8 Beautiful Coastal Walks Around Australia to Do at Least Once in Your Life
Australia is home to so much natural beauty. Within a day trip from any of our major cities, you can reach gorgeous secret ocean pools, white sandy beaches, lush rainforests, extraordinary cliff top views and rolling oceans.
So, to help immerse yourself in experiences money can’t buy, we’ve rounded up the eight best coastal walks around Australia you need to visit at least once in your lifetime.
Pack a day bag, grab a hiking buddy and soak in the stunning coastline on one of these beautiful walking tracks, regardless of where you are in Australia.
8 best coastal walks around Australia
New South Wales
This easy and relatively flat 9km trail starts at Spit Bridge and weaves past Clontarf, Castle Rock and Grotto Point. You’ll soak in the beauty of one of the world’s best harbours, and depending on the time of the year, you might even spot a whale or two. If time permits, you can venture off track to stop and take a dip at a number of beaches along the way.
The Great Ocean Walk stretches 104km (which takes eight days and seven nights to complete), however, it can also be broken down into short 3-hour walks or day-long walks. For a shorter introductory option, we recommend the Shelley Beach Circuit - a 60-minute trail where you’ll walk across coastal scrub, the beach and rocky platforms. Once past Elliot River, make sure to keep an eye out for koalas and nocturnal possums.
If you’re looking for a longer walk, we would suggest the 9.3km Cape Otway to Aire River circuit. This trail cuts through sand dunes, coastal scrubs and calcified cliffs, and you can even choose to divert to Rainbow Falls (an additional 3km return), a picturesque waterfall that gives off a rainbow effect if visited at the right time of the day.
Located off the east coast of Tasmania, Maria Island is known to have one of the best coastal walks in the world. You can do the entire island in a four-day hike, but for those after an hour-long walk, stroll across the porcelain white sand of Riedle Beach.
Or, for a half-day trail, head to the spectacular cliffs that wrap around the eastern side of the island where you can watch birds dive and swoop into the ocean. On the western side, the Painted Cliffs are also a must-see spectacle.
Located on the 4400sq km island, Seal Bay Conservation Park is home to a protected colony of Australian sea lions. There’s an 800m wheelchair-accessible boardwalk overlooking the shoreline dunes from where you can watch these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. The Bay also has plenty of other longer walking opportunities, including the unmarked Cape Gantheaume Coastal Track (experienced hikers only) and Murray Lagoon trails.
Along this 11.7km trail, you’ll walk across pristine beaches, cliffs, World War II fortifications and casuarinas. You’ll spot migratory birds on the shores and turtles on the tidal flats, and if passing at low tide you’ll also see Nunggalinya, or Old Man Rock, an important site for the local Larrakia people. The sunset here is like no other.
Start your walk up a steep hill from Kingfisher Bay and take a breather atop the North White Cliffs. Continue on through the Great Sandy Strait and Marine Park, before you make your way to the final destination, Lake McKenzie. This renowned lake with its crystal clear blue water, is the jewel of the island and is the perfect place to take a dip in to cool off. While you will encounter a few steep hills on this 13.8km track, the visuals you’ll spot along the way will make it worthwhile.
This walk hugs the coastline between Boyds Tower and Green Cape Lightstation. The views you’ll soak in along this walk are stunning, to say the least. You’ll spot heathland, tea tree groves, banksia woodlands, towering red-rock platforms and a wealth of magnificent creatures including seals, seabirds and whales. It’s a 30km one-way trail, which will take you at least three days to complete, but you’re also able to enjoy smaller sections of the walk as well.
This 130km trail connects two of mainland Australia’s best lighthouses - the towers at Cape Naturaliste in the north and Cape Leeuwin in the south. It’s one of the longest coastal walks that will take you about five to eight days to complete, however, it can also be done in smaller sections. Along the way, you’ll walk through soft sand beaches, limestone caves, cliff-top trails with breathtaking views and incredible forests.
Want more travel ideas? Here are the best weekend getaways from every Australian capital city.