Winter Island Escapes: Tasmania, Australia

Start planning where to warm up this winter. We’ve made it easy with these 15 adventure-packed, off-radar island hideaways.

Nov 8, 2012
Outside Magazine
Australia West Pacific Ocean Oceania architecture Australasia Bay of Fires beach coast environmental issues environmentalism green building island landscape lodge lodgings national park nobody view from above Pacific Ocean peninsula province public land scenic sea social issues South Pacific Ocean Tasman Sea Tasmania travel tree water

Bay of Fires Lodge, Tasmania.    Photo: Simon Kenny/Arcaid/Corbis

26,410 square miles (about the size of West Virginia)
Untamed beaches, rugged wilderness, rock climbing

Tasmania is often overlooked by Americans, since there’s so much to do on mainland Australia. But the place is basically a mini New Zealand, complete with crack climbing, empty Tasman Sea beaches, large wilderness tracts, and a crazy amount of wildlife. The way to do Tassie right is on a two-week road trip. Arrive in the harbor city of Hobart on a Friday and rent a car at the airport (from $45 a day). The next morning, pick up a couple days’ worth of fresh meat, cheese, and wine at Saturday’s Salamanca Place outdoor market, then drive two hours northeast to Freycinet Eco-Retreat ($360), a series of modern wood cabins where you’ll cook your own meals. Climb the nearby sea cliffs in Freycinet National Park or hike the dragon-back rock formations of the Freycinet peninsula before hitting the crisp water at the Coles Bay beach. (Be sure to ask locals about any recent shark sightings first.) From Freycinet, drive 90 minutes north to a 16-mile swath of beach at the Bay of Fires, check into the cozy Bay of Fires Character Cottages B&B (from $180), and spend a day or two trekking the coastal forest to see Bennett’s wallabies, wombats, and Tasmanian pademelons. Then lounge on the bay’s stunning secluded beach. In nearby St. Helens, don’t miss the fresh Tassie oysters at the Blue Shed. Next up, drive four and a half hours west to the lodge at Cradle Mountain–Lake St. Clair National Park (from $400), where Tasmanian devils scurry through a mountain wilderness of King Bill pines.

ACCESS: Take a two-hour flight from Sydney or a 75-minute flight from Melbourne (Jetstar, Virgin Blue, Qantas) to Hobart.