9 of the most relaxing holiday destinations in Australia
Holidays are about turning off and slowing down. Here are just a few of our favourite places in Australia to relax and recharge.
By Ellie Schneider
Need a relaxing holiday? Stay on a private island, sprawl out on sugar white beaches and take in gorgeous scenery away from the hubbub of the city. Discover these incredible places to escape and unwind.
Byron Bay, New South Wales
The coastal town of Byron Bay, a two-hour drive south of Brisbane or nine hours north of Sydney, is usually a hive of activity, thanks to the surfers, backpackers and families that make pilgrimages here. But five minutes away, beneath the Cape Byron Lighthouse, lies the sleepy beach of Wategos. Stay on the water's edge at Rae's, an intimate boutique hotel with just seven suites. On site you'll find a secluded swimming pool, subterranean day spa and surfboards available to guests. Or, stay at Elements of Byron and participate in free yoga at sunrise. Take the seaside walk up to the lighthouse (keeping your eyes peeled for migrating humpback whales between April-August and September-November), shop for local arts and crafts in town, and enjoy dinner at Fleet in nearby Brunswick Heads (booking in advance is recommended).
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair, Tasmania
Mirror-like lakes, ancient rainforest and rugged mountains meet in Tasmania's world-famous Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. The southern entrance to the park, at Lake St Clair, is a 2.5-hour drive west of Hobart. Book in to spend a few nights in premium accommodation at Pumphouse Point, a converted 1940s hydroelectric pump house suspended over the water. Each room has a larder stocked with local cheeses, and cured meats and wines to enjoy during your stay. The national park has incredible hiking trails where you can spot wildlife and see brilliant wildflowers in late spring and summer.
Satellite Island, Tasmania
In the south of Tasmania an exclusive private island awaits. Take the short drive from Hobart to Kettering, where you can take a car ferry to Bruny Island. Enjoy the views and stock up on supplies such as fresh oysters and handmade cheeses, before driving to Alonnah Jetty and taking the five-minute crossing to the rugged isle of Satellite. It's a place of unspoiled wilderness with clifftop walking tracks and pebble beaches. The accommodation caters for 12 people and includes the three-bedroom Summer House, on the northern tip of the island, and the two-bedroom Boathouse, which opens onto lapping water. There are board games, kayaks, snorkels and a bonfire for when the sun sets.
Australia's largest concentration of mineral springs can be found in Daylesford, an 80-minute drive north-west of Melbourne. Start your day at Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa, where you can recline on underwater couches, swim in a salt therapy pool and be pampered with a signature massage. Dine at Sault Restaurant overlooking fields of lavender, then stroll through the town to Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens, situated on an extinct volcano. Stay at the Lake House in a luxurious waterfront suite overlooking Daylesford Lake.
Jervis Bay, Australian Capital Territory
Want to kick back on some of the world's whitest sand? Drive three hours south of Sydney to Jervis Bay. The clear, turquoise waters in this area are some of Australia's most beautiful and home to playful dolphins and migrating whales. If you can drag yourself away from the water, hire bikes to explore the historic township of Huskisson or follow one of the walking trails through the tranquil Booderee National Park. Spend the night in safari style tents at Paperbark Camp and enjoy a delicious dinner in its treetop dining room.
Rottnest Island, Western Australia
A 25-minute ferry ride from Fremantle lies idyllic Rottnest Island. Cars are banned, so hire a bicycle to explore the island's 63 beaches and 20 bays. Other activities include snorkelling, fishing, golf and getting up close with the island's resident quokkas (small marsupials). There is plenty of accommodation, ranging from charming heritage-listed cottages to luxurious glamping tents, just steps from the beach. Despite the island's proximity to the mainland, you'll feel as though you’re a million miles away from the city buzz.
Kakadu, Northern Territory
Discover the lush wilderness of Australia's Top End with Wildman Wilderness Lodge as your base. A two-hour drive from Darwin, the lodge is nestled on the Mary River wetlands, just 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the boundary of World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. From the Habitat cabins and luxury safari-style tents, guests look out at wildlife including water buffalo, wallabies and crocodiles. Take a day tour to explore Kakadu's floodplains, billabongs and rock art galleries. Other activities include guided walks, bike riding, a billabong cruise and scenic flights above the wetlands.
Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Kangaroo Island sits 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) off mainland South Australia and can be reached on a 30-minute flight from Adelaide or on the SeaLink ferry from Cape Jervis. It's a place of unspoiled wilderness, with sheer limestone cliffs, deserted stretches of white sand and an abundance of wildlife, including Australian sea lions, New Zealand fur seals and kangaroos. Lay back and relax at one of the many luxurious properties on the island, like One Kangaroo Island and Ecopia Retreat.
Palm Cove, Queensland
This relaxing seaside village in Far North Queensland provides the perfect base to explore the Daintree Rainforest, island-hop through the Great Barrier Reef or simply unwind on "Spa Street", named for its concentration of luxury day spas. A 30-minute drive north of Cairns, Palm Cove boasts palm-fringed beaches, lush golf courses and a vibrant dining scene. The Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore offers absolute beachfront accommodation with three swimming pools, a day spa and the multi-award-winning Nu Nu Restaurant. Be pampered with the Top to Toe, a three-hour treatment that combines a body polish, body wrap, massage and facial.