Australia’s Best Coastal Areas

Landmarks & Icons

Tail of a Humpback Whale Rises Above the Water Against Surfers Paradise Skyline in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Australia has some of the most beautiful coastal areas in the world, with endless emerald oceans, an abundance of marine life, and incredible coral reefs. Whether you prefer to laze on the beaches of the Sunshine Coast or snorkel amongst manta rays on the Coral Coast, there is plenty to look forward to along Australia’s epic shorelines. On your next Australia tour, be sure to visit these seaside highlights.

Great Ocean Road:
One of the most scenic drives in the world
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most scenic drives in the world, stretching 244 kilometres between the cities of Torquay and Allansford. Built between 1919 and 1932 to honour soldiers killed during World War I, it is an Australian National Heritage site and one of the largest war memorials in the world. Winding along the southeastern coast of Australia, travellers can look forward to ever-changing terrain, from oceans and beaches, to rainforests and vertical sandstone or limestone cliffs. Highlights include views of the Bass Straight, Loch Ard Gorge, Bells Beach, London Arch, and the Twelve Apostles. If you prefer not to drive all the way, join the Great Ocean Walk, with 104 kilometres of coastal walking trails from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles. Travel further afield to Tower Hill Wildlife Park in Port Fairy to see kangaroos and koalas, enjoy forest nature walks in the Grampians, or cross into South Australia, home to some of the best wine regions in the country.

Suggested Itineraries:
2-Day Great Ocean Road
5-Day Melbourne to Adelaide Self Drive
13-Day Natural Australia

Great Ocean Road and 12 Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia
Great Ocean Road runs along the Twelve Apostles

Gold Coast:
Australia’s playground
The Gold Coast is situated along Australia’s eastern coastline, blessed with 70 kilometres of white sandy beaches and year-round sunshine. Visitors can look forward to a friendly culture with excellent shopping opportunities, 40 golf courses, 5 major theme parks, and over 100,000 hectares of pristine nature reserve. With so many attractions, it’s no surprise the Gold Coast is one of Australia’s top destinations visited by international tourists. Enjoy a 360 degree view from the observation deck of the Q1 Building (the second highest public vantage point in the southern hemisphere). Situated 230 metres above the ground, the viewing deck offers views from Brisbane to Byron Bay. Other highlights of the Gold Coast include Surfers Paradise Beach, excellent dining opportunities at Main Beach, hiking trails of Tamborine Mountain, Lamington National Park, and Dreamworld, Australia’s largest theme park.

Suggested Itineraries:
Gold Coast Long Stay

Surfers Paradise - Aerial, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Aerial view of Gold Coast’s Surfers Paradise

Sunshine Coast:
Seaside living
The Sunshine Coast, meandering along the Pacific Ocean coastline, is a tourism hotspot with over 3.2 million tourists visiting the region each year. The Sunshine Coast is made up of an abundance of beautiful beaches, subtropical forests, freshwater rivers and lakes, water parks, and, of course, plenty of sunshine. Highlights include UnderWater World, Aussie World, Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo, and Big Kart Track (the largest in the country). Visit the Buderim Ginger Factory, take a photo of the Big Pineapple, browse the Eumundi Markets, and enjoy a show at the Majestic Theatre at Pomona. Nature lovers will be pleased to know that the Sunshine Coast is home to more individual national parks than any other region in Queensland, including Mapleton Falls National Park, Kondalila National Park, Noosa National Park, and the Great Sandy National Park. Other attractions include Bellingham Maze, GoWake Cable Park, and Bli Bli. Don’t forget to take a cable ferry trip to Cooloolan National Park on Fraser Island, where you can enjoy guided rainforest walks, relax on a 120 kilometre beachfront, and enjoy a typical Aussie barbecue.

Suggested Itineraries:
Sunshine Coast Long Stay

Strolling the Boardwalk at Noosa Beach Along the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
Strolling the boardwalk at Noosa Beach

Byron Bay:
New South Wales coastal living
The most easterly point of Australia is known for its beautiful beaches and excellent surfing culture. With balmy days and a barefoot ethos, it’s no surprise Byron Bay has such a stellar reputation. The waters offer opportunities for watersports, including scuba diving, snorkelling, canoeing, and kayaking, as well as dolphin and whale watching. Visit the Cape Byron State Conservation Park and Cape Byron Lighthouse, admire the view from Captain Cook Lookout, browse the weekly farmer’s market, taste beer at Stone and Wood Brewery, or escape the crowds on Tallow Beach. Byron Bay is also home to Australia’s largest literary festival and the Great Aussie Surf Adventure, which brings daily surfing lessons, a variety of watersports, and exciting beach parties.

Suggested Itineraries:
5-Day Great Aussie Surf Adventure (ex Byron Bay)
4-Day Byron Bay Self Drive Adventure

Byron Bay Lighthouse During Sunrise, New South Wales, Australia
Byron Bay Lighthouse at sunrise

Western Australia Coral Coast:
Beautiful sea life and natural wonders
Western Australia’s coast is known for its spectacular natural wonders. The most noteworthy are Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort, where you can meet bottlenose dolphins who voluntarily swim up to the beach to be hand-fed, and shimmering Ningaloo Reef. At 260km long, it is the largest fringing coral reef in Australia and offers the chance to dive with manta rays and whale sharks. Visit the historic mining town of Carnarvon, explore the canyons and gorges of Cape Range National Park, discover the thousands of golden limestone spires in the Pinnacles Desert, and see rare black-footed rock wallabies in Kalbarri National Park (one of only two places to see them in the world). Other activities include kayaking around Dirk Hartog Island, visiting the world’s oldest living fossils at Hamelin Pool Stromatolites, and exploring Honeycomb Gorge at Kennedy Range National Park. Snorkelling along Australia’s first man-made snorkel reef in Jurien Bay and viewing Nature’s Window and 400 million year old Eurypterid tracks at Z-Bend are a must.

Suggested Itineraries:
3-Day Monkey Mia Dolphins
3-Day Ningaloo Reef
16-Day Perth to Broome Self Drive

Nature's Window at Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia, Australia
Nature’s Window at Kalbarri National Park

There is so much to see and do along the coastline Down Under. Your biggest challenge will be finding the time to explore it all during your unforgettable trip to Australia.

Related Articles:
Your Ultimate Guide to Great Ocean Road in Australia
Get the Most From Australia’s Gold Coast