10 Best Beaches in Phuket

Phuket is known for its outstanding beaches, probably more than anything else. With over 30 of them around the island, there’s a wide variety of atmospheres, scenery, facilities and even textures of sand available. However, with such a huge amount of choice, the question of which is the best beach in Phuket is inevitable. This is not a simple question to answer, and it largely depends on how you judge a ‘good beach’. We chose to combine a number of measurements, from the availability of nearby places to eat and drink to the fineness of the sand and the idyllic-ness of the surroundings. We also gave priority to those beaches with a lifeguard station, so pretty much all of those listed below have at least one. If you’ve visited before, you might be surprised by some of the places we’ve included, and even more so by some of the places which didn’t make it into the top 10 best beaches in Phuket. Do you agree with our list?

1 Kata Beach Kata Beach has it all – beautiful soft sand, nodding palm trees, clean waters with a soft seabed, good surfing in the low season and snorkelling in the high season and a fantastic laid-back atmosphere. It has colourful longtail boats moored at the northern end, with a few budget food and drink vendors often found nearby, while the southern end has a choice of beachfront hotels and restaurants and an exciting flow-rider park at Surf House. At about 1.5 km in length, it doesn’t usually get too crowded, either.

 

2 Freedom Beach A 300-metre-long strip of some of the finest white sand in Phuket, Freedom Beach has all the isolation of a pristine desert island, but also has a restaurant and beach chairs available. It has none of the usual jet skis, parasailing and wandering vendors to pester you while you’re chilling out (as are common on some of the busier beaches), making it the best balance of peaceful and quiet without sacrificing convenience. It’s a little tricky to get to, being accessible only by longtail boat or a steep footpath down a hill, it has an air of exclusivity.

3 Kata Noi Beach Neighbour to Kata Beach (the name literally meaning “little Kata Beach”), Kata Noi is just under 700m long, but is an amazingly beautiful spot. The sand there is among the finest, the sea among the nicest and the surrounding restaurants among the finest in Phuket. There are only a couple of hotels along its length, but they too are rated among the best available. A much quieter place than its big brother to the north, it has a more peaceful and relaxed atmosphere while still offering the same great surfing and snorkelling opportunities.

4 Ya Nui Beach With a total length of less than 200m – and that in an L-shaped curve – Ya Nui is one of Phuket’s smallest beaches, and yet is amazingly popular for its size. It is not hard to see why, with its beautiful sand and sea and striking scenery, being just beneath Windmill Viewpoint. The beach’s rocky outcrop is somewhat iconic, is easy to climb on for striking holiday snaps and helps create great conditions for snorkelers. In spite of its small size, there is a good selection of nearby restaurants, vendors and accommodation.

5 Surin Beach Admittedly, Surin Beach is not what it used to be. Once the home of several of Phuket’s top beach clubs and a bustling local market, it had an air of sophisticated fun. Even with that now gone, the beach retains its raw natural beauty, with tree-lined soft white sand and clear tropical seas. The 800-metre-long beach remains a very popular choice and the home of a good selection of Phuket’s most exclusive hotels, shops and restaurants.

 

6 Paradise Beach The name says it all – Paradise! Less than 200m in length and with a little rocky headland making it technically two beaches, this tiny cove near Patong has calm waters with a soft seabed pretty much throughout the year, while the lovely white sand shaded by nodding palm trees which look like they came straight off the cover of a holiday brochure. Being the home of Paradise Beach Club, the little cove has a great choice of facilities, including restaurants, bars, sea kayaks, beach chairs and more. It is also the home of Phuket’s only Koh Phangan-style beach parties.

7 Nai Harn Beach Once a quiet and secluded spot at the southern end of Phuket, the 660-metre-long Nai Harn Beach has been very definitively “discovered” and continues to grow in popularity. However, thanks to the relatively small size of the bay and the presence of a large lake almost immediately behind the beach, the spot hasn’t been excessively developed, so it retains its quiet charm. With its soft sand, lifeguards on station and very gently sloping soft seabed, it is quite a family-friend beach, with a good choice of hotels, shops and restaurants nearby. On windier days, it is also a good spot for kite-surfing and stand-up paddle boarding.
8 Bangtao Beach At 6 km in length, Bangtao is one of the longest beaches in Phuket. Along that length, you will find some of the island’s top hotels, restaurants and beach clubs, making it a popular place for all kinds of visitors and locals. While the scenery is perhaps not as picturesque and the sand not as soft as some of the places further up our list, Bangtao is still one of the best beaches in Phuket thanks to the sheer variety of nearby attractions and the sheer size, which means it’s never that hard to find a quiet spot to enjoy some peace and quiet.

9 Patong Beach No list of the best beaches in Phuket could be complete without mentioning Patong. Undoubtedly the most popular stretch of coastline on the island, it could be said to be a victim of its own popularity, being generally busy right along its 2.5 km length. However, there is no part of Phuket with a livelier atmosphere. The town behind the beach is home to many great restaurants and hotels, as well as the best of Phuket’s nightlife, while the beach itself has nice sand and plenty of attractions and activities.

 

10 Karon Beach Karon Beach has the interesting honour of having the squeakiest sand in Phuket. Fine and soft, it makes a funny sound when you walk on it. At 3.3 km in length, it is the third-longest beach in Phuket and is close to being perfectly straight. It is beautifully lined with trees for a lot of the southern end, with volleyball nets and beachfront restaurants in the northern half. The sea here is very approachable, though it is noted for its strong riptides. There are virtually no rocks along the length of the beach, so you can take a cooling dip with no risk of hurting your feet.

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7 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN RIO DE JANEIRO

Rio de Janeiro, or the Cidade Marvilhosa to its local inhabitants, is a South American super-city of more than 14 million people, is a city of flair, style, history, culture, extravagance and elegance, all woven together with an inherent vibrancy and sensuality that can be felt nowhere else. Rio is a city where everything blends into everything else, the old and the new, the fast and the slow, the rich and the poor.

Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in  Rio de Janeiro.

With one of the most beautiful settings in the world for a city, from the air Rio de Janeiro seems to cascade down the sides of the mountains to the north and spill down to the white-sand shores below, like molten lava flowing down the side of a volcano – slow, almost motionless from a distance, but full of heat and intensity. There are so many things to do in Rio de Janeiro, that you could spend weeks here exploring this city in all of its glorious detail, but if you only have a few days to a week, here’s how we think you could spend your time!

things to do in Rio de Janeiro

EXPLORE COPACABANA

When you think of Copacabana, the mind flashes images of g-string bikinis, speedos, oily bronzed Brazilians on the beach, Samba and Caiparinhas! The 4 km beach serves many purposes to the community of Copacabana – early morning exercise; dog walking, yoga, working out, sunset walks and football. In the later hours of the evening, it serves as a backdrop to the many beachside bars between the road and the beach, where Samba tunes mix with the background music of the waves breaking onto the shore. Some of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro are what  the locals do. Join the Rio natives for an early morning walk along the beach before breakfast, then dive headfirst into the Copacabana shopping district and hop on the Metro for the short ride into the historic centre of town. After a few hours exploring the markets and historic buildings, return for an afternoon swim in the Atlantic waters and get started on the Caiparinhas while you wait for a sunset of hundreds of oranges, reds and purples streaked across the sky!

Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Copacabana.

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

To get a real taste of the Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro lifestyle, stay in a luxury hotel along the main seafront promenade, with views over the beach to the south and rooftop views of Christ the Redeemer and the mountains to the North. We stayed in the Porto Bay Rio Internacional Hotel, a four-star luxury hotel overlooking the ocean. Our deluxe double room on the 17thfloors had amazing balcony views from one end of Copacabana to the other and was modern, elegant and incredibly comfortable with a king size bed. The shower in the open plan bathroom was hot and powerful enough to pound away any remnants of aching muscles from a long flight. Breakfast was the best buffet we’ve had in a hotel so far, with a wide variety of fresh fruit every day, 5 different detox smoothies and juices, real cheeses, homemade muesli, cold meats and most importantly, a man solely dedicated to pouring hot, fresh coffee into your cup! On the roof, the pool is enclosed by a frameless glass façade offering 270 degree views of Copacabana beach and the ocean to the South, the mountains and Christ the Redeemer to the East and West. When you’re in need of relaxation, or you’re otherwise short of things to do in Rio de Janeiro, it’s a beautiful setting for a sunset drink! The staff were great – really friendly, helpful, professional, but still relaxed and personable to have a conversation with.

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

EXPLORE THE NIGHTLIFE OF RIO DE JANEIRO

When you think of Rio, aside from a giant statue of Jesus Christ, most of us think of wild parties, Carnival with beautiful women dancing in the streets and the beautiful beaches of the Atlantic – lapped by the waves of the Atlantic to the South and surrounded by the busy city streets to the north. But usually when you arrive in a new city and head out into the town in search of cocktails and people to drink them with, it’s practically inevitable to end up in some dive bar designed purely for tourists and backpackers, selling cheap beers and mixers and packed with touts, pickpockets and ‘questionable women.’ Is this what we want though? Of course not! We travel because we want to experience real places, real people and most of all, real life, which is why as travellers we gravitate towards locals – Local people, local culture and local experiences! We hooked up with Tours Gone Wild, who among many other things (I’ll get to that later), organise nightlife tours around Rio de Janeiro’s best clubs and bars, with not a backpacker beer offer or ‘questionable woman’ in sight!

