16 days in Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne & Sydney Itinerary

16 days in Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne & Sydney Itinerary

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Route & dates

16 days in Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne & Sydney Itinerary

Start: San Francisco
Fly:  18​h 45​min
1
Cairns
— 2 nights
bus:  1​h 15​min
2
Port Douglas
— 3 nights
shuttle + Fly:  4​h
3
Whitsunday Island
— 1 night
Fly:  4​h 30​min
4
Melbourne
— 3 nights
Fly:  3​h 30​min
5
Sydney
— 4 nights
Fly:  17​h
End: San Francisco

2
nights
Cairns

A neat, cosmopolitan city of shaded plazas and laid-back neighborhoods, Cairns serves as a popular base for exploration of the surrounding region and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as a center for watersport activities like surfing or waterskiing.
Escape the urban bustle at Scuba & Snorkeling and Esplanade Boardwalk. Change things up with these side-trips from Cairns: Palm Cove (Palm Cove Beach & Village Gallery). Spend the 30th (Mon) wandering through the wild on a nature and wildlife tour.

To find other places to visit, maps, photos, and tourist information, you can read our Cairns journey planner.

San Francisco, USA to Cairns is an approximately 19-hour flight. You can also do a combination of train and flight. Traveling from San Francisco to Cairns, you'll lose 18 hours due to the time zone difference. Prepare for somewhat warmer weather when traveling from San Francisco in September: high temperatures in Cairns hover around 83°F and lows are around 66°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 1st (Tue) so you can drive to Port Douglas.

Things to do in Cairns

Outdoors Tours Wildlife

Side Trip

Palm Cove
Find places to stay Sep 29 — Oct 1:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Nature & Wildlife Tours
Palm Cove Beach ©
Palm Cove Beach

3
nights
Port Douglas

A holiday in Port Douglas balances an activity-filled getaway with plenty of opportunities to relax, thanks to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and bustling beach life.
Get outdoors at Safaris and Scuba & Snorkeling. And it doesn't end there: explore and take pictures at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, identify plant and animal life at Opal Reef, and take in the exciting artwork at Des Spencer Galleries.

To find other places to visit, more things to do, and other tourist information, read Port Douglas tour planning site .

Traveling by car from Cairns to Port Douglas takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a shuttle. In October, daily temperatures in Port Douglas can reach 85°F, while at night they dip to 68°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 4th (Fri) so you can travel to Whitsunday Island.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Wildlife Tours Outdoors

Side Trip

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
Find places to stay Oct 1 — 4:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Safaris
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures ©
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures

1
night
Whitsunday Island

Whitsunday Island ©
Start off your visit on the 5th (Sat): explore the activities along Hill Inlet and then enjoy the sand and surf at Whitehaven Beach.

To see where to stay, other places to visit, and other tourist information, go to the Whitsunday Island day trip planning website .

You can do a combination of shuttle and flight from Port Douglas to Whitsunday Island in 4 hours. Other options are to do a combination of shuttle, flight, and bus; or take a train. Traveling from Port Douglas in October, expect slightly colder with lows of 62°F in Whitsunday Island. Cap off your sightseeing on the 5th (Sat) early enough to travel to Melbourne.

Things to do in Whitsunday Island

Parks Outdoors Beaches
Find places to stay Oct 4 — 5:
Highlights from your plan
Hill Inlet ©
Hill Inlet
Whitehaven Beach ©
Whitehaven Beach

3
nights
Melbourne

Melbourne ©
The state of Victoria crown jewel, Melbourne boasts shaded streets, leafy residential neighborhoods, vibrant street life, and a picturesque city center.
Shop till you drop at Melbourne Central and Collins St/Swanston St. Get some cultural insight at Melbourne Museum and Shrine of Remembrance. There's much more to do: admire the natural beauty at Royal Botanic Gardens, admire the masterpieces at National Gallery of Victoria, take a stroll through Degraves Street, and tour the pleasant surroundings at Melbourne Zoo.

To find where to stay, more things to do, other places to visit, and other tourist information, read our Melbourne online trip builder .

Fly from Whitsunday Island to Melbourne in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and flight; or take a train. Traveling from Whitsunday Island in October, things will get a bit cooler in Melbourne: highs are around 69°F and lows about 47°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 8th (Tue) so you can travel to Sydney.

Things to do in Melbourne

Shopping Museums Neighborhoods
Find places to stay Oct 5 — 8:
Highlights from your plan
Melbourne Central ©
Melbourne Central
Royal Botanic Gardens ©
Royal Botanic Gardens
Shrine of Remembrance ©
Shrine of Remembrance

4
nights
Sydney

Sydney ©
Lent iconic status as a result of its famous bridge and opera house, Sydney has a down-to-earth charm that enhances its spectacular setting and functional efficiency.
You'll get in some beach time at Bondi Beach and Manly Beach. Your cultural itinerary includes sights like The Rocks and ATTY Gallery. There's lots more to do: admire the striking features of Sydney Opera House, stroll through The Opera House to the Botanic Gardens Walk, make a trip to Sydney Harbour Bridge, and take in the exciting artwork at Karlangu Aboriginal Art Centre.

To see reviews, traveler tips, more things to do, and other tourist information, go to the Sydney trip builder website .

Fly from Melbourne to Sydney in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of shuttle and flight; or drive. Expect somewhat warmer temperatures when traveling from Melbourne in October; daily highs in Sydney reach 76°F and lows reach 59°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 12th (Sat) to allow time to travel back home.

Things to do in Sydney

Parks Shopping Outdoors
Find places to stay Oct 8 — 12:
Highlights from your plan
Bondi Beach ©
Bondi Beach
The Rocks ©
The Rocks
Sydney Opera House ©
Sydney Opera House

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