Have you ever dreamt of walking along some of the most stunning beaches in the world? Trekking through rainforests filled with the peaceful sounds of native birds singing in the trees? Or finally meeting the infamous kangaroo and koala? Or ride through the red, dusty outback for an exciting road trip?
Yes? Then Australia should definitely be on your bucket list!
But the country is so BIG?! Where do you start?! How about we start with the East Coast of Australia?
In this blog post I am going to spill EVERYTHING about our East Coast adventure; the good, the bad AND the ugly! This will help you decide where to go and what to do!
Why the East Coast?
If you have ever had a conversation with someone who has travelled Australia, then 9 times out of 10 they will have travelled up OR down the East Coast! ☀
The East Coast is definitely a great way to experience an action packed visit to Australia, especially if you don’t have time on your side. There is SO much to SEE and DO! From pure relaxation to mad jungle treks, there is something for everyone. Families, teens, couples and friends equally enjoy visiting here year after year.
How long should I travel the East Coast for?
Danny and I travelled the east coast in one month. It was an action packed month with barely a day spare to relax BUT that is exactly how we wanted it. Our budget was tight, very, very tight. So spending any longer would have well and truly left us homeless. But honestly, you can spend as much or as little time on the East Coast as you wish. A shorter length of time would mean missing certain destinations but a longer time frame would mean you could see more and spend more time in the places you love.
How to travel the East Coast
- Rent a camper van – one of the pricier options but an absolutely EPIC way to travel the East Coast. We really wanted to do it this way but with such a tight budget it was impossible! Renting or buying a campervan gives you so much freedom to do as you please. You are able to spend longer in individual places, experience the fun of camping at some phenomenal campsites; visit places that no other tourist has seen and where tourist buses do not go. I heard some people actually followed tourist buses to each destination to save themselves getting lost!
- ‘Hop-on-hop-off bus’ – buy yourself a reasonably priced ticket for one of these buses from any travel agency in Australia or online before you arrive. These buses have specific destinations that they will drop off and pick up; at certain times of the day, and you can decide whether or not you want to jump on or stay an extra day or two at different destinations. The beauty of this option is that you have a little more flexibility on your time frame. If you end up loving a place, you are not made to leave earlier than you would have liked. However, I have heard from other travelers that if they do want to leave and the bus was full, they had to pay for another night in a hostel or hotel and spend another day in a place they felt they had finished with.
- Route by itinerary– this is what we did. Having planned out and perfected our itinerary with Peterpan travel, our bus was booked from start to finish. We were given a time, date and destination as to where we would get on the bus and off it; with no hasstle at all! The driver has a list of names for those who are to be on the bus. We went with Premier Bus and had no problems at all. This was the cheapest option for us. Another bus company is Greyhound; more expensive and the only difference was that it had wifi, and even then we heard it didn’t work well!
Here are the two most popular buses and websites you can click on and get a rough estimate of the cost.
How much did the whole trip cost?
Depending on the time of year you want to go will determine the cost. We went in January which is one of the busiest months, so prices rocketed.
Like I mentioned earlier, we booked our entire trip through peterpan travel. Other companies will give you various prices. For us, peterpan were just amazing. We rocked up at the Sydney office and walked away with a full itinerary for an exciting month-long trip. We paid approximately $1200AUD per person and this included the bus, all accommodation, some food and breakfasts with certain trips and hostels, two sky dives, one bungy jump, scuba diving, a 3 day boat cruise and all excursions! Good deal, ey?! Basically all we needed to fund during our trip was food and extra fun!
Oh, it actually cost a little more for Danny. I bagged myself a free ticket to Fraser Island during a pub crawl raffle in Sydney!
We really liked that everything was planned for us because it meant no stress, no worries – just pure excitement!
So without further ado, let me tell you all about the places my boyfriend and I visited and why they were so epic!
Ok, so. Byron Bay wasn’t actually on our east coast trip but I really wanted to mention it to you quickly as an ‘extra’ if you wish.
Before heading on our east coast adventure we spent two weeks in Byron for Christmas 🎄
The nightlife is good here too and caters for both, a quiet night watching locals sing and play music by the beach, to low key drinks in some cool bars and then partying the night away in ‘cheeky monkeys’, which is where we often found ourselves. Making the most of those free wristbands you are constantly being given for free drinks!
Byron Bay is the ultimate ‘chill out’ destination – full of care free – shoe free people. It has that hippie vibe that we absolutely loved!
The shopping here is great too! Although I could not buy one thing due to our tight budget, it was nice to window shop and try on the lovely boho dresses that I told myself I would definitely be coming back for!
In terms of your budget, it is a place that is really hard to control your spending. Whilst our friends ate and drank at the tasty bars and restaurants, we were limited to ‘two minute noodles’ and water most nights!
If you don’t have the money, I would suggest you either visit here at a time you do or spend two/ three days here so you are able to do everything you want! I know we will be back one day that’s for sure!
Now you can’t come to Australia and not try to surf?! We booked ourselves onto a three day surf course to see if we had what it takes to ride those Aussie waves!