Two Monkeys Travel - Rio de Janiero - Brazil - Tours Gone Wild

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We were picked up from our hotel at 11pm by our Tours Gone Wild party guide, and taken to Palaphitas Gavea, an exclusive guest list only club overlooking the seafront, with an open air bar, club and dance floor, packed with beautiful Brazilian people! They have full guest list access to the best bars and clubs all over the city and they even organise party tours for Carnival too. Without a doubt, a full on night of VIP partying is one of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro! But that’s not anywhere near everything – They organise loads of other tours and excursions, help with accommodation, transport  and connections, not only in Rio, but in cities all over the world! To check out where Tours Gone Wild can take you – Click here.

WALK THE HISTORIC DOWNTOWN

Rio de Janeiro is a fantastic city for urban exploration – the blend of historic Portuguese colonial architecture, modern city life and that famous Brazilian atmosphere make it one of the most interesting and captivating cities in South America. We booked a city walking tour with Context Travel, starting at the Convent of Santo Antonio, where the city of Rio de Janeiro was born back in 1608, making it the oldest standing building in the city. We learned all about the rich history of Rio and how it developed from a small colonial outpost to one of the busiest modern cities in the world. Every building that you would simply look at and walk past on your own has a story and an important part to play the birth and growth of the city over its 420 year history, from conquering kings and crazy queens to gold, diamonds and its short-lived status as the capital city of Portugal! Make sure you check out the Confeitaria Colombo, the oldest and most prestigious coffee shop in the world on your way around – it’s an experience all unto itself. We rarely, if ever, recommend guided tours but with so much rich history, it should be high on your list of things to do in Rio de Janeiro.

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de JaneiroThings to do in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

GO HANG GLIDING

The landscape of Rio de Janeiro is fascinatingly beautiful – numerous tree-clad mountain peaks cascade down towards the Atlantic Ocean, with white-sand beaches and an archipelago of small islands peppering the waters of the coast. There are many easy to medium hiking routes up to the peaks that give great views of the city and the ocean, but one day, as we walked along one of Rio’s many beaches, we glanced up at the sky just in time to see a giant bird-shaped object fly over our heads. There was something hanging from it – a person – HANG GLIDING! We searched online for tandem hang gliding companies and some of the best reviews came from Rio ASA Delta, owned and run by Fabio, a pilot with 12 years of experience and even a number of competitions under his belt. Fabio picked us up at our accommodation for the short drive to the top of a cliff edge overlooking the beach and the ocean, where we went through our safety and launch instructions and prepared for take-off.

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro 20

One-by-one we stepped onto the launching pad and got ready to go – On the count of three, we ran towards the edge with the glider, falling in mid-air momentarily before taking off and soaring upwards into the sky on a sharp gust of wind. As you feel the wind lift you into the vast blue, you can’t help but take in a sharp breath, before circling higher and flying off towards the ocean hanging by a nylon strap, suspended from a thin piece of canvas stretched out over a metal frame to form a huge wing! The wind was strong that day, allowing the pilot to lift the glider higher and higher into the air, circling back around over the mountain we launched from, flying through the air like rabbit caught in the talons of a giant bird – with a huge smile on our faces! Then the glider tilted and turned in a wide, banking, sweeping turn and dived downwards towards the beach below, skilfully spirally, rising and falling through the currents of air until they aligned with the landing area, which was a small strip of soft, white sand on the beach. Poised for landing, we glided gracefully towards the ground at quite a speed, pulling up at the last second, stalling the flight in mid-air, like a huge swan landing on a lake, to gently reunite our feet with the soft sand. The experience of a lifetime and by far one of the ultimate things to do in Rio de Janeiro! Check out Fabio’s Facebook page too, for loads of photos, videos and reviews.

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CHECK OUT KACH MOM’S HANGGLIDING VIDEO HERE –

SEE CHRIST THE REDEEMER

At the top of everyone’s list of things to do in Rio de Janeiro, is this magnificent monument. At the peak of the Corcovado Mountain, standing 700 metres high in the Tijuca Forest National Park overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro is the Christ the Redeemer statue. It’s high on the bucket list of many to stand in front of the 38 metre high statue of Jesus Christ, his arms open wide as a symbol of enduring peace. We organised our tour with Tours Gone Wild and was assisted by the local tour company called Gray Line Brazil. We had over an hour exploring the magnificent statue from different angles and taking in the glorious panoramic views in all directions; mountains, and dense forests which seem to wrap the city in a thick blanket to the North, while the cool Atlantic Ocean bathes its shores and gently from the South. Even the journey to the top of the mountain is an experience – a 20 minute train ride which winds up the hill through the forest, with views over the city and the ocean.

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

MARKETS IN GLORIA AND URUGUAIANA

A relaxing way to spend your Sunday morning, walking through stalls of fresh fruit, meat, fish, seafood, spices and even artisanal crafts and jewelry. This is not market frequented by many tourists as it’s in the local residential area of Gloria, just a short Metro ride from Copacabana and Cinelandia. Everything is interesting and colourful here, even the garlic and chillies are laid out on small paper plates and arranged in an even pattern across the table tops. Many of the market stalls are held from characterful Volkswagen vans, which combine with the sights, sounds and market buzz, make for amazing photo opportunities as well.

If you’re looking for a market experience with clothes and souvenirs at really low prices, with very few tourists in sight, then take the Metro to Uruguaiana, where you’ll find street after street of shops and market stalls.

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

CLIMB THE LAPA STEPS

Our Rio de Janeiro walking tour with Context Travel ended with a visit to the Lapa Steps, a masterpiece of recycled tiles and paint, created by Chilean Artist Jorge Selaron, who bought a house in the Lapa District of the city back in the 1980’s and began sticking broken tiles to the walls of the filthy, neglected stairs which ran past his home, linking the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighbourhoods. His work started to gain the attention of local passers-by, then travellers from around the world, many of whom donated tiles from around the world to the project, although he also painted some tiles himself. Selaron’s life continued like this until January 2013, when his body was found on the steps, covered in paint thinner and with burn marks to his body. The exact cause of death is still a mystery and it’s not known if it was an accident, suicide or homicide, but rumours include death threats from a former business associate and Selaron asking to be taken into the subway so he could throw himself under a train. His death will probably always remain a mystery, which only adds to the curious magic of his creation.

Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

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Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

things to do in Rio de Janeiro 22

10 best things to do in New Caledonia

Whether you’re planning a holiday or visiting on a cruise, New Caledonia offers stunning attractions and great things to do.

New Caledonia is a popular destination for cruise ships from Australia, with ports of call at Noumea, the Isle of Pines, Lifou and Maré Island. So find some affordable accommodation in New Caledonia with Skyscanner and go snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing or just enjoy some of the world’s best beaches.

1. Climb the lighthouse on Amedee Island
Standing at 56 metres high, the iron Amedee Lighthouse was erected by French engineers in 1862 after being built in Paris. From the top, you get amazing views of the bush and coral sand of the island and out across the emerald green reef lagoon to the ocean beyond. The tiny island is a tropical paradise and is a short trip by boat from Noumea‘s harbour. Don’t taunt the sea snakes that come to bask on the chalky-white sand; they are otherwise harmless. Amedee Island is a popular shore excursion if you are cruising on a cruise ship from Australia.

Amedee Lighthouse, Amedee Island, New Caledonia

Amedee Lighthouse, Amedee Island, New Caledonia
2. Go snorkelling at Grande Terre
Grande Terre is the largest island in New Caledonia and it’s where you will find the capital, Noumea. It’s surrounded by the second biggest reef in the world, after our very own Great Barrier Reef of course. It forms the world’s largest lagoon though. If you don’t fancy getting wet, hang around on a cruise boat with a beer in hand and watch everyone else splash around amongst the brilliant-coloured sea life.

snorkelling in New Caledonia

snorkelling in New Caledonia
3. Swim in a giant natural aquarium
The Piscine Naturelle on the Isle of Pines is a popular cruise ship tour, and no wonder! This natural underwater rock pool wonderland teems with thousands of fish in a kaleidoscope of colours. The giant clams are impressive too.

Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
4. Dive right on in
There are hundreds of dive sites around New Caledonia, which accounts for why it has been voted one of the best diving spots in the world. Popular options include the reefs in Dumbéa Pass, the giant underwater stalagmite called the Needle of Prony, and the Rift of Bayes around the Isle of Pines.

Diving in New Caledonia

Diving in New Caledonia
5. Enjoy the local cuisine
Thanks to the culinary influence of France, which claimed the islands in 1853, there are plenty of opportunities to secure a good baguette or a glass of Bordeaux. If you want to be a bit more adventurous though then track down the traditional Melanesian dish called Bougna, a combination of chicken and fish with bananas, yams, sweet potatoes and coconut milk all wrapped in banana leaves. It’s then steamed in an earth oven heated by piping hot stones.

French foods on Noumea, New Caledonia

French foods on Noumea, New Caledonia
6. Set up tent at Parc Provincial de la Rivière Bleue
Ditch that sun lounger, say goodbye to the burger bars and get back to basics at the Blue River National Park, located two hours by car from Noumea. Look out for the endemic Kagu bird while you’re at it. Nice picnic spots and good hiking trails make it a good option for a day trip too.

Crested gecko, New caledonia

Crested gecko, New caledonia
7. Fall in love with the Heart of Voh
It hardly seems believable that a beautiful tropical swamp in the middle of a mangrove forest could be shaped like a love heart, but it is. You can find this romantic feature on the west coast of the main island, but the only real way to see it is by helicopter. Your pilot will point out dugongs and giant manta rays in the sea below too.

Mangrove swamps, New Caledonia.

Mangrove swamps, New Caledonia.
8. Make things ship shape
Whilst the islands of New Caledonia might be relatively small, the coastline stretches for 2,254 km, and that makes for a lot of exploring. You can join a group or head out on a private charter, but either way bring your snorkelling gear and plenty of sun block.

