to keep an eye out for koalas hanging around the trees. As home to Australia’s largest population of wild koalas, you’re almost guaranteed to spot one of these furry creatures.
8. Frankland Islands
Image: Frankland Islands Reef Cruises
One of Australia’s truest hidden gems is the Frankland Islands. Located off the northern coast of Queensland near Cairns, these islands are an untouched slice of paradise.
Only one tour operator is licensed to go to Frankland Islands, and their close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef make for perfect small-group snorkeling excursions. The main island, Normanby Island, boasts white sand beaches and clear waters ideal for snorkeling.
The marine biologist on the Frankland Islands tour crew offers guided walks around the island, exploring rock pools rife with exotic marine life.
Complete with an included lunch as you cruise back to Cairns, the Frankland Islands are a fantastic way to experience the Great Barrier Reef without the crowds. Ask our About Australia Destination Specialists about this special tour!
9. Whitsunday Islands
Image: Tourism Australia
Looking for a tropical island paradise? The Whitsunday Islands offer your pick out of 74 impeccable islands.
These islands off the coast of Queensland sit within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and are just as stunning above the water as below the surface.
With only 8 inhabited islands, the rest are natural sanctuaries of secluded beaches and rainforest bushwalks, making for perfect campsites. The fringing reef protects the waters surrounding the islands, making for calm bays perfect for sailing across the islands. And you don’t even need a license to rent a private yacht for bareboat sailing!
One of our favorite Whitsunday Islands is the main, titular island, the largest of all 74. Here is where you’ll find the unparalleled Whitehaven Beach, often listed in the top 10 beaches in the world.
10. Hamilton Island
Hamilton Island is the definition of picture perfect paradise. There’s absolutely no bad angle – everywhere you turn is a postcard-ready scene, just waiting to be captured on camera.
As one of the 8 inhabited Whitsunday Islands, Hamilton Island is an Australian favorite for a luxury getaway. Take in incredible views of the ocean from high-end resort infinity pools, tropical cocktail in hand. Explore the roadless island by golf buggy and indulge in world-class dining at one of many renowned restaurants.
It doesn’t get more luxurious at Hamilton Island than in qualia, a 5-star resort embracing its magnificent surrounds in ultimate, couples-only seclusion. More budget friendly options on Hamilton Island include renting holiday homes. With a buggy included in your rental, you’re free to explore the beautiful palm-fringed, white sand beaches on this idyllic island.
11. Lizard Island
Imagine stepping onto a white sand beach right out your door and seeing one of the world’s greatest natural wonders at your feet.
The best way to experience the Great Barrier Reef is being surrounded by it. Situated right on the reef, no island does this better than Lizard Island.
This small island is home to Lizard Island Resort, an all-inclusive luxury getaway up there with some of the highest-end resorts in the world.
You can snorkel some of the reef’s most pristine and young corals right from the beach, or take a scuba diving trip out to spectacular dive sites such as Cod Hole.
See the reef right from your own private infinity pool, explore the local waters on a private dinghy or walk the lush bushland on nature walks and tracks.
Indulge in gourmet meals, taste local and international wines and enjoy a private beach picnic, all included in your stay.
Lizard Island Resort provides the ultimate luxury deserving of the Great Barrier Reef right at its steps, and will be a getaway you’ll never forget.
12. Lord Howe
Lord Howe Island is like stepping into a Planet Earth documentary. The only hues on this island seem to be endless gradients of blues and greens, hiding an abundance of wildlife.
Located over 300 miles off the eastern coast of Australia, the only way to get to Lord Howe Island is on a two hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane.
Its pristine beaches lend to some of the world’s cleanest and clearest waters perfect for snorkeling. It’s just like swimming in an aquarium!
The island is strewn with easy strolls through lush palms and forests, but for a one-of-a-kind adventure the Mt Gower climb is a must. Rated as one of the best day-treks in the world, this challenging journey takes you on a guided cliff-face mountain climb for a truly rewarding experience.
See Australia’s Breathtaking Islands
Dreaming of an island getaway on your trip to Australia? Whether you’re looking for a quiet retreat surrounded by stunning beaches or an adventure unlike anywhere else, Australia’s got an island to suit you perfectly.
Our Destination Specialists are experts in all things Australia. We’ll help you pick the best island for your Australia vacation.
Posted on: April 4th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
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.”
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 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
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.”
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!”
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
The first thing you need to know about the Great Ocean Road is that it’s named for its magnificent beauty – but also for its length.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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
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
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
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.
Posted on: October 19th, 2017 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
Whale Watching Season in Australia
Whale watching in Australia has grown tremendously over the last decade. The long whale season in Australia – between May and November – no doubt contributes to its growing popularity.
But whale watching season differs throughout the country and so do the kinds of whales you’ll see.
In May, whale groups including humpbacks and southern right whales migrate from the waters of the Antarctic to the tropical waters of Australia for mating season. Minke whales and even the rare blue whale also make a stop in Australia’s waters throughout their migration.
The warm waters provide a safe habitat for delivering and nursing their calves, contributing to the growing whale population in Australia. With nearly 60 per cent of the world’s whales found in Australia’s waters, it’s no wonder this is a top whale watching destination.
Make your stop along the coasts of Australia – the best place to see whales – for an incredible opportunity to see these iconic gentle giants on your Australia vacation. Read our guide below to discover the best times to see whales during whale watching season in Australia.
Whale Watching in Victoria and South Australia
Every year along the southern coast of Australia you’ll see southern right whales migrate to the bays of Victoria and South Australia to give birth.
Whale watching season for southern rights in this region is between June and October, when they swim closest to the shores. In Warnambool, Victoria, blue whales are occasionally seen in May.
Cross off two breathtaking experiences at once and journey along the Great Ocean Road on the southeastern coast of Australia. Cruise one of the world’s most scenic drives and stop at popular lookout points to stretch your eyes across the waters below your to spot whales frolicking and breaching. Southern rights are the most commonly spotted whale from different points along the Great Ocean Road, including at Cape Nelson, Portland Bay, and Warnambool.
These curious whales tend to venture close to humans, often swimming close to boats and ultimately lending to an incredible experience with these gentle giants of the sea.
Whale Watching on the East Coast of Australia
Whale Watching in Sydney
The east coast of Australia offers excellent opportunities for whale watching, especially along the coasts of New South Wales and Queensland.
The best time to see whales in popular destinations throughout the east coast ranges between May through July and September through November.
In Sydney, you’ll typically spot humpback whales close to shore making their journey toward Queensland. Humpback whales, like southern rights, are friendly and curious about boats and divers. Their inviting nature has given them the reputation of the most popular whales among whale watchers.
These whale watching cruises typically combine whale watching with sightseeing and information on Sydney’s history. Cruise vessels provide an intimate experience by carrying only up to 11 passengers. You’ll enjoy a private, small group tour along the Sydney Harbor with personalized and knowledgeable commentary about the city and whales throughout your journey.
Soon you’ll be an expert on Sydney and whale behavior patterns.
If you like to cruise in style, Sydney offers luxury whale watching cruises complete with a gourmet luncheon served on-board and drinks to purchase. Comfortable indoor seating allows you to sip on a cocktail while watching the giants of the sea. Or you may take in the blue expanse of the ocean out on spacious viewing decks.
Take a cruise to the reef and not only will you experience the world’s largest living organism – the reef itself – but you may also see whales, the world’s largest animals.
Whale season attracts humpback and dwarf minke whales between May and September to the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef. The best time for whale watching in this region, however, is between July and September.
Whale Watching on the Gold Coast
If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground but still yearn for the special experience of seeing a whale, Australia’s east coast is the best place to spot whales from the beach.
