Office doldrums got you down? Are you feeling a little overwhelmed at home, and just really need a nice, relaxing break? Well, look no further. We’ve compiled the ultimate holiday destination list to soothe your soul and get you back on the right track. Here are a few destinations to consider when needing a restful break.
Port Douglas and Cairns
The first destination on our list is a double whammy. We know that technically these are two separate locations, but with only an hour’s drive between them and with the equally beautiful Kuranda at the halfway mark, it’s well worth hiring a car, grabbing yourself some local accommodation, and seeing everything that this beautiful part of the country can provide.
Cairns is definitely the busier of the two but boasts a plentiful marina where you can easily book a trip to see the glorious reefs. If snorkelling or scuba is your thing, you’ll find serenity there under the waves. Port Douglas is a little more relaxing and boasts some lovely local beaches, with Four Mile Beach being the stand-out here. Minimal waves and the only running around you’ll likely see are the cute and harmless crabs scurrying from burrow to burrow on the soft sand.
On your way between the two destinations, don’t miss the Scenic Kuranda Railroad, cable cars, and a leisurely hike through the breathtaking Mossman Gorge. We also loved Birdworld Kuranda, the local food and art markets, and Kuranda Koala Gardens, which can easily be completed together as a day trip.
Great Ocean Road
Located on the South Western Coast of Victoria, the Great Ocean Road is an expansive collection of stunning cliff views and temperate rainforests to be seen on any road trip. Take it easy as you wind through the Chicanes, from the local city hub of Geelong, past some of the best beaches in the world, and onwards toward the natural wonder of the Twelve Apostles. This is another soothing destination best enjoyed with a hired car and cruising buddies. For an even more relaxing stay, try starting your drive further west, and staying near the sleepy outskirts of Warrnambool. Key destinations not to miss here are the Otway Fly Treetop Walk, Triplett Falls, Lorne, Bells Beach and Winki Pop surf beaches, and of course the local chocolate shop, the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery.
If cute animals appeal to you, look no further than Phillip Island on the East Coast of Victoria. Here you can catch a glimpse of the world’s smallest penguins, Little Penguins (or what once were known as Fairy Penguins), in their natural habitat. Generally, the penguins are best viewed at dusk and the early evening, but luckily that’s not the only local attraction; you’ll be able to sample some of the local culinary treats and visit some really impressive lookouts before the main event later in the day. Check out the Blowhole at Nobbies boardwalk and then grab some treats at the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory before you witness your feathered friends.
I am very fortunate to have just returned from the Keppel Islands, a gorgeous natural archipelago that secretly boasts some of the best-remaining reefs in the world. While parts of the Great Barrier Reef further up the coast have succumbed to varying levels of coral bleaching from the warming oceans, the Keppels are a little further from the equator and the cooler waters have preserved them well. Many of these reefs are also easily accessible right off the beach, so bring your fins and snorkels and you’ll be able to dive right in at mid-tide.
The easiest way to relax in the area is to head to Great Keppel Island (Wop-Pa) from the Keppel Bay Marina—just be prepared for a 1.5-hour trip from the nearest airport at Rockhampton. There is a bus that will take you the distance, but if you can afford an Uber or taxi, we’d recommend that. Our bus ride was a little hairy! Once you’re at the Marina, catch yourself a ferry to Great Keppel, where you can access accommodation right on the island. Prepare to book ahead for both this and any evening meals at the Marina ahead of time.
Once on the island, you’ll find a local restaurant, beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and of course the reefs. We suggest Shoaling Reef and Monkey Reef as must-see attractions here. Shoaling Reef is easier to access, while Monkey Reef is slightly larger and boasts a local Hawksbill Turtle that you might be lucky enough to spot. We recommend booking your trip before November to avoid stinger season and wearing reef-safe footwear and sunscreen here too.
Further up the coast from the Keppels are the Whitsunday Islands. Again, these islands are best seen around June-October, when stingers are less common. Avoid the cyclone season between December and April. Moving right along to the relaxing part, The Whitsundays is home to the purest sands in the world. A day trip across to Whitehaven Beach will see you walking through 99% silica sand that is as soft and squeaky as you could ever imagine. There are also some really wonderful Indigenous Landmarks in this area. Ngaro Cultural Site on Hook Island is well worth visiting here.
Hamilton Island is probably the easiest place to stay, with the largest marina in the area, plenty of amenities, and the option to cruise around in your very own hired golf buggy. If you’re really up for a splurge, check out Sunsail for a chartered yacht. It’s a bit of a dig into your hip pocket, but the memories will last a lifetime and there’s not much more relaxing than being gently rocked to sleep on a sailing ship.
Any one of these destinations will provide a welcome and well-deserved reset to the weary and overworked. From the tropical rainforests of Far North Queensland, to reef-laden tropical islands in the Whitsundays and Keppels, and then further down to the beautiful Victorian Coastline, there will be something here that’s just perfect to help you relax and wind down. We hope you have a soothing time!