Sailing, New Caledonia.

Sailing, New Caledonia.
9. Relax! Take the Tchou Tchou Train
This little yellow train with wheels might look like a tourist trap, but there’s no better way to explore Noumea on a hot day – and most days are pretty sticky around here. You explore the town itself and head up to the hills for some photo stops, with some good historical commentary along the way.

Noumea, New Caledonia

Noumea, New Caledonia
10. Just do nothing!
The best thing about this part of the world is that you get to live on “island time”. And that means doing things leisurely. And the best way to laze around? Just head to one of the countless white sand beaches with a book and your swimmers. Bring it on!

Beach in New Caledonia.

Beach in New Caledonia.

Top Things to do in – Whitsundays and surrounds

1. Whitehaven Beach

Location: Whitsunday Island, Whitsundays

The Great Barrier Reef is always going to be a major highlight for those visiting the Whitsundays, however, given that it can also be explored and enjoyed from such other destinations as Cairns, Port Douglas or Townsville, it’s not necessarily an attraction that can’t be experienced anywhere else.

Thus, position #1 on this list goes to the Whitsundays’ most unique and visually impressive calling card that’s distinct from any other accessible spot in Australia – Whitsunday Island’s spectacular Whitehaven Beach.

Considered by many to be the most beautiful beach in the country, Whitehaven is a staple of brochures, posters, and other marketing materials used to promote Aussie natural beauty all over the world, and with good cause – at first glance upon coming into view of Whitehaven Beach, it’s easy to think it was something put together in a studio for a magazine shoot; it’s simply that perfect.

This is not just some tiny little-isolated cove that happens to be ideal either; Whitehaven Beach stretches out over 7 kilometres along Whitsunday Island, meaning that even when travelling during peak times it will rarely be crowded enough to ruin the atmosphere.

The myriad of small coves, lagoons and inlets that dot its surrounds only serve to add to the mystique and exploration options, with low tide widely considered the best time for overall sightseeing experiences.

You’ll often see in brochures for Whitehaven Beach that special care is taken to mention its “white silica sand”, which is all well and good, but to someone who has never visited, what does this actually mean?

Silica is a substance that’s contained in a very high-purity form of sand, with extremely fine grains that simultaneously make it soft to the touch and also prevent it from getting too hot underfoot.

Whitehaven Beach stretches out over 7 kilometres along Whitsunday Island, meaning that even when travelling during peak times it will rarely be crowded enough to ruin the atmosphere.
Coupled with the bleaching effect of the sun, the sand is an almost pure-white colour that forms a wonderful and striking contrast to the vivid blue of the waters that lap at the beach and contributes to the sheer magic of Whitehaven.

As the country’s most photographed beach, it’s also no surprise that Whitehaven Beach is thus the target destination of numerous tour and cruise operators – some of which are mentioned previously on this list – who aim to bring eager guests to catch a glimpse of its offerings.

The majority of these depart from the relatively-close-by Airlie Beach, and to get the most out of your trip it’s a solid idea to book one of the full-day tours – you’ll likely want to spend several hours here, whether it’s to take a walk, play some beach volleyball, or simply laze in the sun amongst these unmatched sea-and-sand surroundings.

The hike to the lookout point on Hill Inlet is well worth doing, and offers perhaps the best possible spot for getting some incredible photos of the beach and its surrounds, so be sure to allot enough time on your itinerary to do this.

Also, bringing along your own supplies is essential unless you have them included as part of a tour – there’s no commercialisation or shops here, and thus no food or drink to purchase.

With issues such as climate change and overuse possible factors in the deterioration of Whitehaven Beach’s perfection in the future, it’s highly recommended to pay a visit as soon as you possibly can – Australia’s most beautiful beach has certainly earned its reputation, but exactly how long it will last for remains to be seen.

With a comprehensive itinerary that includes the lookouts of Kata Tjuta, the base of Uluru, cave paintings, salt flats and a visit to the Cultural Centre, this is an exhaustive itinerary all full of local character conducted by people who know their stuff – and it’s for this combination of reasons why this comes as our top recommended thing to do in Alice Springs.

2. Outer Barrier Reef

Location: Maritime Terminal, Port of Airlie, Airlie Beach

While all of the islands of the Whitsundays are spectacular in their own way, the region wouldn’t be what it is without all the watery goodness that makes it possible.

As one of Australia’s true worldwide phenomena and one of Earth’s true “natural wonders”, the Great Barrier Reef is – along with #1 on this list below – one of the two core reasons that most people choose to visit the Whitsundays in the first place.

Fringing reefs around islands are all well and good and offer convenience in their own way, however in order to experience the reef at its most pure and unadulterated form a trip to its outer reaches is necessary.

As the largest and most experienced cruise operator in the Whitsundays region, Cruise Whitsundays provide a proven and comfortable method for getting there, with a pair of reef pontoons moored at Hardy (ReefWorld) and Knuckle Reefs operating as floating “activity platforms”.

These pontoons serve as fully-fledged bases of operation with the luxury of being surrounded by pure reef – it’s an interesting contrast of environments as all the conveniences you’ll need such as seating, tables, shade and showers are here coexisting right alongside a true natural showcase, but it’s both convenient and it works.

Once you’ve arrived, the range of things to see and do here is amazing regardless of if you’re a non-swimmer or a more seasoned snorkeller.

As a starting point, the pontoons come equipped with underwater viewing chambers that make for a great taste of things to come and the ability to stare directly into the life-filled waters (it’s even possible to dine here – likely to be a place for a meal unlike you’ve ever had before).

The next logical step is then the semi-submersible rides that take you out into the water and are ideal for those who aren’t confident in the water, and also great for kids – who will literally be able to “find Nemo” here as the waters are renowned for their populations of Clownfish.

As one of Australia’s true worldwide phenomena and one of Earth’s true “natural wonders”, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the core reasons that most people choose to visit the Whitsundays in the first place.
Those looking to actually hit the water will be able to take part in some of the best snorkelling that the accessible parts of the Great Barrier Reef have to offer, and the setups here off the pontoon are great for those who aren’t expert swimmers – the snorkelling section utilises a rope system providing hand-holds in the water and floating rest stops that prevent you from needing to permanently swim or tread water.

There is a section of the snorkelling area at the pontoon’s rear where the staff do the fish feeding, which allows for some amazing viewing as hundreds of fish flock to get a bite to eat.

Thousands of colourful fish of all sizes can be seen nestled amongst the coral here, and given that the majority of them tend to congregate near the surface, you won’t need to go scuba diving to get a varied and impressive dose of marine life – reef favourites such as angelfish, surgeonfish, starfish and much more are all staples here.

Cruises out to the reef platforms are conducted via large reef catamarans that make for an optimal balance of size/space and speed, with the trip out itself being quite spectacular.

Given the length of the journey to the Outer Reef (expect around a 2.5 hour one-way trip from the departure point at Airlie Beach) however, the trip can sometimes be a bumpy ride over open ocean, and seasickness can sometimes be a factor – it’s thus advisable to ensure you bring along anti-seasick pills for the ride.

All equipment such as snorkelling gear, wetsuits and life jackets are provided, while lunches are also included as part of the deal in buffet form consisting of fresh meats and salads, which makes for a good excuse to take a break and recharge for more marine fun in the afternoon.

It’s highly recommended to bring along an underwater camera – they are available for increasingly cheap prices nowadays, particularly if you purchase a disposable one – to grab some snapshots while you’re snorkelling.

In all, while it requires an increased combination of time investment and money over some simple island snorkelling, if you’re looking to get the most out of your reef experience an Outer Reef trip is more than worth it.

3. Scenic Flights

Location: Shute Harbour Rd, Airlie Beach

Gaining a full level of appreciation for the many colours, shapes and sheer scale of the Great Barrier Reef and its islands is not easy to do in the course of a single holiday, however when viewed from a few hundred metres above the ground this incredible panorama takes on a whole new life.

It’s here that local operator Air Whitsundays come in, providing some truly epic adventures above some of the most recognisable and iconic parts of the region – many of the best shots you’ve likely seen in promotional material showing off the Whitsundays’ beauty have been captured on flights just like these.

The amazing juxtaposition of greens and blues on display from high above is truly incredible and depending on your choice of flights you’ll be able to gain a look at some famous white beaches as well.

Having been in operation for over 40 years, Air Whitsunday has a fleet of light aircraft that takes lucky travellers on an intimate journey to view some spots that are inaccessible by boat and also have the added benefit of getting guests further out on the reef at a faster pace than water-borne vessels.

Picture-perfect spots such as the oft-romanticised Heart Reef, luxurious Hayman Island, and incredible Whitehaven Beach are obvious highlights, while the angle granted by being airborne provides an awe-inspiring spectacle that you’ll almost certainly want to capture via a proper camera; smartphones simply don’t do the view justice.

The combination of coral cays, marine life, fringing reefs and much more will be something you’ll want to look back on in years to come!

Picture-perfect spots such as the oft-romanticised Heart Reef, luxurious Hayman Island, and incredible Whitehaven Beach are obvious highlights, while the angle granted by being airborne provides an awe-inspiring spectacle.
Pilots here have a vast degree of knowledge and experience to pull from and are familiar not only with all the natural highlights but also providing flight paths that provide customers with the best possible view of each.

During the tours, you’ll have the option to perform water landings and then transfer onto glass-bottom boat vessels for a firsthand look directly into the water, as well as go snorkelling (typically at Hardy Reef) which makes for a great air-and-water combined experience.

In addition, the Whitehaven Beach itinerary is one of the best ways to experience this stunning stretch of sand, as you’ll be taken to a secluded area of the beach away from more crowded sections, which in turn offers a quieter atmosphere that makes one of the most beautiful parts of Australia even more special.

