Australia East Coast: A Two Week Itinerary

As you might be able to tell from the sudden influx of Australia content, I recently took a trip up the East coast. It was honestly one of the most incredible travel experiences I have had. I fell in love with Australia and its diversity. It has everything; stunning mountain ranges, rolling green hills, relaxed surfer towns and bustling cities. And that is only the East coast! I can’t wait to explore more of this amazing country.

Here is an overview of the two week itinerary we used for our trip. Further information on each location including food and travel guides will be linked for you to read. If you have any more questions then feel free to leave a comment or drop me a tweet.

Day 1-3: Sydney

We landed in the afternoon of Day 1 and were staying at QT in Bondi Beach – the surfer central of Sydney which is crammed full of healthy cafes and whole foods shops. Our idea of heaven. The hotel was beautiful, spacious and perfectly located, right on the beach.

Day 1: 

We explored the area and stopped off for a healthy lunch at Speedos. I recommend the vegan pancakes, which taste so indulgent its hard to believe they’re healthy! We then took the popular walk from Bondi to Congee. This coastal route gives beautiful views of the ocean and cityscape, and is one of the top things to do in Sydney so don’t miss it. In the evening we hosted a #GirlGains Sydney event, a dream come true!

Day 2: 

We took a day trip to the Blue Mountains. This was one of the highlights of our trip and I can’t recommend it enough.The mountains are littered with stunning rock formations and tumbling waterfalls.The views were absolutely breath taking! Make sure you book a tour group which includes at least one hike if you want to keep your adventure active.

Day 3: 

We had a lazy morning around Bondi, browsing the whole foods shops and having brunch with some friends from the area. Check out my Bondi bunch recommendations here and here. It is hard to choose just one to try! We then checked out and caught a flight from Sydney to Ballina, where we picked up a hire car and drove to Byron Bay.

Day 4-6: Byron Bay

Byron Bay is the definition of a beach town. The locals have long hair, dreadlocks, and beards. They omit relaxed vibes, walking around bare foot and going for a morning surf. We stayed at the gorgeous Elements of Byron hotel, which was the definition of ‘instagrammable’, and used our hire car to get around town. I highly recommend getting one for your stay here as the restaurants and attractions are a bit spread out.

Day 4:

Having been to Byron before, I wanted to show Tally the food scene so we spent our first day exploring the town, cafe hoping and having a browse of the unique boutiques and shops. We ate so much that I wrote a full Byron food guide, to read it click here and here. We also wandered down the iconic Byron beach, watched the surfers catch the waves, and took in the relaxed feel of the bay. We instantly felt more chilled out.

Day 5:

Byron Bay is a great place to stay active. We did a kayaking tour along the coastline which was an excellent opportunity to come face to face with dolphins, as well as take in beautiful scenery. Plus it was a tough upper body workout! To read my full Byron Bay activity guides click here and here.

Day 6: 

On our final morning in Byron we got up early and ran along the coastline and up to the famous Byron Bay Lighthouse. This was one of my favourite moments of the whole trip. The view from the top was absolutely stunning and were totally worth the sweat! I highly recommend visiting this spot early in the morning, when you will practically have the place to yourself and can truly enjoy the gorgeous views. We then checked out, grabbed breakfast at Safya cafe (the best breakfast of my whole time in Australia, go!) and drove a couple of hours to Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast.

Day 7-8: Gold Coast

Surfers Paradise is the definition of a holiday destination. It has white sandy beaches, crystal blue sea, amazing restaurants and more attractions than you can shake a stick at. Although it might not be the most culturally diverse destination, it is certainly a good spot to have some fun. With theme parks, floating obstacle courses and boat rides; you won’t be short of things to do. We stayed at QT Gold Coast with ocean facing rooms on a high floor… it is safe to say our mornings views were absolutely stunning! Again, we had a hire car as many of the attractions are spread out across the city.

Day 7: 

This was our only full day in Gold Coast. We got up early and explored the local area, taking a long walk along Surfers Paradise beach. It reminded me of Rio, with the sky scrapers overlooking the white sands, it was beautiful. In the afternoon we took a Paradise Jet Boat ride which was SO. MUCH. FUN. As an adrenaline junkie, it was right up my street. If you want the most fun (and wet) seat in the house, go at the back on the right hand side. You will love it! Not only was this great entertainment, but it also gave us a unique view of the city.

Day 8: 

We got up early, packed our bags, checked out and headed for breakfast at our favourite spot, Local and Co. I can’t recommend the zucchini fritters enough. Tally loved their matcha smoothie too. We then grabbed our passports and headed to Brisbane airport, catching a flight to Cairns.

