5 Epic Experiences on Australia’s East Coast

Australia’s East Coast is the most popular road-tripping route for foreign travellers.

But why exactly is it so famous?

What should you add to the top of your East Coast bucket list?!

Here are my top 5 picks:


1. Scuba Dive in the Great Barrier Reef

What can be said about the Great Barrier Reef?

Well, it’s the World’s largest living organism – so big that it’s visible from outer space. It’s also home to over 1500 species of fish – that’s 10% of all different fish species in the entire World. Pretty impressive, right?

What’s equally impressive is experiencing all this by spending time scuba diving on the reef (most of it is too deep for snorkelling). You can choose from single day trips or reef liveaboards. Liveaboard trips allow you to complete more dives and explore parts of the reef unreachable by daytrippers.

Being so long, there are hundreds of different individual reefs within the Great Barrier ecosystem. Therefore, you can access the reef from multiple different points along the Queensland coastline. The most popular – and quite often the cheapest for trips – is from Cairns.

Having done a 4 day/3 night liveaboard, I can highly recommend this option. If you’re not yet scuba certified then you can learn the entire course and take all the exams whilst on a liveaboard – what better classroom than the World’s largest reef?!

Liveaboards also give you the opportunity to try night diving – a very unique and epic experience!

a long thin yellow fish hiding behind a larger black fish
Home to all sorts of unique fish


2. Skydive in the Whitsundays

Skydiving is definitely one of those bucket list items that you need to tick off whilst in Australia!

Yes, it is expensive, but safety standards are higher than elsewhere and the amazing scenery adds to the overall experience. You can skydive from locations such as Mission Beach where you have the softest of landings (on the beach) or jump over the incredible Whitsunday islands for the ultimate birds-eye view.

Plus, the max height that tandem skydivers jump from in Australia is 15,000ft – that’s considerably more than the average which is around 12,000ft. This means you get an extra long and extra exhilarating freefall! From 15,000ft it equates to roughly 60 seconds – that might not sound like much but trust me, it feels epic!

Obviously if you don’t like rollercoasters or are scared of heights, then maybe skydiving isn’t for you. But if you’re sitting on the fence about it then I really can’t recommend it enough. I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it!

For a more sedate visit to the Whitsunday islands (no jumping out of a plane involved), check out my Wonderful Whitsundays blog post.

tandem sky diving
There’s nothing more exhilarating than jumping out of a plane!


3. Off-road Drive on Fraser Island

Q: Where in the world can you drive on a 75-mile long beach – past dingos and shark infested waters – to arrive at a huge shipwreck?

A: Fraser Island!

One of the main attractions for many people visiting Fraser Island is the chance to drive a 4×4 vehicle along the vast sandy beaches – something that is worlds apart from the roads of European cities for example. Having done it myself, I can vouch that it is an unforgettable experience.

The first destination on your beach driving jaunt should be the impressively large shipwreck of S.S. Maheno on Fraser’s east coast. Low tide is the best time for viewing it (and also the best time for doing any beach driving)!

However, on top of the off-road driving and crazy shipwrecks, you have all the epic nature spots to visit on Fraser Island. Here are the main highlights:

  • Bathe in the pristine waters of Lake Mckenzie
  • Take in 360 degree views from Indian Head
  • Enjoy a natural spa bath at Champagne Pools
  • Walk through rainforest at the scenic Eli Creek
Driving on the beach is so much fun! (but must also be taken seriously)


4. Surfs up at Surfers Paradise

If you can surf, this is the place to go. If you can’t, this is the place to watch and learn! (So go anyway…)

Located in Queensland’s Gold Coast region, Surfers Paradise is easily accessible from the city of Brisbane. People flock here for the epic combination of city and beach lifestyle. High rise buildings, expensive hotels and luxury apartments line the golden sands of Surfers Paradise beach.

Don’t worry if you’re on a budget though – there are a fair share of hostels and backpacker bar crawls to keep everyone entertained. Plus, if you don’t fancy surfing, there are plenty of spots designated for swimming. Although, I’d call it more “having fun fighting the waves” than conventional swimming!

Another thing not to miss at Surfers Paradise is the beachfront markets – they open between 4-9pm on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays (weather permitting). You can find live music and many handmade arts and crafts.

selfie of guy playing in the sea with backdrop of high rise buildings
Enjoying the surf (just not on a board!)


5. Sunrise in Byron Bay

Byron Bay is simply epic! It has such a great variety of activities in such a small area.

My personal favourite is watching the sunrise from Cape Byron Lighthouse (although that’s probably because our experience involved a mammoth 9hr overnight drive from Sydney to reach Byron JUST in time for the sunrise)! Anyway, it’s scenic, it’s beautiful and it’s worth getting up for at least once during your stay.

Another awesome activity in Byron Bay is to go on a beer tasting tour at the Stone & Wood brewery; you’ll learn a lot as well as getting to taste a fair bit too!

As if I almost forgot – Byron Bay is hippie central on the east coast of Australia. You can find all sorts of colourful clothes and crafts at the markets or boutique shops.

Finally, the beach at Byron isn’t half bad either! Enjoy a spot of surfing, relax with a book or grab your mates and have a BBQ.

silhouette of man against sun rising over the ocean
The first rays of light


6. As if 5 weren’t enough…

…here are 6 more places on the East Coast that you should consider visiting.

Except, these ones are slightly overlooked – so much so that you might’ve missed them had I not mentioned them to you.

You’re welcome!

One of the best sunsets I’ve witnessed was from these epic sand dunes!




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