Australia seizes the imagination like no other developed country does. To tourists, it’s a land of vast horizons, red deserts, easy-going attitudes and lethal wildlife. Treasures both natural and cultural abound on the immense island continent.
Even to locals, Australia is a place of legendary landmarks, iconic structures and Mother Nature at her most majestic. The country teems with must-see places to get snapped for the ultimate envy-inducing profile pic.
Australia’s long stretches of coastline offer a multitude of attractions for natives and visitors alike. Trust us on this one: you’ll want to add these seven stunning coastal destinations to your bucket list.
#1 The Horizontal Falls
If David Attenborough calls something “one of the greatest natural wonders of the world,” you know it’s worth a visit. Such is the case with the Horizontal Falls, a phenomenon found deep within Talbot Bay in Western Australia. Here immense seawater currents hurtle through two narrow coastal gorges, creating a sidways waterfall effect with the ebb and flow of the tide. It’s possible to drive a boat through the gorges, but the best way to appreciate the Horizontal Falls is by air.
#2 The Figure 8 Pools
The Figure 8 Pools were practically made for Instagram. You’ll find them on a rock ledge south of Burning Palms Beach in Sydney’s Royal National Park, but only if it’s low tide. At high tide the entire ledge is underwater and you’ll be forced to take the steep 3.5km trek back to your car empty handed. Nail the timing and you can treat yourself to a cooling dip in the main Figure 8 while contemplating which photo filter you’ll use later. Definitely a contender for the best coastal holidays in Australia.
#3 Wineglass Bay
The camera-worthy contours of Wineglass Bay, located in Freycinet National Park, have made it one of Tasmania’s most celebrated views. To see the shimmering crescent of white sand and turquoise sea in their full glory, ascend the jagged peaks of the Hazards. To commune more closely with the bay’s natural wonders, you can swim, boat, fish, snorkel and scuba dive from the dreamy beach.
#4 Kangaroo Island
Australia’s third largest island feels like another world entirely. Kangaroo Island is a wildlife sanctuary, where native animals roam free and Australian flora flourishes. Visitors can come face to face with a diverse range of critters, including koalas, kangaroos, penguins, fur seals and sea lions. As for the humans, fewer than 5,000 call the island home, but those who do have created a thriving culinary culture and unique artistic scene.
#5 Heart Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is a bucket list destination, but with nearly 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands, where do you begin? Try Heart Reef, a charming composition of coral that has naturally formed into the shape of a heart. The surrounding area is protected from snorkelers and scuba divers, so you’ll need to book a scenic flight to witness the romantic Aussie landmark.
#6 Shark Bay
Shark Bay is a World Heritage site with an impressive list of achievements on its resume. It’s home to one of the world’s largest dugong populations, as well as the world’s best collection of stromatolites, a form of algae that are among the oldest organisms in the world. Five species of endangered mammals, and some of Australia’s friendliest dolphins, also live in the Shark Bay area.
#7 Gibson Steps
Travellers heading West along the Great Ocean Road must make a pit stop at the Gibson Steps. A staircase carved into the cliff by a local settler leads down to the beach, where you’ll be greeted by rich red sand, unpredictable waters and the awesome sight of two enormous offshore limestone formations known colloquially as Gog and Magog. You’ll feel practically microscopic standing at the base of 70-metre-high vertical cliffs.