Updated: May 10
I recently had the opportunity to experience a nine-night vacation in Australia and Fiji; let me tell you, it was a trip of a lifetime.
I had always wanted to visit Australia and Fiji, and I was not disappointed in the least by the stunning landscapes, friendly locals, and unforgettable experiences that these countries had to offer. From the bustling city of Brisbane to the sandy beaches of the Gold Coast and the stunning natural beauty of Fiji, this vacation had it all. Every day was filled with adventure, from cuddling koalas and scuba diving to wine tasting and exploring national parks.
I can't wait to share my experiences with you in this detailed review. So grab a snack and join me as I take you on a journey through Australia and Fiji, sharing my top recommendations for hotels, activities, and dining.
Of course, Australia is a vast and diverse country with so much to offer travelers. From the iconic Sydney Opera House to the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, there are endless cities and attractions to explore. I was particularly drawn to Brisbane, a city rich in history and culture, and the Gold Coast, with its stunning beaches and outdoor adventures.
Brisbane (3 Nights)
Where to Stay
My journey began in Brisbane, where I stayed at the chic Pacific Hotel. This boutique hotel boasts exceptional customer service and a prime location in Spring Hill, within walking distance of numerous restaurants and historical sites such as City Hall and Roma Street Parkland. The concierge was incredibly helpful in suggesting nearby dining and shopping options and even provided transportation guidance. The hotel offers a delicious all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, but there are also plenty of tasty breakfast options just a short walk away at local cafes.
What to Do
During my time in Brisbane, I visited the Australia Zoo, home of the famous Steve Irwin and his family. The koala cuddle experience was a must-do, and the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors show, featuring Robert Irwin, was not to be missed. So make sure to get to the show 15-30mins early to grab a good seat. We also caught the tiger show, where we saw a blind Tiger named Hunter go on a scavenger hunt.
Pro Tip: Be sure to visit the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital before heading to the main zoo.
In addition to the Australia Zoo, there is plenty to see and do in Brisbane on foot. The city is home to beautiful cathedrals and offers complimentary tours of City Hall or a self-guided museum experience. When it comes to shopping and dining, the Queen Street Mall is an excellent destination. I also recommend signing up for a tour of the Clock Tower at City Hall for stunning city views. Finally, on the weekends, check out the Pop Up Market in South Bank and take a dip in the Beach Lagoon on a hot summer day.
One of the highlights of my trip to Brisbane was a day trip to North Stradbroke Island for scuba diving with Manta Lodge & Scuba Centre. The island itself is charming and residential, and while we weren't able to see any Manta Rays due to the weather, the diving experience was still fantastic.
Pro Tip: Take the Kitty Kat Ferry for a complimentary ride to see the city from the water.
Where to Eat
When it came to dining, Brisbane did not disappoint. Black Bird was a standout for its delicious steak and cocktails, as well as rooftop views. Julius Pizzeria had the best pizza and pasta, and Brew Café & Wine Bar was the perfect spot for a leisurely brunch. Be sure to order the fresh squeezed orange juice here– it was hands down the best I've ever had. It's also worth noting that breakfast ice cream is a thing in Australia, so be sure to indulge while you are there!
The Gold Coast (4 Nights)
Where to Stay
Next, I headed to the Gold Coast, where I stayed for four nights at the Vibe Hotel. While the rooftop area was a nice spot to hang out during the day, the rooms were poorly lit and outdated. I do not recommend this hotel.
Instead, we recommend a stay at the JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa. The rooms are spacious and well-appointed, with stunning views of the surrounding area. The on-site spa is a great place to unwind and rejuvenate, with a wide range of treatments available. The resort also has several restaurants and bars, offering a variety of cuisines to suit every taste. Overall, the JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa is a top-notch destination for travelers seeking a high-quality, indulgent vacation.
What to Do
Despite the subpar accommodation, we still fully immersed ourselves in all that Gold Coast had to offer. I spent time at the beach, watching the surfers, and went scuba diving with Gold Coast Dive Adventures. We attempted to dive the Scottish Prince Shipwreck, but due to poor visibility, we explored the Wonder Reef twice. It was still a fantastic dive experience.