The Gold Coast is rapidly becoming the premier whale watching site in Australia, with whales venturing as close as one or two kilometers from beach shores. Whales may be spotted all throughout the regular whale watching season in the Gold Coast, peaking in August.
Numerous lookout points along the Gold Coast provide great ocean views where you’ll spot humpback whales breaching and shooting big spouts of mist into the air. Point Danger, a headland on the southern end of the Gold Coast, is renowned as a premier spot for whale watching on land. Other great vantage points include Burleigh Hill and Miami Hill.
Whale Watching in Hervey Bay
Humpback whales make a stop on their return migration to enjoy the waters of Hervey Bay. The clear waters allow you to easily see humpbacks as they frolic and breach, basking in the sheltered waters of Fraser Island with their young. The best time to see humpbacks in Hervey Bay is between July through October, right before they head south again for feeding.
You will typically begin spotting humpbacks twenty minutes into a cruise out on the waters of Hervey Bay – perfect for the eager whale watching enthusiast. Sometimes the whales venture close to the boats, a delightful treat for lucky passengers.
An even better treat is getting to swim with the whales.
Swimming with Whales
Swim with Whale Sharks
The once in a lifetime opportunity to swim with whales awaits at Ningaloo Coast. This World Heritage Site is located in the north-west coast of Western Australia. Here, whale watching adventures can combine a snorkel on the Ningaloo reef with whale watching and swimming on a full day tour.
Take a cruise between March and September for the chance to get up close and personal with these friendly giants.
And the giant you’re most likely to meet on a whale swim is the whale shark. Don’t worry though – classified as the world’s largest fish, these animals are more like whales in their behavior than sharks. These docile creatures are accustomed to swimming alongside humans, with a diet consisting of only micro-organisms such as plankton and krill. So there’s nothing stopping you from taking the plunge and swimming with whale sharks!
Meeting a new friend means first gaining their trust. The same holds true even for these enormous creatures.
You’ll enter the waters with an expert guide in a small group of up to 5 swimmers, so as not to scare off the whale shark. Gaining the animal’s trust may take up to half an hour, but that’s a small price to pay for such a grand experience.
To ensure this exhilarating experience goes as smoothly as possible, a spotter plane flies overhead and alerts the crew on board when a whale is spotted. A photographer joins the swim to capture unforgettable underwater moments you can look back on.
Swimming with Dwarf Minke Whales
Other friendly and inquisitive whales that you are likely to meet on a whale swim are dwarf minkes.
These whales hang around the Ribbon Reefs of the Great Barrier Reef between May and September, peaking in early July. This region is the only place in the world where humans can interact with these whales. With a limited number of tours permitted to offer swimming with minke whales, you don’t want to miss out on this special experience! Day trips and even 3-7 night excursions onto the sea are available for enjoying minke whale watching and swimming.
If you are unsure about swimming with whales, minke whales are just gentle enough to try out the experience. They often seek out human company, swimming around snorkelers and divers and approaching boats just within a few yards. Just another reason why Australia is the best place to see whales – you’re able to experience whales in their natural habitat.
Whale Watching in Australia
All along Australia’s coastline are fantastic spots to see whales. Whether you’re a swimmer and ready for the once in a lifetime experience of swimming with whales, or if you’d rather keep your feet on the ground and see whales frolic in the ocean from the beach or a cruise, there’s a spot in Australia perfect for your style of whale watching.
Want to include whale watching in your trip to Australia? Contact one of our expert Destination Specialists. We’ll set up the perfect whale watching experience for you to see these majestic giants of the sea.
Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877(CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).
About Australia Reviews
Rating of Average of 4.86 on a total of 186 Ratings
Troy & Kessy Heinzle
Darin hit it out of the ballpark planning our trip to Australia for us. He made it very easy for us to get from one place to another. Everything went as planned!! He suggested Hamilton Island to us and It was one of our favorite places to go! Absolutely beautiful! Everyone was so friendly and they take such good care of their Island- very clean! We were able to see and do so much and all do(...)
All we booked was easy to do on this fantastic trip!
We booked flights, hotels, shuttles, and activities with Ana at About Australia.
The range of geographical areas and activities was exceptional
I highly recommend About Australia to anyone planning to travel there.
Absolutely wonderful trip through New Zealand and Australia
Just wanted to share we had an amazing trip through New Zealand and Australia, thank you for coordinating the trip. The voucher process worked perfectly and we liked the location of the accommodations. Wish you did Asia, I would love to use your services again.
Linda and David Cole
We had a fantastic experience. Knowing it may be our one and only chance to see down under, we squeezed in as much as possible in 2 weeks. We went to Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland (Tasmania) and New Zealand. The flights, tours and all airport/hotel connections all went off without a hitch. We scheduled many tours but our favorites were the Feeding Frenzy at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Tasman(...)
Outstanding trip—and so affordable!
Great flights on Qantas, excellent room accommodations (awesome view from Short Stay apartment in Melbourne), loved being up-close with koalas, kangaroos, wallabies , and adorable fairy penguins. Our guides, Monique and Yasmin, were lovely, and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, was amazing! Australia should be on everyone’s bucket list!
Great Knowledge and Execution Made for a Great trip
My husband and I heartily recommend About Australia. Although I had done a great deal of research myself, it was wonderful to have these pros take over the details of day trips, accommodations, flights, transfers, and car rental. They put us in hotels that were wonderfully located but met our budget requirements. All three weeks of our Aussie adventure came off without a hitch.
THIS TRIP WAS AMAZING WAS ABLE TO SEE DIFFERENT LOCATIONS THROUHGOUT AUSTRALIA, EVERYTHING FROM THE FOOD TO THE PEOPLE WAS AWESOME. ALL OF OUR ACCOMODATIONS WERE FANTASTIC. ABOUT AUSTRALIA IS THE ONLY WAY TO GO IF TRAVELING ABROAD TO AUSTRALIA.
John & Dina Weber
Took care of all the things that might make a trip to Australia difficult.
Airline schedule, visas, hotel accommodations, tours were all excellent. The hotels chosen in Sydney, Melbourne, and Port Douglas were excellent both in terms of the venue and the locations in each city. In Sydney, Potts Point was relaxing but close enough to everything to provide a great experience. Melbourne felt busy, but Melbourne Short Stay Apartments were outstanding. And in Port Dougla(...)
Amazing all-around experience!
The trip that Ana put together for us was nothing short of spectacular and exceeded our expectations which were high. As we traveled from Sydney to Hamilton Island to Byron Bay and back to Sydney we were able to enjoy all the sites and activities we planned and then some! We were privy to some “insider tips” which added so much to our trip. We highly recommend AboutAustralia and plan on using(...)
Great Ocean Road
A most excellent vacation as a result of working with Marissa Stroud! Perfect accommodations, wonderful tours, and accommodating flights with Virgin Australia.
Trip to Aussie Land
Our 10 day trip to Eastern Australia was extremely enjoyable, and a valuable learning experience. Surfers Paradise was reminiscent of our days on the Jersey shores, only better. The area was very clean, there were many good restaurants and plenty of sites to see. We did sign up for a 1/2 day tour of the waterfalls and rainforest. We could have avoided this since the waterfalls and rainforests(...)
Very well organized
My husband and I went to Australia September 2019. From the beginning of our planning process Melanie was great. Initially we planned to go on vacation in June but we had some conflicts so requested to move our vacation to September. Since Melanie was out of the office, Melissa helped us get everything organized. Melissa was so great and attentive as well. As our vacation got closer Melanie c(...)
