The East Coast is an appealing part of Australia for many travelers. With its spectacular beaches, incredible wildlife and beautiful rainforest, the eastern part of Australia has always been a popular tourist destination. I spent over a year traveling from Melbourne to Cairns and discovered many breathtaking locations along the way. So, if you’re planning a trip Down Under and wondering where to go, check out this list of 15 stunning places to visit on the East Coast of Australia.
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The Whitsunday islands are, for me, the most stunning place to visit on the east coast of Australia. Actually, they even are one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever seen worldwide. Truly, you do not want to miss this gem on your visit to Australia. Located in the state of Queensland, the Whitsundays are made of 74 islands. Most of these islands are uninhabited, home to spectacular wildlife, forest, and white sand beaches. The most breathtaking place is definitely Whitehaven beach, a beautiful beach surrounded by clear turquoise water. One of the best ways to explore this fantastic area is to take a sailing trip, where you’ll get to explore many islands and enjoy the great barrier reef.
2. Great Barrier Reef
The spectacular world heritage site and world largest coral reef system in the world is probably the main reason most visitors head to the east coast of Australia. Indeed, the great barrier reef is a fantastic ecosystem stretching for over 2,300 kilometers. It is home to the most amazing marine life, including turtles, sharks, whales, and dolphins. The best ways to experience the great barrier reef include taking a scenic flight, diving from Lady Elliot Island, heading out to an outer reef pontoon or cruising in a glass-bottom boat.
Newcastle is a spectacular Harbour city in New South Wales. With its plentiful beaches, nature reserve and Fort Scratchley, Newcastle is a unique city to visit in Australia. A stunning coastal walk stretching from Nobbys Beach to Merewether beach will take you to Bogey Hole, a heritage-list ocean bath from the colonial period. Then, a visit to Fort Schratchley, an 1880 historic site, will give you the opportunity to go back in time. If you’re looking for cool things to do in Newcastle, I recommend taking a whale watching tour or visiting Stockton sand dunes. You’ll love taking photographs of this wild place and enjoy the peace and quiet of this spectacular area.
4. Blue Mountains
The blue mountains are a very popular tourist spot on the east coast of Australia, and for good reasons. This spectacular region; easily accessible from Sydney, is home to breathtaking scenery including steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, and waterfalls. Most visitors head to Katoomba, the biggest town in the area, from which you can start many bushwalking trails. The most famous spot in the blue mountains is the viewpoint of the Three Sisters rock formation, which is absolutely amazing. The blue mountains are the perfect spot for those looking to escape from the hustle of Sydney city.
Sydney is one of Australia’s largest cities and is very well-known for its beautiful Opera House. This stunning city is also home to incredible surf beaches, delicious food, and spectacular gardens. I really recommend visiting Bondi Beach, one of the best surfing destinations in the world, where you’ll also find the most photographed ocean pool, Bondi Icebergs. If you love the outdoors you can trek from Manly to Spit or visit the Royal National Park. Don’t forget to explore the famous pedestrian district of Darling Harbour. Here, you’ll find a number of entertaining things to do. For instance, you can shop at the Harbourside shopping center or visit the Australian national maritime museum.
Melbourne is a modern city, often voted the most livable city in the world. It’s also famous for being the coffee capital of the world. With its dynamic city center, its amazing street art and beautiful green parks, Melbourne is the best city to enjoy the Australian lifestyle at its finest. Whether you want to take a stroll in the botanic gardens, shop til you drop or simply visit the beautiful old buildings such as Flinders Street station or Pentridge Prison, you’ll love exploring this fantastic place. For food, head to the Queen Victoria markets, visit the arcade or try the Lentils restaurant where you can pay what you want. Of course, Melbourne is also home to spectacular beaches, the most popular one being St Kilda, where you can go penguin-spotting.
7. Surfers Paradise
Surfer’s paradise, the seaside resort of Australia’s Gold coast, is a popular destination for those who like to party. But If you’re not into partying, you can still enjoy a trip to surfer’s paradise and do other exciting things. For example, you can go up Skypoint observation deck to enjoy panoramic views of the city, visit Ripley’s believe it or not, a museum full or unusual and bizarre artifacts, or bend your mind at Infinity. What else? Well, obviously Surfer’s Paradise is the best place on earth to learn how to surf, so take this opportunity to learn Australia’s most popular water sport.