… that we didnt, but it was so much fun non-the-less! I even forgot about the sharks in the ocean!
Mojo surf were a great company to try this with! Don’t worry about booking anything in advance either. You can book extra excursions etc here. There is a Peter Pan in most places you go – as well as other travel companies!
Definitely make sure you take time to walk up to the Lighthouse. The walk is relatively easy and the views are just stunning! It is such a lovely walk for a morning or afternoon when you want to stretch legs and leave the sandy beaches for a while.
Now for ‘kayaking with dolphins’. DONT DO IT! I can’t sit here and possibly lie about this experience. Not only did the majority of the group get incredibly sea sick, including me, but we did not see ONE dolphin, not one! You are guaranteed to see a group of dolphins and if not – all your money back. We did not get our money back, or a free ticket to return for a second chance. All we left with was a pale face 🤢 and disappointment. It was a lot of money to throw away. We had been so excited about this but I guess I wouldn’t swim with a group of 30 people around me if I were a dolphin either!
Brisbane & The Gold Coast
This is where the trip begins, or ends, if you start up in Cairns. Brisbane is a beautiful and fresh city in Queensland and luckily we have family that live there so we were able to see things that only a local would know about.
The Gold Coast we absolutely LOVED! Surfers Paradise is probably the city you have heard of and this is where the bus will drop you off. Surfers, to me, was incredibly disappointing. So touristy and a little tacky. I suppose if you want to go for a drink and party then you’ll have a good night but that is as far as it goes. If you venture a little further down along the beach you will come to Broad Beach. This is the place to be!
Not only is the beach lovely but the food there is too! We could actually see ourselves living there!
Oh Noosa, Noosa, Noosa – you are simply magical!
I could totally picture myself retiring here with a house by the lake, my own boat and spending my days brunching and swimming in the lake. Here’s to dreaming, hey?!
It is so so so pretty and quaint here.
With only two days here we spent our first day canoeing the Everglades. One of the only two in the world! It was a perfect day for it and so enjoyable! You finish off your long canoe with a tasty BBQ – true Aussie style!
The national park and beach at Noosa are amazing too! Noosa Heads in another great place to cycle too and explore.
In terms of nightlife- there isn’t much. We spent our nights at our hostel bar with our lovely friends; cheap drink vouchers at the ready!
But having met the people we did made every night so memorable.
*drinking goon before a night out is always a good option to save money. However, beware of the unusual behavior that then follows and the brutal head the next day*.
THIS place was my absolute favourite!
We stayed at Dingos backpackers on Rainbow Beach, which was lovely. Here we spent two days before actually arriving on Fraser Island.
*Bring food from Noosa to Rainbow. You will save yourself so much money as there are few and far between in terms of supernarks here and they are EXPENSIVE!* – or you can raid the ‘free cupboard’ at your hostel and hope it supplies you with a decent meal!
Day one was spent on Rainbow Beach itself, which was absolutely pristine!! Day two was spent organizing Fraser Island!!
Basically, on the second day ‘Dingos’ had to talk you through the safety procedures of driving on sand, the precautions around the Dingo dogs that live on the island… and everything in between. It can be dangerous if you’re not careful.
You are also put into groups and these are the people you will spend your three days with, they will be in your 4×4 car each day!
I won’t spoil it for you and tell you everything you will do and see whilst on Fraser, but, it was truly the best, most EPIC three days of my life and it will be yours too! We were even lucky enough to see some Dingos ourselves!
What I will tell you is:
• look up at the stars at night – I promise you, you will have never seen something so clear and breathtaking in your whole life!
• make the most of your goon and party the night away with the most amazing people you will ever meet! Try to remember everything the next day though!
• cherish every thing you see and do because it is so special!
You are catered for ALL of your food during this trip. The food is AMAZING TOO! You must bring your own alcohol- but are only allowed one bag of goon per person.
You will be sure to leave Fraser with a huge smile on your face and a new AMAZING group of friends!
Definitely my second favourite trip of the East Coast. We had already made so many great friends during our trip so far which made everything so much more fun!
The bus drops you off at ‘Airlie Beach’ and this is where you will stay before embarking on your crazy three day boat cruise to ‘Whitsundays’.
Whilst on Airlie, make the most of the lagoon. You cannot swim in the sea because of the jelly fish, so a man made Beach/Lagoon has been developed. There are also outdoor BBQ’s situated all around the Lagoon so we all bought an item of food each and had a great night drinking and eating here before heading out!
If you can, book yourself onto ‘The Clipper’. It’s one of the boat companies you can go through when organizing your three day cruise.
You don’t have to do a three day cruise, there are various options for a one day, two day cruise etc. it all depends on how much time you have.
‘The Clipper’ is best known as ‘the party boat’. There are other boats to suit your preference, but, although Danny and I are not huge party animals, we definitely wanted to make the most of our trip here and go all out! I mean, the boat has a jacuzzi AND a slide! Come on!
But in all honesty, it’s not as you think. Through the day the alcohol is locked away and you are only able to drink it after 6pm.