Best travel agency for Australia
Our trip to Australia would never have been as successful as it was without the help of Koda from About Australia. Using an area specialist made all the difference. She set us up with amazing excursions I doubt we would have found it n our own. She suggested the Phillips Island trip to see the tiny penguin parade when I didn’t even know there were penguins in Australia—and trip included (...)
We had a wonderful time in Australia and loved the convenience and quality product offered by About Australia. The food tour in Melbourne was great and our apartment was modern and lovely. We were very satisfied overall and thank Koda for helping us with our arrangements.
WONDERFUL AND AMAZINGLY WELL COORDINATED BY ANA and ABOUT AU
TO BE FILED UNDER... WHO NEEDS A TRAVEL AGENT ... UNTIL YOU DO!
We traveled to NZ and AU in March and April this year. After a great deal of discussion with friends and colleagues about where to go and how much time to spend, we headed off.
NZ was first, not only was it one of the most spectacular Venues i have ever been lucky enough to visit, but the driving on the "Other side of the(...)
About Australia was amazing to work with making this a vacation of a lifetime! I would highly recommend their services to anyone wanting to travel to Australia. The itinerary was great. The hotels we stayed in were not only wonderful, but were located in super convenient in relation to exploring the cities we were in. Any questions or concerns i had were immediately addressed. Customer servic(...)
Everything went exactly as planned. There were 5 of us and every hotel room every activity and every shuttle was on time and perfect! Our trip could not have gone better!
I wrote as soon as we got back, but the email did not go through. You did a superb job of booking everything! The trip was perfectly smooth. Both Australia and New Zealand are beautiful and the people are kind. We snorkeled, zip lined, walked, went on planes, trains, gondolas, boats and ferries. We attempted to do every activity and site available and I think we succeeded! Thank you. (...)
Fantastic Honeymoon! About Australia took care of everything, all we had to do was have fun!
We really enjoyed the tours that we were scheduled for. The guides on all the tours were excellent, they were all knowledgeable, a lot of fun, we enjoyed chatting with everybody.
Awesome trip, can’t wait to do another!
The trip overall was AMAZING!
The only feedback I would like to offer pertains to the Penguin Parade excursion. We had no idea how the day would unfold. Turns out, no one was dressed appropriately seeing that Phillips Island is quite breezy and the temps drop as the sun goes down! If you could suggest that long pants, or even a jacket and blanket are brought, would have helped keep everyone more comfortable as we wai(...)
Joseph & Nancy Froelich
A good trip
Our flight to LAX was delayed due to weather connections (our booking), and therefore missed our flight to Melbourne. However, Virgin Australia was wonderful & put us on a flight to Sydney just a few hours later with a connecting flight to Melbourne to arrive only 5 hours late [THANKS VIRGIN!]. All accommodations were great [Rose Gums the favorite despite heat]. Also John & Sue in Port Dougl(...)
Wow! An Unforgettable Trip
Koda and her company were a dream to work with. Everything was easy to understand and tailored to meet our needs. This was our first time using a tour type package and agent and I was glad we did. Our trip was planned out beautifully for us. Everything was streamlined, easy, fun and friendly with top notch impeccable services, tours and hotels. We had a great balance of scheduled tours and ti(...)
Loved the locations we visited and the planned excursions. The Mantra hotels were ok but not great. About Australia needs to work on their response times since we didn’t always get answers without feeling like we were nagging. And the day of our departure was very stressful with a changed flight ( no fault of About Australia) and a shuttle driver who arrived 50 minutes late and was lost betw(...)
Carolyn & Jeff Green
Trip Down Under
We couldn't be happier with our trip to Australia that we booked through "About Australia" Travel Agency. Our agent Ana, helped us customize our trip & figure out 3 cities to visit & an excursion in each city to do. The accommodations were convenient & comfy. The excursions got us out & about the city so we could figure out more places we wanted to visit. Ana walked us through getting all o(...)
All the planning and the vouchers worked out just fine. No glitches. Well done.
This trip was AWESOME and exceeded my expectations!
Going to Australia and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef has been #1 on my "Bucket List" since I can remember! All the stars fell in line this year, so we decided, "This is it...we're going!"
About Australia came highly recommended to us by some friends who LOVE Australia (and are going again with them next year for the 5th time!!), so we contacted them to check them out and get the bal(...)
my number one bucket list location to travel too.
About Australia was a great company to work with, did a fantastic job in all the planning. thank you
Too Much Continent and Too Little Time
The trip was incredible. People were unbelievably friendly. Enjoyed the peaceful serenity of Port Douglas. Am very glad we opted for Douglas instead of Cairns. Meridian Hotel was great. Four Mile beach is a must see (sunrise is fantastic) and be sure to climb Flagstaff Hill. Great Barrier Reef trip was ok, but opting not to go into the water was a mistake. Be sure you can tread water or(...)
Amazing Aussie Experience, Mate!
We loved our time in Australia! The diversity between Melbourne, Cairns, and Sydney was great. We did several tours including the Phillip Island Penguins, the snorkeling/diving in Cairns (would like to do that one about 10 more times!), the Kuranda Rainforeststation, and the Hop on/Hop off tour in Sydney. We also did some extra exploring at those places and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We hi(...)
It was above my expectation
We only have one time in Cairns where the shuttle missed picking us up because the flight was delayed and we have to wait for one and a half hour for the next shuttle
Otherwise, everything else was great! I will recommend it to all my travel buddies.
Great trip. Everything was perfect. Thanks Darin for all your help. You did a great job.
Thank you for making this amazing trip happen!
Don’t ever let Koda go!!!!!
Koda was absolutely amazing. Truly the best trip of our lifetime. We cannot thank you all enough for this. We will always use Koda for future trips. 100% satisfied. About Australia will be referred by us to everyone.
IT WAS AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL EXPERIENCE
My travel agent Darin, did a spectacular job with my tour itinerary, everything was beyond my expectation. all the hotels and their staff, were cordial, helpful and full of important information. the location of the hotels was fantastic, everywhere I wanted to see or visit was at walking distance, it was safe which was one of my main concerns, Darin assured me that everywhere I was staying wa(...)
Through the entire trip I kept saying to Betty that I could not believe how smoothly everything was going. It was an amazing, stress free (due to your efforts) trip. The hotels in Cairns and Sydney could not have been more accommodating. The whole trip from beginning to end was just really stress free. Taxi’s to/from airports, airport personnel, etc. were just wonderful. You did an amazing jo(...)
would do again with only a few minor changes
Australian people are incredibly hospitable and fun to talk with. One story: When we disembarked our train early in the morning in Cooroy, there was no station, just a platform on a country road and no taxi stand. But there was a group of guys meeting up to go kayaking. One offered to drive us free the 30 minutes to our destination ---- the attendant in a filling station was able to call (...)
Good enjoyable trip.
Accommodation: clean, good location, easy transportation
City Food Walking Tour: OK
Philip Island Trip: Good
Ocean Drive: Good
Accommodation: clean, good location
Aboriginal: Duplicated day and trip events. Should have taken one, not both: the same thing, same casts.
Accommodation: OK, good location, easy transporttio(...)
The trip to Australia was amazing. The tours were well planned and interesting. A great value for the money.
David and Susan Waller
Great advice and a great trip, perfectly put together
About Australia put together a perfect trip for us to Australia. Their suggestion that we fly Premium Coach on Virgin Australia worked out great, we slept well both ways and literally experienced no jet lag either direction. We were pleased with all of our accommodations and excursions, and when one of our flights inside Australia was cancelled, the owner was immediately on top of the situa(...)
Great way to see Australia
Everything was well planned out and taken care of before we flew to Sydney. Plans went smoothly. We had a few changes to make during the planning and Koda was very helpful.