Throw in the ability to land in the water which helps separate the experience from other scenic flight options, and it’s something that’s hard to match.

Tours with Air Whitsunday depart from a terminal on Shute Harbour Road around 10 minutes drive out of the centre of Airlie Beach, while private charters are also available that allow for more personalised itineraries – and, incidentally, one of the most memorable spots for a marriage proposal in the country (hint, hint guys).

While scenic flights can be pricey, if you’re only going to be making the trip to the Whitsundays once, it’s well worth biting the bullet and paying for an experience that many often cite as the most unforgettable part of their trip to the region.

4. Ocean Rafting

Location:Oceanview Ave, Airlie Beach

Looking for a speedy, and efficient water-borne way to do a tour of the Whitsundays’ highlights for groups that manages to simultaneously be scenic and exhilarating? A high-speed trip out on the water with Ocean Rafting should do the trick.

Featuring inflatable vessels that put a focus on fun and pack a powerful punch to boot, their lightweight construction couples with a 450hp engine to make for a thrilling way to zip through these pristine waters.

The tours here aim to emphasise some of the less-commercialised aspects of the Whitsundays, with a detailed look at some of its uninhabited areas that are teeming with local wildlife both on land and in the water.

The speed of the ocean rafts means that within the allotted tour time you’ll cover a fairly substantial chunk of the Whitsundays as they wind their way in and out of the various bodies of water.

Where you’ll go on the journey depends on which itinerary select – guests are given a choice of two different tours, one which focuses on the water and the other which allocates more time to the beach.

Both tours pay a visit to spectacular Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island, and as the only tour with access to Hill Inlet beach, it’s a trip that ensures the only crowds you face will be the maximum 25-person numbers of your fellow tour travellers.

After landing on the beach you’ll have plenty of time to feel the iconic silica sand on your feet and take a walk up to the top of Hill Inlet Lookout for one of the Whitsundays most spectacular vantage points.

After landing on the beach you’ll have plenty of time to feel the iconic silica sand on your feet and take a walk up to the top of Hill Inlet Lookout for one of the Whitsundays most spectacular vantage points.
If you’re looking to spend more time on the beach itself, the “Southern Lights” itinerary is the one for you – however if the aquatic activity is your primary focus, the “Northern Exposure” option provides more time for snorkelling, with two separate stops for snorkelling.

The first of these snorkel stops tend to have a larger quantity of fish – albeit with less variety – while the second has fewer, larger fish with sea turtles that can often be encountered as well.

Regardless of if you’re primarily looking to get up close with the fish or lounge on the beach, both itineraries will have you amongst a stunning backdrop.

Staff here are friendly, funny and enthusiastic, and unlike with many other tours that don’t offer a choice, guests are welcome to bring along their own food and drink for some additional savings – although a quality lunch is available for a reasonable $15 addon.

There are few tour options available in the Whitsundays in which the journey itself is one of the main parts of the adventure rather than just the destination, but the jet-boat-esque rush within this wonderful area is just that.

Add it to the joys of snorkelling or beach exploration and it’s a double-dose of sightseeing pleasure.

5. Daydream Island Resort

Location: 5km off QLD mainland, Whitsundays

Part island, part relaxation oasis, Daydream Island is another offering of the Whitsundays that is both easily accessible and a wonderful spot to de-stress.

A relatively tiny island at only 1km long, the island is covered by the Daydream Island Resort and Spa complex which offers a place more focused on relaxation and rejuvenation while still providing access to all the “mod cons” that can help make life easier.

The island is thus another solid choice for families, featuring a nice cross-section of activities, dining options and natural scenery as well as a couple of little quirks and attractions that help it stand out from some of its other island brothers.

As with Long Island mentioned above, Daydream Island lies very close to the mainland, and as such it’s only a roughly 30-minute boat ride away, scoring points for accessibility while providing more modern conveniences than the less developed Long Island.

Boasting three individual beaches, one of which – Lover’s Cove – is fringed with living coral reef, the island offers enough to support the typically-expected Whitsundays sand-and-snorkel environment, while its rainforest walk offers a pleasant way to explore the greenery of the island.

This roughly 20-minute track spans the length of the island and offers some extremely pretty outlooks, with a guided interpretive option available to provide further background on the environment.

Other standouts that help differentiate Daydream Island from its peers include its open-air cinema – a wonderful outdoor viewing experience, particularly in the warmer months, excellent pool areas that are ideal both for cooling off and giving the kids the chance to enjoy the water, and lots of other paid activities to take part in all available from one centrally situated location.

The undeniable star of the show on Daydream Island, however, is its excellent “Living Reef” outdoor aquarium facility that offers a taste of the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef without having to invest too much time or energy in a bigger, full-scale day tour.

The island is a solid choice for families, featuring a nice cross-section of activities, dining options and natural scenery as well as a couple of little quirks and attractions that help it stand out from some of its other island brothers.
This wonderfully designed attraction flows throughout the island and provides guests with the ability to have physical contact with the likes of rays and sharks – an exceedingly rare and highly memorable experience.

There’s also plenty of room to laze away the day, with ample sun lounges usable either poolside, on the lawns or the adjacent beach, while other smaller highlights such as a playground on the north side for the kids and an “Around Australia” themed mini golf course help round out the offerings.

While it’s not as large as Hamilton Island, Daydream has a slightly more intimate feel and is slightly easier to access – if you’re looking for a relaxed alternative that also offers a smattering of activities, it may just be the island of choice for you.
6. Hamilton Island

Location: 16km off QLD mainland, Whitsundays

The flagship and most famous island in the Whitsundays, Hamilton is easy to recommend as one of the best all-round offerings in the chain with a diverse array of accommodation and activity choices available for visitors.

It’s also the largest developed, and thus one of the most well-equipped, islands in the Whitsundays in terms of facilities, with plenty of shopping, restaurants and even its own commercial airport.

As such, if you’re the type of traveller looking for a “resort style” location for your trip that offers plenty of chances for pampering, dining and activities and don’t mind sharing all these benefits with other people, then Hamilton Island ticks all the boxes – and then some.

While it’s seen increasing development over the years, Hamilton Island is still largely untouched by human hands, with only 33% of the island having been commercialised.

It’s thus one of the most interesting examples of ultra-modern architectural development in Australia, as the luxurious man-made constructions still manage to strike a solid balance with the island’s natural beauty.

As such, it’s a place that boasts plenty of facilities aimed at high-end recreation – Hamilton has a world-class golf club, an architecturally-interesting Yacht Club, and a range of luxurious resorts for those looking to splash out on their accommodation.

It’s also a lively and event-filled spot that has all the benefits of modern convenience, and as such it is perhaps the best choice of islands in the Whitsundays for those travelling as a family.

It’s one of the most interesting examples of ultra-modern architectural development in Australia, as the luxurious man-made constructions still manage to strike a solid balance with the island’s natural beauty.
Aside from the aforementioned WILD LIFE Hamilton Island, there are two main pools available for public use so that children can enjoy the water that are both right on the beach and thus easy to access, mini-golf set amongst a maze of plants and palms, a purpose-built go-kart track, kids quad bikes and much more.

Adults, meanwhile will be spoiled for choice in terms of on-island activities and will largely depend on which side of the island you’re staying on – one contains the majority of the resorts and thus tends to be quieter and more laid-back, while the other serves as the hub for most of the shopping and restaurants.

Indulge in some pampering at a day spa, take a bushwalk through the winding tracks to sandy coves or lookout points, play golf or tennis – the choices are nearly endless.

Given Hamilton Island’s expansive size, getting from one side to the other can take a fair amount of effort, and thus hiring a golf buggy to zip around the island can be a life-saver; fortunately, many of the accommodation options on offer include this as part of their packages.

Looking to the water, meanwhile, and Hamilton doesn’t disappoint either – the fringing reef that surrounds the island is one of its main drawcards for some light snorkelling, with plentiful colourful fish that are unusually tame and have become used to interacting with humans.

Kayaks and jet skis are also available for hire for those looking to explore the water further. If you’re looking for a full-blown Great Barrier Reef experience you’ll have to be prepared to invest a significant amount of time, as popular spots such as the Reef World pontoon involve a longer journey of around 2 hours each way, while trips to iconic Whitehaven Beach (mentioned elsewhere on this list) are also a viable choice.

If you’re after options and diversity when visiting the Whitsundays, then few other places can compare to basing yourself on Hamilton Island – it’s got a smorgasbord of ways to spend your time.

7. Whitsunday Sailing Adventures

Location: Shute Harbour Road, Airlie Beach

On the opposite end of the water-exploration spectrum, kicking back and enjoying the atmosphere of a sailing boat is one of the more luxurious or adventurous ways to take in the spectacular Whitsundays environment – one that Whitsunday Sailing Adventures provide to the fullest.

Featuring a cavalcade of itineraries, vessel types and sizes and budget ranges, if you’re looking to indulge with a high-end yet laid-back cruise experience that can span anywhere from half a day to a one-week epic, they’ve got an itinerary on offer to suit.

A number of different islands and island environments are also available, allowing for a degree of customisation that helps ensure that any adventure you choose to make can be truly your own.

Not exactly sure where you want to go? They’ll be able to advice the best itinerary whether your priority is snorkelling, diving, romance or something in-between.

Depending on your choice of tour plan, you’ll have the chance to visit all the major highlights of the region, as well as take part in a range of activities that use the boat as a launching pad from which to enjoy them.

