The ultimate guide to visiting Maria Island Tasmania. A feature-rich list of things to do, places to see and attractions to visit. Plan your Maria Island trip with this useful guide based on my experience documenting and photographing this incredible Tassie gem.
Have you ever visited an island off an island off an island? Maybe it’s those kind of lengths you need to go to these days to get a truly wild experience. Maria Island is just that. A living remnant of a once wild and untamed Australia.
In this travel guide, I will reveal the best things to do on Maria Island Tasmania. This post includes the best attractions, things to see and places to visit.
At the bottom of this post, I’ve also included a useful visitor’s guide to help you better plan your trip. This features everything you need to know about getting here and getting around, as well as tips and useful information for visiting Maria Island Tasmania!
Things to do on Maria Island
1. Hike the Bishop and Clerk Track
After wildlife-spotting, hiking is one of the best things to do on Maria Island. And, there’s no better view on offer than the one at the top of the Bishop and Clerk pinnacles.
Departing from Darlington, hikers can reach the top of these awe-inspiring dolerite columns in less than a few hours. I think that the view from the top speaks for itself.
READ MORE: Bishop and Clerk Hiking Guide
2. Spot Iconic Wildlife
Maria Island has been referred to “Noah’s Ark in Australia”. It truly is one of the best places in the country to see abundant native widlife.
As soon as you hop off the ferry, you’ll undoubtedly be greeted by a wallaby or wombat, often both. Other common sights include kangaroos, geese, ringtail possums, pademelons, potoroos as well as a wide range of snakes, lizards and frogs.
3. Get a Chance to See a Wild Tassie Devil
You might also be surprised to hear that Maria Island offers one of the best chances in Tasmania to see the endangered Tassie Devil. While not native to the island, several, genetically selected devils were released here to thrive and breed without the risk of devil facial tumour disease.
However, spotting a Tasmanian Devil on Maria Island is far from guarranteed. I went looking every night and wasn’t lucky enough to get a glimpse. I’ve been told though, that a few do come to visit French’s Farm on an odd occasion.
4. Learn About Maria Island’s Convict History at Darlington
Maria Island Tasmania has a long-standing convict and industrial history. In fact, Darlington itself is a remnant of a convict penal settlement from the last phase of convict management in Australia.
The Darlington Probation Station dates back to 1825 and is well-regarded as being one of the best preserved structures in the country.
A walk through Darlington is one of the best things to do on Maria Island for those looking to learn more about Tasmania’s colonial heritage.
5. See the Painted Cliffs
The Painted Cliffs is another awesome coastal attraction and one of the best things to see on Maria Island for those looking to snap some unique photos. Located on Maria Island’s western coast, these sandstone cliffs are known for their incredible patterns and unique colours.
Visitor’s to Maria can visit the Painted Cliffs by walking or riding 4.3 kilometres return (1-2 hours) from Darlington. The track to reach the cliffs are gentle and you’ll spot many wild wombats grazing on the way.
The Painted Cliffs are located on the far end of Hopground Beach and best-accessed during low tide. However, if you visit during high tide as I did, you can still reach the painted cliffs by following the high ground around and descending carefully to the water, following the worn and obvious tracks.
6. Fossick at Fossil Cliffs
Visitors to Maria Island who are interested in learning about its history, both ancient and modern, are encouraged to visit the Fossil Cliffs on Maria’s northern coastline.
The track to the Fossil Cliffs follows the popular northern circuit loop, starting and ending at Darlington. This is an easy 1.5-2 hour circuit (4.5 KM), passing some of the best Maria Island attractions. Of course, riding a bike to the start of the short descent to the Fossil Cliffs is also possible.
The Fossil Cliffs is a worn rock shelf containing thousands of 300-million-year-old fossils including clams, corals, scallops and sea fans.
The Fossil Cliffs are also a remnant of another Maria Island industrial endeavour. This section of the coastline is very lime-rich and consequently, hopeful entrepreneurs mined the cliffs around 1889, stripping back the rock to reveal the fossil-rich rock below.
7. Summit Mount Maria
Hikers would be stoked to find out that Maria Island is one of Tasmania’s best islands for bushwalking. And, one of the most rewarding hikes is a summit of Mount Maria.
This Mount Maria walk is a fairly long track track that Tasmania Parks recommends at least 8 hours to complete. However, I’d say that a walk to the summit and back to Darlington is easily doable in less than 6. The entire walk is roughly 16 kilometres from Darlington return.