Excellent vacation, amazing service!
Thank you for putting together such a great vacation for us, very professional service. We had a blast in Australia!
Amy (and Brad) Russell
Australia is a big country!! We are so glad we used "About Australia" tour and self-guided services!!!
Sydney was a beautiful city!! clean and lots of action at Darling Harbor ... Our accommodations were two blocks from Darling Harbor ... Easy walking distance to everything: Sydney Opera House, Harbors, Fish Market, and boat taxis to Manly...
The first half of the trip we used three(...)
It was amazing
Really wonderful trip. Everything was arranged ahead of time. All hotels were great. The tours were lovely, including the optional daintree dreaming tour. Well, well worth the money
Great experience. Already planning our return. Would like to single out Monique on our foodie tour. Note. Some of our contact numbers at the beginning of the trip connected but hung up after being put on hold
Absolutely Fabulous! Highly Recommend!
The entire experience was amazing! From booking in the short time we had, to the surprise of such a great value and then when we were there, we could not believe how wonderful everything was...from the hotels, to the excursions to the flight and transfers. Absolutely flawless, best value and would highly recommend Marissa and About Australia again! Thank you so much for a wonderful experience!
Once in a Lifetime Trip
They helped me plan a amazing anniversary trip that I will never forget. We had minor hicks up but it was taken care of. I just wanted to share how much I enjoy dealing with About Australia. You have great people working to make business travel as painless as possible. I have worked a lot with Chris Reech – he is brilliant.
He is customer focused, cheerful and always willing to help you f(...)
Enjoyed the trip!
We really enjoyed our Australia vacation, especially our visits to Sydney, Melbourne, and Port Douglas. Everything went smoothly - no problems with travel arrangements, and the accommodations were comfortable and spacious. Our snorkel/scuba trip to the Great Barrier Reef was wonderful. Thanks to About Australia for helping us plan the trip of a lifetime!
MICHAEL J STRAIN SR.
AWESOME TRIP! WISHED I WOULD HAVE ADD A TRIP OVER TO NEW ZEALAND OR FIIJI
This trip was amazing!!!
Tyler planned an amazing trip to Australia and New Zealand! Everything went smooth from the time we left Newark until we landed back home in Newark. The flights were great, the transfers went smooth, the accommodations were lovely and the excursions were awesome!! Any issues we had were out of everyone’s control and handled appropriately
I would recommend About Australia to anyone who (...)
Loved New Zealand and Australia
We loved our bucket list trip to New Zealand and Australia. However, we felt there should have been an encouragement from Koda to consider adding a day or two at each destination. We didn't realize that in almost all cases of 2 night stays, an entire day was spend traveling. This left us with little time to explore upon arrival. An example was Melbourne. We arrived in the early evening. The e(...)
Down Under was Amazing!
We really enjoyed our trip to Australia. The accommodations exceeded our expectations, especially the apartment in Melbourne. Our first trip to Australia was unforgettable!
Overall we had a great time.
We had a wonderful time, except for a glitch at the Melbourne airport enroute to Cairns. After spending a couple great days in Melbourne going too the Penguin Parade on Phillips Island and the Mooonlit wildlife Conservation park.We got to the airport, we had a voucher for a nonstop flight to Cairns, which after standing in a long line, we were told that that flight had been cancelled days ago(...)
I have decided to use a travel agent to plan for my family’s trip to Australia, after trying to do it myself for months. I am glad I did. My agent was Ana. I requested her to plan a trip for us with the most affordable way to fly from San Francisco, to have city experience, to see the Great Barrier Reef, to be able to visit my good friend in Brisbane, and have wildlife experience. She came o(...)
Ann G Holmes
Amazing down under experiences
After the initial scare of missing our connection in Dallas, because our Denver to Dallas plane was running late, we were rebooked by American Airlines via Los Angeles. After that, every connection, shuttle, hotel, tour was perfectly coordinated. Our trip was a great taste of life in Australia without all the hassle of attempting to book all arrangements ourselves.
Great job Chris!
Keith & Sandra Holleman
Heading for the dive into the Great Barrier Reef
About Australia and Christopher set up the most amazing vacation for us. If there was a rating above 5 stars, we would place these travel experts into that category.
Traveling to New Zealand and Australia had been on our wish list for awhile and putting trust in Christopher with our travel plan destinations was the best decision we could have made.
Thank you for the memories.
Overall A Positive Experience
Booking through About Australia made the trip very easy. It was nice not to worry about finding accommodations and flights and they provided good recommendations for each location. I would use the service again. I did feel that we spent too much time in some places and not enough in others, but that likely kept flight costs down.
My only concerns were that two of the accommodations didn't (...)
ROGER P SEARS
An enjoyable well-planned trip
Everything went smoothly. The accommodations were conveniently located. The transfers were on time. The Short-Stay property in Melbourne was above average. Cairns was an interesting experience.
Very impressive, and well organized.
The whole trip was very well organized . Starting with planning the trip consulting Darin Hendry, he made us feel very comfortable and assured us that we would be well taken care of. He told us what to expect at every cities we stopped. The instructions at each airports when we arrived were so detailed. We felt so at ease in unfamiliar places. The whole trip was very relaxed because we travel(...)
Herman and Betty Pump With Leo and Regina Carbanara
Incredible trip great hotels
Can not describe how wonderful this trip was. Every flight perfect with pickups always on schedule. Each hotel was better than described. The excursions where a highlight of every city and where very fairly priced. We added some additional tours and Chris Reeh our agent from "About Australia" handled these additions with ease.
We enjoyed every day and night . Pickup for tours always on time(...)
Had a fantastic time in Fiji thanks to About Australia. They were knowledgeable about the location and the resorts they chose for us were spectacular. Thanks for all of your help.
HESTER K JACOBS
Overall, our trip was wonderful. Unfortunately, they had to change agents in the middle of planning so we lost some continuity. Majority of accommodations were great. Tours selected wonderful. My only recommendation for those using About Australia, thoroughly check and read all final documents including seat assignments on airlines.
The accommodations were wonderful and the excursions were amazing and informative. Thank you for some amazing memories
Australia is a MUST Country to VISIT!!!
Great planning, awesome communication, and perfect itinerary setup by Kelsey!! Perfect hotel locations to access the wonders of each city within walking distance!!! Australia was amazing, adventurous, and relaxing!! Great job About Australia!!
An excellent orchestration of 13 flights and 31 vouchers
3 countries, 13 flights, 31 vouchers, 0 problems.
This was a well orchestrated trip by Ana at AboutAustralia of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
WE LOVED our trip
Our trip was so smooth and so affordable we could not believe it! Accommodations were wonderful - clean and right in the middle of the action in all 3 areas we travelled. Flights were wonderful and transfers reliable and on time. I cannot think of a way it could have been better!
Just love Koalas
Our Aussie trip could not have been planned better. The accommodations were all located centrally within short walking distances to restaurants and shopping, not to mention each one was ever so clean and the staff so friendly. The tours scheduled were just what we wanted to see and the tour guides quite knowledgeable. We got to see all the Koalas, kangaroos and wombats that we could possibly(...)
Michelle T Wahl
For the most knowledgeable, practical and personalize trip
Hassle free if you would like to tackle all three: Northern New Zealand, Southern New Zealand and gold coast of New South Wales, Australia.
Hassle free comes when about Australia was able to arrange shuttles to and from the airport, rental car, airline tickets. Ours were nine flights!. You get the most for your money. Koda did it with such ease and efficiency. About Australia knows what hot(...)
Being "Down Under" was a top experience!