Depending on your choice of tour plan, you’ll have the chance to visit all the major highlights of the region, as well as take part in a range of activities that use the boat as a launching pad from which to enjoy them.
The likes of kayaking through mangrove-laden “water-forests”, diving amongst pristine corals and doing some top-notch snorkelling – the crews of this long-running company are familiar with all the best snorkel sites and the most efficient ways to get to them – are supplemented by the inherent beauty of the region as a whole.

These are relaxed trips that are a far cry from the “party boat” style atmosphere available on different tours, so if you’re looking for that type of cruise you may want to look elsewhere.

It’s the multi-day trips that truly shine here, as staying on board a vessel you get to witness all the aspects of the Whitsundays from dawn until dusk, and the effect of both the rising and setting sun casting its glow across such a stunning island environment is one that’s bound to be remembered.

All the necessary supplies for a multi-day liveaboard trip are included on their itineraries, and as such guests only need to take long the minimum amount of equipment – a change of clothes, sunscreen and a towel (and seasickness pills if you’re of a weaker stomach) and you’ll be set, as everything else is provided – with cooking done on board.

While it’s difficult to go into detail on all the available trip options in this space, the friendliness, care and experience of the crew coupled with the sheer amount of choice in itineraries makes this the ideal choice for commemorating a special occasion in the Whitsundays.

8. Whitsunday Jet Ski Tours

Location: Abel Point Marina, Airlie Beach

Those wanting a more upbeat and hands-on approach to their Whitsundays cruise / tours experience can kick things up a notch by heading out on the open water with local operator Whitsunday Jetski Tours, who specialise in catering for the more adventurous traveller.

Featuring a pair of tour itineraries that head at high-speed to different parts of the Whitsundays, it’s an exciting and fun way to explore some of the amazing coastal and island highlights while taking control of your own vehicle.

In many ways, this provides the best of both worlds – you get all the sightseeing of your standard cruise tour, but also a dose of adrenaline and physicality, ticking two boxes at once for a single one-off price.

There’s something about the feeling of freedom that exploring blue, open sees that’s purely exhilarating, and the skis are designed to deal with bumpier conditions, which ensure that the experience can still be fun even when it’s choppy on the water.

There’s something about the feeling of freedom that exploring blue, open sees that’s purely exhilarating, and the skis are designed to deal with bumpier conditions, which ensure that the experience can still be fun even when it’s choppy on the water.
The Whitsunday Jetski Tours team is friendly, fun and energetic, yet still patient enough to deal with nervous or inexperienced riders who may not be too confident in the water, or should they fall of their ski – safety is taken seriously here, and guests are given a full safety briefing as well as quality life jackets before heading out.

Your choice of their available jet ski tours will vary based on two factors – how adventurous your temperament is and how long you’re looking to spend on the water. The morning Airlie tour is slightly more laid-back and showcases the best of Airlie Beach and its neighbouring Pioneer Bay, a particularly marine-life-rich stretch of water that’s nicknamed the “Turtle Tour” due to the large number of sea turtles which can be found in the water.

It’s not uncommon to spot anywhere between 10 and 20 sea turtles on each trip! The afternoon “Daydream Extreme” itinerary, meanwhile is more adventurous, lasting for 4 hours and heading out to more open waters for a visit to a deserted offshore island before ending up at Daydream island for lunch and use of the facilities at Daydream Island Resort.

Throw in a bunch of thoughtful extras included such as bottled water (a necessity to wash out the salt taste you’ll no doubt end up with), courtesy photos taken for you during the tour that provide a great way to commemorate the experience, and return accommodation pickups/drop offs and you’ve got a comprehensive and fast-paced way to see some great Whitsundays highlights in a fun, lighthearted and more daring manner than your average relaxed cruise itinerary.

9. Long Isand

Location: 1km off QLD mainland, Whitsundays

As many visitors to the Whitsundays will likely choose to base their adventures out of accommodation on the mainland in order to cut down on the costs often associated with island-based stays, shore-based town Airlie Beach is the spot of choice for many given it serves as an easy springboard to the nearby islands.

By the same token, the Whitsundays’ Long Island is thus one of the first and easiest to recommend ports of call for those who may not have a ton of time allocated for their holiday.

As the island situated closest to the mainland, Long Island offers a blend of scenery and convenience that makes enjoying its beauty a breeze – deriving its name from its unusually thin and narrow shape, the island can be easily reached via one of its regularly scheduled ferry services.

The trip over from the mainland’s Shute Harbour to Long Island takes roughly a mere 20 minutes, and upon arrival you’ll be presented with a pretty, National-Park laden piece of island paradise that offers plenty of opportunities for exploration both on and off-shore.

It’s an island that’s far more ideal for those looking for a “relaxed getaway”, however – a tranquil atmosphere and a typically smaller number of guests to some of the more robust islands make it the perfect choice to chill out and take things at your own pace.

The trip over from the mainland’s Shute Harbour to Long Island takes roughly a mere 20 minutes, and upon arrival you’ll be presented with a pretty, National-Park laden piece of island paradise that offers plenty of opportunities for exploration both on and off-shore.
Long Island features around 13 kilometres of bushwalking track to explore, and during the leisurely stroll native wildlife such as kangaroos and goannas can be encountered on the way to some great little secluded spots – including a lovely little beach – that epitomise the word “natural escape”.

Most of the activities on Long Island are limited to those on and around the island – if you’re looking to truly experience the aquatic life of the Great Barrier Reef in its fullest, you can book a day tour that will take you further out into the heart of the reef – however snorkelling offshore is very viable, with a lovely little fringing reef located just 150 metres from the shoreline.

If you’re looking to kick things up a notch activity-wise, the island’s Breakfree Long Island Resort offers the ability to take part in the likes of jet ski hire, parasailing and even sailing upon booking.

Given the escapist purpose of the island, however, most people here will be simply looking to unwind and unplug from the world – bring your own food and / or alcohol over to the island and take advantage of the barbecue facilities, relax and read a book under the shade of a palm tree, or simply plug in your headphones and relax in the sun – that’s what a trip to Long Island is all about.

If you’re looking to take children, Long Island offers a limited number of facilities to keep them occupied – there’s a mini golf course, the chance to feed kangaroos, and a small kids club, however it’s an island that’s mostly suited towards adults wanting to unwind.

Ferries to Long Island from the mainland depart roughly every 2-3 hours throughout the day, while one-day tour packages that include return transfer and which allow full use of resort facilities are also available, making it a top spot for those who are short on time.

10. WILD LIFE Hamilton Island

Location: 1 Resort Drive, Hamilton Island

The Whitsundays isn’t all just about hitting the reef particularly for those who are planning to make the trip with kids along for the ride.

It’s only fitting that Hamilton Island, which is widely considered one of the most family-friendly islands in the Whitsundays, is home to a popular wildlife attraction, WILD LIFE Hamilton Island.

This attraction provides families with the chance to get up close and interact with all of the most popular Aussie animals with on a smaller scale.

While it is relatively small, all the major species of animals live here. You’ll find wombats, kangaroos, crocodiles and other domestic staples, while the ability to hold and cuddle a koala that is always a hit with the kids.

Meanwhile, twice-daily park keeper tours are available that provide further insight into some of the creatures on display. The morning session (10am) showcases marsupials such as wombats, kangaroos and koalas, and including crocodile feeds during the warmer months, lizards and more.

Informative, knowledgeable and friendly staff make these mini-tours pleasant and enjoyable for kids and adults alike. Given that these are two of the major highlights of visiting the park, it’s thus advisable to try and time your visit to coincide with a keeper talk.

You’ll find wombats, kangaroos, crocodiles and other domestic staples, while the ability to hold and cuddle a koala that is always a hit with the kids.
Plus, the entry pass you purchase allows you re-entry for the entirety of your stay on Hamilton Island, so it’s possible to attend the morning session, head out to grab some lunch, and then return for the afternoon talk later on in the day.

This opportunity for repeat visits helps add to the value of park entry (children will no doubt want to go back at least once more during your stay) – plus, if you’re a holder of an annual Merlin Pass (one that provides access to many of their attractions around the country), you’ll be able to enter for free.

Other optional additions can add a different aspect to the experience here and make for something that is fairly unique – their “Breakfast with the Koalas” offering provides a buffet of warm and cold foods such as bacon and eggs, pancakes, cereals and fruit whilst surrounded by koalas, which is a nice touch and worth the investment considering the uniqueness of the experience.

A Nocturnal Tour is also available in the evenings, featuring an Aussie style BBQ with food items such as salads, potatoes and of course plenty of meat.

Once guests have finished their meal they will have the opportunity to head out on one of our exclusive night tours of the park that only our Nocturnal tour guests get to experience. Many of the animals are nocturnal, which means they are very active once the sun goes down making it one of the best times of the day to see them.

In all, WILD LIFE Hamilton Island is a nice little gem on Hamilton Island that’s kept in fantastic condition and is staffed by passionate people who truly care about the animals – what it lacks in size it makes up for in quality, and if you’re planning to use Hamilton as your island of choice and have little ones with you, this is likely to be one of the kids’ highlights of your trip.

For the cheapest flights and hotels, book your trip through Aussie Bookings.

10 things to do in the Snowy Mountains as a family

When most people think of the Snowy Mountains they’re either planning a skiing trip or to take in Thredbo’s Christmas in July for the opportunity to make their “White Christmas” dreams come true.

But the Snowies can be a fantastic destination all year round and a great option for your next family holiday or weekend getaway.

We loved experiencing all that Kosciuszko National Park has to offer and we recommend spending at least a week to appreciate this region fully. Here are our suggestions on the things you should see and do in the Snowy Mountains.

