Trying to figure out things to do on the Tasman Peninsula you would be forgiven for thinking it’s going to be an expensive exercise. Scenic helicopter flights and prohibitively expensive tours dominate any Google search. But! If you look a little closer not only are there plenty of free things to do on the Tasman Peninsula, the best experiences here don’t cost a cent!
Anywhere we are planning to visit, the first step in researching a destination is plugging it straight into Google.
$500 to walk myself fifty kilometers along the Three Capes Walk? No thanks.
Boat cruises for $200 plus? Maybe for some, but not for us.
Even a visit to the historic Port Arthur Jail is a bit of a turn off for $40 per person if you are trying to travel on a budget!
Thankfully, the Tasman Peninsula’s biggest drawcard is its wild and rugged beauty. Enjoying and appreciating this naturally spectacular destination needn’t cost anything at all. They say the best things in life are free, and while that may be debatable, when it comes to the best things to do on the Tasman Peninsula, it holds true.
On this isolated peninsula in southern Tasmania, our favourite activities were exploring the coastline and discovering the amazing geological structures and natural beauty of the peninsula.
These are the best free things to do on the Tasman Peninsula.
Free Things to Do on the Tasman Peninsula
The Tasman National Park
The Tasman National Park runs along the eastern and southern coastline of the peninsula protecting the incredible natural diversity and stunning geological formations that can be found along this special section of the Tasmanian coastline.
The most spectacular attractions of the Tasman Peninsula can be found within the various sections of the park, and we spent most of our time on the Tasman Peninsula exploring the park, visiting the various beaches, natural landmarks, and walking trails throughout.
Tasman Bay National Park Lookout
The first stop on your tour of the Tasman Peninsula is the Tasman Bay National Park Lookout. Turn left off the Arthur Highway (A9) onto Pirate Bay Drive before the highway descends to Eaglehawk Neck. The steep and worn out road takes you down the hill, emerging onto a cleared section with sweeping views of Pirates Bay, and, on a clear day, the incredible rock formations of the Tasman Peninsula stretching away behind it.
We got up early to enjoy the lookout in the morning summer sun and it was spectacular. It left us all the more excited to explore this special place.
From here, rather than return to the highway, continue on Pirate Bay Drive to reach Eaglehawk Neck.
Visit Eaglehawk Neck
This narrow isthmus connects the Forestier Peninsula (which itself is only just connected to Tasmania by a narrow isthmus) to the Tasman Peninsula. At the northern end of Eaglehawk you’ll find the Tessellated Pavement, a geological formation where a striking pattern has been formed on the flat rocky headland at the northern end of Pirates Bay
The eastern beach of Eaglehawk Neck is beautiful with short dunes covered in low vegetation, flowers and berries. Watch for signs warning of recent pesticides used on the berries before popping a few in your mouth. The sandy beach offers a consistent wave for surfers.
From Eagle Hawk Neck continue on to the southern end of the neck to discover Doo Town.
In this pretty town on the fringes of the Tasman National Park, half the attraction is the charming coastal village and its picturesque location. The other half? Riding around looking at the various Doo puns people have used to name their houses and businesses. Since the 1930’s, residents have been in on the joke coming up with creative ways to incorporate their town’s moniker into their property titles. Spot the ever so polite ‘Doo Come In’, the refreshingly honest ‘Doo Fuck All’, and the enviable ‘Doo-ing it easy’
From Doo Town continue onward to discover some of the Tasman Peninsula’s geological formations.
Discover the Tasman Blowhole, the Tasman Arch and the Devils Kitchen
Undoubtedly some of the most impressive formations on the peninsula, visiting these landmarks is one of the best free things to do on the Tasman Peninsula. At the northern end of Pirate Bay, follow the C338 road into the northern section of the Tasman National Park. Here You’ll find the Tasman Blowhole, the Tasman Arch, and the Devil’s Kitchen. Three examples of the incredible rock formations forged by erosion by the sea on the rock cliffs for millions of years and three of the best free things to do on the Tasman Peninsula.
Your first stop is the Tasman Blowhole. A blowhole is similar to a geyser but in the ocean. Make sure to visit when the tide is coming in for the most impressive views!
Next, it is on to the Tasman Arch, a naturally formed arch formed by erosion over the Southern Ocean. Just a short walk later through the sclerophyl forest, you will find yourself at a lookout over the dramatic sea cliffs.
Continue onward to find the Devil’s Kitchen, a naturally formed sea cave.
From here you can continue on foot to Waterfall Bay on a 3.4km return hike along the precipice with endless views across the Southern Ocean and the rugged coastline.
You can also reach Waterfall Bay by car along Waterfall Bay Road as you head back towards the A9.
It is also possible to continue onto Fortescue Bay by foot along the Tasman Coastal Trail. The Tasman Coastal Trail is a 19km one-way hike along the dramatic coastline from Waterfall Bay to Fortescue Bay and provides views over Cape Hauy.