Ana did a great job! In less than 3 weeks we saw the top spots ob Australia's south, middle and north. Everything was well organized, just showing the voucher and we could pass.
Overall, everything was good
Accommadations were excellent except at the Short Stay Apartments where we were required to walk to another of ther properties— The Australis—which was quite difficult for us to get to with all our luggage. I think it was the one at Kangaroo Island that also wasn’t a good experience because of having to climb 2 flights of stairs to get to the room. The trip to the Great Barrier Reef on the Qu(...)
This was one of my bucket list vacations and Anna Musgray and About Australia did not disappoint. I cannot
believe everything went smoothly without a single hitch. I expected at least one thing to not go as planned,
but was most pleasantly surprised that each and every detail was spelled out for me and completely followed
through. I'm so glad I made this trip because it was wonderful in(...)
VERY APPRECIATIVE OF THE SERVICE. QANTAS WERE EXCELLENT IN SERVICE AND FOODS OFFERED.
THANKS GUYS FOR THE SERVICE. HAVE NO PHOTOS TO ATTACH UNFORTUNATELY
Our trip was absolutely amazing! I usually like planning my own trips, but this time around we were in the midst of planning our wedding as well. In addition, we felt like we did not know enough about the South Pacific to know where wanted to go. Our trip was put together beautifully, and honestly we wouldn’t change a thing. Every single flight and shuttle from the airport was on time, ever(...)
Cindy Guillett Beytin
Wow, we booked this trip through About Australia knowing it would probably be our only time to go there. They chose the BEST highlights, arranged EVERYTHING, and it was fantastic! I don't think it could have been better. In Melbourne (Melbin) we did an excellent 3 hour foodie walking tour, rode the free tram everywhere, loved the Market, stayed a an apartment, visited an animal park AND ex(...)
Ana & the About Australia/New Zealand team totally exceeded all our expectations!!
We had the best time and I highly recommend Ana & the "About Aus/NZ" team. I looked into a lot of different agencies prior to planning our honeymoon to Australia and New Zealand. Truth be told, I originally planned to complete all aspects of our trip myself. When finding the "About" team, I loved that they specialize in only a few different places. I also liked how they gave us the ability to(...)
It was an amazing family vacation almost everything was pre-paid and booked we just had to show up and have fun!! Ana was very patient with me and she was able to accommodate all my requeats and answer all my questions.
The koala hug was worth the trip!
I was particularly pleased with how smoothly all the transportation and tour arrangements went. We never had a problem or question about shuttles and everyone was expecting us when we arrived. The trip was fantastic and I wish it could have been longer.
It was an awesome vacation except for the 24 hours of traveling(LOL).
The hotels were great but made you pay for WIFI, the US does not make you pay for it.
I would definitely recommend to everyone.
Great trip. Loved every moment of it. Just what I wanted and more.
We loved Australia!
Thank you so much Koda for all the recommendations and the itinerary tips! The stay in Melbourne was centered right in the middle - loved the people, lots to eat, lots to do and see. We loved our stay - our balcony was so beautiful - we loved our view so much! Cairns - loved our hotel and everything was in walk-able distance, we had an ocean view, sunrise was magical - wished we extended o(...)
Everything was as good or better than we expected. Sydney was great. Melbourne was very good. The events all worked out well and were better then expected.The return flight was terrible, since it was badly planned by you or Qantas, who ever planned the connection. There was no way for anyone to make the connection to Phoenix. But other then that, it was a great trip. Lou
Everything was great!
We had a great time and we were so grateful that About Australia had taken care of all the details. Eventhough we kept making changes to our plans (dates, cities, activities, etc) even during the trip, the staff was super patient and accommodating.
A couple of suggestions: the hotel in Queenstown was not the best (very dated) and it didn’t have air conditioning. We were also surprised whe(...)
It was a wonderful trip and we highly recommend About Australia!
Koda did a great job proposing and organizing our itinerary. She kept us informed of any changes, gave us excellent advice, and reminded us of important things we need to do. We had a wonderful, memorable and very smooth trip. Hope to do business with you again in the future.
Michael Ian Bevan
It was a wonderful trip. well organized. Hotels and people I had to deal with were excellent. I would highly recommend
this outfit to anyone who wants to go to Australia.
Thank you Katie for being so easy to work with for our Australian adventure. Your communication and planning in a timely manner helped our travel anxiety as seniors.
Australia is beautiful. Our trip was well planned and very organized. Daily vouchers were easy to understand and all travel documents were very organized. Darin was extremely helpful and readily available for questions and concerns. I would definitely recommend About Australia for your travel needs.
My fastastic vacation in Australia met my dreams of meeting Australian animals
I asked for a trip to Australia focused on Australian animals and I enjoyed it immensely. I petted koalas at the Australia Zoo and at several wildlife refuges, and photographed them out in the wild. I fed and petted kangaroos and wallabies at the Australia Zoo and at several wildlife refuges, and photographed them out in the wild. While snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, I photographed mul(...)
This was a fun trip that ran very smoothly.
Traveling to 3 Australian cities, I was surprised how effortless the whole trip was. The hotels were very nice, the pickups and transfers from airports were efficient, the included tours were fun, and it was an all around enjoyable and worthwhile experience.
This was the best trip of my life hands down. I was afraid that since I was saving so much money I would be getting a lesser quality trip, but I was pleasantly surprised!
Ana did a great job of putting my itinerary together. She has great ideas for tours, the accommodations were fantastic, and it was nice to have transportation arranged to and from the airport.
Bucket List Trip #5 accomplished
I had a nice time in Australia. Had the opportunity to meet 4 other women on a similar adventure from various parts of the US. Their package very similar to mine so we spent time doing activities together and having meals together.
I would recommend that you ask more questions about the activities if you are going to book them through the travel agency. There was very limited information g(...)
Services were great !!
I reviewed properties with the travel agency which had some issues, and these comments are said to be considered for future clients. I'm awaiting resolution of an airline baggage charge with which the agency is assisting.
I'll try to post photos after I'm back from catchup mode; having been away a month.
Thank you Ana, for your great service!
BEST TRIP EVER!
Awesome,fantastic,wonderful not enough words to describe this experience. It was the best! Everything went smoothly not one glitch in the entire 3 weeks. All the tours, transfers were as described. Couldn’t have been a better experience.
Experienced help made our trip smooth and memorable.
We managed to see many of the highlights of several locations in Australia without feeling too rushed. Also received good advice how to plan for the excessive heat, which was quite a change from the snow we left here, and some inside information on hot spots and recommended activities. I especially appreciated Ana's patience as we made some last minute changes in plans. Having the transport(...)
It was amazing,
It was amazing, the experience was well worth the cost.
Great trip! Everything went according to plan, seamless!
Absolutely no complaints! Great accommodation! Everyone was on time to pick us up! Really enjoyed Australia!
So glad About Australia and Koda could make my dream come true. Such an incredible trip. Managed to accomplish so many things: Great Barrier Reef, Tjapuka dinner show, whitewater rafting, Wildlife Dome (picture holding koala bear), shopping, Blue Mountain tour (feeding and petting kangaroos), seeing 3 Sisters, using 2 day Harbour Pass to visit most stops, walking the Harbour Bridge and Ro(...)
Awesome trip with plenty of variety. Closing out our trip in Fiji is the best idea ever.
This was my first time using About Australia and I was extremely happy with their services. They did an excellent job. Everything was just perfect. The transportation, the hotels, the locations was all spot on. My sisters and I were very pleased. I highly recommend anyone visiting Australia and New Zealand to use About Australia. Thank you so much Marissa for everything you did to make our va(...)
