Exchange rates are a double edged sword. The Australian dollar has taken a bit of a pounding in the last year or two on world currency markets, meaning you currently won’t get as much bang for your Australian buck in many overseas countries as you did not long ago. But there is always a silver lining.
Australian holidays in 2016 are great value for money by comparison with many overseas destinations. And let’s face it, Australia is a big country. Not many of us can say they have seen all it has to offer.
Let’s take a look at Thailand as a financial comparison. As the below graph shows, the Australian dollar has headed south against the Thai baht since the peak levels of four years ago, especially in the last two years. In 2016, the Australian dollar is worth 30% less against the baht than it was in 2012. Put simply, your money won’t go as far in Thailand as it did then. A holiday to beach destinations like Phuket, Ko Samui, Pattaya or Ko Phayam is now 30% more expensive. That’s money you could spend on an Australian holiday and if it’s beaches you’re looking for, we are blessed with some of the world’s best.
In this article we’ll focus on some of the less obvious but must see Australian beaches. Destinations that are not packed with people and are as beautiful as anywhere on the planet.
Must See Australian Beaches
When you think of must see Australian beaches in Queensland, the Gold Coast, Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, and the islands of the Great Barrier Reef probably spring to mind. You may have already visited those popular destinations, or be looking for some different or less crowded.
If you are, the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island is well worth a visit. Fraser is the largest sand island in the world, with its 75 Mile Beach the highlight. It is well-known for its multi-coloured sands, ranging from standard white through to orange and darker tones. Numerous crystal clear freshwater lakes there will cool you down, including the Champagne Pools, a collection of recreational waters formed by volcanic rocks. The foam of the ocean crashing into the rocks bordering the pools creates a natural jacuzzi. Fraser Island is also a prime whale-watching destination between July and October each year.
How to get there: The quickest way is to catch a flight to Sunshine Coast Airport. From there you can then catch a short chartered flight to Fraser Island.
Heading further north, Mission Beach between Townsville and Cairns is another great alternative. The golden sands of the Mission Beach region stretch for 14 kilometres. It contains four beach villages nestled against lush tropical rainforests, each with its own charm and characteristics. You can choose to do very little but relax and take in the beautiful scenery, or do a wide variety of water and beach activities, it’s up to you. Numerous accommodation options are available, from basic campsites through to luxury resorts.
How to get there: Catch a flight to Cairns. Mission Beach is about an hour and a half’s drive from there, with airport transfers, bus, rail and car options available.
Heading further north still, if you do want to experience the most secluded Great Barrier Reef island, Lizard Island is for you. It’s very expensive, but well worth it. When looking at the price, just think of the money you’re saving by not going to a destination like Thailand with the Australian dollar being so low. Lizard Island has 23 stunning and largely secluded white beaches, with spectacular diving and snorkelling spots to explore the wonders of the colourful reef and its fish species.
How to get there: Fly to Cairns and then catch a 1 hour charter flight direct to Lizard Island.
New South Wales
The north, south and central coasts of New South Wales offer plenty of must see Australian beaches. Despite being a popular getaway in the north, you can still find one or two secluded beach spots in the Byron Bay region, including Whites Beach at Broken Head. Part of its charm and the major reason for its seclusion is its relatively limited access. To get there, you need to drive on a dirt road through rainforest, and then walk through a path to its shoreline. As its name suggests, there you will find beautiful white sand, accompanied by crystal clear water and numerous rock pools. You’ll also often sight dolphins swimming in its shores. It feels a world away from the million dollar Main Beach just 10 kilometres away, so if you holiday at Byron Bay you can experience the best of both worlds.
How to get there: If you’re not located within a few hours drive, catch a flight to Ballina Byron Gateway Airport. From there, you can arrange an airport shuttle bus transfer.
The central coast of New South Wales is famous for its surf beaches at places like Avoca, Terrigal, and The Entrance. But the region isn’t just for experienced surfers. Beginners can learn to surf at one of the many accredited surf schools in the area. Fishing and boating are also popular activities there.
How to get there: The central coast is an hour’s drive north of Sydney.
