After the 2020 that no one saw coming, it’s time to reconnect with family and friends over the coming summer. And what better way to do it than on the great Australian beach break. But with budgets tight, getting more from your holiday dollar has never been more important. Here we bring you five of the best value beach holiday destinations for 2021. Book your stay now with Choice Hotels to secure the best possible deal.
Enjoy a budget beach break in Bundaberg (QLD)
The Sunshine State has long been the country’s go-to for summer fun, and while Bundaberg in the Wide Bay-Burnett region isn’t strictly known as a beach destination (which will work in your favour in terms of accommodation prices), the coast is within ridiculously easy reach. The drive from the CBD through emerald sugarcane country to the seaside hamlet of Bargara is just 15 minutes each way, and you can spend your days relaxing on the glorious oceanfront and gazing out at the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Head back to the city and take your pick from its plethora of dining options. Grunske’s by the River serves up sumptuous fresh seafood, most of which they catch themselves. By the way, you won’t be the only ones frequenting the region’s beaches at this time of the year. Marine turtles nest on Mon Repos Beach from November to January, and hatchings occur through to March. Visit the Mon Repos Turtle Centre and book a tour onto the beach at night with a ranger to witness this miracle of nature.
Need a place to stay? Bundaberg’s Econo Lodge Park Lane offers a variety of good value room types, an onsite eatery and refreshing tropical pool.
Be cool in cost-effective Coffs Harbour (NSW)
Coffs Harbour on the northern New South Wales coast is the Goldilocks of Australia’s beach-break destinations; not too hot, not too cold, but just right. This region enjoys some of the best weather in the country, and despite that fact, Coffs remains a great value getaway (as a quick search of hotel prices in January reveals). There are three good beaches within close proximity to the CBD (Jetty Beach, Boambee Beach and the ever popular Park Beach), and plenty of less populated options further afield. Diggers Beach to the north is a magnet for surfers and you can combine a visit here with a stop at the big daddy of Australia’s oversized things – the legendary Big Banana. Like Bundaberg, fresh seafood is a staple on Coffs Harbour menus. Drop by the Fishermen’s Co-Op at least once during your stay. It’s owned by local fishermen and if you get there early enough, you’ll see the trawlers unloading their catch. The takeaway service is open from mid-morning.
Need a place to stay? Comfort Inn Premier is a relaxed and friendly hotel, conveniently located on the southern approach to Coffs Harbour. Further on towards the CBD, Quality Inn City Centre features a guest pool, gym, and stylish in-house eatery.
Have a top time for less on Towradgi Beach (NSW)
Unsung Towradgi Beach is located an hour-and-a-half’s drive south of the Sydney CBD, and just five kilometres from the Wollongong city centre. While it’s close enough to take advantage of The Gong’s diverse café and dining scene, Towradgi itself is a relaxed, low key, good value coastal hamlet, complete with a sweeping three-kilometre stretch of beachfront and an ocean-fed rock pool for swimming. Towradgi sits mid-way along the popular 17-kilometre Wollongong to Thirroul Bike Track, so consider hiring a bike during your stay and completing the trail in each direction over a couple of days. It’s also a great base for doing some of the wonderful bushwalks that showcase the natural beauty of the Illawarra Escarpment. And if you really want to push your holiday boundaries, consider doing a tandem hang gliding flight from soaring Stanwell Tops.
Related: Take a plunge and set your foot on the Gong’s mesmerising coastline (Wollongong, NSW)
Need a place to stay? Comfort Inn Towradgi Beach is situated just a few minutes’ drive from the beachfront and offers lots of great amenities. Relax with a drink in the beer garden and dine at Oscar’s Grill Restaurant. The neighbouring Quality Suites Pioneer Sands offers modern apartment-style accommodation and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Save on summer solitude in Portland (VIC)
Down in Victoria, Portland is as historic as it is remote. Located on the far south west coast of the state (just a short drive from the South Australian border), passing traffic is a rarity here. Despite that, a good supply of holiday accommodation keeps things very competitive in peak periods, and holidaymakers that make the journey are guaranteed of a getaway completely removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. Portland is one of the oldest settlements on the Australian mainland and is awash with period bluestone buildings dating back to the 19th century. Heritage highlights include the Cape Nelson Lighthouse (circa 1884) and the iconic Portland Cable Tram, which trundles along an eight-kilometre foreshore track and connects several of the town’s key tourist sites. Hop on and off at the Powerhouse Motor and Car Museum, Portland Botanical Gardens and Maritime Discovery Centre. There you’ll learn about the numerous shipwrecks dotted around Portland Bay.
Need a place to stay? Choice Hotels has three fabulous hotels in Portland. The fabulously historic Quality Inn Bentinck, and the Econo Lodge Portland, which is located within easy reach of all key attractions.
Take an affordable step back in time in George Town (Tas)
Tucked away at the top of the Tamar River, an hour-or-so’s drive from both the regional hubs of Launceston and Devonport, George Town is possibly one of Tasmania’s best kept travel secrets. Even in mid-January, accommodation here is very competitively priced and savvy holidaymakers soak up the sublime river and coastal vistas, hemmed by lush green pastureland and rolling vineyards. George Town is recognised as the third oldest European settlement in the country, and as such, it has a rich history to explore. Learn about the region’s maritime heritage at both the Bass and Flinders Centre and Low Head Pilot Station Maritime Museum. The pilot station has been guiding vessels from Bass Strait into the river since the early 1800s (and continues to do so to this very day). From there, take the opportunity to meander along glorious East Beach. Foodies will love checking out the Greater East Tamar food and wine region, which encompasses cellar doors, distilleries and gourmet artisans.
Need a place to stay? Comfort Inn The Pier is an award-winning hotel located on the picturesque waterfront in the centre of George Town. Enjoy absolute riverfrontage and relaxed dining at The Pier Hotel Restaurant.
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.