We used About Australia for our 2 week honeymoon. They were very easy to work with and helped us create the perfect itinerary. I loved how customizable everything was and it was very reassuring knowing everything was taken care of. We only had one issue the whole time and that was with our pickup from the airport when we first arrived in Sydney. It wasn’t the way we wanted to start our honey(...)
We had an amazing trip. We would change a couple of things about our time in Sydney. We were right in Chinatown- maybe 5 Aussies in that area the whole time we were there. No Australian food or the English language anywhere. We did not pay all of this money to stay in Asia. We have Chinatown in the states. The hotel was nice. We took public transportation to see the other parts of Syd(...)
It was an amazing trip. The tours were excellent.
Fantastic trip and awesome services......
This is my 2nd time booking with About Australia. It was a blessing to work with Koda this time around! She provided outstanding services all around from the time I phoned in to during the trip and the end of the trip!
Koda was very patient, efficient, and tried her utmost to meet all my travel requests.
I had a customized itinerary and Koda diligently and patiently worked with me on (...)
The trip was worth the money. However, VERY disappointed with location of hotel in Sydney. Although BREAKFREE ON GEORGE was a very nice hotel/apartment I did not appreciate being in the middle of Chinatown.
Edward J Heffernan
I wasn't totally convinced that this would work out. But, it did. Darin Hendry did a fabulous job of making our trip perfect. I was worried- I didn't have to- he's a 5 star pro. We loved it all.
Ana did such an amazing job! She was super kind and patient through out the process and helped answer any and every question I had. She did a wonderful job of getting a grasp on what I was interested in and everything I needed to support completing the entire trip. We had fantastic tours, hotels, and transportation the whole. It really took the stress out of the traveling and allowed us to ju(...)
Andy & Arlene Houk
Australia and New Zealand - Outstanding in every way!
We recently returned from an amazing 3 week holiday to Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns and Queenstown (NZ) organized by Ana with About Australia. We could not be more satisfied with our trip due to Ana's attention to detail and organization. We are experienced travelers (58 countries and 6 continents so far) and like to balance "do our own thing" with occasional organized activities. Ana guided (...)
Our first trip to AUSTRALIA did not disappoint! Our Itinarary was perfect for us Alaskan adventurers! A well rounded trip from Sydney to Cairns and so much in between. We hiked in the Blue Mountains and swam at Lake Eacham walked amongst the kangaroo s and Cockatoo s and held the precious Koala bears. We romped in the rain forest and stayed at Rose Gums enjoyed the 3 bedroom treehouse with (...)
The trip was very nice overall.
The trip was very nice overall. Very good communication process with About Australia in planning and setting up trip. Agents were pleasant, professional and helpful. The hotels, excursions and shuttles were very good except with a bad shuttle experience in Sydney with RedyToGo both to and from Airport and Hotel. The side excursions and tours booked were very good and well run, especially t(...)
Ana Musgray helped me plan my dream trip to Australia and New Zealand. Everything was so well organized all the transfers,or coach buses were right on time and ran seamless. This county is absolutely beautiful and the people on my tour were so much fun! I had the time of my life and will never forget my amazing holiday! I hope to return one day and will definitely contact Ana again.
Ron & Nancy Sturdevant
Trip of a lifetime
This was a terrifically planned trip. The detail of the planning by About Australia was amazing. Our trip was 7 weeks long and offered us a great opportunity to see & do as much as possible. When weather changed a planned route, our travel consultant, Ana, was quick to rearrange our travel. She was there to answer my many questions by quickly responding to my emails. I am totally impres(...)
Steve and Peggy
This is the 1st Australia trip, we already thinking going back!
This is the 1st Australia trip, we already thinking going back!
Thank you for excellent service
About Australia really knows Australia and excellently shared their experience with us.
We had a fantastic and wonderful experience. All our connections went smoothly and the Mantra hotels were very clean and in great locations. The three excursions that were booked for us were exceptional. We would definitely recommend your company to our friends.
An amazing trip!
We truly enjoyed the trip you planned for us. Everything went smoothly, and the activities you chose for us were amazing.
Down under was above expectations!
Thanks, Darin, for the wonderful trip you designed for us in Australia. We had a blast! The hotels were right in the middle of things, the tours were amazing and first class, and if I needed advice you were right there for me. I would not have been able to plan this trip without you because you had been to Australia and you knew just where to send me, and in the style I wanted.
Picture taken at Sydney Harbor
We had a very well planned trip by about Australia, the activities were fun. The rooms were fantastic. Only complaint it wasn’t long enough. I’d definitely use them again and recommend them to friends.
Darin Hendry nailed it!
The trip you helped me put together for my clients was absolutely perfect!
Thank you so much!!
Ana Musgray hit the nail on the head!
Fabulous trip to Australia and New Zealand. We asked for photography opportunities-- landscape and wildlife and that's just what we got at a reasonable price. Ana was with us every step of the way to include during the trip, when a hotel owner thought we had unintentionally left things in a room. Amazing service-- friendly, efficient and spot on. Thank you to Ana and to the owner, Paul, too, (...)
Had a great time. Perfectly Scheduled, not great Hotels. Glad we didn't stay in Cairns 4 nights.
We had a great time, everything happened as planned. No issues there.
The hotel in BroadBeach was great. Hotel in Cairns was old but do able. The hotel in Sydney was not good.
Luckily we changed the plan to stay 3 nights in Cairns and 3 nights in Sydney instead of 4 nights in Cairns. That would have been a big mistake. 2 nights in Cairns would have been enough.
We added a Blue Mou(...)
About Australia did a fantastic job planning our trip. We enjoyed the flexibility of designing it based on our preferences. I highly recommend this service!
This was a trip that gave us memories for a lifetime.
I was referred by a friend to About Australia to help put together my "bucket list" trip to Australia and New Zealand. Overall, it was a great success. I saw and did all the things I really wanted to do. High points were the Sydney Bridge Climb, diving the Great Barrier Reef, the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island, driving the Great Ocean Road, hiking in Freycinet National Park, and the feeding(...)
Very Pleased and Satisfied
About Australia Travel Agency and Christopher R (agent), did a great job in organizing, communicating and providing me and my husband with top notch accommodations and exhilarating excursions. Even though we had a few glitches due to acts of God, everything else went as planned. I give them an 'A' for a job well done.
Fern & Nick Leier
All the details were handled for us
Thank you, Darin for planning our trip of a life time to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. The whole trip ran smoothly because you had everything set up for us. All the tours were top-notch and beyond enjoyable. The fact that we didn't have to go through the hassle of buying tickets for our tours was super, definitely made our trip so much easier! We seen and experienced so much that we never(...)
Mark Williams by
Thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
Sunset Camel ride
Making dreams come true. My trip to Australia was amazing and worry free
knowing About Australia had made all the arrangements for an adventure of a lifetime
Thanks a million
Fabulous, fabulous, and fabulous!
My trip to Australia was amazing! The hotels were impeccable, outings to the Great Barrier Reef and Walkabout to see kangaroos and koalas will last a lifetime. No fusing with transport to and from the airport as it was arranged.Thank you Ana for putting together a fabulous adventure!
Great value and nicely planned!
Everything went well from transfers to tours. We had a 4 hour hiccup with the first flight, but United and Qantas redirected us. We had an extra flight but missed only a few hours of our time on Gold Coast. Tours were a nice addition to the base tour. Wished we had more time in Sydney, but we plan to go back.
About Australia made it easy to plan our trip to Australia and included everything we needed, ensuring we did not miss any of the most popular attractions. We absolutely loved our trip and are already talking about going back.
Recent Australian trip was an excellent adventure!
