Highlights of Great Barrier Reef & Australia’s East Coast Tour

A 10 day trip to Australia 
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The dreamlike landscape of Australia encompasses iridescent waters and emerald rainforest, an opera house of elegant sails and beaches with soft sand that crushes beneath your feet. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef to discover schools of glowing butterfly fish, and then lounge on the famous Bondi Beach in view of surfers as they catch the curling waves. Indulge in a tranquil view of sandstone pillars that soar above the Jamison Valley and then bask in luxury at a resort that overlooks the shores of Hamilton Island. Your custom tailored tour will highlight the wonders of the East coast as you are immersed in the Aboriginal culture and the welcoming warmth of the Coral Sea.

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General Information

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Highlights of Iconic Australia and Tropical Bora Bora Vacation
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Sydney, Hamilton Island, Cairns, Daintree National Park, Port Douglas, Great Barrier Reef

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Sydney – Arrive in the Bustling City of Sydney to an Introductory Tour

Sydney is a pearl of the Pacific Ocean, celebrated for illustrious beach culture and spectacular architecture that celebrates both land and sea. Your flight will land at Sydney Airport where your private transfer will meet you at baggage claim. Your hotel is located near the bustling downtown region that overlooks Darling Harbour, and will offer a perfect blend of city access with the relaxing ambiance of the seaside. You can look out your window to a view of sailboats floating past one another and graceful arch of the Harbour Bridge glinting in drifting sunlight.

Your guide will greet you in your hotel lobby, keen on introducing you to the stunning highlights of the city, from the old walkways of the Rocks district, Sydney’s oldest neighborhood, to the marvelous arcades of the Queen Victoria Building. The shopping center was originally erected in the late 19th century beneath a set of 20 cupolas encircling the central dome, and the natural light spills into the main gallery highlighting the historical window frames and mosaic tile floors. Your guide will point to the allegorical marble figures above the entrances of York Street, representing the “Genius of the City,” with the two figures above the entrance of George Street embodying the glory of civilization.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 2: Sydney – Explore Sydney Opera House and Beautiful Bondi Beach

In the morning, the cafes of the Glebe neighborhood open to local university students eager to order a rejuvenating cappuccino. A vintage and artisan market open up alongside the streets to showcase homemade honey and preserves set beside the flowing skirts decorated with swirling colors. After breakfast, your guide will meet you at the hotel and lead you on a short walk along the brick esplanade to the exterior of the Sydney Opera House. The structure remains an icon of the city and Greater Australia, known for the way the rooftop imitates the sails of passing ships, eternally cast to catch the gentle sea breeze. The harbor waters lap against the base of the esplanade.

The doors to the opera house opened in late 1973 with a seating capacity of nearly 2,700 patrons in the main concert hall. The lavish interior reminds you of a clam, embellished with vaulted ceilings and a textured background behind the main stage. The fabulous acoustics enable a person’s voice to echo against the walls in all direction. Your day will continue outside of the opera house, taking you from the grandeur of concert culture to the relaxed pace of the beachside culture at Bondi, known for pristine sand, gentle waves, and the reality television show of “Bondi Rescue.” The seaside swimming pool of the Icebergs Private Swimming Club overlooks the water splashing against the rocks.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Sydney – Relish Sydney’s Splendor and Surroundings at your Leisure

Decorating one of the Sydney estuaries of Homebush Bay is the SS Ayrfield. The neighborhood’s past as a trading port informs its present, accentuated by the rusting walls of the abandoned freighter decorating the waters. The ship was once used to transport coal and war supplies but has since sprouted lush mangrove trees with branches peeking through the hull of the ship first erected in 1911. The remarkable ship resembles a toy boat used as a flowerpot, made more remarkable due to the grand size of the ship, along with its ability to continue floating.