On the south coast, Jervis Bay is an idyllic location 200 kilometres south of Sydney, with white sands and crystal clear blue-green water. The area is also inhabited by penguins, a pretty rare sight in Australia. It is also a popular whale-watching region from May to November. Hyam’s Beach is a great spot in the Jervis Bay region, offering a range of accommodation options and activities such as snorkelling, diving, surfing, sailing, windsurfing and kayaking.
How to get there: Driving from Sydney is easy or catch a flight to Jervis Bay Airport and then use an airport transfer service.
If you’re holidaying along the 243 kilometre Great Ocean Road between Torquay and Allansford on the south-east coast of Victoria, you’ll be able to visit the iconic Bell’s Beach surfing venue, see the Twelve Apostles collection of limestone stacks off the coast of Torquay, as well as find plenty of secluded spots. A good option to consider is doing a stretch of the Great Ocean Walk in the Great Otway National Park. In that region you’ll find four hidden places well worth a visit – the beaches at Milanesia, Rivernook, Station and Parker Inlet.
How to get there: If you’re not within a few hours driving distance, catch a flight to Avalon Airport in Geelong and then hire a car or catch an airport shuttle bus.
Cable Beach near Broome in Western Australia is a stunning visual location. There the turquoise of the Indian Ocean meets the ochre of the Australian outback, with ideal swimming, sunbathing and beach conditions. Both sunrise and sunset camel rides operate daily along a section of the 22 kilometre white sand stretch and make for a memorable experience. For the more free-roaming spirits, the area also includes a nudist beach but this definitely an optional experience and not on everyone’s must see Australian beaches list.
How to get there: Catch a flight to Broome and book an airport shuttle service.
Turquoise Bay in Exmouth is also a stunning beach location in Western Australia that is well worth a visit. Its beautiful waters, colourful coral and fish make it an ideal swimming and snorkelling destination.
How to get there: Catch a flight to Learmonth Airport and then catch an airport shuttle bus to Exmouth.
In Perth, the iconic Cottesloe Beach is a picture postcard location, with dazzling white sand surrounded by Norfolk Pines. Watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean is a sight not to be missed for those from the east coast of Australia. And although Rottnest Island is just a short ferry ride from the mainland, when you get there it will feel a world away. Just one tip if you are looking for a quiet getaway. Make sure you avoid “schoolies” or “leavers” week in late November when thousands of high school students invade Rottnest to celebrate their graduation. At any other time of year you’ll be able to peacefully enjoy its beautiful and tranquil surrounds.
How to get there: Catch a flight to Perth. Cottesloe Beach is only a 15 minute drive from the city centre. Getting to Rottnest Island will require an additional short ferry trip. Leaving from Fremantle just south of Perth is the quickest way.
Tasmania is better known for its green scenery than beaches, but one exception is its picturesque Wineglass Bay located in the Freycinet National Park. Its deep blue sea is offset by stark white sand, with various shades of pink granite cliff faces combining to form a rainbow of colour. Swimming, snorkelling, fishing, sailing, kayaking and rock climbing are popular pastimes here, along with simply relaxing and enjoying the stunning scenery. You can also take in the views of the entire Bay by hiking to an elevated lookout. You’ll be able to take postcard-like photographs with ease.
How to get there: Catch a flight to Launceston then hire a car or catch a bus for a 2 hour drive.
South Australia is not very well known for its beaches, but a pristine location you should make a point of visiting if you are ever in the State is Second Valley. The Rapid Bay caves can be explored with Kayak Tours.
How to get there: Catch a flight to Adelaide. If you want to get to Second Valley hire a car for the 1 and a half hour drive south.
Beaches probably aren’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think of the Northern Territory. However, Mindil Beach is worth a visit if you are ever in Darwin. It is particularly well known for its markets that are held on its shores in the late afternoons and early evenings from Thursday to Sunday each week. Mindil Beach is just 3 kilometres from the Darwin CBD.
How to get there: Catch a flight to Darwin.
So there you have it. Our Optimise Travel tips for must see Australian beaches in each State and Territory. With the current value of the Australian dollar they are well worth considering as alternatives to an overseas beach destination.
We have some of the best beaches in the world, so why not leave your passport at home and tick one of these off your bucket list?
If you have any tips for must see Australian beaches please share them in the comments section below so others can benefit from your experiences.