1. Skiing and Snowboarding

Perisher Ski Village

Perisher Ski Village

We can’t wait to hit the slopes during a winter visit, the Snowy Mountains offers great trails whether you’re a family of beginners (like us) or for the experts or somewhere in the middle.

Our family is all about creating fun-filled memories and we love to ski, snowboard, toboggan, and have fun building our own snowmen. We asked our expert friends for skiing tips, and if it’s your first time at the snow use these handy tips for starting skiing with children:

1. Invest in at least one professional ski or snowboard lesson. These people are trained and have the patience to get your kids skiing correctly.

2. Don’t push your kids beyond their comfort level. They may not want to ride the lift – don’t force them.

3. Don’t try to ski all day. They’ll become exhausted and tired and you’ll lose patience and this is when accidents happen. Take a break after lunch and go on a toboggan.

4. If you’ve got older kids, spend some time skiing separately then come together for part of the day. That way you all get to challenge yourselves and spend some time together as family.

When thinking about a ski resort we’d consider whether it has a good kids program, variety of lodging, variety of restaurant choices and close proximity of lodging to ski field?

For the best ski resorts with kids in the Snowies, here are your options:

• Thredbo – offers a great range of outdoor snow activities for families, plus an indoor 50m heated pool with waterslide.
• Perisher Blue – one of Australia’s largest family friendly resorts. It offers a wide variety of skiing runs, night skiiing and snow tube park.
• Charlotte Pass – one of NSW’s smaller ski resorts, they have a beginners’ area with snow tube park and children’s activities during the day and evening.
• Selwyn Snowfields – well known as a family favourite with exceptionally low prices.

2. Mountain Biking

Mountain biking

Mountain biking

Once the snow has melted, Thredbo’s ski runs transform into great trails for mountain biking. You can bring your own bike like we did or hire everything you need in Thredbo, and you don’t have to be a pro to take on the mountain – there’s trails for all levels of experience and our six year old was well catered for.

If you have hardcore experts in the family let them take the can take the Kosciuszko Express chairlift to the top and ride the Cannonball Downhill trail, or for the beginners there are easy valley trails like the Pipeline Trail or Thredbo Valley trackThredbo Mountain Bike season runs roughly from November through to April.

3. Horse riding

Horse riding

Horse riding

Want to live out your “Man from Snowy River” dreams and horse ride in Australia’s historic high country? In the Snowies you can take guided trail rides from one hour up to a whole day, with some operators even offering pony rides for the kids – our six year old enjoyed being lead around the paddock. There’s possibly no more relaxing way to explore and enjoy the gentle rolling hills and fresh alpine air of the Snowy Mountains than on horseback.

4. Bobsledding

Now this was a tonne of FUN even our two year old was able to enjoy. The Thredbo Bobsled is sure to bring a smile to you and your kids faces with 700 metres of luge style track, you twist and turn your way down the mountain whilst keeping control of the speed with the brake on your cart. Be prepared to line up again and again. To ride the bobsled on your own you must be 9 years of age or older and over 130cms tall. For kids under 9 you double up with either mum or dad.

5. Yarrangobilly Caves

 

Yarrangobilly Caves

Yarrangobilly Caves

Yarrangobilly is in the northern part of Mt Kosciuszko National Park and is well worth exploring. We highly recommend staying a night or more at the Yarrangobilly Caves House and exploring the surrounding area.

Do the self-guided Glory Hole Cave and the Jersey Cave, both of which contain ‘actively growing’ structures due to the presence of trickling water. The Glory Hole is ice age looking with small corridors that open up to vast caverns, whilst the Jersey is an explosion of reds, oranges and pinks and intricately designed stalagmites and stalactites.

At a 27 degree temperature year round, the nearby thermal pools are the perfect place for a refreshing swim during the summer or winter months in a beautiful setting by the river and the perfect place to have a picnic in summer.

The Yarrangobilly River Walk is an easy 3km loop road starting from Caves House. Look for platypus in the river as you can sometimes spot these shy creatures, and this walk will take you to the Glory Hole Cave which spits you out back near Caves House.

6. The Long Plain Drive

Brumbies on Long Plain Drive

Brumbies on Long Plain Drive

The Long Plain Drive, open after the October Labour Day for the warmer months, is a very unique Australian drive. The plains stretch for miles and along the way you can see mobs of wild brumbies, many with foals, and it feels like you’re driving through the American prairies.

Make a stop at the small babbling brook, which is actually the beginnings of the Murrumbidgee River, Australia’s 3rd biggest, then drive through small pockets of mountain ash and smoky gum forests and visit the old homesteads, the most impressive being Coolamine Homestead which offers a glimpse into isolated ranch life of the early 1900’s.

The Clarke Gorge Walk is not much further on from Coolamine Homestead, and is a 2.5 km return walk through a narrow gorge cut by Cave Creek. Spectacular limestone cliffs and cave formations on either side lead you to Cave Creek Falls.

7. The Alpine Way Drive

Alpine Way Drive

Alpine Way Drive

From Yarrangobilly, take the Snowy Mountains Highway to the Kiandra – Khancoban links road, and drive through breathtaking mountain forests. You can see remainders of Kosciuszko’s gold-seeking past, as well as dams used in the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme.

We stopped at Khancoban for lunch before taking a couple of hours to enjoy the Alpine Way Drive, a spectacular drive that takes you through tall mountain forests and past snow capped peaks all the way to Jindabyne. It was the first time we saw snow in Australia and were totes excited!

8. Climb Mt Kosciuszko

Climbing Mt Kosciousko

Climbing Mt Kosciuszko

If the weather is in your favour and your kids are old enough and experienced hikers, a climb to the top of Australia is achievable. Take the Kosciuszko Express Chair Lift to Eagles Nest and follow the boardwalk to the rounded peak. It’s a 13km return.

Alternatively, with young kids like ours you can walk the 4km return to The Lookout. This was as far as we got as the conditions were unfavourable with strong winds and low temperatures. Colourful wild flowers carpet the area during the summer time, making it that extra bit special.

Stop off at the Eagles Nest Restaurant (Australia’s highest restaurant) on the way back down and treat your kids to a gourmet hot chocolate before taking the chair lift back down.

9. Visit Lake Jindabyne

Lake Jindabyne

Lake Jindabyne

We spent a day exploring Jindabyne, which is actually a stunningly gorgeous town by the lake, especially on the bike trail which offers beautiful views as you head north on the Kosciuszko Rd. The area also offers water activities such as kayaking or a more relaxing pace such as fishing for trout. We also recommend the Little Thredbo walk that starts at Lake Crackenback. For a longer walk combine it with the Bullocks Track walk to Thredbo Diggings. It snowed while we were on this walk – such an exciting moment to share with our kids.

For those heading to the Snowy Mountains snowfields Jindabyne can be a great place to stock up on all your skiing and snowboarding essentials, and for a very useful introduction to the Snowies drop into the Snowy Region Visitor Centre.

10.Wild Brumby Distillery

Wild Brumby Distillery

Enjoy a warm beverage at Wild Brumby Distillery

Why not toast to the wild brumby you just saw on the long plain drive at the fabulous Wild Brumby Distillery owned by an Austrian couple. The meal we had here was amazing – hearty mountain food – and included the best hot chocolate I think we and the kids have ever had. And for mum and dad you can top yours with some schnapps – peppermint or butterscotch anyone? It’s the perfect accompaniment to alpine living.

You can sit in the cosy interior beside the schnapps still or outside on the sunny deck – your kids will enjoy the interactive sculptures they can climb on and the expansive grounds. Located between Jindabyne and Thredbo and open all year round.

Book your flights and hotels now through Aussiebooking.com

30 Best pubs in South Wales

The South of Wales is full of wonderful pubs.

It could be a bustling city centre boozer, a tiny craft ale pub no bigger than a sitting room or a beautiful country inn.

Of course, what makes a great pub depends on your priorities. It could be good food, great beer, music (or the lack of) and a friendly atmosphere.

What’s certain is that you’ll find all of these things in the pubs below (though not necessarily all in the same pub).

They all have this in common: they are all places you will love having a drink.

There are lots of great Welsh pubs that haven’t made this list – we just couldn’t fit them all on. The ones that did make it below are listed in no particular order.

Now, let’s stop talking… and get drinking.

1. Plough and Harrow, Monknash

This pub has a history going back centuries and was originally a monastic farmhouse. In the winter it’s the perfect place to snuggle up indoors in front of a roaring fire and low beams. And in the summer, sit outside in the sun after a walk through woodland to the nearby beach.

www.facebook.com/ploughandharrowmonknash

2. The Bush Inn, St Hilary

The current inn dates to the 16th century, sporting a thatched roof, thick stone walls, low oak beams, flagstone floors, old pews, a stone spiral staircase, and an inglenook fireplace.

www.bushinn-sthilary.com

3. Blue Anchor Inn, Aberthaw

Hugely popular and one of the best known pubs in the Vale of Glamorgan, The Blue Anchor Inn was established in 1380, making it one of the oldest pubs in Wales. It has been in the same family since 1941.

www.blueanchoraberthaw.com

4. The Boat Inn, Redbrook

(Image: The Boat)
(Image: The Boat)

A beautiful setting where you can sit outside and look down the Wye at the old railway bridge that used to carry steam trains. Inside there’s good food, beers from the local Wye Valley Brewery and music every Thursday.

www.theboatpenallt.co.uk

5. Ye Olde Murenger House, Newport

(Image: Google)

Ye Olde Murenger House is a Grade II listed pub which is famous far beyond Newport. It replaced an earlier pub built on the same site in the early nineteenth century.