The trip of a lifetime for us. All the arrangements worked out beautifully. The accommodations were excellent. All the transportation arrangements happened as expected and we were extremely pleased. Loved all the included tours and those that we chose to do on our own. One day at the Great Barrier Reef, the next at the Rainforest. We especially loved the city of Cairns. Truly one of the best(...)
Edward & Davina Webber
Thoroughly enjoyed our vacation
Thoroughly enjoyed our vacation - Princess cruise New Zealand was great. Hotels in Sydney, Gold Coast were excellent, our hotel in Cairns the room itself was lovely, unfortunately the view from the room was a steel roof and brick wall - again the room itself and the staff were very nice.
Vacation of a Lifetime
This was the most hassle-free vacation I've ever been on. We didn't communicate with the About Australia group very much before the trip simply because we didn't have to. They had all of our travel documents completely organized and squared away. To be honest, I was a little nervous checking into our first hotel in Melbourne simply because I never confirmed that we had a reservation. We d(...)
John and Lorraine Estey
Waiheke - just a short ferry ride from Auckland
David & Judy Dunn
Celebrating a two decade anniversary in Australia
We engaged with About Australia (Darin Hendry) nine months ago for a recommendation on an itinerary for a first time visit and 20th anniversary trip to Australia.
From the beginning the guidance, interaction and ultimate proposal was spot on.
The 2-week journey offered an exceptional variety of terrain, climate and experiences. First stop the Tablelands, rainforest, then beach town, the(...)
Great value for the price
The paper work including what to do pre trip was great, Australia is a long way so Ana extended my return an extra 10 days so I could have more time with son and visit Tasmania. For my return next year I plan on using their services .
Best Vacation EVER! I'm not one to write reviews - but our trip to Australia was perfect in every way. From the flights, to the transfers, accommodations, & excursions - everything went without any hitches. Accommodations were comfortable, and the people so very nice. We have NO complaints.
Ana, our rep with About Australia, put a trip of a life-time together for us. Thank you (...)
We had a wonderful time. We enjoyed all of the excursions that were included with our package. We would, however, preferred better hotels. The first one, in Melbourne, was located about 2 blocks from the office where we were dropped off by the shuttle. We had to drag our luggage to the building. We found the apartment to be well appointed, but we had to report to the management that the (...)
Such a well rounded first class adventure
Virgin Australia made the lengthy flight enjoyable.The hotel, Breakfree, was in the heart of town, spacious clean comfortable room and front desk staff bent over backwards to assist us with all kinds of requests. The tours were informative and fun. We had time to do a few things on our own, like having dinner at the top of Sydney tower our last night. On the Blue Mountain tour, we even had an(...)
Australia was amazing!
Marissa really helped us plan the perfect vacation. She was always available by phone or email, even sometimes after hours. I had a lot of questions and made some changes, and she was very accommodating. We were visiting our son who is attending the University of Newcastle for a semester. We stayed in Sydney and Newcastle during our trip. Some of our favorite things were the sunset cruis(...)
Robert & Jo-An Ferris
About Australia (Joanne) did a great job working with us and customizing our trip. It was what we wanted. We certainly saw the bush and outback several times. We found animals in the wild besides at sanctuaries and Steve Irwins Zoo. We believe we saw the real Australia and not just cities. The train trips were what we expected and then some. When they stopped and let us off it was very (...)
Nick and Marcia Anton
We loved the trip!
Melbourne: accommodations were clean and well-located, and the desk staff gave helpful recommendations - it's a walking and foodie city (excellent tour by Monique) - great tour to the animal farm and little blue penguins
Uluru: beautiful accommodations - good dining options - sunrise and sunset tours to Uluru and Kata Juta were amazing - again, informative guides
Cairns: (would have liked (...)
If people go and don't wanna stay they're crazy
Overall we were very happy with About Australia and our coordinator Koda.
All the booking and execution of travel, transfers, hotels, etc went smoothly. The location of and quality of the accommodations in Melbourne and Caines were great, and we really enjoyed the tours we did in those cities.
We especially enjoyed the foodie tour we did in Melbourne. Monique, who ran the tour, wa(...)
Everything and more
About Australia and About New Zealand planned our honeymoon amazingly! From listening to the activities we desired to do while there, to ensuring those happened, and arranging all our flights and accommodations, About Australia was great to work with. Our visas were secured and all our travel documentation was provided, which made traveling a breeze! And we had a lot of traveling to do in the(...)
I first asked for a quote, only to find out (while on a short trip) that the trip had been booked. All I wanted to know what the "and up" cost would be for the advertised one. However, it was an excellent price, so I booked it. It seemed too short for the time spent in the airplanes, but we enjoyed the opportunity to see things out of the cities, we added a Dainforest Trip out of Caines, a(...)
Stellar services customized for us! Many thanks
Great travel services covering customized locations and activities. Transfers were seamless and
Accommodations were perfectly located with access to in apt.laundry needs at just the right intervals
for our three week trip. Couldn’t have asked for a better team in getting us flight changes mid-trip and
tracking our needs throughout. All for reasonable prices! Best of the best!
Mindi van Gemeren
Best trip ever
My daughter and I had an amazing time Down Under thanks to About Australia. Our hotels were wonderful and located perfectly in order to explore more of the cities we were visiting. All of the recommendations before we left were extremely helpful. It made a last minute trip into a relaxing vacation.
Acela Guerra and Ricardo Guerra
Thank you Ana ,you are the best and very professional.
Amazing trip to Australia !!!!!!
Very soon will be back with our son Richard.
Had a fantastic time. Great flight arrangements, great cities (Melbourne, Cairns, Sydney), great tours, great food! Our accommodations were very nice, but the location of one was a bit inconvenient (better if had a couple of upgrade options in larger cities). For the most part, we had excellent weather; it rained on two touring days but we were still able to appreciate the sites with the exc(...)
I’m extremely happy with the trip that we had About plan for us. I told them what cities we wanted to go, what attractions we wanted to visit and that we were nature lovers. They planned the best tours for us and nailed it! I was also very happy with the smoothness of all the connecting flights and the shuttles to and from the airports/ train stations.
Thanks to About Australia, our tour was a great success.
Daren and his colleagues did a wonderful job in getting us set up for our first tour of Australia. We will return to the Land Down Under again and will be certain to engage their assistance in putting the next visit as well.
We had a great first time trip to Australia. Darin and About Australia were great to work with. The sites we visited were fantastic. The hotels were excellent. The day trips and operators were first tier. Everything about the trip went smooth and was above expectations. Well Done!
Well designed and good value trip, would recommend to friends
So nice to have it all done for us!
We did 24 days in Australia/Tasmania in March/April and loved it! About Australia made all the custom arrangements and things went so smoothly. We had two small issues which were quickly corrected...thank you! Accomodations were great, flights were easy, and the tours were very nice. Loved Kangaroo Island and Tasmania! Would do it all again :-) Thanks to all the agents who helped us!
Chris & Angie England
It was am amazing trip that covered a lot of the country. Only regret was we were running out of time and would have liked to spent more time in each location. Do your study before you go, the instructions in the voucher help but the little things you can miss make it important to study and plan.
Lawrence & Wendy McKee
We wish to thank Chris & all at Aboutaustralia.com who enabled our recent trip to Australia & New Zealand. We had 36 vouchers, and in each case had no problem when checking in. We had one minor issue at the hotel in Napier, and Chris responded right away despite time difference, and it was due to a new hotel clerk not finding our existing booking, and was quickly resolved. Also, Chris respo(...)
I saw the word "Aussie" in Koda's itinerary and thought it was somebody's else reservation. She told me the meaning. I think it was funny.
