4 Week Cairns To Sydney Explorer


Select Date and Passengers

Adult (18+)
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Airlie Beach + Island

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2-night 4WD Tour

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Reef + Rainforest

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Beach Campsite

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Social Vessel

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Great Barrier Reef

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Hostels + Cabins + Camping

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Included In Tours

28 Day Explorer Cairns To Sydney


Slow it down and really experience the dazzling East Coast of Australia with our 28-day itinerary! Don’t miss a thing as you wander, play and relax amongst tranquil beaches, towering forests, and bustling cities. The perfect experience for adventurous travellers looking for social fun, natural wonders and relaxed flexibility, this semi-guided itinerary is your map to paradise!

With all transport and accommodation totally sorted and included, focus on the good stuff! Sail the Whitsundays, dive into the Great Barrier Reef, scuba dive in Cairns, relax in Byron Bay, 4WD along the beaches of K’gari (Fraser Island), surf the waves of Noosa, see sights in iconic Sydney, hit the town at Surfers Paradise and so much more!

  • Let your inner beach bum out in coastal spots like Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Noosa, Rainbow Beach and Cairns! 
  • Explore the twinkling cities of Brisbane, Sydney and Surfers Paradise while recharging at hidden gems like Magnetic Island and K’gari.
  • Enjoy guided tours at every turn where you can learn from locals and trek to the path less travelled where natural beauty is everywhere! 
  • All accommodations, transport and even some meals are included on this culmination of fantastic experiences along the East Coast.

Your Sample Itinerary

Day 1 

Lagoon in Cairns with women in bikinis

Let the adventure begin in Cairns!

Welcome in your jam-packed itinerary in tropical Cairns! This vivid backpacker hub is renowned as where the reef and rainforest meet, and is the perfect base for your next four days of exploring! Enjoy a leisurely check-in to your central hostel accommodation where you can chill out by the onsite pool and bar, before hitting the town and getting your bearings with a cheeky cocktail!


Deluxe hostel in the heart of Cairns


Day 2

Coral Reef with many colours underwater and turtle

Scuba diving & snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef

Dive into the best of Cairns today… the Great Barrier Reef! Home to thousands of tropical fish species, six of seven types of turtles, abundant coral and friendly reef sharks (just to name a few), rub shoulders with marine marvels in this heritage-listed world wonder! Your day trip to the reef includes all gear (snorkel and dive), meals and tuition making for an immersive, authentic day in tropical paradise!


Deluxe hostel in the heart of Cairns

Day 3 & 4

Person sitting in front of Walsh's Pyramid

Free days in Cairns

Today is up to you, so do as much or as little as you like in Cairns! Whether you’re hanging out and vibing by the lagoon, heading out on an additional Cape Tribulation & Daintree day tour or squeezing in your foodie holiday in towns, check out the many free things to do and places to eat in Cairns! Or, add on a guided rainforest trip and explore the flourishing Atherton Tablelands with a day tour to some of the best waterfalls and hidden gems in the region! Stop off at Millaa Millaa Falls, Josephine Falls, Lake Echam and more exquisite swimming spots and escape the tropical heat! 


Deluxe hostel in the heart of Cairns

Trip Upgrade

  • Cape Tribulation day tour
  • Waterfall day tour

Day 5 & 6

Koala climbing on a tree trunk with leaves

Magnetic Island beach days

Disembark Cairns with your sights set on the palm-tree fringed Magnetic Island! Maggie Islands, as the locals call it, is home to abundant wildlife, beautiful blue waters and magnificent beaches. Spend the next two days exploring and living it up in tropical paradise!


Magnetic Island accommodation

Day 7 & 8

Group of backpackers in togs by the Airlie Lagoon

Airlie Beach, here we come!

Let the good times roll with a chill trip to the vibrant backpacker city of Airlie Beach! Plug in your headphones and gaze out at the gorgeous scenery of the East Coast as you head to this tropical town known as the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. Then, spend your days checking out the many free things to do, including swimming in the lagoon, checking out the local live music and exploring the many bars and eateries on the esplanade!


Central Airlie Beach hostel

Trip Upgrade

  • Scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef

Day 9, 10 & 11

Group of young people on a boat at sunset

Whitsunday sailing, snorkelling & island hopping!

Ahoy there, today you’re embarking on your two-day, two-night sailing adventure through the Whitsunday Islands. Relax on the famous white sands of Whitehaven Beach, gaze at the everchanging views of Hill Inlet and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef! Have some fun with the onboard waterslide, and let your knowledgeable crew guide you to their favourite spots in the truly stunning tropical wonderland! Arrive back into the mainland with a tan and camera roll full of sun-soaked shots, before donning your finest threads to the VIP afterparty in Airlie Beach where good tunes, company and drinks are flowing!


Day 9 & 10 – Shared cabin aboard your spacious vessel

Day 11 - Central Airlie Beach hostel

Day 12

Fraser Coast aerial shot with blue waters and golden sands

Travel day to Rainbow Beach

Today is your biggest travel day, and the perfect chance to catch up on some much-needed R&R! Plug in your headphones, get comfy and gaze out at that lush East Coast scenery.


Overnight bus to Rainbow Beach

Day 13 & 14

Woman with backpack in forest

Discover Rainbow Beach

Spend the next two days relaxing, exploring and revelling in natural wonder, abundant in the hidden gem of Rainbow Beach. Relax on quiet beaches, swim in salty oceans, check out the bustling and charming town or add on a dolphin kayak to rub shoulders with these gorgeous creatures! 