Day 8-11: Cairns & Cape Tribulation

In Cairn we stayed at Gilligan’s Backpacker Hostel, which is an experience in itself! If you stay there, be sure to pack your party pants and stock up on some spirits! Cairns is a great hub from which you can access the Great Barrier Reef or the more Northern areas of the coastline. Plus, it has some damn good food.

Day 9: 

We headed out early in the morning and caught the Passions of Paradise boat to the Great Barrier Reef. From here we got to snorkel and scuba dive. I highly recommend scuba diving it if you can as you get to really appreciate the beauty of the reef. They also offer taster dives for if you aren’t qualified, so you don’t have to miss out!

In the evening we headed to Bobo Zip for some Korean food, which I throughly enjoyed for a change. Another spot which was highly recommended by the locals was Marinades Indian Restaurant, which apparently has an incredible aubergine dish.

Day 10:

We rose early and headed for a run through Cairns and up to Red Arrow viewing point, which gives an amazing view of the bay. We than had breakfast at Pantry 15, a paleo cafe, which actually serves up amazing food. I highly recommend the sweet potato rosti and stocking upon the Paleo Bars they have – they’re the best snack I found during my time in Oz.

After we filled our bellies we hopped in our rental car and drove up to Cape Tribulation. We checked into Cape Trib Beach House, a cabin-style hostel which is right in the depths of the rainforest and gives an awesome authentic experience.

In the afternoon we tried out Jungle Surfing, which is basically zip lining through the rainforest canopy. It was an incredible experience and great for adrenaline junkies like me. Ask them if you can go upside down for an even bigger thrill!

Day 11: 

This day was one of the best of my whole trip! We woke up and did a run through the rainforest surrounding Cape Trib Beach House, which was just stunning. We then hopped in our car and road tripped back to Cairns. We took our time and stopped off at some incredible locations from fast flowing gorges and untouched beaches, to bustling resort towns and gorgeous view points. If you want to read more about exactly what we did, check out my more detailed road trip itinerary here. In the evening we went for dinner at Salt House in Cairns, which was one of the best meals we had in Australia. Just trust me and go!

Note: 

Cape Tribulation was definitely a highlight of my time in Australia. It feels wild, untouched and beautiful. I could have easily spent a whole week there. However, do remember that you are in the middle of the rainforest and you will encounter some resident animals. These can range from cute bush turkeys to fascinating stick insects and scary golden orb spiders. Don’t be alarmed though, embrace it! It is all part of the rainforest experience!

Day 12-14: Brisbane

Our last couple of days in Australia were a whirlwind. I absolutely adored Brisbane as a city. It had such a relaxed vibe, the locals were super friendly, and there was tonnes of green space. Plus it is is within reaching distance of the surrounding mountains. I could have easily spent a few more days exploring its streets.

Day 12: 

We headed to Little Loco for breakfast, which is a cute little cafe near the waterfront in Cairns. It serves up everyone favourites including smoothie bowls and avocado on toast, so don’t miss it! We then caught a flight to Brisbane and settled into our amazing hotel – The New Inchcholm. It was just dreamy. Not only was it centrally located, but it was gorgeous. The rooms were impeccable, the staff were friendly, the food was delicious. Oh and did I mention they have free access to a gym for all guests? Ideal! We enjoyed a meal at the restaurant downstairs before spending the evening packing our bags ready to go home the following day.

Day 13: 

Our final day in Oz! We did a 6am F45 class before heading to Kiss The Berry, an amazing acai bowl cafe, for our meet up. We all sat on picnic mats in the park, soaking up the sunshine and getting to know each other. We then spent the remainder of our day exploring the city. We mooched around the Southbank and browsed the markets there. We took in stunning views of the city on the Brisbane Eye, and we picked up some local treats at the shops in the central business district. (Head to The Dark Chocolatier for the best hot chocolate you will ever taste, and be sure to pick up their salted caramel brittle!). We than grabbed our suitcases and headed to the airport, our adventure had come to an end.

All in all…

Australia has taken my heart. I feel like I have only scratched the surface of this incredible country. I have experienced everything from wild rainforests through to bustling cities. I have ticked so many items off my bucket list. I have met incredible new friends, and made memories which I will never forget. Australia is beautiful. It is vast. It is calling out for my to explore more of it! I will most certainly be back.

Find out more about Australia and plan your trip on the Tourism Australia website; and to seamer of my adventures watch my Australia vlogs on my YouTube channel!

Zanna x

April 10, 2017

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Cairns to Cape Tribulation: A Road Trip Itinerary

If you’re travelling up the East coast of Australia, here are my food, accommodation and activity recommendations for your journey between Cairns and Cape Trib. Safe travels!