Back in the car it’s time to return to the Arthur Highway before setting out south toward Fortescue Bay.
Take a Dip at Fortescue Bay
To reach Fortescue Bay follow the Arthur Highway towards Port Arthur turning left onto Fortescue Bay Road.
Upon arrival you would be forgiven for believing you had taken a wrong turn and ended up at the Caribbean Sea rather than the Antarctic Ocean.
With yachts moored in the clear green water, children splashing in the shallows, and bodies laid out sunbathing on the sparkling white beach, it can be difficult to reconcile that you are standing at the shore of the Southern Ocean with nothing between you and the Antarctic continent.
When I think of Tasmania I think of wilderness, cold and strong gales but places like Fortescue Bay, Wine Glass Bay, and the Bay of Fires remind us that Tassie is also home to some of the Australia’s (and by extension the world’s) best beaches. It’s just a shame the water is so cold!
Never the less, if you find yourself in Fortescue Bay on a hot sunny day in summer, taking a dip in the bracing, but refreshing waters is one of the best free things to do on the Tasman Peninsula! All the more if you’ve just finished the hike to Cape Hauy, Cape Pillar, or Bivouac Bay!
You can also camp at Fortescue Bay but be warned it is a popular destination during summer weekends and school holidays, so avoid these busy times if possible! If you do find yourself heading here on a busy weekend, book in advance to avoid missing out.
Bivouac Bay Walk
If you enjoy remote, hike-in camping, Bivouac Bay is accessible via the Tasman Coastal Trail. The Bivouac Bay section of the trail begins at the eastern end of Fortescue Bay Beach. The trail takes walkers through scrub, forest, and fern, along the pristine wilderness coastline to a sheltered campsite on the small bay.
Experience the Three Capes Walk Free
Once upon a time, the three capes were just that, three capes. Cape Hauy, Cape Pillar and Cape Raoul are considered some of Tasmania’s most beautiful and recognizable landmarks. And, they have always been accessible to any bushwalker interested in (and capable of) making the journey.
Since 2015, the three capes have become synonymous with the Three Capes Track, an all-inclusive, walking experience managed by the Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service. The experience which includes cabins and boat transfers costs upwards of $500.
However, you can easily hike the three capes of the Three Capes Walk for free! Or, at least for the price of a Tasmania National Park Pass.
Cape Hauy Walk
Traveling north to south the first cape of the three is Cape Hauy. Leaving from Fortescue Bay, this moderately challenging, 9.4km hike takes between two and four hours.
Walkers are rewarded with spectacular 270 degree of the surrounding bays and sea cliffs. The cape itself is an incredible geological formation remarkable for its dolerite columns.
After reaching the cape, you can return to Fortescue Bay or join the Cape Pillar Track and tick off another of the Three Capes. The addition of Cape Pillar to your itinerary adds another 30km to your journey so bring your tent and hiking pack!
Cape Pillar Walk
The Cape Pillar Walk can be reached from the Cape Hauy track or from Fortescue Bay. This 30-kilometer round trip is usually undertaken as a two or three-day walk with hikers camping at the two campsites along the trail.
Cape Raoul Walk
A 14-kilometer in-and-out track takes walkers high on sea cliffs to the impressive Cape Raoul. Cape Raoul is one of the three capes for which the Tasman Peninsula is most known. Funnily enough, you don’t actually hike Cape Raoul as part of the official Three Capes Walk. Luckily you can do this walk yourself as a moderately demanding day walk.
Cape Raoul is accessible via the car park at the end of Stormlea Road. A sidetrack to Shipstern Bluff is also accessible from this car park which is the most famous Tasmania surf destination known for its massive waves which can reach as high as nine meters. Tackle this 8km return hike for a glimpse at some of the world’s best surfing!
Past Port Arthur follow Safety Cove Road through the pretty rural region of the southern peninsula. Farms and tiny shacks can be spotted among the rolling paddocks where lucky cows thoughtfully survey the shimmering bay below.
Wind back down to sea level and turn onto Dog Bark Road. Here you can park and walk out onto the white sands of Safety Cove where the impressive cliffs of Cape Pillar on the Tasman Peninsula cascade into the distance across the bay.
Jump back in the car and drive over the next headland to reach the Remarkable Cave and Crescent Bay.
Explore Remarkable Cave
Remarkable Cave was closed for renovation when we visited, but it is supposed to be one of the best free things to do on the Tasman Peninsula.
A short boardwalk takes walkers to a viewing platform where they can witness the long tunnel of rock that has been eroded where the sea surges through. Surfers are known to use the tunnel to paddle out!
Even though we weren’t able to visit the cave this trip, the exposed Maignon Bay lookout was worthwhile on its own and there is the opportunity to explore more of the national park via walking tracks.
From the Remarkable Cave car park, several walks are available. Discover the Maingon Blowhole (1 hr 30mins return), Mt. Brown (4 hr return), and Crescent Bay (4 hr return).
