From stunning white sand beaches to the world-famous Sydney Opera House, Australia’s east coast is full of exotic flora, exciting fauna, and some seriously exhilarating fun. A haven for adventure-seekers, this coastline is sure to get your adrenaline pumping on both land and sea — so grab your boardies (that’s Australian speak for surfboards) and bikinis for a road trip you’ll never forget.
1. Dive into the Great Barrier Reef
Start your trip at one of Australia’s most treasured destinations — the Great Barrier Reef. The planet’s largest coral reef, this wonder of the world can be seen all the way from outer space. However, we recommend taking a much closer look. Start off by setting sail on a luxury catamaran from Cairns and swim side by side with sea turtles, stingrays, and an array of tropical fish. Looking for the bigger picture? Get a bird’s-eye view on a helicopter ride departing from Airlie Beach. Next, visit Whitehaven, the country’s top beach, for a relaxing afternoon of lounging.
2. Go swimming at Millaa Millaa Falls
After a few days on the coast, head inland to Millaa Millaa. This small town in the Atherton Tableland is home to one of Australia’s most scenic rainforests. A rugged landscape of mountains and winding rivers, a trip to Wooroonooran National Park (try saying that three times fast) means volcanic landscapes and 59 foot (18 meter) waterfalls. Float down exhilarating cascades while swimming in natural pools — it’s a day you’re unlikely to experience anywhere else.
3. Enjoy amazing views on Fraser Island
Once you’re done diving into a world of exotic marine life, hop back in your trusty ride and drive down the coast. Stop wherever you like — there’s no shortage of gorgeous coastline to enjoy. When you’ve had your fill of views, head to Fraser Island for a day of tropical trails. Hint: you’ll have to park your car and hop on a ferry, but it’s worth it. A World Heritage Site ripe for exploring, this untouched sanctuary is home to the Great Sandy Strait, a pristine sand dune that guarantees spectacular views. And make sure to have a camera handy: you’ll spot dolphins, dugongs, and dingos — even humpback whales if you’re lucky!
4. Search for lost treasure on Moreton Island
The distance between Fraser Island and Moreton Island isn’t something to scoff at — you’re looking at about 11 hours of travel time, so have playlists and snacks at hand. Once you make it down there, head to the Tangalooma Wrecks, a sunken shipwreck you can kayak or snorkel through searching for lost riches only minutes from the beach. Afterward, experience the exhilaration of sand tobogganing at high speeds or zip around the dunes on a rugged 4X4. The adventure of a lifetime and your very own treasure island. What could be better?
5. Surf the Gold Coast
Surf’s up! Just a little over three hour’s drive from Moreton Island, you can learn to hang ten at Surfers Paradise, one of Australia’s best beaches. Blend in with the locals — you may be a kook (aka beginner) — but that doesn’t mean you’re not stingin’ for a surf (Aussie speak for really wanting to surf). After you’ve dried off, head to a local wildlife sanctuary for a visit with some of Australia’s native animals. Hand-feed a kangaroo and cuddle a koala before heading back to the city for a night on the town.
6. Soak in incredible views on Byron Bay
Having explored land and sea, only one thing remains to be conquered — the sky! Motor down south for one hour to Byron Bay. Once you’ve arrived, see Australia’s most spectacular coastal views from 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) on an unforgettable tandem skydive. Float over a colorful canopy of sparkling white sand beaches and green hinterland as you enjoy the most thrilling way to take in the local sights. After that, have a chill (Aussie slang for relax) — after all that adrenaline, you’ve earned it.
7. Get cultured in Sydney
After a few days in Byron Bay (trust us, you’ll want to stay), it’s about a ten-hour drive south to your final destination: Sydney. A city chock-full of things to see, do, and eat, you won’t be at a loss for a good time. Make sure to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge for a panoramic view (and for the ‘gram). Once you’re ready to put your feet on solid ground again, visit the world-famous Sydney Opera House. Home to hundreds of theatrical performances every year, grabbing tickets to Opera Australia is just the way to round off a vacation in Sydney.
Does this trip sound as incredible to you as it does to us? Let us know what you loved about your Australian road trip in the comments (hint: you’ll have to be logged into Facebook to share your tips with us).