Complete guide to visiting Bay of Fires Tasmania. A detailed list of things to do, places to see, where to stay and more. Explore one of Australia’s most scenic coastlines with epic photos of the one and only; Bay of Fires.
The Bay of Fires in Tasmania hit the global travel stage in 2015 when it was mentioned in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Places to Visit in the World. However, Tasmanians have long recognised the Bay of Fires as being one of the most beautiful spots in the country.
Perhaps one of the most unique features of the Bay of Fires is the incredible coastal colour pallet. Rich, deep-orange granite boulders scatter the coastline on the banks of fluorescent, turquoise waters. Sweeping white-sand beaches carve the coast as far as the eye can see and weathered, wind-swept bushland hangs onto the edge of its shores.
After spending a fair bit of time exploring this unique Australian icon, I’ve formulated this comprehensive travel guide to the Bay of Fires Tasmania. Here, you’ll find inspiration and ideas for things to do, where to find the best beaches and rock pools, where to stay as well as information about camping and some photos that I hope will inspire your trip.
Where is Bay of Fires in Tasmania?
Bay of Fires is located on Tasmania’s North-East coast. The name refers to the long, 50 km stretch of pristine coastline from Binalong Bay in the south, to Eddystone Point on the northern end.
However, most people tend to visit the area between The Gardens and Binalong Bay for the most pristine beaches, clear-water rock pools and fun things to do.
The Ultimate Tasmania Travel Resource
Looking for more Tasmania travel guides & adventure inspiration? Below are my most comprehensive blog posts that will serve as a great free resource for your trip.
Best Bay of Fires Tour from Hobart
Famous tour option: If you’re planning a trip to Tasmania, consider this epic 5-day adventure from Hobart which is one of the most popular guided trips in Tasmania.
This trip combines the rugged highlights of the east coast including the Bay of Fires and Freycinet National Park (Wineglass Bay) as well as wild rainforest and alpine highlights on the west coast including Strahan and Cradle Mountain.
Book: 5-Day Best of Tasmania Adventure Tour (includes Bay of Fires)
How to Get to the Bay of Fires
To get to the Bay of Fires region, you’ll need to head towards the town of St Helens, which is located approximately 165 kilometres from Launceston, or 252 kilometres from Hobart. St Helens is the main town on the east coast of Tasmania. This is a great place to stock up on food, get water, dump waste and book tours and activities in the Bay of Fires.
From St. Helens, you can get to the Bay of Fires by heading towards Binalong Bay, taking either Binalong Bay Road, C850 (sealed road) or Reids Road, C849 (unsealed road). When we visited, the main sealed road (C850) was closed due to flooding. So, we were forced to take the alternate unsealed road to access the coast.
Don’t worry though, this road is fairly well-maintained and we had no trouble in our big van.
Binalong Bay is a small township within the Bay of Fires area. Most of the epic campsites, white sandy beaches, amazing rock pools and other attractions, activities, and things to do are found along the coast north of Binalong Bay, along Gardens Road (C848).
Bay of Fires Map
Below I’ve formulated a map with all of the highlights listed in this guide to the Bay of Fires Tasmania. It includes some of the rock pools, beaches, camping spots and points of interest. All of the pins are colour coded to help you find the attraction you’re looking for.
Things to do in Bay of Fires Tasmania
Initially, we had only dedicated a short two days to exploring the Bay of Fires on our Tasmanian road trip.
However, we quickly realised that this would be much too short. In the end, we stayed here for over a week exploring all of the best things to do in the Bay of Fires. Below are some of the highlights that I could recommend for anyone visiting the area.
1. Bay of Fires Walks
Since the Bay of Fires coastline stretches over 50 kilometres, covering it all by foot would mean a multi-day hike.
Luckily, there are some reputable tour agencies that operate in the area and lead walkers to the best spots on organised walking tours. Below I’ve linked some of the best in the region.
- Bay of Fires Organised Tour from Launceston
- 5 Day Bay of Fires Walk from Launceston
Self Guided Walks
If you’d prefer to take your own, self-guided walks around some of the Bay of Fires highlights, then I’d suggest having a car. This way, you can drive to most of the spots and enjoy walks along the coast.
Some of my favourite short Bay of Fires walks include:
- Rock-hopping from Swimcart Beach to Sloop Reef
- Walking the stretch of Taylors beach to the Gardens
- Bay of Fires Coastal Walk north of The Gardens
Most of these tracks aren’t official “trails” and won’t be found on maps or in tourist brochures. However, if you check out the points mentioned on the map, you’ll easily find great walking routes along the coast.
