Kids playing on the beach on Australia's Gold Coast (Dreamstime)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 01 November 2017

9 extraordinary aquatic adventures on Australia’s coast

Whether you're looking for amazing islands, world-class diving or adventurous cruises, Australia sparkling coastline has it all

1: Discover the hidden corners of the Great Barrier Reef

Boats on the Great Barrier Reef (Dreamstime)

Boats on the Great Barrier Reef (Dreamstime)

Experience parts of the Great Barrier Reef that very few people get to see on this small-ship cruise, from Cairns to Lizard Island, with Discover The World.

As well as ensuring personalised service, travelling by small ship allows you to explore remote coral cays, deserted except for colourful tropical fish, peaceful tropical islands and primordial rainforests. Exclusive reef moorings mean you won’t be surrounded by hundreds of other reef visitors.

An onboard marine biologist will provide an unparalleled insight into the fascinating reef life and habitats, while an experienced dive instructor can take you through an introductory scuba dive. Or you could simply choose to relax on the sun deck or in the spa as you cruise through some of the most awe-inspiring scenery Australia has to offer.

Trip: Great Barrier Reef Cruise

Who: Discover The World

When: Departures all year round

How long: 4 nights

How much: From £1,356 (exc. flights)

2: Explore the untamed Kimberley

The Fitzroy River in the Kimberleys (Dreamstime)

The Fitzroy River in the Kimberleys (Dreamstime)

Explore one of the world’s last great wildernesses on this 11-day adventure through Australia’s epic north-west with Australian Sky.

Starting in Darwin and ending in Broome, this journey will take in the towering cliffs of the Kimberley gorge and the powder-soft sands of Cable Beach. You’ll cruise the placid waters of the Katherine River, look out across the Cambridge Gulf and search for ancient rock murals in ancient caves. A cruise through the Geikie Gorge, overlooked by the cliffs of the Devonian Reef, is a tour highlight, before finishing in Broome with plenty of time to unwind and relax on the fabled Cable Beach.

Trip: Untamed Kimberley

Who: Australian Sky

When: Departures Mar-Oct

How long: 10 nights

How much: From £3,395 (exc. flights)

3: Search for wildlife on Tasmania's Wilderness Coast

Neck Lookout, Bruny Island (Dreamstime)

Neck Lookout, Bruny Island (Dreamstime)

Witness the untouched beauty of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area on this wildlife cruise along the southern coast with Wildlife Worldwide.

Sailing aboard the Coral Discoverer, this small cruise adventure explores South Bruny National Park and Maria Island – where successful translocations of the healthy Tasmanian devil have led to an increase in the population size. You’ll also have plenty of opportunity to explore the surrounding waterways by kayak and zodiac. 

All in all, you’ll visit five national parks and two world heritage areas, taking advantage of the long summer days to search for Bennett's wallaby, eastern quoll, wombat, brushtail possum, Tasmanian pademelon and the iconic Tasmanian devil. There’s an impressive array of birdlife too, including the rare endemic forty-spotted pardalote, the pink robin, the smallest penguin species – the little penguin – and the endangered orange-bellied parrot. 

Trip: Tasmania’s Wilderness Coast

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Regular departures Nov-Feb

How long: 12 days

How much: £3,745 (exc. flights)

4: Make the most of the coast

Fishing at sunset on Wategos Beach, Byron Bay (Dreamstime)

Fishing at sunset on Wategos Beach, Byron Bay (Dreamstime)

Discover the bright city lights and endless beaches of Australia’s legendary East Coast as you travel from Sydney to Cairns with G Adventures.

It’s a route that showcases both sides of modern Australia. Sydney and Brisbane provide the big city thrills and international cuisine, while the national parks and beaches provide untouched scenery and unforgettable wildlife experiences. And because Australia is all about the Great Outdoors, you’ll also get to try your hand at surfing, sailing and snorkelling. Oh, and sample the wares of some of the world’s finest wineries.

Trip: Most Of The Coast – Sydney To Cairns

Who: G Adventures

When: Departures weekly

How long: 16 days

How much: From £1,743 (exc. flights)

5: Come face-to-face with a Great White Shark

Cage diving with sharks in South Australia (Dreamstime)

Cage diving with sharks in South Australia (Dreamstime)

Get up-close and personal with one of the world’s most fearsome underwater predators on this unique cage diving adventure off the Neptune Islands in South Australia with Dive Worldwide.

