The East Coast of Tasmania is home to the state’s most popular driving route, and it is no wonder why. National parks, hiking trails, secluded beaches, stunning vistas, wine country, and amazing food and produce destinations await you. This is an action packed part of the world to drive in; expect to be enticed to stop and pull over for various reasons quite regularly on this trip. You could easily drive this entire route in one day, but that’s not really the point now is it. We spent a total of 5 nights on the east coast; two nights in Coles Bay, a night in Scamander, and two nights in St Helens near the Bay of Fires. While our pace was very slow, we managed to be able to see everything we wanted to, even though the weather threw some rainy days at us. I would recommend spending two days/ one night doing this route at a minimum, but if you are keen to explore some of the parks and do a bit of hiking, you will likely want to expand that time frame.
This itinerary is presented as a drive from Hobart to the Bay of Fires (we then continued on to Launceston), but you could easily do it in the opposite direction.
Stop 1: Hobart
Hobart, the capitol of Tasmania, is a small city with a lot going on. The food scene is thriving, and the arts and culture scene is unrivaled. Check out my post about 48 hours in Hobart for more ideas and travel inspiration.
Stop 2: Maria Island
Now full disclaimer: We didn’t actually get to go to Maria Island. We were traveling in a very busy season, and despite calling up to book the ferry a couple weeks in advance, all of our possible dates were fully booked. I would highly recommend securing your ferry booking as early as possible if you are traveling in the high season.
I was really disappointed to miss out on Maria Island. The island was a former 19th century penal colony, but now it is a car free nature lovers paradise. The island is famous for it’s camping, hiking, diving, snorkeling, and wildlife spotting opportunities. If you plan to visit, or even stay overnight, make sure you take all your gear and food with you as Maria Island does not have any shops.
Stop 3: Coles Bay/ Freycinet National Park
This is probably Tasmania’s most famous national park (well maybe it’s a tie with Cradle Mountain), and for good reason. Freycinet National Park is home to postcard famous wineglass bay, a perfectly goblet shaped stretch of white sand which is only accessible by a bush walk.
Coles Bay is the township closet to the park, and probably the cheapest place to find a bed. There are hotels and sites actually in the park but these book up quickly and some can be quite pricey. We stayed at a campground in Coles Bay which was walking distance to the beach and the main shops in town, and it suited us perfectly. In fact, some of the best fish and chips I have ever had in my life came from the unassuming take away shop in Coles Bay.
But back to the main attraction. There are a couple of short worthwhile walks in the park. The most popular walk is probably the one to Wineglass Bay Lookout (1.5 hours return). Although it is an ascent, it’s not overly strenuous and anyone with moderate fitness should be able to do it. The trail to the lookout has a fork which will take you down to the actual bay, but we decided not to do the full walk. Another great short walk which is more accessible is the 500 m board-walked track around Cape Tourville lighthouse. This walk also offers stunning views of the bay but is wheelchair/ pram/ unfit person accessible.
Top Tip: The drive just before the turn off to Coles Bay, and the road just after is where all the great food and wine is located. There are several great wineries which are worth a stop. Also don’t miss Kate’s berry farm. We pulled in and bought some delicious berries and chocolates and jams to complete our picnic supplies for the next few days.
Stop 4: St Helens/ Bay of Fires
I absolutely loved the Bay 0f Fires. It is probably my favourite place in Tasmania. We stayed at a campground just outside the small town of St Helens. The Bay of Fires is heralded as one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. It is made up of 29 km’s of powder white sand, crystal blue water, and large red rocks. There are a few spots which are quite busy and touristy, but it’s also just as easy to find a stretch of sand without a single footprint. We spent hours exploring the rocky headland and playing in the water.