4 Week Sydney To Cairns Explorer

5.0 (4 Reviews)

Select Date and Passengers

Adult (18+)
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Airlie Beach + Island

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2-night 4WD Tour

Cairns Icon | East Coast Tours Australia


Reef + Rainforest

Camping Icon | East Coast Tours Australia


Beach Campsite

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Social Vessel

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Great Barrier Reef

Accommodation Icon | East Coast Tours Australia


Hostels + Cabins + Beach Camping

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Included In Tours

28 Day Sydney To Cairns Explorer


From the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge to the lush rainforests of Cairns, slow it down and truly experience the Aussie East Coast with the 28-Day Explorer Itinerary! Immerse yourself in some of the most incredible natural marvels in the world like the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Dividing Range and the Whitsunday Islands, with an array of unique and local experiences at your fingertips!

Surf the waves of Byron Bay, meet new mates in Gold Coast, take a dip in the Noosa fairy pools, cuddle a koala on Magnetic Island, dance the nights away in Brisbane city, 4WD down K’gari’s shores and sail into the Whitsunday Island sunset! With plenty of time to do your own thing as well as a multitude of award-winning tours, see all of the best corners of Australia like the true explorer you are!

  • Perfect for adventurous travellers with snorkelling, scuba diving, 4WDing, camping and sailing!
  • Embark on experiences perfect for backpackers with social atmospheres and excellent value for money.
  • Spend longer in each tropical destination with this extended itinerary designed to showcase the relaxed coastal lifestyle!
  • Chill out and focus on making memories with 24/7 support and all transport and accommodation sorted!

Your Sample Itinerary

Day 1 

Two people outside of Sydney Opera House

From Sydney to laid-back Byron Bay

Arrive in Sydney by your own means of transport before embarking on a relaxing overnight journey to the waves of Byron Bay! Or, if you're looking for some pre-tour fun in Sydney, check out our many tours and welcome packages to tick off icons like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House!


Overnight bus to Byron Bay

Trip Extension 


Day 2, 3 & 4

Surf beach in Byron Bay

Byron Bay vibin’!

Take it easy with three days in the bohemian beach wonderland of Byron Bay! Spend day two exploring the town at your own pace - we recommend a walk to the lighthouse, a swim at the beach and a delicious lunch at one of the many eateries in town! On day three, catch some waves with an included surf lesson, where your local teacher will have you shredding in no time! On day four, unwind and discover Byron like a local with another free day… a stunning beach sunset is a total must! 


Byron Bay beachy hostel

Day 5 & 6

Gold Coast beach with two women walking along

Say g’day to the Gold Coast!

From the hippie paradise of Byron Bay to the lights of Surfers Paradise, hit this iconic backpacker beach city! Explore the marvellous beaches, vivid nightlife and fun and bubbly vibes. Take advantage of where the city meets beach life at your own pace, doing as much or as little as you want!


Hostel in the heart of Surfers Paradise


Day 7 & 8

Brisbane city with ferry down the river

Discover Brisbane

Head north towards Brisbane, a city of relaxed vibes, culture and bustling things to do! Whether you’re cruising down the Brisbane River on a CityCat, picnicking in the Botanical Gardens, wandering the CBD or partying the nights away in Fortitude Valley, you’re bound to find your jam in this unique and backpacker-friendly city! 



Central hostel in Brisbane

Day 9 & 10

Three people walking and pointing at surfers Noosa

Noosa waves & sunny days

Continue on to the Sunshine Coast, where you will be staying in the iconic and simply stunning Noosa! Home to glassy beaches, awesome waves, tranquil little surfy towns and funky cafes, you can’t miss a stop in Noosa on your East Coast adventure! Your time here is super flexible, so spend the whole time by the beach or book into a Noosa Everglades kayak tour… it’s up to you!


Deluxe hostel in Noosa

Trip Upgrade

  • Noosa Everglades Kayak tour

Day 11 & 12

Woman looking at a sunset at the Rainbow Beach sandblow

Rainbow Beach adventuring!

Make your way to Rainbow Beach, named after the spectacular sandy hues visible at every shore! Spend your time soaking up the sun and natural marvels of this quirky town, full of cute cafes and spectacular beaches for days. Go for swims, check out the local sand blow or book into a dolphin kayak tour to rub shoulders with these friendly creatures!


Rainbow Beach accommodation

Trip Upgrade

  • Dolphin kayak tour

Day 13, 14 & 15

Group of young people in front of Maheno Shipwreck

K’gari (Fraser Island) 4WD Camping Safari

Head over to K’gari, a hidden gem and backpacker paradise, where you will embark on the camping adventure of your dreams! Discover incredible swimming spots like Lake Wabby, Lake Mackenzie and Eli Creek, as well as iconic sights like the Maheno Shipwreck and towering ancient rainforests. This fully inclusive and lively tour will have you camping by the beach in the evenings, with campfires, great company and delicious dinners to adorn your nights! 


Day 13 & 14 - beachside camping on K’gari

Day 15 - Rainbow Beach hostel

Day 16

Man in a bus with an iphone

Hit the road to Airlie Beach!

