Tasmania is known for many things – incredible food, beautiful landscapes, its pristine environment – but its beaches probably aren’t primary reason for visitors to put the island on their bucket list. Which is a shame because most of them are both spectacular and almost deserted. Unless it’s the height of summer, you might not necessarily want to get in the water –it’s usually pretty chilly – but taking long walks, exploring rock pools and soaking up the serenity will take relaxation levels to all-time highs.
There are choices galore, whether you walk into the awe-inspiring Crescent Bay near Port Arthur or head to the northwest coast and settle into life in the slow lane at pristine Boat Harbour Beach. The sand is pure white, there are protective headlands at either end, and the water is crystal clear. In the height of summer, there’ll be people here swimming and snorkelling.
Ready to hit the road in your rental car and discover Tasmania’s best beaches?
About two-and-a-half hours’ drive northeast of Hobart is Freycinet National Park and the world-famous Wineglass Bay. The fan-shaped bay and crescent of pure white sand, surrounded by azure waters and untouched bushland, has been the star of so many Instagram posts you’d think there was a highway right up to it. Not so. It takes about two hours to walk there, but it’s well worth the effort, both for the view from the peak and the experience of spending time on one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches. If you don’t feel like walking, you can get a cruise departing Coles Bay that will take you on a tour of this stunning coastline.
There are plenty of other beaches around here, too. You’ll likely stay in the small town of Coles Bay, where you can walk to Muirs Beach. This long stretch of golden sand lapped by calm waters overlooks the stunning granite peaks of the Hazards. From Coles Bay you can also join a three-hour guided kayak tour of the Freycinet National Park.
If you’re holidaying in Hobart and a bit strapped for time, hire a rental car and make a beeline for Coningham Beach. It’s only about a 25-minute drive from the city but feels a million miles from the hustle and bustle. It’s popular with the locals, but considering there aren’t many of them, you’ll never feel crowded. At either end of the white sand, you’ll find sandstone headlands and a clutch of colourfully painted boat sheds. Plus, from your towel, you look out in the direction of Mount Wellington, which towers over the city.
The beach is surrounded by Coningham Nature Recreation Area, where there are several walking trails through the bush. Some of the small beaches have little penguin rookeries, and you can sometimes see them coming into shore from their fishing expeditions as the day ends. You might also be lucky enough to see white-bellied sea eagles and wedge-tail eagles soaring on the breeze. Those with eagle eyes might also spot a Tasmanian masked owl or one of the normally nocturnal eastern bettongs, which live in the reserve.
Its name dates back to 1773, when Captain Tobias Furneaux sailed along the coastline and could see fires lit by the local Palawa people illuminating the beaches. You can still see middens (piles of shells and bone) from these First Nations inhabitants as you walk along the beaches of the Bay of Fires. These days, the bright orange lichen that covers the granite boulders on the edge of the bay does a good job of looking a little like flames.
If you’re ready to relax on white sand, Binalong Bay is the place to do it. Get active with a hike to Skeleton Bay or don your snorkelling gear and look for a calm spot in a rock pool. You’ll be amazed at the amount of life you’ll spot below the surface of the water.
If you want to check out the beaches from a different perspective, join Bay of Fires Eco Tours for a cruise. There are different options, but depending on the time of year, you might see humpback whales, dolphins, fur seals, pelicans, and albatross.
The north of Bay of Fires is part of Mount William National Park. Here you’ll find tiny Larc Beach, where you’ll feel as though you’ve found your own private patch of paradise. Bring a picnic, walk around Eddystone Point to find other isolated beaches and head up to the granite lighthouse where you’ll get incredible views of the coast and islands to the north.