The allure of our coastline lies in its diversity – from the wild and the beautiful to the island paradisiacal – and in the many stunning spots to soak in the views from.
Here are our 10 favourite seaside stays that made it into positions 28 to 38 of our coveted list of 100 unique stays. Head here to read the full list and start planning your next escape.
Invariably rugged and beautiful, abundant in wildlife and laden with local produce, Tasmania’s islands enjoy an enviable reputation. One in particular, off the North West coast in the middle of Bass Strait, is increasingly becoming one of the hottest destinations around. King Island is a sliver of land on the doorstep of Melbourne (a 35-minute flight away), yet a whole world removed. And, since opening in late 2019, one luxury eco retreat has helped put it on the map. Run by sea-changers Aaron Suine and Nick Stead, Kittawa Lodge is a destination in itself. Its pair of off-grid, one-bedroom lodges are architecturally designed and sit ocean-facing on a secluded 40-hectare property. With itineraries tailored for you daily according to your interests – and mood that morning – it lets you key straight into the choose-your-own- adventure essence of King Island and will have you feeling like a local in no time.
As well as a breadth of untouched natural beauty, you’ll find a strong community spirit, thriving art scene and renowned produce – from southern rock lobster, to dry-aged grass-fed beef, sumptuous lamb, local Pacific oysters and the famous King Island Dairy cheese. And, should you wish, you can experience much of this from the luxurious comfort of your lodge; local artworks adorn the walls, and panoramic views of the ever- inquisitive wallabies at the window and white-bellied sea eagles flying above can be enjoyed from a multitude of inviting spots. From the lounge, in front of the crackling fireplace, from your king-size bed or from the handmade concrete bath in your master suite, while sampling a range of premium Tasmanian wines, spirits and beers from your in-lodge bar. Here, Aaron and Nick’s top five ways to experience King Island.
Top five things to do on King Island
1. No trip to King Island is complete without a visit to King Island Dairy, where complimentary cheese tasting plates are available.
2. A southern expedition of the island will thrill the senses, taking in the breathtaking sights of Seal Rocks Reserve, including the Seal Rocks Boardwalk, the Calcified Forest and the Copperhead Walk, as well as the southernmost tip of the island, Stokes Point.
3. An expedition to the north of the island excites for its difference to the south, with the white sandy beaches of Martha Lavinia and Disappointment Bay, as well as the tallest lighthouse in the southern hemisphere, Cape Wickham Lighthouse. We also recommend a trip to Pennys Lagoon, a perched lake on the way to Martha Lavinia.
4. For the golfing enthusiasts, you are spoilt for choice, with some of the world’s best links golf courses: Cape Wickham Golf Links, Ocean Dunes Golf Course and the locally run King Island Golf Course.
5. Just breathe. Kittawa Lodge and King Island Invite guests to sit back and relax, and do as little or as much as you like. Yes, we can fill your days with amazing walks, experiences and sightseeing, but why not take the chance to finish that book, master chess or scrabble, paint a landscape, take a long bath or, as many of our guests do, contemplate and plan for the future?
When I get swept away in fantasies of owning a pocket-sized hideaway in the country, Five Acres’ cabins are what I envisage. A rural retreat that feels light years from civilisation – but is, in fact, less than a 10-minute drive from the town of Cowes – it’s the kind of dreamy, design-led den that you could hole up in for days without developing the slightest thirst to leave.
Small in dimension, yet big on thoughtful features, Five Acres’ three minimalist cabins gently persuade guests to go analogue. A slimline, standalone wood-burning fire takes centre stage in the lounge, already made up with kindling and newspaper, ready to be lit. A carefully curated selection of cookbooks, poetry paperbacks, tomes on sustainable living and independent magazines dot the cabin’s many nooks, and are all perfectly aligned with the pace of life here, like Grounded: A Companion for Slow Living and The Farm Community: Grow. Cook . Share. Connect. And with floor-to-ceiling windows that look squarely onto the property’s paddocks, replete with shaggy coated Highland cows and sheep scratching themselves on fence posts, a sliver of Western Port Bay on the horizon, who needs a TV anyway?
That’s not to say every trace of technology has been removed: USB ports sit next to each bedside, the one-wall kitchenette is full of Smeg appliances, the lime-washed bathroom features underfloor heating, there’s a Bang & Olufsen bluetooth speaker in the lounge, and a TV preloaded with Netflix is secreted smartly away on the kitchen wall. But on a bleak winter’s night we’re happily bathing in a sea of old-school entertainment. As we pore over the books under the weight of a chunky knit blanket, the fire crackles, the blustery sea wind puffs at the windows and doors, and ice tinkles in our glasses of G&T, made with gin from local Gippsland distillery Loch’s – just one of the thoughtful provisions that’s included in our stay. And, should the urge to eat gelato strike at an ungodly hour, fear not: there’s a whole tub from an independent island gelateria ready and waiting to go in the freezer; just use the direct deposit details given on the countertop, transfer $15, and dig in. Come breakfast, the spread in our pantry offers an equal serve of hygge: freshly ground coffee, gloriously coconutty homemade granola, natural yoghurt, Gippsland Jersey milk and butter, sourdough, jam made with rhubarb plucked from the working micro-farm’s garden.
