2 Week Cairns to Brisbane Express


Select Date and Passengers

Adult (18+)
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Airlie Beach + Island

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3-Day 4WD Tour

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Tropical Reef Tour

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Beach Camping

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Social Vessel

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Great Barrier Reef

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13 Nights

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Totally Included

14 Day Cairns to Brisbane Express


Explore iconic East Coast locations as you embark on the adventure of a lifetime! Start your journey in Cairns and stop at some of the best locations Australia has to offer including the Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island and the idyllic Whitsunday Islands. 

Spend 14 days staying in unique accommodation, meeting like-minded travellers, exploring Aussie towns and cities and soaking in that warm Queensland weather! From scuba diving with turtles on the world-famous Great Barrier Reef to FWDing on the treasured Fraser Island, it’ll be an unforgettable trip!

  • Visit world-class diving locations on the Great Barrier Reef
  • Spend a few days sailing through the unspoilt Whitsundays, visiting dreamy bays and iconic islands
  • Explore and camp on K’gari, the world’s largest sand island
  • Our itinerary will make your trip along Australia’s East Coast as stress-free as possible!

Your Sample Itinerary

Day 1 

A girl on a swing hanging off a palm tree

The adventure begins in Cairns!

Cairns is known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the world's oldest living tropical rainforest. Check-in to your accommodation and chat to like-minded backpackers before you head out and explore Cairns. Visit waterfront cafes, local fresh food markets, charming boutiques and bustling bars. We recommend you get a good nights' sleep before the adventure truly begins!


Hostel or apartment in Cairns

Day 2

Two scuba divers underwater

Dive into the Great Barrier Reef

This is one to tick off your bucket-list! The heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef is teeming with over 1500 species of fish, 6 species of turtles, 30 types of sharks, whales, dolphins and even unique, prehistoric creatures. Try out an introductory dive (included in your trip), guided by the friendly crew and brush shoulders with the world-famous coral reef. Be mesmerised by the abundance of marine life so don't forget to bring your underwater camera or waterproof case!


Hostel or apartment in Cairns

Day 3 + 4

A bag that reads Airlie Beach sitting on a beach

Next stop, Airlie Beach

It's time to head to Airlie. The bus journey from Cairns to Airlie takes roughly 8 hours so make sure you've pre-downloaded some music or movies to help pass the time! Airlie is a charismatic town full of fun and thrilling activities to do. From island exploring by day to bar hopping and nightclubbing by night, Airlie is a town that doesn't sleep. It's a backpackers paradise with the streets teeming with foreigners from every corner of the world. 


Hostel or apartment in Airlie Beach 

Trip Upgrade

  • Face your fears on a Skydive over Airlie Beach
  • Opt for a 1 hour scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef

Day 5 + 6

Two girls on the beach with snorkels on

Sail through the Whitsunday Islands

The Whitsunday Islands are a one-of-a-kind destination where dreams truly do come true. Spend two days and two nights sailing through the picturesque islands with like-minded strangers on your social, backpacker boat. Visit the famous Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet, snorkel the fringing coral reefs with turtles and fish (and maybe even reef sharks) then kick back on board with a few beverages as you soak in the 360 degree views of the islands. 


A sailboat in the Whitsundays

Day 7

A sunset over the mountains

Last day in Airlie

Once you've recovered from your epic adventure out at sea, make the most of your time in Airlie before you bid farewell. If you missed out on a skydive or scenic flight, now is your time to do it and trust us - you won't regret it! Otherwise, visit Magnum's pub for an afternoon drink, grab a smoothie from juice bar, Fruits n Rootz or grab your swimming gear and relax by the lagoon (it's free). 


Hostel or apartment in central Airlie Beach

Trip Upgrade

  • Scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef
  • Award-winning skydive over Airlie Beach 

Day 8

A man sitting on a bus

Time for Rainbow Beach

Today we head to Rainbow Beach. The journey is roughly 1000km but don't stress - you'll get to travel in an overnight bus which means that you can sleep the entire way (if you choose). Say goodbye to Airlie Beach and take some time to yourself and reflect on your busy few days before you get ready for the second half of the trip. Sweet dreams and we'll see you in Rainbow Beach!


Overnight bus to Rainbow Beach

Day 9 + 10

A girl on a stand-up paddle board with her arms in the air

Rainbow Beach

Get ready for an action-packed time in Rainbow Beach. You have the freedom to do whatever you choose here. You could check out the surf beaches, hire a body or surf board and hit the waves (option to add a surf lesson to your trip if desired). Or you could choose to book a Dolphin Kayak tour and meet the local dolphins! Rainbow Beach also has trendy cafes and restaurants, unique hikes and stunning scenery to discover. 


Hostel or apartment in Rainbow Beach

Trip Upgrade

  • Surf lesson
  • Dolphin Kayak 

Day 11 + 12

A group of friends watching the sunset on the beach

4WD on the world's largest sand island

Now this is one of the highlights of the trip. Embark on a guided 4WD adventure to K'gari (Fraser Island) where you will spend two nights camping on the sand. Explore aqua coloured lakes, magical rainforests, shipwrecks and learn about the unique and rich history of the island. Drive your own 4WD and cruise along the sandy shores of K'gari before you camp under the stars each night. 


