We’ll let you into a little secret. You haven’t experienced the great outdoors until you’ve experienced Tasmania. Thanks to picture-perfect beaches and soaring mountains, the Apple Isle is the ideal place for walkers and water babies to embark on an adventure. The scenery doesn’t get much more stunning than the rugged East Coast that runs between Hobart and Launceston.

Expedia’s Aussie travellers love exploring their own backyard, and Tasmania is a popular spot for families during school holidays. There are plenty of festivals and events year round, even in winter when it does get quite cold. If you’ve got a few days to spare, hop on a flight, hire a car and head out. Here’s some of our favourite activities on the East Coast.

Messing about on the water

This part of the world isn’t short on aquatic activities – visit the guys at Freycinet Adventures and you’ll be paddling out in a sea kayak before you can say ‘turquoise waters’. Yes, it’s a cliché – but it’s easy to believe the phrase was coined just for this pristine shoreline. Spot sea eagles, secluded beaches and even the odd dolphin as you glide along on a guided tour. Once you’re back on dry land, head to the Freycinet Marine Farm and reward your efforts with a few plates of fresh seafood. The setting is nothing fancy – picnic benches, counter service, a dunny at the end of a dirt track – but that all adds to the seemingly middle-of-nowhere charm. Freshly shucked oysters, juicy scallops and steamed mussels straight from the sea are best enjoyed with a chilled local wine or beer.

Take a hike

Possibly one of the most photographed stretches of sand in the world, Wineglass Bay is situated in the sprawling Freycinet National Park. Home to coastal heathlands and dense forests, the rugged 169km2 area boasts hiking options ranging from a few hours to several days. Don’t even think about getting back in the car until you’ve completed the 40-minute circular walk to a stunning lookout point. The track (and occasional set of steep stone steps) winds its way through bushland to a wooden platform where you can snap the sweeping bay to your heart’s content. You can continue down to the pristine beach (it adds 1.5 hours to your walk) but our advice would be to hop back in the car and head north to the Friendly Beaches (just northeast of Coles Bay) – wait for the great rockpools at low tide. At the end of the day, rest your tired legs at Meredith House. This pretty guesthouse makes for an attractive rest stop in the sleepy East Coast town of Swansea. And the next morning, enjoy breakfast on the balcony with views of the sea.

Wildlife spotting

From the sleepy town of Triabunna, catch a ferry to Maria Island. This unspoilt area is home to plenty of wildlife, including Flinders Island wombats and Cape Barren Geese. Lace up your walking boats and head out on one of the trails across or around the reserve – remember to keep an eye on the surrounding waters where you might see whales, seals and dolphins depending on the season. The island reveals a long past at Fossil Cliffs, which are dotted with the delicate impressions of centuries-old shellfish, while the Painted Cliffs are swirling with colours at dawn and dusk. Having conquered Maria Island, turn your attention to one of the peaks on the horizon – part of The Hazards, Mt Amos demands you set aside a day for the tricky ascent. Otherwise, in Hobart, there’s Mt Wellington which gives way to the historic Port Arthur convict site.