Choosing a hotel can be complicated; conquering a country is even more confusing. To help families embarking on more ambitious travels, we’re launching a new series of itineraries, where we’ll break down a day-by-day guide to crushing the multi-stop tour. First up, Australia. Since some of the country’s best lodges don’t allow children under ten, we’ve created two options: one for younger families, one for parents traveling with tweens and teens.
Under 10yrs old
Days 1-3: Sydney
Check into the Park Hyatt with views over the Sydney Opera House. Conquer jet lag with trips to the Taronga Zoo and Sydney Aquarium, playing on Bondi Beach (do the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk if the kids are up for it), cruising the harbor and shopping the stalls at the Rocks Markets.
Days 4-7: Great Barrier Reef
Take a flight from Sydney to Hamilton Island’s Great Barrier Reef Airport, where staff from the One & Only Hayman Island meet you for a one-hour cruise to the resort. Snorkeling and diving are the most popular activities, and there’s even a PADI dive program for kids to learn the basics (a kids’ club, too, so mom and dad can get some downtime).
Days 8-11: Tasmania
Skip down to the country’s southern edge for a visit to Tasmania and a very different coastal experience. Saffire is more an adventure lodge than a beach resort, with days of biking, fishing, hiking and scoping local wildlife. Adventurous eater alert: don’t miss the visit to a working oyster farm. Extra points for spending a night in Hobart, where you can tour the original prison, a reminder of the area’s convict history. (Saffire is a 2.5-hour drive from the Hobart airport, which is where you’ll arrive after a connecting flight through Sydney from Great Barrier Reef.)
Days 12-14: Australian Bush
Fly back to Sydney and drive to Emirates Wolgan Valley for a true Australian Bush experience, complete with kangaroos and the rare albino wallaroo hopping around in their native territory. The lodge is next to the Blue Mountains and between two national parks, so this is boot territory - riding or hiking. Kids can join the junior rangers program learning about Aboriginal culture, bush survival techniques and animal tracking. Bragging rights when they return to school: guaranteed.
Over 10yrs old
Days 1-3: Sydney
The older crowd follows a pretty similar path to the younger, with one major exception: the Bridge Climb. To hike the route over the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, you must be over ten years old - and able to handle heights. If the Park Hyatt is booked, consider the Four Seasons or the Shangri-La.
Days 4-7: Great Barrier or Great Southern Reef
Families with kids ten and up have far more choices when it comes to high-end reef experiences. Lizard Island reopens this spring with a fresh look, and its setting directly on the Barrier Reef is ideal (most Barrier Reef resorts require a boat or plane ride to access the reef). If the logistics of reaching this far-flung haven feels overly complicated, consider Capella Lodge, a direct flight from Sydney to Lord Howe island. The island sits within the Great Southern Reef, plus there’s great hiking and biking when you’re ready for a break from the lagoons.
Older families will love Tasmania as much as the younger ones, but they can also substitute Capella’s stunning sister hotel, Southern Ocean Lodge, for their wilderness experience. Kangaroo Island is considered Australia’s Galapagos, with a huge range of native wildlife and a serious devotion to conservation. Don’t miss the seal colonies and cliff trekking.
Make like the toddlers and end the trip at the Emirates Wologan Valley for the authentic Australia Bush experience. While the resort accepts families of all ages, they recommend it as a best match for kids ages eight and up.