It was Australia that instilled the love of travel into me. More than four years ago, I bought a one-way ticket from New York to Sydney and I never looked back! I spent more than a year traveling through the cities, beaches, and jungles of that immaculate country and, to this day, it holds a very special place in my heart.
It’s also the place where I discovered the adrenaline junkie which lied deep within! I went skydiving, snowboarding, surfing, quad racing, and a multitude of other heart-pounding activities. Since then I’ve found myself rock climbing, bungee jumping, jet boating and hanging off the edge of skyscrapers.
This is my homage to the adventurer in all of us.
1. Skydiving in Mission Beach
Skydiving is one of the quintessential adventurous things to do in Australia! Frankly, if you’ve got the heart for adventure, there’s no better place to do it than Mission Beach. I went skydiving on the Sunshine Coast, but as soon as I arrived in this sleepy town, I wished I had waited.
With incredible weather and unrivaled aerial views of the coast, Mission Beach is THE place to go skydiving. And, unlike anywhere else in the country, you can actually land on the beach!
Where to stay: Mission Beach YHA
2. Abseiling in the Blue Mountains
I’m that guy who’s usually found jumping (naked!) from bridges, exploring abandoned buildings and teetering on the edge of skyscrapers. For me, there’s nothing quite like the adventure found in a little bit of danger! If you’re a rock climber (or, really, even if you’re not), abseiling in the Blue Mountains is an absolute must.
Where to stay: Blue Mountains YHA
3. Sandboarding in Port Stephens
Sandboarding is one of those sports that just doesn’t seem to make any sense. Surfing, I get. Snowboarding, I get. But sandboarding?
And, yeah, it’s as difficult as it sounds.
The Stockton Sand Dunes in Port Stephens are the largest moving sand dunes in the southern hemisphere, and sandboarding is one of the most unique ways to experience them. Credit to the Aussies, though, for coming up with a weather-appropriate alternative to one of my favorite sports.
Where to stay: Samurai Beach Bungalows
4. Scuba Diving on the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most sought after locations for scuba diving in the world! Cairns is the number one jump off point for diving trips, and you can choose to go for just one day, or visit the outer reefs and live on board a boat for a week or more!
Want to dive for free? Head to Deep Sea Divers Den and sign up to be a hostie. Hosties work on the boat in exchange for free dives! I spent six days on board a boat, diving four times per day, for a grand total of zero dollars! You have to sign up in person at least two weeks in advance, so this only applies to those who will be in Cairns for longer than a few days.
Of course, you can also pay your way on board and just relax!
Where to stay on the mainland: Cairns Central
5. Surfing in Perth
One of the best ways to enjoy some of the 3,000 hours of sunshine that Perth clocks each year is to surf one or more of its 19 white-sand beaches. A few are arguably the most popular surf spots in Australia. Test yourself out at the iconic Cottesloe Beach or, if you fancy yourself a bit of pro, hit the surf at Scarborough, Trigg, Watermans or City Beach.
Where to stay: Perth City YHA
6. Sailing the Whitsunday Islands
Whitehaven Beach, located on Whitsunday Island, within the archipelago of the Whitsunday Islands, is regularly referred to as the most beautiful beach in the world. Book yourself a boat and spend three days (or more) on a yacht, sailing between the islands and frolicking in the sand! Jump off to the Whitsundays is from Airlie Beach.
Where to stay: Airlie Beach YHA
7. 4WD on Fraser Island
At 1840 km², Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world! One of my most memorable experiences in Australia was the weekend I spent driving a 4WD buggy on the beaches and dunes of Fraser. Eight of us packed ourselves and our belongings into the back of a Jeep and took off camping and exploring, with no access to the outside world, for three days and two nights. There was a lot of beer and boxed wine involved that weekend, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way! Jump off to Fraser Island from Hervey Bay.
Where to stay: Colonial Village
8. Hot Air Ballooning Over Uluru
Hot air ballooning is by far one of the most unique and jaw-clenching activities I’ve ever done. The basket effortlessly rises from the ground and, before you even realize it, you’re gliding over the terrain from an incredibly breath-taking perspective, with nothing but a laundry hamper keeping you afloat!
There are few better ways to see Australia’s icon than this.
Where to stay: Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge
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Disclaimer: This was an editorial collaboration with YHA, Australia’s premier hostelling network. All text and opinions remain my own.