2. Swim in Incredible Orange Rock Pools
If you’ve looked up photos of the Bay of Fires on social media, then you know that there are some very scenic, crystal-clear water rock pools in the area. There are loads of awesome spots to discover and all make for a great swim and fantastic photo opportunities.
I recommend just driving around the coastline stopping at the many pull-over points and accessing the beach and headlands. You’ll quickly discover that there are hundreds of beautiful rock pools surrounded by orange ochre boulders.
However, to help you find some of the best Bay of Fires rock pools, I’ve pinned them on the map found above. I’ve also included some photos of the spots below with GPS coordinates to make it easy for you.
Why are the rocks orange at the Bay of Fires?
The ochre boulders scattered along the Bay of Fires coastline are orange due to a combination of algae and fungus known as lichens. These lifeforms live together in a symbiotic relationship and create the orange colour you see on the boulders.
My Favourite: Cozy Corner North Rock Pools
After spending long days exploring the best of the Bay of Fires coastline, I think I found my favourite spot.
At the north of Cozy Corner (Cosy Corner), you’ll find a secluded hidden beach with large lichen-covered orange rocks on both sides. If you continue north around the headland, you’ll soon see a wide and hip-deep turquoise pool hidden behind the huge headland boulders.
However, you’ll need to plan your visit here during high-tide as the water disappears during low tide.
Suicide Beach Rock Pools
While not a very nice name, this south end of this beach near The Gardens has some of the best rock pools in the Bay of Fires. While not very deep, the boulders here are super orange. This creates a beautiful scene where you can swim or simply sit and enjoy the view for hours.
The Lone Tree Pools
The Lone Tree is an iconic tree located at the end of Binalong Bay. Whilst a highlight in itself (especially for photographers) there are also some great rock pools here where you can swim. Unfortunately, the water isn’t quite as blue in Binalong Bay as it is further up the coast. Still, it’s a great spot and I recommend stopping by if you make it to the town.
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The Gardens Rock Pools
The Gardens is a flatter region to the north of Binalong Bay and marks the end of the sealed road in the Bay of Fires. The area is a popular spot to stop and take photos. There are also some great orange boulders here to take photos of just to the right of the walking track leading from the carpark.
Sloop Reef is one of the most scenic spots at the Bay of Fires. Here you’ll find crystal-clear waters and amazing views of the coast line looking north.
This part of the coastline features a higher headland than the rest, where people often camp. The entire area around this headland has some great rock pools to swim in, as well as some secluded, white-sand beaches.
Sloop Reef Accommodation: The Cove
You might be mistaken in thinking that the name “Bay of Fires” originates from the unique orange boulders scattered along the coast. However, the name stems from captain Tobias Furneaux, who sailed past the Bay in 1773 and named it after the hundreds of aboriginal campfires that dotted the coast. Indigenous Australians named the bay Larapuna and recognised the place as an important area for gathering, fishing and conducting ceremonies. You can still see ancient piles of seafood waste known as “middens” all across the Bay of Fires.
3. Visit the Gardens
As mentioned above, the Gardens marks the end of the sealed road heading north from Binalong Bay. It’s also a popular spot for people to stop and admire the coast. There are bird nesting sites here, as well as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Bay of Fires: Fancy Reef.
The coastline here is mostly flat and more cleared than what you’ll find further south. You will also find large private properties with horses grazing next to the ocean.
Accommodation at the Gardens: Driftwood
4. Go Surfing/Beach Hopping
By now, you’ve probably figured out that there are some ridiculously beautiful beaches in the Bay of Fires. One of the best things to do in the area is to go check some out.
For surfing, we noticed that Swimcart Beach and Cozy Corner had good breaks. Some other notable beaches in the Bay of Fires include:
- Jeanneret Beach
- Taylors Beach
- Fancy Reef Beach
- Suicide Beach
5. Photograph the Lone Tree at Binalong Bay
I’ve already mentioned the Lone Tree in the rock pool section above. However, I consider a visit to the tree one of the best things to do in the Bay of Fires, especially for photographers.
In reality, the tree is not that special. It’s simply just a twisted tree growing on some lichen-covered rocks. However, you have to admit that it makes for a great subject, especially when shooting frames at sunset.
Update: Unfortunately, as of November 2021, the lone tree at Binalong Bay is no more. I guess the Tassie winds were just too strong this time around. Rest in peace!
6. Experience Some of Australia’s Best Sunsets
There are so many reasons why this region suits its name so well.
