A Sydney island has launched pop-up Airbnb “glampervans” on an island, where rooms are only AUD$15 a night.
By Georgia Rickard
Most people know that Sydney is the home to a few beaches. (Well, more than a few – the city has over 100 of them, including these great secrets.) But it’s also home to islands of all shapes and sizes: from protected reserves where you can have a peaceful picnic, to suburban hubs with full-time residents and pretty island getaways where you can enjoy fishing, swimming and that famous Sydney sunshine. Now one of the most popular of all, an island in the middle of Sydney Harbour, has unveiled pop-up Airbnb glampsites for just AUD$15 a night – and that’s not the only island escape worth considering...
Pop-up glamping at Cockatoo Island
Hot tip: Cockatoo Island is one of Sydney’s most fascinating destinations. Walk the foreshore of this small UNESCO World Heritage site and you’ll not only discover a cafe, bar and great views (the island is in the middle of Sydney’s famous harbour), but some of the city’s most interesting convict ruins. Sydneysiders often come here for concerts, festivals, art exhibitions and events – it’s a short ferry ride from the city – but now you can also sleep here in Airbnb “glampervans” for just AUD$15 a night. The experience is only a pop-up – it was created to promote the launch of a new glampervan – but it’s a little-known fact that Cockatoo Island is actually home to several kinds of accommodation, so you can wake up to a prized position and water views every day of the year for a surprisingly affordable price. You’re welcome!
A modern escape on Dangar Island
Cockatoo Island offers spectacular views of the city, but if it's an escape from the big smoke you're after, put Dangar Island on your list. With its native Australian bushland, beautiful architecture and clear clean waters, this small patch of paradise in Sydney's north has become a minor Instagram sensation among in-the-know Sydneysiders (search #dangarisland to see some of its photogenic qualities). Its out-of-the-way location in the city’s north has ensured the island retains a quiet, locals-only vibe, but with its regular ferry timetable, single shop/cafe and low-key bowling club and bar, it’s not entirely suburban. There are several unique Airbnb stays on Dangar (including a whimsical little boathouse), but we’re particularly enamoured with The Dangar Island House. Owned by two prominent Sydney stylists, it’s a haven of raw timber, natural light and modern Australian design. Just don’t tell anyone we told you about it.
The classic beach weekend on Scotland Island
Getting to Scotland Island – located in Sydney’s exclusive Pittwater region, near Palm Beach – is half the fun. Jump on a ferry from Church Point (preferably after a coffee at the Marina Café or a scenic drive through stunning Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park) and breathe in the cool, clean air as you float past thickly forested hills to a tiny slice of Sydney heaven. Aside from prolific wildlife (expect to meet friendly wallabies – similar to kangaroos, but smaller – and lots of native birds) you’ll find a tight-knit artistic community, many of whom commute to work on the “mainland” every day. Scotland Island feels more like rural Australia than Sydney – many roads are unsealed, most locals get around on foot and groceries are delivered by boat. Which makes it a great place to experience a classically laid-back Australian weekend at this snug little cabin. Note that you’ll need to plan well in advance to secure your stay – the property has a very high repeat-booking rate.
The ultimate island experience on Sydney Harbour
OK, so it’s not actually an “island”, but it’s definitely a castaway experience. Europa is a private luxury yacht on Sydney’s sparkling harbour – and a wildly popular Airbnb listing. Reserve your stay and choose between being moored in the exclusive inner-city waterside hamlet of Elizabeth Bay (adjacent to Potts Point) or just off Taronga Zoo on the other side of the harbour, where you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and city lights. Measuring 46 feet (14 metres), this teak-and-leather affair comes with all the mod cons (Bose speakers, iPhone dock, flatscreen TV), not to mention necessities such as luxury linen, champagne glassware and fluffy towels – but what we like best is its rather large “swimming pool”. Simply hop over the railing to discover it – it’s the size of Sydney Harbour! Discover more Sydney islands. Prefer to stay on the mainland? Check out Sydney's best secret cheap eats instead.
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