If you’ve got your heart set on going to the Land Down Under post-wedding, there are a few things to keep in mind. One, Australia is a giant country. Think about planning a United States honeymoon—seems like a lot to tackle, right? So it’s OK to think big, but also think small, as in which destinations, specifically, appeal to you and your new hubby.
When they come to America, Aussies usually hit New York City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. And you could take a similar approach, choosing a couple of the major cities along with one place that’s about pure fun—say, the Great Barrier Reef. Still, like our 50 states, there’s a lot of diversity in the country-slash-continent. The good news is each destination is pretty accessible by plane, and domestic flights are cheap. Here, a breakdown of the locales to consider mixing and matching however your hearts desire.
Home of the famous Bondi Beach, Opera House and Harbour Bridge, this major city has an LA feel in the sense that it is comprised of countless “suburbs” or neighborhoods, many of which are worth checking out. And, of course, it has a whole long coastline of spectacular beaches. Bondi is perhaps the most famous (and the QT there is a gorgeous way to be right in the center of it all) but there are cute boutique hotels to be found in others, like Watson’s Bay and Manly. Although Melbourne has the reputation for the best food, bring your appetites because the Sydney dining scene is no slouch. There’s also the nearby picturesque Blue Mountains and wine-centric Hunter Valley if a drive on the lefthand side of the road is appealing.
If you love European cities you’ll likely love Melbourne, which feels quite different from its rival city to the east. The beaches aren’t as big a part of life here, where it’s all about incredible Asian food, street art (do take a laneway tour) and culture, and natural beauty as seen if you drive the Great Ocean Road. Make time for day or overnight trips to the Mornington Peninsula’s Pt. Leo Estate for lunch and a sculpture park walk and multi-course feast at the art-infused Jackalope Hotel, to the Yarra Valley for wine tasting and also Phillip Island if you have a soft spot for tiny penguins, of which you’ll witness thousands.
Adelaide + Kangaroo Island
The capital of South Australia has made itself known recently in areas like art and food, which works well considering it’s not too far from the famed Barossa Valley, a revered wine region. If wildlife sightings are a priority, Kangaroo Island is your best bet. The windswept island is a 20-minute flight from Adelaide, and has some of the most dramatic and untouched beaches in the country, not to mention access to a panoply of fur seals, sea lions, wombat, kangaroos and, of course, koalas. (Southern Ocean Lodge is the call for ultimate honeymoon vibes.)
Great Barrier Reef
Water babies can’t miss the Whitsunday Islands, a chain that puts you in the best possible position to enjoy the iconic reef that people circle the globe to experience. Snorkel, dive, swim, paddleboard, sail and helicopter in and around it (Qualia, the five-star private-island property can make all that possible and much more, like sessions with a star-talker under the Milky Way). Not to disappoint, but the reef is endangered, so you might want to get on it ASAP.
It somehow feels life affirming to step foot on the dusty red earth in the center of Australia’s outback and experience Uluru (or Ayers Rock), the red sandstone formation that’s sacred to indigenous Aboriginals. Knowledgeable guides from the luxurious tented wilderness camp of Longitude 131 can explain many of the fantastical stories that the indigenous believe led to its unique—and stunning—creation.
The capital of Western Australia has undergone a bit of a renaissance in recent years, adding fresh culinary concepts and hotels (like Aloft Perth Hotel with its vivid Australian art) to its scene. The wild beauty of this region is notably unchecked, and it only takes a quick drive outside the city to find it. Adventurous types should venture beyond the city to places like El Questro Homestead in The Kimberley, where you can explore salt flats, thermal springs, gorges, peaks and waterfalls, plus sleep in a bedroom cantilevered over the river.
We’ve all heard of the Tasmanian devil, but generally have no idea what Tasmania is all about. Hobart, the capital, is full of impeccable edible and imbibed experiences, not to mention attractive architecture and design, while the surrounding wilderness is home to game-changing hiking and outdoor adventures, with more than a few animals to boot. If you want to really go big, book the jaw-droppingly gorgeous Saffire Freycinet luxury lodge on the coast.
If you have any hippie tendencies or simply love stunning beaches, live music, organic food and spas, Byron Bay may be your dream destination. The small, bucolic beach town is home to the easternmost point of Australia—coincidentally a fabulous place to hike at sunrise—and expansive sandy beaches where surfers of all levels or surf observers can have a blast. (Dedicated surfers will want to head a bit north to the Sunshine Coast, epic for waves and also pristine beaches.) Crystal shops and boho-chic fashion boutiques are other draws for the downtime between epic meals, rainforest hikes and snorkeling at the likes of Elements of Byron Bay, a top resort with private beach villas.