www.facebook.com/pages/Ye-Olde-Murenger-House

6. No Sign Wine Bar, Swansea

(Image: No Sign Wine Bar)
No Sign Wine Bar, Swansea

It may look very narrow from the outside, but there are four different bars inside, ranging from olde worlde and Dylan Thomas-themed to cocktails and live music. And there are lots of hidden corners for a cosy drink. It’s a Swansea institution and with good reason.

nosignwinebar.com

7. The Queen’s Head, Chepstow

(Image: Queens Head/Facebook)
(Image: Queens Head/Facebook)

This micropub in Chepstow serves only Welsh real ale, ciders and speciality bottled beers, which change every week. It used to be one of Chepstow’s original coaching inns, before being turned into an office then being turned back into a one-room pub. It’s a tiny place with a bar around eight feet long.

www.facebook.com/queensheadchepstow

8. The Hare and Hounds, Aberthin

(Image: The Hare and Hounds/Facebook)

A cosy, traditional pub on one side and a superb restaurant on the other, though the pub itself says it is “first and foremost, a thriving local watering hole”. It’s also got a spacious beer garden that’s great for families and summer drinking.

hareandhoundsaberthin.com

9. The Park Inn, Mumbles

(Image: The Park Inn/Facebook)

Not much smaller than a lounge, and that’s why it’s good. They have a good range of real ale, a friendly atmosphere and a quiz every Thursday.

www.facebook.com/The-Park-Inn-Mumbles

10. Llanthony Priory Hotel, Llanthony

Among the most remarkable locations for any pub in Wales, this sits directly under the ruins of Llanthony Priory in the magnificent wilds of the Black Mountains. Descend down stone steps to the tiny bar beneath stone-vaulted ceilings.

www.llanthonyprioryhotel.co.uk

11. Hopbunker, Cardiff

(Image: Hopbunker/Facebook)

Hopbunker has a big selection of good beers and it’s just been named one of the best pubs in Wales (and the best in Cardiff) by Camra. Situated underground in what was once music venue Barfly, you could sit down there for hours sampling everything they’ve got to offer.

www.hopbunker.com

12. Cwmdu Inn, Cwmdu

(Image: Alan Richards/Creative Commons)

Cwmdu is a tiny village in Carmarthenshire and the rooms in this pub are tiny to match. The pub is at the centre of the village and is run by the community, with the beers coming from Llandeilo-brewed Evan Evans.

www.cwmdu.org

13. The Skirrid Inn, Llanvihangel Crucorney

Reputed to be the oldest public house in Wales with a history dating back 900 years, the Skirrid Inn has a long and sinister history. It was once reputedly used as a court room where criminals were tried and hanged. The beam reportedly used for the rope is still there.

The most haunted places in Wales: Would you be brave enough to spend a night here alone?

14. Ancient Briton, Penycae

A well-established pub in the Brecon Beacons, it has a beer garden and camping meadows and is popular with hikers, bikers, walkers and cavers.

ancientbriton.co.uk

15. The Pilot, Mumbles

(Image: The Pilot/Twitter)

The Pilot was first licensed in 1849. They’ve always got great beers on, including ones they make themselves (the oyster stout is famous).

www.thepilotofmumbles.co.uk

16. Tiny Rebel, Cardiff

Recently named one of the best pubs in Wales in the National Pub and Bar Awards, Tiny Rebel (formerly Urban Tap House) is a lively pub with loads of good beers behind the bar.

www.tinyrebel.co.uk/bars/cardiff

17. Britannia Inn, Llanmadoc

(Image: Britannia Inn)
(Image: Britannia Inn)

Britannia Inn’s cosiness will draw you in, but outside in the beer garden there are gorgeous views over the Loughor Estuary.

britanniainngower.co.uk

18. The Bear Hotel, Crickhowell

(Image: The Bear Hotel)

A resting and meeting place since 1432, The Bear is a historic and atmospheric coaching inn. The bar has oak beams, wooden floors and open fires.

www.bearhotel.co.uk

19. The Butchers, Llandaff

(Image: The Butchers)
12. Butchers Arms (Llandaff, Cardiff)

A very popular local on a historic Cardiff street, the walls are covered with framed photos of rugby starts who have visited the pub down the years. There’s also a ‘Genealogy of the Earls of Llandaff’ hanging near the entrance. It’s been a pub since 1880. Before then it was, you’ve guessed it, a butcher’s.

www.jlpubsltd.co.uk/thebutchersarms

20. Small Bar, Cardiff

(Image: Small Bar)

It’s not called Small Bar because it’s quite small. It’s actually so named because it wants to “represent small companies focused on making their product the best it possibly can be”. Choosing your beer from the blackboards above the bar is great fun – and the tastes won’t let you down. But if you insist on only drinking from a pint glass, avoid it. They don’t do them.

www.smallbar.co.uk

21. The Gwaelod-y-Garth Inn, Gwaelod-y-Garth

(Image: The Gwaelod-y-Garth Inn)

A bustling traditional and no nonsense pub that’s popular with villagers and walkers (it’s at the bottom of the Garth mountain, as the name suggests). The bar always has a good selection of ales – Wye Valley, for example – and it’s won lots of Camra awards. The food is hearty, no nonsense and well-priced.

www.gwaelodinn.co.uk

22. Ty Coch Inn, Porthdinllaen

Ty Coch Inn Porthdinllaen
(Image: Ian Warburton/Creative Commons)
Ty Coch Inn Porthdinllaen
(Image: Jo Turner/Creative Commons)

Possibly the most photographed pub in Wales – and with this location you can see why. It looks out over the Irish sea from its location on the Llyn peninsula – and above it a golf course perches on the clifftops. Spectacular.

www.tycoch.co.uk

23. The Stackpole Inn, Stackpole

(Image: The Stackpole Inn)

Nestled in the Pembrokeshire countryside, The Stackpole Inn has a cosy bar and restaurant, light maritime-themed accommodation and a beer garden that’s perfect for summer weather. So all bases covered.

www.stackpoleinn.co.uk

24. Noah’s Yard, Swansea

(Image: Noah’s Yard)
Noah's Yard, Swansea
Noah’s Yard, Swansea (Image: Noah’s Yard)

It’s famous for changing its sign every day – but there’s more to it than that. A great little place with a lively, friendly atmosphere that serves everything from good cocktails to the latest local beers. Most recently had on a new IPA by Tomos Watkin, the brewery down the road.

www.facebook.com/NoahsYard

25. The Lansdowne, Cardiff

(Image: The Lansdowne)

The beer selection constantly changes and beers from local breweries like Grey Trees and Pipes are regularly featured on the bar. The food is good too, with the chicken katsu curry always popular.

thelansdownecardiff.co.uk

26. Bunch of Grapes, Pontypridd

The beer from Otley is excellent and they serve up some of the best pub food in Wales.

And at the back of the pub is a piece of Welsh history – the only remaining double-lock system from the Glamorganshire canal. The pub‘s history has always been linked to the canal and a selection of photographs from the era is on display there.

bunchofgrapes.org.uk

27. Cresselly Arms, Kilgetty

In the news recently because the landlord, Colin Evans, was given a horse, the regulars clubbed together to pay a trainer and it ended up as a favourite to win a £54,000 hurdles race at Cheltenham.

The 250-year-old pub sits on the Cleddau estuary so you can sit on the old pier with a pint of ale and watch the tide come in.

www.facebook.com/thecressellyarms

28. The Carne Arms, Llysworney

There’s a big focus on food at this award-winning pub and restaurant in the Vale of Glamorgan, which was built around 1612. The team behind it say they pride themselves on “delivering a great pub experience and a friendly atmosphere along with our highly acclaimed, quality food”.

carnearmsllysworney.co.uk

29. King’s Head Inn, Llangennith

(Image: King’s Head Inn)

It’s just a short journey to the sea from this pub on the Gower. You’ll find up to seven real ales on offer, many produced at The Gower Brewery. The bar also boasts possibly one of the largest collection of malt whiskies outside Scotland, they do good food and you can sit out the front and look across to the oldest church in Gower.

www.kingsheadgower.co.uk

30. The Old Arcade, Cardiff

Old Arcade, Cardiff

This busy Cardiff stalwart rounds off our list. Walk in here at virtually any time on a Saturday and it’ll be busy. And if Wales are playing at the Principality Stadium just a few metres away, it’ll be packed.

Bilgola Beach, Sydney’s hidden gem

Awesome Surf Beach
Bilgola Beach is located on Sydney’s northern beaches in between Newport beach to the south and Avalon Beach to the north. It is approximately 45 minutes from Sydney CBD.

Bilgola Beach

A great surf beach, the area is patrolled by lifeguards and for those who prefer to swim in still waters, you will find a rock pool at the southern end of the beach.

The beach is ideal for swimming and surfing, but not really for snorkelling. Ensure you swim between the flags as the southern end often experiences treacherous rips.

Bilgola Beach

Bilgola Beach

For breakfast, snacks, lunch or dinner, head over to Bumbalino’s Kiosk which overlooks the beach and serves wraps, burgers, great coffee and cakes and during summer a selection of daily specials including pasta and seafood for dinner. It is open from 7am 7 days a week

Bilgola Beach

Bilgola Beach

Each Sunday, Bilgola Surf Life Saving club runs nippers for children 5 years and over, teaching them about surf awareness and safety. As they get older, they are able to participate in board paddling, surfing, swimming, sprinting, wading and fun activities and games.
Bilgola Beach

Bilgola Beach

For adults, the Surf Club runs a number of beach events including beach sprint, beach relay, beach flags and beach run.

As a licensed premises, the Bilgola Surf Club is available for hire for many types of functions including weddings, engagement parties, birthday parties, corporate events, training days and music events. Visit the club’s website for more information and venue hire forms.