Further onward on the eastern side of the Tasman Peninsula is White Beach.
The clear tranquil waters lap at the impossibly fine white sand of White Beach. Undeveloped and unspoiled the pretty beach is the perfect place for an evening stroll and taking in the beautiful sunset.
White Beach is also popular for fishing, kayaking, and for mooring sailboats.
Getting to the Tasman Peninsula
We started our journey, like many others will from Hobart on a Friday afternoon. Making our way east through Sorrell toward the coast, we stopped at Boomer Bay to fuel up on oysters at Blue Lagoon Oysters, cheese and wine at Cape Bernier, a final blow out before turning south toward Donnelly to begin our weekend of hiking, exploring, and self-sufficiency.
The Tasman Peninsula is 100km from Hobart via the beautiful (albeit windy) Arthur Highway.
Like most places in Tasmania, self-driving is the best way to explore the countryside, forest, and coast at your own speed and pace. It is also much more economical than taking a tour.
You can easily rent a car or camper in Hobart and we reckon, a campervan is a great way to explore the Tasman Peninsula.
When to Visit the Tasman Peninsula
Tasmania is beautiful year round, but we really enjoyed exploring the Tasman Peninsula in summer when the temperatures are mild and the day light last for 15 or more hours.
Wild and exposed, winter temperatures and frequent inclement weather can make exploring the Tasman Peninsula in winter awful or adventurous, depending on your point of view.
Paid & Free Camping Tasman Peninsula
One of the best things to do, throughout Tasmania is to camp and this is especially true on the Tasman Peninsula. There are a handful of free and very cheap campsites here as well as a number of caravan parks.
Free Camping Tasman Peninsula
Walk-In Remote Camping in the Tasman National Park
The only official free camping on the Tasman Peninsula are the hike campsites within the Tasman National Park, and even these campsites require a National Parks Pass.
Hike-in camping can be found along the Cape Pillar track which originates at Fortescue Bay and at Bivouac Bay which is also accessible from Fortescue Bay.
These are remote campsites with only basic or no facilities.
The Dunalley Hotel
This hotel at Dunalley offers free camping in a grassy paddock next to the pub when you patron the hotel. While not on the Tasman Peninsula, it’s an easy (and beautiful) twenty-minute drive to the Tasman Peninsula. The Dunalley Hotel is a great base to begin a tour of the Peninsula.
Paid Camping Tasman Peninsula
Lime Bay Camping
This campground in the northwest part of the peninsula is not in the Tasman National Park but is part of the Lime Bay State Reserve. This beautiful campground right on the beach at Lime Bay is popular for fishing and kayaking.
Facilities are limited to toilets and campfires. Camping costs $13 for up to 2 people and $5 for each additional person. Camping cannot be pre-booked and you have to self-register and pay via drop box (with the correct money) on arrival.
A word of warning, this is a popular spot for travelers and local visitors alike and it can get busy especially during school holidays, public holidays, and summer weekends. If it’s possible to visit outside of these times you should!
Fortescue Bay Camping
Fortescue Bay is the only national park camping accessible by vehicle on the peninsula. Beautifully located on the breathtaking Fortescue Bay, it is perfectly situated for walking the capes, swimming in the bay, fishing, and boating too.
Facilities include toilets and showers. Camping costs $13 for up to 2 people and $5 for each additional person and should be booked well in advance to avoid missing out on this popular campground.
Tasman RSL Club
Cheap campsites in the car park for self-contained campers only. Each night costs $20 per site but includes a $10 voucher for the bar. Toilets and showers are available when RSL club is open. Showers cost an additional $2. No power or water available.
Campsite at Cape Raoul Trail Head
We saw this private campsite when we began our Cape Raoul hike. The costs for this campsites is $10 per person, but appears to include a sauna which would be quite enjoyable after a long day hike! This location appears to welcome tent campers.
Caravan Parks Tasman Peninsula
- NRMA Port Arthur Holiday Park Garden Point
- Caravan park for self-contained caravans and campers. Sites starting from $30.
- Taranna Cottages and Campervan Park
- Cheap sites for self-contained campers with sites starting from $10.
- White Beach Tourist Park
- Tent and vehicle camping available at this popular caravan park at the pristine White Beach. Unpowered sites start from $26 per night.
Accommodation on the Tasman Peninsula
Not interested in camping? No problem, there is plenty of accommodation on the Tasman Peninsula to suit any budget!
Storm Bay B&B
For travelers looking for a fantastic bed and breakfast experience, Storm Bay offers comfortable rooms with views of the beautiful White Beach and a warm welcome!
Ruby’s Farm Stay
A small cottage on a charming farm this cottage is perfect for family or friends looking to stay together.
Osprey Lodge & Bungalow
These bungalows located in Eaglehawk Neck offer some of the best views and the best accommodation on the peninsula. Comfortable and well-appointed studios are available as is a family-sized holiday home. A popular spot, bookings should be made well in advance.
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