Being surrounded by 3 different oceans, the Indian Ocean to the west, the Pacific to the east, and the Tasman along the south, Australia stirs the desire in travellers who are drawn to watersports or thrilling aquatic activities during their visit to the expansive continent. Tasmania, located in the south and away from the larger crowds of tourists on the mainland, is the perfect place for such thrill seekers to wet their appetite for fun in the sun.
Tasmania is a hotspot for water activities: surfing, kayaking, snorkelling...you name it. No, you don’t need to try to find space in your already too-full luggage for your snorkel gear or diving equipment. Anything that will facilitate you having the time of your life on the sea can be rented or purchased upon arrival. Tasmania offers vast amounts of memorable water experiences suitable for every level of adventurer. Whether you’re a beginner (it is highly recommended that you can at least swim and are comfortable treading water or floating for long periods of time in open water) eager to see the marine life to-ing and fro-ing beneath the surface by snorkelling, or an experienced diver now looking for a healthy adrenaline fix by water skiing, the options can seem endless.
Snorkelling and diving are fun water activities that serve as a soothing introduction to the Tasmania’s underwater world. Breathing air 30+ metres under the surface, face down around volcanic rocks and coral reefs allows you to witness the day-to-day business of the marine life just below in a truly intimate way. A plethora of diving centres line the southern coast, each location offering different package options. Diving and snorkelling spots are often synonymous, and some of the best places to snorkel in Tasmania are in the southeast around Hobart, and around the island off the coast off Coles Bay. The region’s east coast is where many of its popular dive sites can be found, with its protected, deepwater areas. Paradise Reef, Golden Bommies, and the gullies of the Magic Garden are all renowned as world-famous diving locales. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Sean Fennessy.
From even-tempered gorges to rushing rapids, there are various levels of rafting to experience by guests of all ages in Tasmania. The Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area, a beautiful location that welcomes the flow of the Franklin River, is prime rafting territory for experienced rafters who are after rapids. Those in search of a calmer introduction may opt for the Picton River, just south of Hobart. Although water skiing is exhilarating, this fast-paced water activity is not for the faint of heart. At super fast speeds, a witness is required (age 10 or older) during the activity for the safety of the skier, as well as a qualified operator of the vessel. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett.
Most head up to Cradle Mountain for their choice of canyoning or climbing, or a healthy combination of both, amongst the rivers and stream runoff in the hills. With an array of crevasses to slide down and peaks to leap from, the mountain range is an adventurer’s paradise. As one of Australia’s prime climbing locations, Tasmania boasts a pretty competitive climbing scene. There are an abundance of bolted routes across varying grades all around the island as a result. It is highly recommended that avid climbers bring a full rack of trad gear given the number of 50 metre-plus routes available in areas such as Cataract Gorge, Mt. Wellington and Hillwood, just to name a few. Famed dolerite columns called Totem Pole and Candlestick in the Tasman Peninsula are scaled by only extremely skilled climbers, and for good reason, due to their sheer height that goes straight up like a tree trunk. For canyoners, Cradle Mountain’s Dove Creek and Lost World Canyon both offer excellent adventures. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Brad Harris.
Stand-up paddle boarding (or SUP) has gained in popularity as a tourist attraction for any travel destination positioned next to a water mass. Part surfing and part paddle boarding, SUPing allows you to explore the water without getting wet (unless your balance needs work!). Glide along the sea’s surface, taking in the area’s natural beauty as you paddle yourself from point A to point B. World-class breakways and cool-tempered waters bringing in uninterrupted waves from the southern ocean to the Tasmanian shores makes the southern regions of Tasmania a surfer’s haven. Not to be outdone, however, is the northwest, with its ground swells that challenge even the most experienced surfers with their powerful waves. Among the region’s most sought-after surfing breaks are Shipstern Bluff off the southeast coast--though it should be said that it is known as the country’s most challenging and fearsome surf break; if your nerves aren’t made of steel, Clifton Beach and Eaglehawk Neck offer easier breaks within reach of Hobart. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & O'Neill Coldwater Classic.
Canoeing has long been a water activity enjoyed by locals from all around Tasmania and visitors alike. Back in 2013, over 400 kayaks and canoes took to the sea in solidarity, as orchestrated by the Royal Hobart Regatta Association, in order to break into the Guiness Book of World Records - if this isn’t evidence of Tassies’ love for canoeing, we don’t know what is. Whether you wish to tackle some of the rougher waters or patiently learn to paddle on calmer currents, the canoeing scene in Tasmania is well-prepared to accommodate. With over 300 offshore islands and dozens of waterways, kayaking is one of those water activities that challenges the body while enlightening the senses. Pristine coastlines and flourishing wild and marine life come together, delivering the best of the Tasmanian naturescape. As a frequent (and favourite) water activity amongst travellers, tours can be found in abundance for still, white or flat water kayaking. Although kayaking in the waters just off the coast of Hobart will more than likely suffice, don’t miss out on the Freycinet Peninsula, on the East Coast, which has a plenty of bird life to witness. Image thanks to Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman.
With multiple peninsulas, various inlets and protected waterways, the wind and kite surfing community is strong in Tasmania. Eager to welcome new members to the fold, those with the passion waste no time spreading the news of favourite places to catch decent swells and heavy winds so that a thrilling surfing days may be enjoyed by all who seek them. Seasonally, the best time of year for these water activities is the summer (November through January in the southern hemisphere) and the wind and kite surfing communities respond by holding several beginner’s courses, including equipment rentals, in several cities during this time, including Hobart. The north coast and southwest coasts of Tassie provide the region’s best wind and kitesurfing conditions, from Wesley Vale to Low Head in the north and off the coast of Hobart, Clifton Beach, and surrounding areas.
The award-winning and critically acclaimed beaches of Tasmania invite beach lovers to lounge on pillow soft white sand or to splash around in the crisp sea. If travelling with family, try Richardson’s Beach, which runs the length of Freycinet Lodge and Coles Bay. This is a long and quiet stretch of beach with water suited for swimming and not much else—meaning you do not have to share the water with surfers or kayakers, etc. A second option for swimming is Beer Barrel Beach. Although you will find surfers in these waters, the viewpoints are majestic enough to take your breath away. With its white sands and practically translucent waters complemented by rolling, gentle waves, Beer Barrel Beach invites visitors to spend the entire day...or longer!. As a sailor’s paradise, Tasmania has more boats per head of the population than any other state in Australia. Uncrowded, wild waters protected by towering cliff sides and a wealth of maritime history makes sailing in Tasmania one of the must-do water activities during your stay. The south offers sheltered waters for smooth sailing, while the Bass Strait in the north is said to be amongst of the most challenging waters in the world. Bigger vessels, however, are limited to the port of Hobart considering its deep waters. With half-day and full-day tours available, with or without skipper assistance, sailors can dock or sail at will. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Supplied Courtesy of The Tasmanian Walking Company.