If you’re considering doing a longer, multi-day hike around Maria Island, then a summit of Mount Maria is easily possible following several routes. I climbed Mount Maria on my 3-day walk around the island so make sure to check that article out too if you’re interested in a self-guided route.
If you have any doubt, let me tell you that seeing the island from the summit of Mount Maria is easily one of the best things to do on Maria Island Tasmania!
8. See All the Maria Island Attractions by Bike
Did you know that there are no cars on Maria Island? As a result, visitors who are looking to explore will either have to walk or rent a bike.
While I decided to walk around the island over three days, I’d say that the best way to explore Maria is to do it on two wheels. You can rent a bike when booking your ferry ticket, or check your own in on the boat too.
Having a bike on the island is great since all major tracks are bike-friendly, allowing visitors to get to all of the incredible Maria Island highlights much quicker than on foot.
9. Swim at Darlington Bay
Tasmania is known to have some incredible beaches and world-class bays. If you’re making a stop to Maria Island during the warmer months, then a swim at Darlington Bay is one of the best things to do!
The water is pristine and almost translucent. Darlington Bay is the most accessible swimming spot from the ferry, but other great locations include Hopground Beach (near the painted cliffs) and Shoal Bay (near the isthmus to the south).
Also, if you’re keen on snorkelling or diving, Maria Island is well known for its great shipwrecks and beautiful kelp forests.
10. Camp at French’s Farm
Most overnight visitors to Maria Island tend to camp at Darlington Campground or bunk at the old penitentiary. Honestly, I don’t blame them— Darlington is close to the ferry, has fresh water and even showers!
But, for those who came to Maria Island to get off-the-beaten-path and explore, you’re going to want to head down to French’s Farm. The track follows the coastal route south known appropriately as the French’s Farm Coastal route. Walkers can easily reach this campground in less than 3 hours and riders can do it in under an hour.
Frenchs Farm is a beautiful campsite with toilets, an old stone private residence and a historic shearing shed. There is plenty of flat ground to pitch a tent and best of all, it’s free!
Read more about French’s Farm on: My 3-day Walk Around Maria Island
11. See Convict Cells Near Encampment Cove
History is around every corner on Maria Island. This is even true in the most hidden, tucked away corners. Located on Point Lesuere in the southwest is another probation station where visitors can even see the old convict cells.
It’s also possible to camp for free near this probation station at Encampment Cove.
12. Explore Maria Island from Above on a Scenic Flight
Are you ready for perhaps the most epic thing to do on Maria Island, and maybe even in Tasmania? This scenic flight is arguably one of the best things you can do on the coast. This trip is a whole-day adventure as you take a low-altitude flight over both Freycinet National Park and Maria Island.
The scenic flight is one of the best ways to truly see the island and you can even spot wildlife form above! Furthermore, the flight I’m recommending even lands at Maria Island airstrip and includes a short walking tour and picnic.
Book Now: Maria Island & Freycinet NP Flight
13. Escape the Crowds at the Isthmus
The isthmus, known as McRaes Isthmus, is the skinny “neck” connecting the south and northern parts of Maria Island. You can ride here from Darlington, but the road approaching the isthmus gets a little sandy so it might be best to walk the rest of the way.
On a clear day, this is one of the best places to visit on Maria Island to get away and enjoy the nature. You can swim on both white sand beaches and spot loads of birdlife.
14. Spot Black Cockatoos Near Reidle Bay
If you’ve stumbled upon this blog before, then you might know that I’ve spent quite a bit of time travelling around Australia. Let me tell you that I’ve never seen as many black cockatoos as I have at Reidle Bay near the McRaes Isthmus.
On a clear, Autumn afternoon, I think I counted over 30 in the span of half an hour walking the start of the Haunted Bay lookout track. They’re a rare and iconic Australian bird species with lots of character!
15. See it all on the Maria Island Circuit
Okay, I’ve already mentioned this earlier in the article but in my opinion, the best thing to do on Maria Island is to strap up the boots and pack your backpack for an action-packed 3-day walk.
This circuit covers all of the attractions and can be considered a great entry-level step into multi-day hiking in Tasmania. I’ve written a comprehensive guide which follows my route and how to do it self-guided so make sure to check it out if you’re interested.
Read More: Maria Island Self-guided Walk
How to Get to Maria Island
Since Maria Island doesn’t share a landbridge with Tasmania, you will need to book a ferry to get here. This is a passenger-only ferry since there are no cars on the island. However, you can bring your bike if you’d prefer to ride around to some of the epic attractions on Maria Island.