Campsite with all of the facilities you'll ever need while camping

Day 13

Three people walking through the rainforest

Back to Rainbow Beach

Time to chill out after your 4WD adventure! Cruise back to Rainbow Beach and kick back in the charming town. Now is your chance to pick up any last minute Australian souvenirs you want to take home to remember your time here. Spend the evening dining at the local restaurants, have a drink at one of the bars and make the most of your final night of your trip. 


Hotel or apartment in Rainbow Beach

Day 14

Two girls looking out at city lights

Hello, Brisbane!

Soak in the last of Rainbow Beach, squeeze in a coffee or a morning hike before you jump on the bus to Brisbane. Sadly, Brisbane is our last stop on our East Coast Tour and we thank you for choosing to travel with us! If you don't want the fun to end, why not extend your trip? Chat to us about continuing south to the Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Sydney or even Melbourne. 

Trip Extension

  • Option to extend your stay in Brisbane and stay with your accommodation
  • Extend your trip to iconic East Coast locations including Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Sydney!

What's Included?

  • 2 nights' accommodation in Cairns
  • 1 Day Great Barrier Reef Cruise including 1 introductory dive
  • 3 nights' accommodation in Airlie Beach
  • 2 day/2 night Whitsundays sailing trip
  • Luggage storage in Airlie Beach
  • 3 nights' accommodation in Rainbow Beach
  • 3 day/2 night 4WD guided camping tour on K'gari
  • Bus Pass for both regular and overnight bus journeys

What's Extra?

  • Surf lesson in Rainbow Beach
  • Dolphin Kayak tour in Rainbow Beach
  • Skydive in Airlie Beach
  • Scenic flight over the Whitsundays 
  • Private hostel room upgrades
  • Campervan or car rental 

Terms and Conditions

Please read our terms, conditions and cancellation policies before booking your East Coast itinerary package. 


Who will I travel with?

This is not a group tour, so you only travel with whoever you book for. Whether that’s solo, with your partner, friend or group of your own choice, spend your downtime how you like and make memories with your tribe!

Whenever you embark on a tour during your itinerary (like your Whitsunday sailing trip or K'gari 4WD), rest assured that you will be on fun and adventurous backpacker-style tours.

Is this a guided trip?

This is a semi-guided itinerary, meaning that professional skippers and tour guides lead any time spent on individual tours (like sailboats, 4WD camping tours, reef tours, and the likes). However, the in-between bits like travel days, downtime and free days are up to you.

That means nobody will be waking you up for your early bus or checking into hostels with you, however, it makes your time in Australia undeniably more personalised and flexible. Read more about our semi-guided itineraries in our FAQs or chat with a local travel agent to match you with your dream experience.

If you are looking to travel with a group of other backpackers and be guided through every leg of your journey by a local leader, check out our fully guided group itineraries.

Are meals included?

This itinerary includes 4 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 4 dinners (13 meals in total) all during your guided tours. The rest of the meals are up to you, and you will have plenty of access to bars, restaurants, cafes and supermarkets along the East Coast.

Do I need travel insurance?

Yes, we strongly recommend that travellers purchase their own travel insurance before their East Coast trip. Travel insurance is not included in your package price, and East Coast Tours is not responsible for personal injury, operator cancellations or delays.

How much spending money do I need?

We recommend about $60 to $100 AUD spending money per day. This will cover you for a meal in a restaurant, a couple of beers and some supermarket supplies daily. For details on your daily spending budget in Australia, check out our budget travel guide!

Where will I stay?

You will stay in a variety of central hostels on this trip including 8 nights in shared hostel dorms (Rainbow Beach, Airlie Beach & Cairns), 2 nights in a Whitsunday sailing vessel, 2 nights in a deluxe K'gari (Fraser Island) campsite with your tent and gear included, along with one overnight bus.

Can I upgrade to private room?

Of course! If you prefer some privacy, you can absolutely upgrade to a private room. Please note that you will pay the difference from a shared dorm to a private room, and all accommodation is subject to availability. For a detailed estimate, chat with our friendly travel agents over live chat to secure your space.

What type of transport is included?

This itinerary includes bus transport which is primarily a Greyhound Whimit Pass. Greyhound Busses are deluxe coaches with in-seat USB charging, wifi, reclining seats, air conditioning and onboard bathrooms. If you wish to upgrade your package, you can book a rental car or campervan through our friendly travel experts to go your own way!

Can I extend or personalise my trip?

Yes! Simply chat with our friendly travel agents to personalise your itinerary before you book. We wouldn't blame you for wanting longer in the K'gari rainforests or Airlie Beach sunshine!

Are the dates flexible?

Yes, the dates for this itinerary are flexible. Simply input your preferred arrival and departure dates before booking, or chat with our expert travel agents about your timeframe and we'll make it work for you!

East Coast Tours acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all First Nations peoples.

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