The east coast of Tasmania is an ideal spot for a summer holiday. You’ll find pristine beaches, small islands that feel peacefully remote, and pockets of sun that are rare that far south.
It has a plethora of accommodation options, from the luxe sea shack of your dreams to budget gems within a stone’s throw of the Bay of Fires and Freycinet National Park. You can paddle a kayak and swim with dolphins, stroll along white-sand beaches or indulge in a whisky tour. In this guide, we’ll recommend where to stay and what to eat, drink and do on Tasmania’s east coast.
Tasmanian Coastal Seafoods
It wouldn’t be a summer holiday in Tassie without at least one stop for seafood or fish’n’chips – it’s the law. You’re spoilt for choice on the east coast, but we recommend the ocean view and unpretentious charm of the award-winning Tasmanian Coastal Seafoods in Bicheno.
You won’t fresher seafood anywhere else: most of the stock is kept in tanks out the back, with ocean water pumped directly in. Prawns and lobster are cooked fresh each morning and abalone is farmed on-site. The calamari is a must-try and the fish burger earns big plaudits.
This shop might look unassuming from the front, but don’t be deceived – out the back are tables overlooking Governor Island and the historic boat ramp (otherwise known as The Gulch). Afterwards, take a stroll around the pretty fishing village, once a thriving centre for whaling.
Pub in the Paddock
This one is exactly what it says it is. Thirty minutes inland from St Helens you’ll find this rustic pub – one of the oldest in Tassie, licensed since 1880 – plonked in the middle of a paddock deep in dairy country. The menu is dominated by classic pub grub: chicken parmigiana, pork spare ribs, steak sandwich, surf’n’turf, ‘roo patties and fish’n’chips. (Vegetarian options are scarce.)
Pub in the Paddock is as much about the atmosphere as the food, and the walls are covered with historical photographs and memorabilia depicting generations of no-nonsense Tassie rural living. They even have a beer-drinking pig (we haven’t made this up) named Priscilla that you can meet outside and share a beer with.
And if all that’s too much of a cultural overload, take a post-lunch stroll in the nearby St Columba Falls State Reserve (home to a spectacular 90-metre waterfall) or sample the cheeses at Pyengana Dairy.
Spring Bay Distillery
Whisky has taken off in a big way in Tasmania since the repeal of the 19th-century ban on distillation – aided by high-quality water, fertile growing conditions for barley, plus a proliferation of passionate distillers. Cam and Suzy Brett, owners of Spring Bay Distillery, have passion in spades – and the right environment and ingredients for producing great product.
Their distillery at Spring Beach is 500 metres from the ocean, facing Maria Island (well worth a visit on its own), and the sea mist adds a subtly briny (and curiously sweet) character to the water used to distil Spring Bay’s single-malt whisky. Cam or Suzy will be happy to have a chat and answer any questions, and you can also book a 90-minute tour and tasting session. The Rheban port cask whisky is a winner, as is the pink, raspberry-infused gin.
The Freycinet Paddle
Freycinet National Park is probably Tasmania’s most famous coastal park, home to The Hazards (a stunning granite mountain range) and the postcard-perfect curved white-sand beach, Wineglass Bay. The roads and walking tracks often get choked with car and foot traffic during the busy summer months, so to avoid the crowds – and get a spectacular view of the landscape – why not jump in a kayak and take a paddle around the coastline?
The Freycinet Paddle – which is run by Freycinet Adventures, a family-run business that’s been offering tours since 1996 – is a three-hour guided tour of this natural wonderland, starting and finishing at Muirs Beach. Start by paddling across Great Oyster Bay, stop in at comely Honeymoon Bay for a coffee, and continue past Freycinet Lodge and Richardsons Beach. There’s a morning tour and a twilight tour – the latter ends with views of the sunset over Swansea in the west, The Hazards glowing soft pink in the south.
No experience is needed, and the seas are usually calm (although the wind can whip up a decent chop sometimes). The kayaks are all doubles, so you won’t be left to fend for yourself. If you’re lucky dolphins might swim alongside your kayak, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a smorgasbord of wildlife, from seals to sea eagles. All gear is provided but it can get chilly on the water, so bring a good jacket (and a hat for the sun). Kids are welcome and you’ll be given a dry bag to store cameras or phones.
East Coast Splendour Foodie Tour
This tour – with pick-up and drop-off in Hobart – offers a full-day immersion in Tassie produce, with visits to some of the state’s leading food and wine producers.
Enjoy morning tea at Kate’s Berry Farm in Swansea, with views across the bay to Freycinet National Park. This cool-climate organic berry farm is bursting with fruit in summer, so expect to sample jams, sauces, jellies, dessert wines, ice-cream and chocolate, all made from the fruit grown on-site.
The tour van then shuffles up the road for tastings at the boutique Milton and Spring Vale vineyards, before stopping for a classic long lunch at Devil’s Corner Vineyard (choose from local seafood or woodfired pizza). And if you’re still peckish in the afternoon, you might find room for a famous Tassie scallop pie at Mures Lower Deck or some cheese samples at Grandvewe.
Whale Song in Falmouth
If you’ve ever dreamt of living as a recluse by the sea, you’ll love this nautically themed shack in Falmouth, 20 minutes south of St Helens. Well, it’s called a shack, but the term conveys more the attitude of the place than the actual reality. This accommodation exudes some seriously tranquil – and luxurious – seaside vibes.
Inside are two bedrooms, a modern kitchen, a snug but exquisite dining room and a living space with an open brick fireplace. Throughout the house you’ll find thoughtfully selected decor and furnishings, lavish windows, and French doors that open to the focal point of the whole experience – the wild ocean lapping at the door.
There are countless nooks and crannies inside and out to settle into, but you’ll want to dedicate a fair chunk of time to relaxing in the outdoor bath or by the firepit. You can listen to the ocean from your bed, and you might even spot a pod of dolphins or some whales cruising by. Will they sing? I wouldn’t bet against it.
Jacks Shack in St Helens
If you’re looking for value for money, you can’t beat this comfortable two-bedroom home 10 minutes from St Helens. Expect to find everything you need, including a barbeque, TV with Netflix, air conditioning, exceptionally comfortable beds, black-out blinds and a deep, stand-alone bathtub (definitely a highlight).
Outside, have breakfast on the sunny deck or set up a game of backyard cricket (you’ll also find a barbeque, beanbags and an outdoor fireplace). And the location couldn’t be better – it’s a great launch pad for exploring the cute hamlet of Stieglitz, St Helens Conservation Area and the Bay of Fires (which has some of the most stunning beaches in Australia).
Sound good? You could take this trip and more, thanks to Airbnb’s Once Upon a Summer competition. There are seven $15,000 Airbnb travel coupons up for grabs, for use anywhere in Australia. All you have to do is write an up to 50 word story on what memories you want to make this summer. The competition closes December 11. Enter now for your chance to win.
This article was produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Airbnb.