The boat departs a few times a day from Triabunna Ferry Terminal. The trip only takes around 30 minutes but you will need to check-in at the Visitor Center in Triabunna 45 minutes before departure.
Travellers can only book return tickets and it’s best to book on their website in advance. Below are the updated ferry prices:
Concession: $39.00 (Australian Pension Card or Health Care Card)
Student: $28.00 (Australian Secondary Student)
Child: $28.00 (4 to 16 years)
Infant: Free (0 to 3 years)
Tickets include a 7-kilogram carry-on bag but you will need to pay an extra $10 for any larger backpacks. Bikes are also an additional $10 and kayaks are $20.
Getting Around on the Island
As I mentioned, there are no cars on Maria Island so you can’t book your vehicle on the ferry. The only ways to get around are on bike or on your own two feet.
If you’re basing yourself in Darlington, then I highly recommend renting or bringing a bike in order to explore all of the highlights.
About the National Parks Pass
Since Maria Island is considered a National Park, you will need to purchase a National Parks Pass to visit. You can buy these at any TasParks Visitor Centre or online.
Current pass prices are:
- 24-hours: $40 per vehicle/$20 per person
- Holiday Passes – up to 2 months: $80 per vehicle/$40 per person
- Annual Pass all parks: $90 per vehicle (up to eight people)
If you intend on exploring more epic things to do in Tasmania, then I highly recommend getting the annual car pass as it offers the best value.
Where to Sleep on Maria Island
There are no hotels or guesthouses on Maria Island. As a result, your only option in terms of accommodation is to camp at one of the three campsites or bunk in the old penitentiary.
Below is a summary of all of the accommodation options on Maria Island.
Darlington Campsite: $7 per person (tent site)
- Cold showers (free) and hot showers ($2)
- Undercover, outdoor kitchen with BBQs
- Filtered drinking water
- Free fireplace with firewood
Frenchs Farm Campsite: Free (tent site)
- Composting toilets
- Tank water (need to filter) – consider getting a Grayl purifier bottle
- Barn to hide your food
Encampment Cove: Free (tent site)
- Composting toilets
- Tank water (need to filter)
Penitentiary Hut: $44 (2 people) + $10 for additional people
- Indoor bunks
- Drinking water
- Picnic facilities
Where to Stay Before & After the Ferry Near Triabunna
Triabunna is the main town where you will need to head to before and after your visit to Maria Island Tasmania. Below I’ve included some of the best places to stay near Triabunna.
Closest to Triabunna Ferry: Triabunna Cabin and Caravan Park
This is the only place available to stay in the actual township of Triabunna. This caravan park offers campsites and cabins within walking distance of the ferry and it’s close to shops.
Best nearby hotel: Eastcoaster Tasmania
Right around the corner from Triabunna is this really well-rated studio hotel in Orford. It has two swimming pools, a private beach, a hot tub, a tennis court and a basketball court. There’s also a really good restaurant and bar which is great after roughing it while exploring all of the amazing things to do on Maria Island.
How Many Days Should I Spend on Maria Island?
The question of how many days to spend here really depends on how much you would like to see. In my opinion, 3 days is the perfect amount of time to explore all of the highlights on Maria Island. However, you could also spend two days here if you rent a bike, since getting to all of the attractions will be quicker and easier than walking.
A day trip to Maria Island is also possible. However, this might feel a little bit rushed if you’re doing it on your own. Instead, I’d recommend booking a guided walking tour instead to ensure you don’t miss anything.
More Things to Know About Visiting Maria Island Tasmania
Armed with the information I’ve given you in this Maria Island guide, you should be ready and set to explore this epic Tassie gem. However, before you go, here are some more tips and quick things to know that might prove helpful for your visit.
- Leave no trace principal. -there are no bins and visitors need to take any rubbish back with them to Triabbuna (bins at the ferry terminal)
- No shops – bring all food and necessary items with you
- You can have a hot shower at Darlington Campsite for a $2 coin
- Stay at least 2 metres from wildlife to help keep them wild
- Try to plan your visit during good weather to make the most out of the experience
- Take the time to unplug. There is reception at Darlington but that’s not why you came out here right?
More Tasmania Travel & Adventure Guides
I hope that you have enjoyed this comprehensive visitor’s guide to Maria Island Tasmania. My goal is to have you leaving my blog with a better understanding of more attractions and things to do on Maria Island.
But, before you go, why not check out some of my other Tasmanian travel guides below. I’ve written about and photographed loads of epic places around the island and I’m sure you’ll find something you hadn’t seen before!
More Photos from Maria Island Tasmania
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.