The beach has a metered car park or if you are travelling by public transport, there are a number of buses that go by, particularly L90, which stops on Barrentjoey Road, near the end of The Serpentine.

The beach has showers, toilets and water taps, but no shady areas, so bring beach umbrellas and tents to escape from hot summer sun.

The Three Sisters, the Blue Mountains’ most spectacular landmark

The 3 Sisters

The 3 Sisters is that the Blue Mountains’ most spectacular landmark. situated at Echo point Katoomba, around 2.5 kilometres from the nice Western route, this famous traveller attraction is visited by countless individuals annually.
The 3 Sisters is a unique rock formation, depicting 3 sisters from Aboriginal legend who were turned to stone.

The character of the 3 Sisters changes throughout the day and throughout the seasons because the daylight brings out the glorious colours. The 3 Sisters is additionally light till around 11 pm every evening looking stunningly spectacular set against the black background of the night sky.

Each of the 3 Sisters stands at 922, 918 & 906 metres tall.

That’s over 3000 feet higher than sea level

 

The Top 10 Things To Do In Playa Del Carmen

Playa del Carmen, located on the Riviera Maya in Mexico, is a town famed for great nightlife and beautiful beaches, but also one overrun with tourists. Unless you come here only hoping to spend all day sunbathing and all night partying, you can run out of ideas for fun activities fast. Read our guide to the top ten things to do in and around Playa and make the most of this spectacular part of the world.
 

Kite Surfing and Paddle Boarding

Let’s start the list with an activity that’s hugely popular all along the white, sandy beaches of Playa del Carmen – kite surfing. Anyone familiar with this beautiful town will tell you that the coast is always full of kite surfers and paddle boarders, young and old, pros and newbies. Make the most of your holiday by getting some exercise and picking up a new and impressive hobby to brag about back home. Several companies offer kite surfing and paddle boarding classes (or rental for those already familiar with the sport), but remember to check for qualified instructors before signing up for any extreme sport.

Xcaret

One of three eco-adventure, water based activity parks located towards Cancún (the other two are the similarly named Xplor and Xel-há), Xcaret is a great option for all the family and is about an hour away from central Playa del Carmen. Zip-line between trees, float through underwater caves, cross rope bridges, marvel at rock formations, and above all have a great day out. Any of the three are excellent, albeit pricey options, with the park admission (some activities included) costing approximately $90. Having said that, there are numerous tours, packages, and discounts offered year-round.

 Parque Fundadores

Coming back to Playa del Carmen itself, visit Parque Fundadores for a relaxed afternoon out and enjoy the Voladores de Papantla. An ancient ritual still performed today, it involves dance, song, and the climbing of a pole. Four of the five at the top then attach themselves to the pole with rope around their waists before launching themselves off backwards, to elegantly spin towards the ground. The fifth remains atop the pole playing the flute. Parque Fundadores is the perfect place to enjoy an ice cream and watch the ritual take place, located right next to the beach. Don’t forget to donate a few pesos to the park after the performance is over.

Tulum

Tulum is a relaxed, tiny beach town, which is growing in popularity among travelers for its gorgeous shores and great nightlife. Located an hour or so outside Playa del Carmen, take some time to explore the center if you want, but make sure to enjoy the real draw of the town – the crystalline waters and expansive beaches. Renting bikes is advisable and easy, as the beach and center are separated by the Tulum National Park, meaning taxis are often required to ferry you between the two. However, the bikes will also come in handy if you want to snorkel in the Gran Cenote, located further inland, or any one of the other cenotes that dot the peninsula.

 Playacar

If going farther afield for stunning beaches just isn’t your thing, given that you’re surrounded by them in Playa del Carmen itself, look no further than Playacar. Located farther south than the center, it is widely regarded as one of the better beaches in the area, due to the presence of fewer tourists, which allows more square footage per person than you are likely to get on the beaches with more prime central locations. Relax with a book, overlooking the ocean or take a dip in the safe waters of Playacar.

 Akumal

Another quaint town located outside of Playa del Carmen, Akumal is as popular as it is for its population of sea turtles. More specifically, the chance to snorkel with endangered green sea turtles. Putting aside this awesome activity for a second, Akumal itself is a pretty standard Mexican beach town; laidback and quiet. But coming back to the job at hand, the best part about it is that it doesn’t necessitate the use of a tour company. Simply make your way to Akumal, either in a taxi or on the colectivo buses, rent some snorkel gear, and get in the water. Turtles are abundant in this area, but it’s still best to go in down-season to guarantee a sighting.

Cenotes

We’ve already touched upon the overwhelming abundance of cenotes in the Mexican peninsula, mentioning a few to visit in Tulum, but they really deserve a mention of their own. Those preferring snorkelling options should try out the crystal clear waters of the aptly named Cenote Cristalino, which also has a rock overhang from which brave souls can jump into the waters below. Divers may want to check out Cenote Angelita which has a depth of 200 feet, made up of both salt and fresh water for a strange and mystical experience. As previously mentioned, the tourist favorite is the Gran Cenote just outside Tulum, which has viewing platforms and sometimes shallower waters.

 Chichen Itzá

One of the Seven Wonders of the World, and very much worth a visit. Despite its location in the state of Yucatán, almost three hours away from Playa del Carmen, Chichen Itzá is a huge Mayan pyramid that is as jaw-dropping in real life as in photos. However it is worth exploring the surrounding smaller pyramids and ruins, even if they don’t live up to the grandeur of the main attraction. Definitely make it here early (the site opens at 8am every day but queues form earlier, especially on Sundays) and get your snaps before the hordes of visitors crowd the base of the pyramid.

 Valladolid

Valladolid is a sleepy Mexican town close to the border between Yucatán and Quintana Roo, making it the perfect place for a day trip before traveling on to Chichen Itzá the following day. Aside from its proximity to this major tourist attraction, Valladolid has much to offer, including – you guessed it! – more cenotes. It also has a lovely central plaza, which comes alive in the evenings, selling snacks such as marquesitas, which are crispy rolled up crepes with a Nutella and grated cheese filling. Trust us, they are much nicer than they sound, but you can have them minus the cheese if you wish.

Cozumel

Rounding off our list is Cozumel, an island off the coast of Playa del Carmen. You may have seen this isla described as undeveloped, yet it still comes fully equipped with some upmarket hotel resorts and even its own airport, so perhaps take that description with a grain of salt. Easily accessible for a day trip via the ferry, this is a hotspot for divers and snorkelers due to its world-famous reefs. No need to book in advance, simply wander along the dock after arriving and find a tour group that offers snorkeling or diving trips and sign yourself up. Be careful for scammers, though, and always check the details before agreeing to anything.

TOP TIPS FOR THREDBO ON A BUDGET

NJOY IT ON A BUDGET

We all know skiing and boarding can be expensive, right? If you don’t have your own big 4WD, a private chalet and the latest gear it can be a bit daunting. But with a bit of careful planning and maybe just a touch of being a shameless cheapskate, you can get on the white stuff without blowing your budget.

In Australia, high in the Kosciuszko National Park, in the heart of the Snowy Mountains, Thredbo is the place to get alpine this season. It’s got the goods – Thredbo is the oldest ski resort in Australia, celebrating over 50 years and the long runs are great for everyone, from beginners right through to black diamond showoffs.

GETTING THERE

Bussing it down or carpooling with your mates is the first way to save. You can sort out an affordable bus fare with companies like Greyhound and Murrays, and it’s an easy drive from Sydney and Canberra – pack your car snacks and get your petrol well before you reach the mountains while prices are lower to save even more.

TICKETS, PLEASE!

The biggest expense on the mountains is definitely your ski pass, but there are some ways you can save on those too. Skiing in the shoulder season is a gamble with how much snow coverage there’ll be, but if there’s an early or late season dump, you’re laughing! There are four key date ranges within the season, so choose the one that represents the best value for you. Thredbo encourage you to ‘Buy Early & Save’ – if you buy your lift ticket, lessons or gear rental at least seven days in advance you can save up to 20%. Will you be in the village for a few days? If you ride more you can save more, so consider buying a multi day pass, rather than a new pass each day. And the savings extend to kids under 18 too. Thredbo have discounted kids pricing for everyone under the age of 18, as well as the Kids Ski Free promotion – when an adult buys one of the eligible three and five day passes, a child under 18 gets their lift pass free. There are some conditions around this so it’s worth checking the fine print online.

CHEAP EATS AND MOUNTAIN TREATS

There are loads of food options on the mountain to tempt your dollars from your wallet, but plan ahead and you can save money here too. Start your day with a hearty bacon and egg roll and coffee at the bottom of Friday Flat or a pastry from The Bakery in the village. For lunch take a break from the mountain and try Kebabz Café for big, hearty kebabs in a flash, or a salad roll from The Bakery if you’re going healthy. After the ski day is over, your reward should always be a hot donut or three at the bottom of Friday Flat and a beer at the River Inn outdoor terrace. Cheaper dinner options are harder to find, but Alfresco Pizza is always a winner with good pizza at normal prices, including the all important BYO and the lively Thredbo Pub serves up counter meals before you kick on at Schuss Bar and Keller Bar. Spread your food dollar further though by planning a few self-catered meals using the YHA kitchen. Just make sure to pick up supplies well before you reach the village.

So don’t let a little budget hold you back this season – first tracks are still within reach. If all else fails, there’s always two-minute noodles for the truly hardcore budget powder hounds.

WHERE TO STAY?

Thredbo YHA offers the best value bed with a range of dorms and private rooms. It’s in the heart of the village with beautiful views of the mountain, shouts you free Wifi and has kitchen facilities as well as a large drying room to sort out your gear each night. Book ahead as it’s very popular.