One of those is that the sky absolutely lights up every single night! I’m not sure what it is, or if we simply got lucky, but we found that the Bay of Fires offered us some of the best sunsets we’ve ever seen.
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7. Freedom Camp Right Next to the Beach
I honestly couldn’t believe my ears when I was told that the majority of the campsites in the Bay of Fires are free. There are also loads to choose from, ranging from sandy, beachside spots to isolated camping near the lagoons.
The Bay of Fires is best enjoyed over several days. That way, you can truly experience just how much beauty this region has to offer. Even if you can’t, at least staying for sunset is obligatory in my opinion!
Useful Tips for Visiting Bay of Fires
- Stock up on food and supplies at St Helens as there isn’t much on offer once you reach Binalong Bay.
- You’ll find drinking water and black water dump stations at St Helens Recreation Grounds.
- A National Parks Pass isn’t required to enter the Bay of Fires. However, if you’re planning a visit further north past Ansons Bridge, you will need to buy a pass as this area is within Mount William National Park.
- Try to get in early if visiting on weekends as the best campsites can fill up fast.
- Bring mosquito spray as sandflies and mozzies can get brutal when the sun goes down
Camping at Bay of Fires
While I’ve touched briefly on camping at the Bay of Fires in the above section on things to do, I also thought I’d note the best places to camp.
We spent our first night in our van at Swimcart Beach but quickly moved to Cozy Corner South when we saw there was a free spot with ocean views. We ended up staying here for quite a while since it was truly just so magical. Other free campsites in the region include:
- Dora Point
- Sloop Reef
- Grants Lagoon
For more campsites, make sure to check the Campermate App.
Most of these sites are accessible by 2WD vehicles. However, expect unsealed gravel roads leading from The Gardens Road to each site. You don’t need to book any free campsites in the Bay of Fires as it works on a first-in-first-served basis.
There are plenty of flat spots in nearly all of the campsites for campervans, caravans and tents.
Fires are also permitted along the Bay of Fires coast but collecting firewood isn’t. Therefore, it’s a good idea to stock up in St Helens if you plan on having a fire. Also, all of the campsites we visited had drop-toilets.
Bay of Fires Accommodation
Not planning on camping in the Bay of Fires and looking for a hotel or accommodation instead? Below I’ve summarised the best-reviewed and best deals you’ll find for accommodation in the Bay of Fires Tasmania.
Driftwood at the Gardens
Driftwood is one of the best accommodation homes in the Bay of Fires offering three bedrooms, a TV, full kitchen and incredible ocean views from the balcony.
Another incredible holiday home within 14-minutes of Swimcart Beach. The Cove offers three bedrooms and a full kitchen. Best of all, theres a great view of Sloop Reef from the balcony.
Bay of Fires Bush Retreat
The Bush Retreat is one of the closest accommodation options near Binalong Bay. It features a bar, garden and shared kitchen. You’ll have the choice booking bell tents (must see), large king rooms or a full family bungalow. This is the highest-rated accommodation option in the Bay of Fires!
Wildlife At the Bay Of Fires Conservation Area
Tasmania is a wildlife-spotters dream! And, the Bay of Fires having its own conservation area status makes it no exception to this. If you’re looking to spot some iconic animals, look out for:
- Sea eagles
- Tasmanian devils (very rare)
- Black cockatoos
Remember, most of the wildlife will come out early in the morning! This is the best time if you’re looking to take some unique nature photos.
More Photos of the Bay of Fires
Below are some more shots that I managed to snap during my visit to the Bay of Fires Tasmania. Let me know what you think!
MY CAMERA AND PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT
- Mirrorless Camera: Canon R5
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- 360 Action Camera: Insta360 One X2
- Landscape Lens: Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L
- All-Round Lens: Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L
- Telephoto Lens: Canon RF 100-500mm f/f/4.5-7.1 L
- Long Action Pole: Insta360 Invisible Pole (BulletTime)
- Landscape Lens Filter: Hoya Circular Polarizer
- Camera Backpack: F-Stop Tilopa
- Favorite Photography Accessory: Peak Design Capture Clip
For a list of all my recommended photography gear (including what I use and why) check out my guide to camera gear for travel.
Read More: Tasmania Adventure Travel Guides
If you enjoyed this travel guide to the Bay of Fires Tasmania, why not check out some of my other adventure travel blogs from this incredible island? Below I’ve linked some posts that I think you’ll enjoy, go on, have a read, I bet you’ll find some travel and adventure ideas for your next trip in Tassie!