Cairns

One of the most popular activities in Cairns is taking a boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef. You can do scuba diving, snorkelling or both. As an avid scuba diver from a young age, diving the Great Barrier Reef was a huge item on my bucket list. We went on a day trip with Passions of Paradise and the experience was incredible. The reef exceeded my expectations, I saw sharks and beautiful soft corals – my favourites!

Cairns has a beautiful waterfront, which I recommend exploring on foot. If you’re feeling fit you can even do a morning run along the coastline and up to the Red Arrow viewpoint which gives stunning views of the bay.

In terms of food spots in the city, for breakfast I recommend Pantry 15 or Little Loco for a healthy start to your day. For dinner and drinks try Salt House, it has an amazing location on the Harbour Front and serves delicious high quality food. Plus the swanky surroundings give you an excuse to dress up a little!

Captain Cook Highway

As you start your drive from Cairns to Cape Trib you will spend a good hour or so on Captain Cook Highway (what a name!). This stunning road winds along the coastline and gives incredible views. Be sure to stop off at the view points along the way, my favourite being Rex’s Viewpoint, as well as the sandy beaches (Palm Cove is a popular detour!) . I also recommend keeping your eyes peeled for a hidden beachside spot on route which is covered in intricate rock piles (aptly their technical name is “cairns”!). There are hundreds and hundreds of them no tiny outlet. The effect is beautiful and not to be missed. There are no road signs so just keep looking, it is not to be missed!

Port Douglas

Port Douglas is a beautiful resort town lined with palm trees which has a relaxed holiday feel. You can easily spend a few hours or a few days in this little haven. I recommend relaxing on the four mile sandy beach and mooching around the Harbour front. The main street has a whole host of unique shops, cafes and restaurants which you can dip into.

When it comes to food recommendations you’ve got to try Seabean for lunch. Their paella and tapas are to die for! If you’re feeling healthy then head to Deep Wholefoods or if you’re feeling indulgent then try the Yoghurt World Froyo which has bargain prices!

Mossman Gorge

As you make your way towards the Daintree Rainforest ferry crossing you will go through Mossman and pass by the popular Mossman Gorge. I highly recommend you make a stop here and catch the shuttle bus up through the aboriginal village to the gorge itself.

Here you will find a stunning gorge with fast flowing water. You can take your bikini and hop in if you fancy a swim, but do so with caution as the currents can be strong. If that doesn’t float your boat, there are walking routes, small rainforest paths and view points surrounding the gorge. There is even a suspension bridge over the river which bounces underfoot (I found it far too entertaining!).

Daintree Rainforest

So you’ve done the river crossing and are in the midst of the Daintree Rainforest, what should you do now!? There are tonnes of incredible activities available in the area, it is a thrill seekers playground. However, the first thing I recommend you do is head to the Daintree Discovery Centre, pick up an audioguide and explore the walkways through the rainforest. This will allow you to learn more about the area you are exploring, which is actually one of the oldest rainforests in the world. There is even a 25m high viewing platform in the upper levels of the canopy, which gives a unique insight into the rainforest.

After this, keep driving through the winding rainforest roads until you reach Cape Tribulation where I recommend you stay for the night. Along these roads you can find incredible beaches which are quiet and untouched. We stumbled across one which must have been a mile long, and not a single person was on it except us! These hidden gems often aren’t sign posted, just look out for lay-bys on the side of the road and go exploring. You never know what you will stumble upon.

Cape Tribulation

I recommend staying in Cape Trib Beach House if you fancy an authentic cabin experience right in the middle of the rainforest. Its the sort of place where you find gigantic spiders hanging above your door and you can’t swim in the sea due to crocodiles. But don’t let that put you off… all hotels and hostels in the area are the same. You’re in the depths of the rainforest after all! Embrace the lack of wifi and abundance of creepy crawlies! It is all part of the experience.

In Cape Tribulation there are a million and one fun filled activities you can take part in. I personally tried Jungle Surfing, which was SO much fun. We even got to see some wildlife up in the canopy like tree kangaroos and huge stick insects! You can also try out a whole host of other adventures such as horse riding, crocodile tours and even exotic fruit tasting (I wish we had time for that one!).

Cape Trib was honestly one of my favourite parts of my trip. It felt wild, untouched and beautiful. Plus the adventurous activities available there appealed to my inner adrenaline junkie! I can’t recommend enough that you give it a visit!

All in all…

One of the highlights of my whole Australian adventure up the East coast was the short but sweet road trip between Cairns and Cape Tribulation. We managed to cram in tonnes of activities over the course of a couple of days, but you could easily extend this over a longer period and take your time. This area in Australian is so vast and diverse, providing a whole range of different experiences. My only regret was that I didn’t spend enough time there… I guess that gives me an excuse to come back hey?!