Coastal Rainbow Beach hostel

Trip Upgrade

  • Rainbow Beach Dolphin Kayak tour 

Day 15, 16 & 17

Maheno Shipwreck with splash coming off the ruins

K’gari (Fraser Island) guided 4WD camping discovery! 

Head over to K’gari, the world’s largest sand island, bright and early and begin your multiday guided discovery! This unique and tranquil island is home to abundant ecosystems including beachy coastlines, freshwater lakes, ancient rainforests and Aussie bush. Visit the many incredible gems of K’gari, such as Lake Mackenzie, Maheno Shipwreck, Lake Wabby, Eli Creek, Central Station and more on this authentic and natural tour. Settle down at night to your campsite while you bask in crackling campfire afterglows and hear the waves rolling into shore! After your 3 days and 2 nights on K’gari, return on the barge to the mainland with that unmistakable island glow!


Day 15 & 16 - Starlit beach camping on K’gari with excellent facilities

Day 17 - Central Rainbow Beach hostel

Day 18 & 19

Noosa beaches with a surfer

Noosa dreamin’!

Continue on your Sunshine Coast adventures, heading straight to beach bum heaven (aka Noosa)! You’re deluxe central hostel awaits, so check in and head straight to Hastings Street for a cocktail and beach sunset! The surf is up, the sun is out and good vibes are rolling, spend a couple of days embarking on one of the many awesome free things to do in Noosa. Or, explore the Noosa Everglades for an experience to remember with an additional add-on tour.


Deluxe hostel in the heart of Sunshine Beach

Trip Upgrade

  • Noosa Everglade kayak tour

Day 20 & 21

Brisbane city landscape

Brisbane city lights grace your sights! 

Arrive in Brisbane on day 20 of your chocka-block itinerary and check in to your central hostel! Then, this unique and bustling city is brimming with free and fun things to do, so get in amongst it! Spend your days wandering gardens, shopping, swimming and relaxing, and your nights boogying in the lively party district by moonlight! 


Central Brisbane hostel 

Day 22 & 23

Two women walking on a Gold Coast beach

Surf’s up in the Gold Coast

Continue your southbound journey to the backpacker-renowned Surfers Paradise, where Gold Coast city life and beachy paradise meet! Pick your poison and enjoy either a city bonanza or beach escape… or both! Browse the awesome array of shops, clubs and eateries, before catching an unmissable sunset from Surfers! 


Hostel in the heart of laid-back Gold Coast

Day 24, 25 & 26

Two people looking out at the Byron ocean

Byron Bay bliss 

You’re en route to the famous Byron Bay on day 24, arriving in the afternoon to check in to your awesome beachy hostel! Wander this eclectic and bohemian town, renowned for its natural beauty, incredible beaches and backpacker vibes. Wake up for your half-day surf lesson on day 25, where a local will take you out and show you how to live it up like a total beach babe, before a free final day in this funky coastal town! Check out the many eateries in town… Byron is renowned for great coffee and vegan food! 


Hostel near the beach in Byron

Day 27

Woman looking out of a bus window

Travel to Sydney

Depart Byron after one final ocean swim, and rest up on another long leg of travel. Kick back and post your FOMO-inducing Aussie pics from your awesome road trip, gazing out at the rolling coastal scenery on the way! 


Overnight bus to Sydney

Day 28

Man in an ECT tshirt looking at the Harbour Bridge

Adios, arrivederci, farewell! 

Arrive in Sydney, the iconic Aussie city home to the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Luna Park! It is, indeed, time to go your own way as your fun-filled itinerary comes to an end. Check out our backpacker guide to things to do in Sydney as well as our accommodation and tours to extend your time in this stunning urban hub!

Trip Upgrade

What's Included?

  • Great Barrier Reef tour including 1 introductory dive
  • Return ferry to Magnetic Island from Townsville
  • 2-day 2-night Whitsundays social sailing adventure
  • Luggage storage Airlie Beach
  • 3-day 2-night K'gari tag-along camping safari
  • Half-day Byron Bay surf lesson
  • All bus transport from Cairns to Sydney
  • Meals during your tours
  • 27 nights of accommodation (hostels, overnight buses, sailing cabins and island camping)

What's Extra?

  • Cape Tribulation day tour
  • Scenic Heart Reef flight 
  • Cairns waterfall day tour
  • Rainbow Beach dolphin kayak
  • Noosa Everglade Kayak
  • Van or rental car transport
  • Private hostel accommodation

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 connect with natural marvels.

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

Is this trip guided?

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?

4 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 4 dinners lunches are included in this itinerary package. The rest of the meals are up to you, and you will have plenty of access to bars, restaurants 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 beachfront, poolside and city-centre hostels on this trip. A highlight is definitely your Magnetic Island oceanview hostel! You will sleep in a shared cabin aboard your deluxe Whitsunday vessel. On your K'gari 4WD tour, you'll be spending two nights at your beachside campsite with hot showers and all gear supplied. You also have 2 overnight buses.

Can I upgrade to private rooms rather than shared dorms?

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

What kind 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 itinerary?

Simply chat with our friendly travel agents to personalise your itinerary before you book. We wouldn't blame you for wanting longer in the Byron Bay surf 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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