All food and water is provided on the boat, included in the price too!
Each day we were able to snorkel, scuba dive and chill. During the night we could drink, listen to music and party! We were so lucky as everyone on our boat got on so well and they were all so lovely! Each night we slept under the stars on bean bags, it was perfect! The crew were awesome too!
On our last night the whole boat couldn’t believe their eyes as we all watched sharks swim around our boat as the crew fed them fish! It was so surreal, I will never forget it! 🦈
As for Whitsundays, we couldn’t believe our luck, it was cloudy and rained all day! BUT it was still absolutely breathtaking. The water was so clear and blue. Keep a look out for lemon sharks and sting rays too! We were lucky enough to see them both!
You must walk to the viewpoint too, where you can see panoramic views of The Whitsundays. It is a sight you will never forget!
After a crazy few days you will be happy to arrive on Magnetic Island where you can fully enjoy the Aussie weather.
The island is so small, which we loved!
We only had two full days here so we got ourselves a map from our hostel, rented a ‘Barbie Car’, and explored the island (this is an extra cost).
There are some glorious beaches here and lookout points. You also have the option of renting a 4×4 car to visit those harder to reach beaches. But the Barbie car was so much fun!
Watch the sunset one night or every night! It is a short hike that is organized through your hostel. We stayed at ‘base’, which I also highly recommend. You stay in gorgeous little beach huts, they are just perfect!
ALSO don’t miss out on seeing the Rock Wallabies. Ask someone to point you in the right direction and get there at around 5pm. A local feeds them every night with fruit, so we were able to get close to them and watch as they devoured all of the food! They were so tame and gentle. We enjoyed every second!
Mission beach really is a place you go to solely for the sky dive and white water rafting. There is nothing else there and nothing to do at night! For two nights we sat and watched movies and played scrabble – pretty dull, right? But the sky dive, on the other hand was EPIC!
I have never don’t something so exillerating in my life – throwing yourself out of a plane is pretty crazy! You can see the Great Barrier Reef from up there! We all left on such a high, I just wished we had that extra money to film our experience…Next time!
The white water rafting was really cool too! Although, there were some hidden costs that we weren’t told about!
Being about 1 hour from Cairnes, you can completely skip this destination and arrange to do your sky dive from Cairnes instead!
I would suggest you do this; it will save you some money and you still get to do your sky dive at Mission. The special thing about sky diving here is that it is the only place where you actually land on a beach! AND the views are spectacular, of course! 😀☀
This is where the trip ends and the thought makes you so sad! It’s been a trip of a lifetime and you have seen and experienced so much in such a short space of time.
Most travelers stay at Gilligan’s, which is where we stayed. I hear varying things about people’s experiences here but we really enjoyed it.
We had a lot planned for our final days here, including Australia Day. For Australia Day Gilligans hosted a pool party; it was such an awesome day!
What I loved most about Cairnes was that everyone you met along the East Coast ends up here. So it is one big family and you spend your final days with the best people!
The Great Barrier Reef – One of the main reasons people visit Cairns is to also visit the famous Great Barrier Reef. I learnt that over time the corals will be destroyed and there will be a possibility of the REEF being closed down to the public . This made me feel incredibly sad. Partly because the beautiful corals were being destroyed by careless people but also because the beauty of this underwater world will no longer be shared. It was magnificent and an unforgettable scuba experience. I swam alongside a turtle! I saw beautifully coloured fish and manta rays swim beneath me – it was magical!
Cape Tribulation and Mila Mila Waterfall.
We spent three days between Cape Tribulation and it’s stunning surrounding areas.
On a tour bus we were taken to towering waterfalls, hidden covers, on jungle treks and much more! The tour guides were brilliant too, they were so informative. We were extremely lucky to see two mummy Cassowary birds and a baby – these birds are the third tallest and second heaviest birds in the world AND sadly close to extinction. Please drive slowly and carefully around these areas – many of these majestic birds are killed by cars.
If you know of Peter Andre’s song, ‘Misterious Girl’, you will be delighted to know that the music video was filmed at Mila Mila Waterfall. It is fun to flip your and reinact the video – I’m sure your tour guide will be the first to suggest it!
Cape Tribulation was another trip I could have trimmed down to a single day trip. There is no difference in what you will see or do other than sleeping in the resort. The beach is glorious, however, so incredibly hot! So I would suggest shaving this down to one day and using the spare time to do something else!
Danny also did his bungy jump here! I couldn’t bring myself to do it, but for those of you who are adrenaline seekers – make sure you add it to your itinerary!
Oh my gosh! That certainly had me racking my brains to remember everything! ☀🌏😀
Here the East Coast ends! Remember that this was only my experience and there is so much more you are able to see and do 😀 Please leave a comment with any questions! I thoroughly enjoy sharing my travel tips with you all.
Enjoy your East Coast trip!
Below is a little video we made from our unforgettable trip up the East Coast! Make sure you set the video to watch on desktop for it to work. It is so funny watching it back! Enjoy…!
Thanks for reading … 💛😀