Sydney and its surroundings have marvels often overlooked by visitors, so this day will bring you the opportunity to go in search of the city’s hidden wonders and the splendors of the surrounding countryside. For a full day exploration, you will take a private tour of Blue Mountains National Park, an area of New South Wales that fills more than 4,400 square miles. The eucalyptus trees cast an ethereal blue vapor in the early morning light giving credence to the name. You will arrive at the weathered sandstone peaks along the cliffs of Jamison Valley where the Three Sisters stand nearly 3,000 feet above the valley floor. In the foreground, you can see the striking layers of color cast by the sandstone, with a background of the emerald canopy and rocky plateaus. 

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Hamilton Island – Fly to the Lovely Shores and Luxuries of Hamilton Island

Each morning, the Sydney Fish Market opens its doors along Blackwattle Bay. The interior of the market is filled with seafood caught fresh that morning and sold by the very fishers who caught it. Seagulls hover above the wrought-iron structure before diving down to the shore in search of mud crabs. Restaurants bordering the edges of the market serve fresh lobster and lean salmon. After breakfast and a short wander of the market, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to Sydney Airport for your flight to the tropical paradise of Hamilton Island.

The picturesque landscape overlooks the indigo waters of the Coral Sea, a subsidiary of the Pacific Ocean. The island encompasses nearly two square miles with narrow streets utilized by golf carts, creating a resort ambiance embellished by palm trees, rainforest, and shading ferns. Travel to your remarkable hotel by way of a private transfer, settling into the comforts of the lapping waves and coconut aromas set against the luxurious accommodations that overlook the white sand beach. Dip your toes into the hot powdery sand and enjoy the marvelous views of the rolling hills of the nearby Whitsunday Islands.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Day 5: Hamilton Island – Enjoy a Day on Hamilton Island at your Preferred Pace

In the morning, the scent of the Coral Sea blends with sweet aromas of coconut and mango emanating from the open-air dining room. Monitor lizards roam in the forest underbrush and sunbathe on rocks. After a leisurely breakfast, the day is yours to indulge in the charms of Hamilton Island as you desire. Board a sailboat bound for the sandy beaches of Whitehaven Island or enjoy a jet skiing safari around the shores of Hamilton. For a fantastic introduction to the wildlife of Australia, you can make your way to the hands-on animal experiences found at Wild Life Hamilton Island.

The dense trees add to the ambiance of the wildlife park as koalas dangle from the eucalyptus branches and macaws perch in the canopy to watch all who pass by. Your guide will lead you on a tour of the grounds, engaging you with each unique species you pass, from bouncing kangaroos to lounging crocodiles. At the end of your guided excursion, you will be introduced to a sleepy koala latching to a low-lying tree. Your guide will slowly pass you the koala, and you can gently cuddle the furry marsupial, enjoying the unique chance to hold a domesticated wild animal iconic to Australia.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Port Douglas – Transfer from Hamilton Island to the Charm of Port Douglas

In the morning, the luscious aroma of coconut blends with the rejuvenating rich aromatics of freshly brewed coffee. Godwits call out to one another in the trees as kangaroos bounce in the open plains and monitor lizards search for breakfast amidst the underbrush. After your own breakfast, your private transfer will escort you to the airport for your flight north to Cairns. The city has an esplanade that winds along the coast, adorned with volleyball courts and swimming lagoons, vibrant cafes and chic bars. Your private transfer will greet you upon your flight’s arrival and lead you north to the seaside town of Port Douglas as cafes and boutique shops line the elegant streets that lead to the marina.

Sailboat masts wade in the water and sway from side to side. You will notice how the rainforest that blankets the Great Dividing Range sweeps down the slopes and nearly touches the indigo waters of the Pacific. White sand stretches along the shore of Four Mile Beach shaded by towering palm trees. You will settle into the comforts of your luxurious hotel set between the lush trees of the rainforest while offering views to the shimmering ocean. The town bustles around the main street of Macrossan, where the delicate aromas of grilling seafood drifts out of the traditional restaurants of Far North Queensland. 