The grounds on which Five Acres sits are home to some 90 fruit and nut trees plus extensive veggie gardens. And in time, owners Katie and Rom Lamaro hope to use their five-acre (two-hectare) block to provide produce for the local community as well as their own family. Almost every part of their venture has been built from the ground up by the couple. Rom constructed the cabins with his brother Christian, who owns a building company. And even some of the furniture within them – such as the bed frame made from Tasmanian oak – was handcrafted by Rom himself. Doused in natural materials and featuring a riot of textures and angles, the cabin interiors look as if they were pages torn straight from the latest issue of Architectural Digest. Almost every conceivable surface is clad with beautiful blond wood.
A freestanding smoky grey concrete bathtub stands on the sheltered deck outside the bathroom’s sliding doors, hidden in plain sight behind gauzy sand-coloured linen curtains. And light pours in through the skylight cut into the roof over the rain shower head. There’s a toughness to the design and furnishings that reflects farm life, but an inviting cosiness, too. A destination that’s long been popular with young families, Phillip Island wears many eclectic hats. It also carries a legacy of nostalgic seaside getaway that skews a touch brash, rather than a chic weekender for Melburnians with a surfeit of disposable income. But Five Acres could be at the crest of a new wave that’s slowly washing ashore. Over the last five years, a handful of sea-changers just like Katie and Rom have set up shop on the island, opening a craft taphouse here, a third-wave coffee shop there, and an industrial-chic cafe or two. Phillip Island may not have the cachet of neighbouring Mornington or the Bellarine Peninsula, and perhaps it never will; but for some, its emerging alter ego will prove the perfect counterbalance. – Chloe Cann
Wilson Island, positioned blissfully in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, might just be the ultimate embodiment of all our castaway fantasies. The adults-only island can accommodate just 18 guests in its nine luxe Reef Safari Tents, which are set at the edge of the sands with water views forever. Ensuring the island stays idyllic, it is powered by solar and batteries, there’s a ‘no touch, no take’ policy when in the water, there are no single-use plastics, and organic and sustainable are used whenever possible. With no TV or phones and nowhere else to be, days here are measured out in eating, snorkelling, swinging in hammocks, sunset drinks and stargazing, all on repeat.
Do you ever think about where the materials of a building you’re staying in might have already been? No, me neither, until I booked myself into shipping container accommodation in Northern Tasmania and fell asleep wondering how many times this bedroom might have crossed Bass Strait. Wynyard is 150 kilometres north-west of Launceston on the Inglis River. The town is Tassie-famous for its annual tulip festival and has a relaxed feel with the promise of an idyllic coastal retirement, like some cold-climate Noosa.
Cyndia Hilliger and Justin McErlain, who also own the waterfront motel next door, tell me they were inspired by the innovative shipping container architecture they saw in Christchurch as the city recovered from earthquakes. They purchased Containers of Hope plans from Benjamin Garcia Saxe – an award-winning Costa Rican architect dedicated to sustainable sourcing of local materials – and customised to suit. Now two freestanding self-contained accommodation pods, Port and Starboard, sit on the lawn beside the retro motel. Each pod comprises two upcycled shipping containers with decks, polished original plywood floors, spray foam insulation, double-glazing all round and extra soundproofing between bedrooms. The interiors are spacious and the repurposing artful.
But what really floats my boat is that my Port Pod is rock-solid equal-access accommodation, with great attention given to the details of functionality and no compromise on aesthetics. As good-looking and well-appointed as Starboard, Port has a spa-like bathroom and moveable furniture. Beds can be raised, microwave lowered, equipment hired, whatever’s required. The yacht club, just along Wynyard’s flash new riverside boardwalk, runs a Sailability training program over the warmer months with equipment for people of all abilities. Every evening, vehicle access to the dock closes to the public and, as pod guests, we have this world of moored fishing boats and quiet river all to ourselves. I haven’t caught anything today to cook in the fire pit but luckily the nearby fish and chip shop is open until 7pm and The Wharf Hotel is close by. – Elspeth Callender
The Kimberley has no shortage of eco-friendly wilderness camps, but for the beach-seeker, Indigenous-owned Kooljaman trumps them all. Tucked at the tip of Cape Leveque, 200 kilometres north of Broome, its location means I’m never far from a tantalising tract of shoreline. Each day, I have fun choosing the east or west. Laid-back vibes at the eastern beaches for swimming and snorkelling? Or fishing, walks and a dramatic sunset against the backdrop of pindan cliffs on the western beaches? A cute log cabin amid the trees; a surprisingly high-quality restaurant (for such a remote location); and tours with local Bardi Jawi guides have me staying for much longer than I intended. – Leah McLennan
The Latin word ‘qualia’ has a mercurial translation that befits its namesake destination – the exact essence of which is hard to pin down. This luxury resort, situated on the northernmost part of Hamilton Island, wears its meaning of ‘a collection of deeper sensory experiences’ well.