I also took a tour of Mount Tamborine, including wine tasting and a gourmet lunch at a local winery. The Natural Bridge Springbrook Tour was another highlight, offering breathtaking views of the national park, rainforest, and waterfalls. At night, you can even see the glowworms. My favorite Gold Coast area was Broadbeach, home to numerous restaurants and shopping options. When we return to Australia, we plan to stay here.
Where to Eat
When it came to dining on the Gold Coast, there were so many fantastic options to choose from. One restaurant that I must recommend is Miss Moneypenny's. This restaurant had the best vibes, from the aesthetics to the service to the food and cocktails. I highly recommend trying the Barramundi fish here. Just be sure to make a reservation a month in advance, as this popular spot fills up quickly. Luckily, we were able to get a place in the bar area!
Another must-visit for brunch is No Name Lane. This spot has gained popularity for its delicious food, even earning the seal of approval from Blake Lively, who has declared it her favorite breakfast spot. The pancakes here are the best I've ever had, and they even come with ice cream. Trust me; you won't want to miss this one.
For a truly luxurious dining experience, Citrique at the JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa is a must. They offer an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet for $80, and it's well worth the price. The oysters here are particularly delicious. Plus, they offer all-you-can-drink wine on certain days, making it an even better deal.
For a more casual dining experience, Sandbar is a great spot for lunch, with delicious fish and chips and a great breakfast option as well. If you are craving a taste of authentic Italian food, Gemelli Italian is a must. The pasta dishes here are absolutely delicious, and I was tempted to return for more during my short stay! Finally, The Island Bistro is a lovely rooftop bar for cocktails, eats, and live music from a DJ.
Fiji (2 Nights)
I was lucky enough to spend two nights in Fiji, which was an unforgettable experience. The scuba diving here was truly remarkable, and the people were so friendly and welcoming. So if you're planning a trip to Australia, it's worth considering a stopover in Fiji as it's only a four-hour plane ride away from Brisbane.
Pro Tip: If you have a late flight out of Fiji, consider upgrading to the VIP lounge experience at the airport. Our flight left at 11 pm, so we were able to eat, drink, and shower at the airport before our flight. Additionally, keep in mind that Fiji Airways does not participate in the TSA Precheck program, so give yourself plenty of time at LAX if you have TSA Precheck.
Where to Stay
I stayed at the luxurious Shangri-La's Fijian Resort, located on its own private island. This family-friendly resort offers nanny services for those traveling with kids, but I highly recommend staying in the adults-only section if you don't have children with you. The resort is about an hour away from the airport, so short stays are not ideal. However, the resort offers a great dive shop on-site, and beach massages and spa treatments are available at the on-site spa.
What to Do
Fiji is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation. One of the must-do activities during my trip was the Shark Feed Dive at Shangri-La Resort, which was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I also spent a day at the beach, soaking up the sun and enjoying a beach massage at Shangri-La.
For a more immersive cultural experience, the Jewel of Fiji Tour is a great option. This tour includes activities such as river canoeing, swimming in a waterfall, bamboo rafting, and visiting a Fijian village. It was a great way to see more of Fiji and experience the local lifestyle.
Where to Eat
Fiji is home to a wide variety of dining options, from fine dining to local cafes. As we were only here for two nights, I only have a few dining recommendations. At Shangri-La Resort, I tried the Italian restaurant on-site, and I highly recommend the lobster pasta. The resort's breakfast buffet was also fantastic, with a wide variety of options, including pancakes, fresh fruit and juice, pastries, and an omelet station.
Pro Tip: For a taste of local cuisine, try The Junction Café & Restaurant just outside the resort.
Overall, our trip to Australia and Fiji was nothing short of extraordinary. From the breathtaking natural beauty to the charming locals and delicious cuisine, it was a vacation we will never forget. Plus, the dollar is currently strong in Australia, which made us feel good about splurging on nice restaurants and indulging in our passion for scuba diving (which can be an expensive hobby).
Of course, there are so many cities in Australia that we still want to explore, and we will definitely be planning a return trip in the future. But for now, thank you for the memories Australia & Fiji. We can't wait to visit again someday!
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