Staying on the Princess ll liveaboard, you’ll get two full days of shark viewing and diving in the Neptune Islands. Ocean floor cage diving gives you the chance to encounter a great white shark face-to-face, in their domain. As you lower to the floor, you can expect to see giant smooth rays, eagle rays and grouper until, finally, a great white shark appears from nowhere and majestically and effortlessly swims by. A truly breathtaking experience!

Trip: Liveaboard Diving – Great White Shark Expedition

Who: Diving Worldwide

When: Departures May-Oct

How long: 7 days

How much: From £1.245 (exc. flights)

6: Sail the breathtaking Whitsundays

Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays (Dreamstime)

Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays (Dreamstime)

Experience the extraordinary beauty of the Whitsunday Islands on this unique sailing adventure with Exodus.

The 74 Whitsunday Islands lie at the southern tip of The Great Barrier Reef. Most are uninhabited. All of them are ringed by sugar-white beaches and home to dense rainforest with hiking trails ready for you to explore. You’ll also get the chance to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and spend two nights in Daintree and Cape Tribulation National Parks. It’s an extraordinary journey that combines rainforest, beaches and underwater coral gardens.

Trip: Australia’s Reef & Rainforest

Who: Exodus

When: Departures Apr-Sep

How long: 12 days

How much: From £3,449 (exc. flights)

7: Discover Australia’s best-kept secret coastline

Kangaroos at Pebbly beach (Dreamstime)

Kangaroos at Pebbly beach (Dreamstime)

Avoid the crowds and discover Australia’s best-kept secret on this coastal adventure between Sydney and Melbourne with Wexas.

Regarded as one of the world’s great drives, the coastal route between Australia’s two great cities is famed for its spectacular and varied scenery. One moment you will be spotting whales from a clifftop, the next sharing a deserted golden beach with a mob of kangaroos. 

Once you drag yourself away from the bright lights of Sydney, you’ll stay in a luxury tented camp at Jervis Bay, explore remote waterways by canoe, and relax on the white sand beaches before continuing to Tilba Tilba, a charming village almost unchanged since its 19th-century gold-rush heyday. Then, a final sweep through mountainous hinterlands, national parks and koala-dotted islands will take you to Melbourne, a city famed for its cafés, parks and bars.

Trip: Sydney To Melbourne Coastal Drive

Who: Wexas

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 15 days

How much: From £1,885 (inc. flights)

8: Explore Australia’s very own 'Galapagos Island'

A family of seals at Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island (Dreamstime)

A family of seals at Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island (Dreamstime)

Discover ‘Noah’s Ark on an Island’ on this action-packed short break to Kangaroo Island with Intrepid.

Just off the mainland, and only half an hour from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is a haven for all kinds of wildlife – including a number of endangered species. You’ll encounter a sea lion colony in Seal Bay, spot koalas in Hanson Bay, and search for kangaroos, echidnas and more on a walk along Vivonne Bay. There’s also the chance to peer out at the ocean through the natural overhang of Admirals Arch or try sandboarding on the white dunes of Little Sahara.

Trip: Kangaroo Island Adventure

Who: Intrepid

When: Regular departures through the year

How long: 2 days

How much: £230 (exc. flights)

9: Meet Ningaloo's underwater superstars

Diver with a whale shark (Dreamstime)

Diver with a whale shark (Dreamstime)

Dive amongst whale sharks, manta rays and humpback whales on this once-in-a-lifetime underwater adventure in Western Australia with Dive Worldwide.

You’ll be based in Exmouth, on the North West Cape, a gateway to the extraordinary Ningaloo Reef. Each day you’ll dive a different site, exploring the coral and keeping an eye out for potato cod, turtles, sharks, nudibranch, manta rays and whale sharks. If the season is right, you may even bump into a humpback whale or two.

Back on shore, there will be plenty of chances to meet the local wildlife, visit the ancient desert sculptures of the Pinnacles Desert, and climb the vast white sandy dunes at Lancelin.

Trip: West Australian Diving

Who: Diving Worldwide

When: Departures Apr-Aug

How long: 16 days

How much: From £3,795 (inc. flights)