Since it opened in 2007, qualia has consistently been ranked among the world’s best resorts and is an exemplar of Australian laid-back luxury. It is recognised for its environmentally intuitive architecture, sympathetic landscaping, impeccable service, deeply tranquil day spa and exceptional food and drink offering (dining on a six-course degustation bursting with local flavours at Pebble Beach as the sun goes down is something you won’t forget in a hurry). And not to mention its dazzling location, surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef and with views across the impossible blues of the Coral Sea and Whitsundays.
A stay here is worth it alone for the private plunge pool, complete with those aforementioned views, which you’ll find in a flawlessly designed Windward Pavilion: all understated decor, hardwood timber floors and floor-to-ceiling glass. Leeward Pavilions combine tropical bushland and sea views while the exclusive Beach House goes a notch further with 12-metre infinity pool and private guesthouse. Awarded as one of the most romantic destinations in the world, the island retreat makes for a luxurious launch pad for everyone from yachties to those drawn to exploring the Great Barrier Reef and the eucalyptus-scented trails that crisscross the island. While mornings might begin with sun salutations on the deck, it’s compulsory for afternoons to include a lychee martini cocktail by the pool. It all conspires to create a unique Australian hideaway.
I’d heard the solar-powered safari tents on Woody Island had been given a spit and polish, but I wasn’t expecting such a dreamy transformation beneath the canvas. Now called ‘luxury retreat’ tents, each has been styled with textured bedspreads (on real beds), fluffy sheepskins strewn across comfy couches and pretty adornments like fairy-lit branches, circular mirrors and square ottomans. Facing Esperance in WA’s far south, the snake-free island is ribboned with hiking trails leading to secluded lookouts, wildlife havens, snorkel spots and granite boulders. Communal areas (shared bathrooms, drop loos, a mess style restaurant) are basic, with nature and tranquillity the focus. – Fleur Bainger
It’s the sunrises and sunsets that get me the most. Not mere moments in each day but hour-long spectacles of sherbet skies and piercing golden orbs. Perched on a rocky parcel of Tasmania’s East Coast, the Whale Song shack is a design-lover’s bolthole that brims with curated curiosities, art, books, and the kind of bedding you want to slip into your suitcase.
There are neighbours, but you wouldn’t know it. Until I return, I dream of G&Ts on the deck, candlelit baths in the outdoor tub, setting the needle down on another vinyl, and losing myself in the hypnotic dance of the ocean– an ever-present friend. – Celeste Mitchell
It’s only 20 minutes by air from Darwin, but you might as well be travelling to another country for all the remote, sybaritic promise offered by this sand-in-toes escape on the south-west coast of Bathurst Island– one of the Tiwis’ two main islands. There are swaying palm trees kissing soft white sand here, yes, but also a wild beauty complete with resident croc named Claudia.
Originally established as a barramundi fishing lodge, Tiwi Island Retreat’s bathroom facilities are shared and guestrooms compact. Yet, with stylish coastal-chic decor, crisp linens and views out onto the sparkling Timor Sea, what more do you need? You’re here to get off the beaten track and experience unique activities and culture in a pristine environment unlike anywhere else. Perhaps you’ll go mud crabbing or barra fishing in the creeks, eating your catch at the end of the day. Certainly you’ll spend time by the pool and linger over a sunset beach picnic stocked with cheese and champagne. And maybe you’ll embark on a remote swimming hole helicopter adventure or take a scenic flight across Bathurst Island combined with an Indigenous art and cultural tour. More than a sum of its parts, everyone who makes it here says it’s unforgettable.
Where else do you catch a kangaroo sipping the water from your foot bath on the deck of your eco tent? Off-grid Sal Salis is like nowhere I’ve ever been: just 16 safari structures hidden in low dunes, boardwalks linking the king beds to the world’s largest, and most accessible, fringing reef. Ningaloo and its turtles, rays, fish and coral are literally a handful of steps from shore; its famous whale sharks only a charter boat tour away. When not snorkelling, I was raising a bubbling glass to the sunset with canapes, then feasting on a multi-course, restaurant-rivalling meal. High environmental cred means lightning-quick showers and eco loos – a fair trade for this wilderness destination. – Fleur Bainger
Can you become a new person just by staying in an Airbnb? The question bubbles up as I open the screen door of this white weatherboard cottage on a quiet beachside street in Marion Bay, on the doorstep of Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park. A repressed part of me emerges. The part that revels in poring over vintage jigsaw puzzles and bathes outside. Who sips tea from handmade ceramics and reads Hemingway on a sun-dappled day bed. My Sister & The Sea has a quality that’s hard to define. On paper it’s a warm and whimsical three-bedroom family abode, but in real life it’s a sea-swept storybook come to life. – Celeste Mitchell