Koda was an excellent adviser and planner to my trip to Australia. She was always very professional, patient, informative and was careful to the minimum detail. I will recommend her with friends and family.
My husband and his brother had a very nice time in Australia. Thank you for your help in coordinating this adventure.
Koda Boulton was the one who helped me and she's was amazing even with all my questions and my unfortunate criminal background. Still got in with no problems and had a great itinerary set up. Couldn't have seen Australia in a better way than that. Strongly recommend About Australia. Good price too! Flexible.
2 weeks in Australia
Our trip was amazing! Sydney, Fraser Island, and Airlie beach are places we cannot wait to go back to!!! So grateful for the recommendations and trip planning/organization.
Best Vacation Ever
Everything was perfect for our trip. Everything I wanted to see and the package Chris put together was perfect. It was action packed but got to see everything we wanted to see. Working with About Australia was smooth and an easy process. Chris spend a lot of time putting the package together and we couldn't be more pleased. All the hotels were in great locations for us to visit the sites. C(...)
A Big and Diverse Trip to Australia Made Easy
We usually do our own vacation planning. Grab a Lonely Planet guide book, hop on the internet and get started. I quickly realized that Australia may be different. First, its very large, 95% of the size of continental USA. Second, there is so much to do and see. Third, an itinerary can get very complicated very quickly; multiple destinations, multiple flights, rental cars, and a myriad of(...)
Wonderful trip!! Just two issues.
In cairns our pickup to airport for trip to sydney was not organized well. The driver picked us up too late and had 6 additional stops! Claudia and I ran to checkin and there was a long line. So she went to priority and I went to service desk. The service desk checked us in. We were lucky to make the flight due to our quick thinking. Also, we were not that pleased with the location of (...)
Australia is Awesome!
Fantastic trip, and so affordable! Great flight, outstanding accommodations with wonderful views--39th floor in Melbourne!--Great Barrier Reef and Penguin Island were excellent experiences! Monique and Yasmine were such entertaining guides. This trip with my daughter was one of the very best in this traveler's memory!
Absolutely NO glitches! FABULOUS!!!!
We got such a great deal, it made me wonder “what’s the catch?” No catch, just a wonderful adventure!
Karen S. Anders
Six weeks; No hassle; Greatest experience ever
My boyfriend and I (both 72 years of age) have just returned from a six-week, custom-tailored, independent trip to Australia and New Zealand.
We started talking about this trip over a year prior to our departure date. After my initial 2.5 hour telephone conversation with Christopher at About Australia, I knew we had found the perfect "partner" on whom we could depend to help us with all(...)
Enjoying the majestic waterfalls of Doubtful Sound.
We enjoyed a great time in New Zealand. We particularly enjoyed the scenic South Island, and Hobbiton on the North Island.
Amazing vacation! Bucket list trip!
Chris was great at helping me plan my trip to visit my daughter in Australia while she was studying abroad. We had 2 weeks and a tight budget! He was great at accommodating me. We decided on Cairns, Sydney and Melbourne. The only hiccup was the transfer from Melbourne airport to hotel. The company called con-x-ion (I think that’s how it’s spelled) had the smelliest van I have ever been in. Th(...)
Fantastic trip and awesome customer service
This is my second time booking with About Australia. It was a blessing and pleasure to work with Koda! She was patient, efficient, and did her utmost to meet all my travel requests. I had a customized itinerary with many changes in between. Koda, without any hesitation, helped to meet my requests. Koda delivered friendly and professional services without any trace of Being annoyed or bother(...)
We have traveled all over the world. Never have we had a trip so well planned. By the third day, we were checking our itinerary and asking ourselves, “what’s the next adventure?” Everything went like clockwork. Hotels, flights, transfers, tours, all were on time and more than we expected. Our only disappointment was having to come home when it was over. Thank you, About Australia, for plannin(...)
It was an amazing trip.
Koda was very helpful in assisting us in planning our first trip to Australia. The apartments in Melbourne and Sydney was Amazing. It is walking distance to major attractions and we felt very safe. We will definitely recommend about Australia to our friends. Thank you.
F. Brent Betenson
We loved diving the Great Barrier Reef!
Koda, We just returned from our Australian adventure and wanted to thank you for the great job you did in planning and making all the arrangements. We had such a good time and no glitches of any consequence. That is really something when you are dealing with people our age. All of the vendors (i.e. bus drivers, tour operators, accommodation staff, etc) were great and we would readily reco(...)
Wonderful trip from bingging to ending
We had a wonderful trip. Koda's help in planning all aspects of the trip was wonderful. Having never travelled abroad before, we relied heavily on her to help us with planning our travels while in Australia. All bookings were perfect for our likes. We only had one hiccup on a planned tour which was cancelled (no fault of Koda), but didn't bother our trip in the least
Crissy & Mike
VIP Honeymoon of a lifetime
This is our first big trip out of the country and using a travel agent. I was extremely hesitant because I am so used to planning everything. As soon as I spoke on the phone with Koda i was so excited and all hesitation went away. We went to Australia for our honeymoon 2 weeks after we got married. We were extremely exhausted so it was nice knowing everything was handled. We felt like we got (...)
All our vacation to Austria was planed by the agency and we were very happy to follow the schedule for each locations we visited. The schedules were easy to follow and it gave us a good opportunities to see all about Australia and histories.
Australia is amazing!
I was very please with our trip to Australia. Although we had a bit of a rocky start, (lack of communication from About Australia), in the end, they delivered everything they said. I was very happy that we purchased the Tours and Transfers add on. It was well worth it. We did not have to worry about getting to and from the airport, finding hotel etc. The vouchers required you to call and (...)
Sydney opera house
Every thing was above our expectations. If we knew better, we would have spent more time in New Zealand. All hotels were great except our hotel in Sydney which did not have the best location for our needs. Thank you so much!
Our first trip to australia is awesome . Quantas airlines staffs are attentive , helpful to meet my needs & assistance .hotels & apartments provided are awesome , clean , spacious & most of all matrtra on kent , very close proximity at darling harbour in sydney. Tours best is penguin , barrier reef .the only minor complaint i have is to remember to call transfers 24 hours prior . . Australia (...)
Amazing time in Australia
John & Jeanne Koch
Beautiful country and wonderful people
Jeanne and I highly recommend a trip to Australia and to use About Australia for your arrangements! Everything they recommended we tried to fit into our schedule and it was well worth it. We especially loved Cairns and snorkeling on the Barrier Reef and hope to go back again at some point to spend more time there. One day on the water was not enough!
All of our flight arrangements made by Ab(...)
A trip of a lifetime!
What an amazing experience. The accommodations and extra excursions we did were wonderful. The only thing I would have changed was I wished we had a little more time in Sydney (it was more like a very long layover rather than a visit to the city). Ana was wonderful and helped us plan a trip I will always treasure!
best bargan ever
I went with confidence in About Australia, and ended with confidence with About Australia. Our travel Agent Daren did everything possible to make this a unforgettable trip, and he succeeded. He even went out of his way to change our plans at almost the very last minute. this is very special from a very special person. I certainly have and will recommend them to anyone wanting a trip of a li(...)
It was everything you promised and more!!
Koda was great and kept in contact with us from the intial point and until our return and beyond. All of the events we booked were fantastic. Even though we were fresh off the cyclone the snorkeling of the Great Barrier Reef is a once in a lifetime experience. The tip about getting something for the flight crew paid off as all the flight crew treated us as though we were VIP's and other peopl(...)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Posted on: March 15th, 2017 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
The Best Ways to Experience the Great Barrier Reef
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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).