Depart Rainbow Beach with a tan and unforgettable memories of K’gari as you revel in a chill day of travel to Airlie Beach! Post your favourite shots to the socials, write in that travel journal, listen to music or just nap as you recover from your jam-packed adventures!


Overnight bus to Airlie Beach

Day 17

Lagoon aerial shot Airlie Beach

Welcome to Airlie Beach

Wake up in paradise as you explore the stunning Airlie Beach. Renowned as a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and backpacker hub, spend your day discovering the many boutiques, restaurants and public facilities like the free lagoon!


Central Airlie Beach hostel

Day 18, 19 & 20

New Horizon Vessel in the Whitsundays

Social sailing the Whitsunday Islands

Board your spacious and grand sailing vessel as you depart for the dazzling gems nestled in the Whitsunday Islands. The sun is beaming, the vibes are high and the natural marvels are abundant, so let’s dive in! Spend your days snorkelling through the Great Barrier Reef, relaxing on Whitehaven Beach and hidden islands, and trekking up to vantage points like Hill Inlet Lookout! All meals are included, and in the evenings, let the party start with music and awesome social atmospheres! Sail back into Airlie at mid-morning on day 20, and check back into your central hostel before freshening up and hitting the town! Your sail includes a VIP afterparty at the hottest club in town with the rest of your crew and new mates… it’s time to dance the night away!


Day 18 & 19 - Shared cabin accommodation aboard your Whitsunday vessel

Day 20 - Central Airlie Beach hostel

Day 21

Airlie Beach "Heart of the Reef" sign

Airlie Beach chilling 

Your final day in Airlie Beach is completely up to you! Whether you’re hanging by the beach, lagoon, esplanade or just relaxing around your backpacker hostel, keep it cruisy and tropical! Or, if you’re seeking just a bit more adventure, book into a breathtaking scenic flight over Heart Reef or a thrilling skydive in paradise!


Central Airlie Beach hostel

Trip Upgrade

  • Skydive
  • Scenic reef flight

Day 22 & 23

Woman reading a book on a beach

Relax on the shores of Magnetic Island

From Airlie Beach, make your way to Townsville, where an island ferry awaits! Arrive at Magnetic Island for the secluded chill session you certainly need by now! With some of the clearest waters you’ll ever see, grab a towel and relax beachside with your mates. Or, venture to the wildlife centre and check out the local koalas munching on some tasty gum leaves! It’s all beachy days and worry-free chilling on Maggie Island, so take time to really slow it down.


Magnetic Island accommodation

Day 24

Two women taking a selfie in Cairns

Cairns, here we come! 

Arrive at Cairns in the afternoon and check into your central hostel. Hit the town and grab a delicious dinner and perhaps a cocktail as you immerse yourself in the bustling tropical hub that is Cairns… it really is where the rainforest and the reef meet! 


Hostel in Cairns’ centre

Day 25

Two people snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef

Snorkel and scuba the Great Barrier Reef

Head out on a simply awestriking and jam-packed reef tour today as your local crew takes you to the finest spots of the Great Barrier Reef! Whether you’re a snorkeller or diver, or just want to try it out, dive in and explore the underwater wonderland that is this world-heritage ecosystem! Swim with numerous fish, majestic turtles, giant clams and corals of all shapes, colours and textures! Enjoy a complimentary lunch and snacks on your all-inclusive day trip so you can focus on the best bits of this marine adventure!


Hostel in Cairns’ centre

Day 26, 27 & 28

Woman in the tea plantations in Cairns

Do Cairns your way!

To wrap up your journey through the sublime East Coast, explore Cairns your way with two ultimate free days in this tropical haven! Whether you’re keen to hang around in town wandering through markets and local live music, or want to head out on an additional Cape Tribulation & Daintree day trip, Cairns is your oyster! On day 28 of your dreamy itinerary, check out of your accommodation and say g’day to the next leg of your adventures!


Day 27 - Hostel in Cairns’ centre

Trip Extension

Trip Upgrade

  • Cape Tribulation day trip
  • Waterfall day trip

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 Sydney to Cairns
  • Meals during your tours
  • 27 nights of accommodation (hostels, overnight buses, sailing cabins and island camping)

What's Extra?

Trip Upgrade

  • Cape Tribulation day tour
  • Cairns Waterfall Tour
  • Scenic Heart Reef Flight 
  • Airlie Beach Skydive
  • Rainbow Beach Dolphin kayak
  • Noosa Everglade Kayak
  • Van or rental car transport
  • Private hostel accommodation

Trip Extension

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 the gorgeous locations on the way!

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.

Are meals included?

4 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 4 dinners 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.

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.

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, and 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 flights included?

No, flights are not included in this itinerary. We recommend a flight comparison site to get the best deal for your tickets to Australia.

Customer Reviews

Morgan Bradley

Feb, 29 2024


Morgan Bradley

Feb, 29 2024


Morgan Bradley

Feb, 29 2024

No problems at all, great way to travel the east coast

Morgan Bradley

Feb, 29 2024

Really fun experience and great staff.

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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