White sand, turquoise water, pina coladas*. You’re thinking island paradise right? You betcha. I also betcha that you probably weren’t thinking about that island all the way down the bottom of Australia. Yeah, that one near Antarctica. Well think again. During our year travelling Australia, we have seen some incredible beaches. And Tassie beaches rank up there with some of the most incredible. Yes, really.[*BYO pina coladas. As lovely as the beaches are, sadly I have not yet come across any swim up pina colada bars. Though I can highly recommend a sparkling wine/pinot noir/cocktail of your choice (made with Tassie grown fruit and spirits) as a perfect accompaniment to said white sand and turquoise water.]
I’ll be honest, Tassie had me at pinot. And sparkling. And whisky. And cheese. It really didn’t have to do too much more to lure me down to the end of earth. Yet, to my surprise and joy, the sea, salt, sand and surf down here is also a bit of alright. The beaches are au naturale. Not developed, resort-y or crowded (though unfortunately this also means – no pina colada bars). It’s a fair hike to get to many of the beaches, but then – all the better to counteract some of that delicious cheese and wine. Tassie beaches might make you work for it, but you are well rewarded for your efforts.
Get here between December and February and the water is even surprisingly swimmable. Certainly not (much) noticeably colder than the bottom of WA or far South East coast beaches. And the thing about Tassie’s clear skies and lack of humidity is that the sun has quite a harsh sting to it. Anything above 20 degrees (provided you’re out of those winds that blow straight off Antarctica) can feel very burn-y, and a dunk in the chilly, but oh so picturesque, ocean can be a most welcome relief. Here are some of my faves so far.
Coningham Beach – Hobart
I don’t know of any other capital city where there are such beautiful, secluded and uncrowded beaches, such a short commute away. (That is, any without severe being-eaten-by-a-croc risk. Sorry Darwin, I love you but … argh! Your beaches are just a tease).
Coningham Beach is conveniently located – at the end of my driveway. And for everyone else, it’s just 25 minutes south of the Hobart city centre. It is a favourite with locals, and they flock here. In their dozens. As a (former) Sydneysider, city beaches mean not being able to find a park within a 40-minute walk, and then elbowing your way through the throngs and beach tents in the desperate hope of finding just one towel shaped vacancy. Here, by “flock” I mean that locals proceed in an orderly fashion, find a park right out the front, and then have plenty of space to spread out and relax in the sun, with views over to Mt Wellington on one side, and Bruny Island on the other.
Added bonus – a 15-minute walk down the Coningham Cliff Top Track, and you get to the even more secluded, and more turquoise-y hidden gem of Legacy Beach.
Remarkable Cave – Tasman Peninsula
Keep driving past the historic convict prisons of Port Arthur and Carnarvon Bay and you’ll see signs for Remarkable Cave. Trek down many stairs to the lookout into the cave. At low tide, follow the surfers to find the secret spots to scramble further down the hill and through the cave – to a truly delightful beach. Be careful if there’s water already in the cave, it rises quickly. Some serious end of the earth vibes down here. Also some spectacular scenery and decent surf. The water didn’t even feel too cold, but my skin may possibly have been too numb to tell for sure.
If cave scrambling isn’t your thing, then the rest of the Tasman Peninsula has many other easily accessible and stunning beaches – check out Eaglehawk Neck for the Tessellated Pavement, Tasman’s Arch and (the creepily named) Devil’s Kitchen.
Wineglass Bay – Freycinet, East Coast
It’s called Wineglass Bay. So clearly we’re kindred spirits. I sure felt like a wine glass or two after the hike into and out of the bay. The walk starts at Freycinet National Park carpark. Go to the lookout for the money shot – but keep trekking down to the water for one of the most lovely beaches you ever will see.
We walked in 25-degree heat – which felt like 35, and by the time we got to the bottom, we just couldn’t resist the refreshing water. Problem was, we hadn’t brought our swimmers. So, much to the amusement of the other tourists, who had come appropriately attired, we made do with what we had, and jumped in. I’ll spare you photographic evidence of that spectacle. You’re welcome.
I can’t remember enjoying a swim, and a lie on the beach afterwards, so much in my life. Just remember to dry off properly before the steep climb back – because: chafing. Ouch!
Bruny Island – South Coast
From the calm bays in the north, the wild waves of the south, and the famous “Neck” in the middle – this island off an island put me in total Tassie beach insta-spam mode. So many photos to sort through as we sat sipping Bruny Island cider and scoffing Bruny Island cheese. It’s chilly (there are penguins), and wild, but it’s spectacular. And the island is covered in bushwalks if you need to work up a bit of a sweat before diving into the highly photogenic water.
Boat Harbour – North West coast
This beach was on my must-see list after some fellow travelling buddies who had seen a LOT of beaches around Australia, and the world, said: “it’s the nicest beach we have ever seen in our life!” Wow – after such superlatives, how could we not visit?
It didn’t disappoint. Boat Harbour is a sheltered little cove in the north-west of Tassie, with postcard-perfect clear aqua water, and a free camp right next to the beach. When we visited, it was a bit cloudy and chilly, but the colours shone through, and it was warmer in the water than out.
Our swim was ah, refreshing – and delightful, though getting out was a little goose-bumpy. Just up the road is the famous “Nut” at Stanley, a rocky plateau where there is yet another stunning view (Tassie sure knows how to do a good lookout – this one even has a chairlift to get you up there) of yet another stunning beach.
This is by no means a definitive list. This island paradise is riddled with other beauties, and there are so many fab beach spots still to explore – the Bay of Fires, St Helens, Maria Island, the wild west coast. But, if you’re looking for some sea, salt and sand action to accompany your mountains, pinot and cheese, then these beaches might just be a pretty good place to start.
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