Want to see more of my road trip? Check out my Australia vlogs here!

Zanna x

April 7, 2017

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4 Ways To Stay Active In Byron Bay

Byron Bay may be a relaxed coastal town which radiates chilled vibes, but it sure it easy to stay active there. As well as the buzzing health food scene, there are tonnes of heart-rate boosting activities you can get involved with. You might as well work up an appetite for your brunch!

Surfing

This is the activity to try in Byron Bay! There are more surf schools than you can shake a stick at, and for good reason. The waves in Byron are perfect for beginners and the beach is long enough that it is never over crowded. This makes for perfect conditions to learn the ropes. Plus you feel like a local walking around town bare foot with a surf board!

If surfing isn’t your thing, watching it might be! Walk down to the viewpoint at the far end of the beach and watch the morning surfers catch a wave. It’s a gorgeous view.

Kayaking

Kayaking is an awesome way to explore the coastline and the bay itself. Not only does it give you as serious upper body and core workout, but you have a high chance of seeing dolphins on your trip. You can get super close to them on the water! Plus the scenery makes you forget that you’re even working out. Staying active and making new aquatic friends? Count me in!

Run

Running up to the lighthouse was one of the highlights of my trip to Byron Bay. It is one of the most popular Byron attractions and can get pretty busy during peak times. However, if you rise early you can enjoy it all to yourself. Just park your car in the town centre (its free until 9am), run up the beach and take the longer coastal path to the top. I admittedly had to do it in intervals, as the stair climb is preeeetty steep. However, it was incredible and totally worth the sweat. The views of the Bay as I ran along kept me motivated and distracted me from the burn in my legs!

If running isn’t your thing, there are plenty of coastal walking routes available and you can of course hike up to The Lighthouse.

Cycling

You can easily rent a bike for a day or half day in Byron Bay. It is the perfect way to explore the town and the surrounding area if you don’t have a car. Many of the cafes and attractions are a little way out of town, so why not peddle there and earn yourself a raw vegan cheesecake while you’re at it?!

Still got some energy left over? Check out my previous Byron Bay activity guide here, and my food guides here and here.

Safe travels,

Zanna x

April 3, 2017

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3 Lesser Known Healthy Cafes & Restaurants In Byron Bay

Along with beautiful beaches and laid-back vibes, Byron Bay has an absolutely incredible food scene. When I came to visit last year I literally spent my whole weekend hopping from cafe to cafe; eating my way around the bay. I even wrote a food guide, thinking that I had identified all the hot spots. I admit, it is pretty comprehensive. However, when I returned this year I went on a mission to find some lesser known spots to recommend to you guys. I certainly succeeded. These restaurants ended up providing some of the most delicious food I have tasted in Australia!

The Beet

This is the first fully vegan restaurant I have ever been too, and it didn’t disappoint. The diversity and variety of the menu surprised me, and I wanted to try everything. I went for the jackfruit “pulled pork” which literally blew my mind. I was also tempted by the beet burger, which sounded delicious. The restaurant itself is super cute, and has a great atmosphere. It feels but more upmarket than the more laid-back restaurants in Byron, which I enjoyed for a change. I also appreciated that they focused on using local produce and that the servings were super generous. I just wish I had more time to try the rest of the menu!

Safya

You need to try this Egyptian eatery. Bold statement right here, but I think my breakfast at Safya is one of the best I have ever had. Seriously. The setting is incredible, the service is fast, but the real winner is the food. The menu is so different from the usual brunch spots that you want to order everything. We shared the cumin eggs (foodgasmic!) and the dukkah dukkah which were both insanely good. The servings are generous and there is a real focus on flavour, which we loved. Go. Go. Go.

Succulent Cafe

This is a hidden gem down a more quiet back street of town. It serves typical Australian dishes with a North East Asian twist. We enjoyed the chilled vibe, fast service and traditional decor. I tucked into the iced turmeric mylk – an absolute winner – and then the breakfast bowl. It came piled with all my favourite things; beetroot, feta, pumpkin, quinoa, spinach and poached eggs. The dream. They also had a whole host of other wholesome options from salads to courgette fritters. We were spoilt for choice.

The best part about these restaurant and cafes, besides the food of course, is that they don’t have the ridiculous queues that the more well known spots often do! You can rock up and walk right in.

If you combine these recommendations with my previous Byron Bay food guide, you have a seriously long list of cafes and restaurants to try out!

Happy eating,

Zanna x

April 2, 2017

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