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Port Douglas – Full Day Tour Exploring the Wonder of the Great Barrier Reef

At dawn, the sunlight stretches along the eastern horizon layering the sky with dramatic reds, oranges, and pinks. You will rise early in the morning to board the catamaran bound for the Great Barrier Reef. Your boat will weigh anchor, and your excitement will make your heart pound. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world, encompassing a collection of coral bodies that span nearly 133,000 square miles. The sea air will brush against your cheeks as the boat brings mist that rises from the ocean surface. You can see the darker segments of water scattered across the ocean where reefs have formed, and you will jump into the water at Opal Reef after donning your snorkel gear.

The gentle waves are welcoming, and the warm temperature will immediately relax you. You will look beneath the surface to find the crescent shape of the reef edging the continental shelf as staghorn coral forests, and giant clams glow within the bright light beams that pierce up to 200 feet below the surface. Stingrays swim past effortlessly as their wings flutter like butterflies and can grow to a length of up to 23 feet in length. The spectacular underwater world of the coral reef system is unparalleled to the wonders you have seen across Australia thus far.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 8: Cairns – Traverse the Trails and Rugged Beauty of Daintree National Park

Wake early and then venture beneath the canopy of Daintree National Park to hear the tails of the Rainbow Serpent and the beginning of the world during Dreamtime. You will travel into Mossman Gorge to immerse yourself in the traditions of the local Aborigine tribe of the Kuku Yalanji. The thick forest canopy shades you from the sunlight with emerald leaves that spread across the sky. Your guide will point out the plants used to make soap, utilizing both the soil and the underbrush to make ochre paint for art.

The trail leads you through the thick trunks of the forest as you listen to stories of life’s beginnings around the Australian bush. Songs layer the walk by revealing traditions, telling stories of spirits and ancestors found amongst nature. You can hear the stream moving over the rocks in the distance. Freshwater fish leap out of the creak in search of passing insects. After your immersive tour on the trail you continue to the rainforest town of Kuranda, where heritage markets and stalls showcasing artisan crafts line the streets, accented with the aroma of fresh fallen rain and grilling meat.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, tour

Day 9: Cairns – Delight in a Day in Cairns to Adventure at your Leisure

In the morning, you will wake up to the aromas of papaya and banana blending with the rich aromatics of freshly roasted coffee beans. The waves lap at the golden shores of Four Mile Beach as the breeze rustles against the palm trees that shade the beachgoers. After breakfast, the day is yours to enjoy the coastline and the rainforest expanse, as you desire.  Lounge by the pool of your resort-style accommodation or embark on a unique excursion to the Atherton Tablelands.

If you are willing to rise early, you could travel beyond the mountain range to reach the open plains that are blanketed with hot air balloons. Your guide will inflate your balloon, filling predawn sky with light. You will step into your gondola, and the hot air balloon will slowly ascend. You can see the light spreading along the horizon as the colors blend into one another and layer together in the distance, taking away the starlight above. Once the sun peeks above the ocean, you will have an unparalleled view of the rainforest below, and the sparkling banks of the river that wind towards the East Coast. 

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Cairns – Depart for Home

The morning light shines through the windows of the Port Douglas art galleries, exhibiting the unique perspectives of local artists and the way they perceive the surrounding culture and scenery. The work of Cara Stevens uses the landscape in photography and it three-dimensional sculptures, capturing the natural colors and formations of the Queensland region in ways often overlooked by the untrained eye. You have witnessed the beauty beyond the coastline and the sensational splendors beneath the forest canopy during your exploration of Australia, from the architectural thrills of the Sydney Opera House to the beauty that decorates the Great Barrier Reef. After one last morning of enjoying your surroundings along with a leisurely breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel in Port Douglas and escort you to Cairns Airport for your flight home.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer 

Price

Starting Price 

$2,495
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.