There was a time in my life where other continents truly felt like other worlds. They existed in books and stories, far too difficult to reach and not likely in my future. Yet, I knew that I had to see them. I somehow felt like it was my duty as a human to see as much of the earth as possible and be thankful for every square inch of creation. How dare I live in this place all my life and not experience all it has to offer?
I was 18 and everything was either very romantic or very dramatic—in this case, a whole lot of both.
I'm 31 now and the earth has gotten a lot smaller, but not one bit less awe inspiring. And somehow I've had the opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful continents twice.
Yeah. Okay, I totally know how. I married an Australian and got some really great in-laws who make it possible for us to visit.
Matty and I spent three weeks in Australia this spring. We went to the beach, we drank coffee, we ate a lot of food, and we went to the beach again. I bet we played in the water of 10 different beaches, each more a wonder than the one before.
This travel guide takes you through my absolute favorite places for sand, caffeine, fun, and food. The Four Pillars of any half-way decent vacation.
MUST DO: Watch the sunrise at Redhead Beach
This is a tradition for Matty and I. Roll out of bed, grab the French Press and a blanket, and drive down to Redhead. Seeing the sunrise over the ocean is one of the most magical things about being on the other side of the world.
FOR BRUNCH: Merewether Surf House
Grab brunch (or breakfast) daily from 7-11:30 right on the boardwalk overlooking Merewether Beach. And they have The Acai Bowl that made my husband like acai bowls.
FOR COFFEE: Suspension Espresso
Go for the espresso. (But honestly go for the grilled banana bread.)
Gold Coast, QLD
FANCY PANTS DINNER: Little Truffle in Mermaid Beach
Matty and I went here for our one-year anniversary dinner and had one of the best meals of our lives. Did I want to go there because it was in a place called Mermaid Beach? Of course I did. Did I also want to go there because Hugh Jackman went there once? Yeah. Definitely. Go for the 3-course menu. It's 59 AUD and worth every penny.
BE A KID: Dreamworld
The largest theme park in Australia has 9 thrill rides, Shrek, and Madagascar. If that doesn't convince you...
FOR BRUNCH: Elston
They have something called a bacon trio. They've also got avo toast, a hash-brown stack, and seasonal pancakes that will make you cry while you eat your delicious food and watch the waves crash.
FOR FUN: Catch the view Skypoint
Take a (very fast) elevator up 77 floors to overlook the city, the ocean, and all the canals that make Gold Coast so unique. If you're really brave, you can put on a harness and climb to the point of the tower. I was not really brave.
MUST SEE: Sunset over the beach at Byron Bay
Surprise, the sunset is still beautiful on the other side of the world. It seemed like the entire community: surfers, shop owners, families, all came out to watch the sun go down. Like a drive-in movie, but much more dramatic.
FOR A MEAL: Main Street Burger Bar
Fresh, local, and the best sweet potato fries I've had in my life. Not hyperbole. I would got back to Australia for these fries alone.
FOR AN ACAI BOWL: Literally anywhere
This is necessary to include since Byron Bay is the healthiest city in the world and acai flows freely.
FOR COFFEE: Barefoot Brew Room
Good coffee is hard to find...when the tiny cafe that could is located in an alley with no signage. Spend a good ten minutes looking down alleys, then be rewarded the best espresso you could possibly almost not find.
MUST DO: Cape Byron Lighthouse
To quote this random website I found: "Here, where the Coral Sea to the north meets the Tasman Sea in the south, Cape Byron protrudes into the Pacific Ocean and forms the most easterly point of the Australian mainland." Apparently views are great for whale watching, which is the only thing I want to achieve in life, and June, August, September, and October are when the watching's good.