8. Fraser Island
Fraser Island is just another spot on the east coast of Australia you don’t want to miss. Famous for being the world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island is home to renowned lakes, scenic champagne pools, and protected dingoes. On Fraser, you’ll be stunned by the pure water lake and white sand beach of Lake Mckenzie, the incredible shipwreck of SS Maheno and the spring-fed Lake Wabby. Fraser Island is a famous camping and ecotourism destinations, and Aussies love spending their holidays on this beautiful island. Taking a 4WD tour is very popular in Fraser, and is a great way to enjoy the worlds largest sand island.
9. Port Macquarie
Port Macquarie is a small town and a popular tourist destination among backpackers. With its chill vibe, beautiful beaches, stunning wildlife, and Colonial heritage, this place is a must-see on the east coast of Australia. You’ll love visiting the Koala hospital, where you can learn a lot about Koalas and the conservation of this beautiful animal. On top of that, the entry is free, but you can donate to help the little bears. If you want to explore the area on foot, take the coastal walk that starts from the city center to the tacking point lighthouse. You’ll enjoy views of the coast, and you might even spot whales and dolphins in the ocean. After that, you can head to Flynn’s beach to relax or learn how to surf.
10. Byron Bay
Byron Bay is definitely a place you can’t miss on the east coast of Australia. Popular holiday destination in Australia, Byron Bay is renowned for its beautiful beaches where you can surf, dive or swim. A visit to the maritime museum will leave you in awe of this spectacular place. It’s also a great spot for taking beautiful photographs of the Australian coast. Other things to do in Byron Bay include visiting the local markets to find artisan crafts, taking a sea kayak tour or heading to the lighthouse to watch the sunrise.
11. Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island is one of the best places in Australia to see koalas in the wild. This stunning island located offshore from the city of Townsville offers secluded beaches, rugged nature, and abundant wildlife. Head to the forts walk for an incredible view of the island and to see some koalas up in the trees. There are many other things to do on Maggie, including feeding rock wallabies, renting a mini more to explore the island or spending the day at one of the many beautiful bays. Most beaches are quiet and empty, so enjoy your time on Magnetic to explore famous Horseshoe Bay, Alma Bay or even Picnic Bay.
12. Cape Tribulation
Located in Northeast Queensland, Cape Tribulation is a popular coastal area offering both rainforest and beaches. The mains sight in Cape Tribulation is the protected Daintree rainforest, which is home to fabulous creatures such as the Cassowary. The best way to explore this beautiful forest is to take a night walk! You will be amazed, and probably scared, by the many sounds you hear at night when the forest is alive. Don’t forget to explore the Dubuji Boardwalk, and stop to watch the many stunning butterflies you can find in the area. Also, from there, you can explore the great barrier reef on snorkeling trips.
13. Great Ocean Road
The great ocean road is one of Australia’s most scenic drive. The 243 kilometers road listed Australian national heritage starts from surf capital Torquay and ends at historic fishing village Port Fairy. The best places to stop on this road trip are the famous 12 Apostles, Loch and Gorge, Apollo Bay or Bell’s beach. The Great Ocean Road is probably one of the most beautiful road trips you can do in Australia, so don’t miss it. If you don’t want to drive yourself, you can take tours that drive the road and stop at the main sights.
Noosa is an Australian resort area located on Queensland sunshine coast. It’s renowned for its surf, sunshine Beach and beautiful cafes and boutiques. Also, you can explore the stunning Noosa national park which is home to koalas, spectacular beaches and beautiful walks. Hinterland, you’ll find amazing green rolling hills, beautiful hikes, and cute villages. Looking for something unique to do in Noosa? Try kayaking the Everglades! With its coastal setting and chill atmosphere, Noosa is a great stop on a road trip between Brisbane and Cairns.
Kuranda is a picturesque mountain village located 25 kilometers from Cairns. Most visitors going to Cairns, take a day trip to Kuranda via the Skyrail rainforest cableway or the famous Kuranda Scenic Railway. Once in the village, there are many things to see and do, including hiking the beautiful rainforest, exploring the local markets, or seeing the famous Barron falls. Kuranda is a small village and most attractions can easily be accessed by foot. If you’re visiting Cairns, take a day trip to beautiful Kuranda, you won’t regret it.
Australia’s East Coast is a beautiful destination. Its most stunning sights include the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays, and the beautiful city of Sydney. But wherever you choose to go, you’ll be amazed by the spectacular beaches, vibrant atmosphere and incredible wildlife. Have you ever been to one of these 15 stunning places to visit on the east coast of Australia? Let me know in the comments below!
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