With its abundance of activities, planning a trip to Bruny Island can feel overwhelming, particularly if you have limited time to spend there. Nevertheless, its proximity to Hobart and the many opportunities to observe wildlife make Bruny Island a unique wilderness experience worth your time. Here are a few tips and our top recommendations for things to do on Bruny Island when your time is limited.
The numbers correspond to the map at the end of the article.
How many days do you need on Bruny Island?
A day trip from Hobart is possible, but keep in mind that you won’t be able to experience everything the island has to offer. Nonetheless, a cruise to the southwest part of the island is an excellent way to see its stunning landscapes and wildlife in just three hours.
However, if you have more time, I recommend spending at least one night on the island to fully appreciate its charm. Additionally, Bruny Island is famous for its little penguins, which emerge from the water at night, making it one of the best places in Tasmania to spot these adorable creatures.
Do note that during high season, accommodations book up quickly, so it’s best to book well in advance if you decide to stay overnight.
The best things to do on Bruny Island
Cruise on the east side
One of the highlights of our visit to Bruny Island was taking the Pennicott Wilderness Journeys cruise* that explored the southeast of the island (1). Despite being a tourist activity, I found it enjoyable and informative, and we were able to see a lot in a short amount of time. I highly recommend this cruise to anyone visiting the island.
It’s almost unimaginable to visit Bruny Island without stopping at The Neck (2). It’s the most popular lookout on the island and provides breathtaking views. Although there are many stairs to climb to reach the top, you can take your time and appreciate the scenery along the way. If you have more than a day on the island, consider visiting The Neck early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid crowds and tour buses. The view changes with the tide so you won’t waste your time going there twice at a different time of the day.
The road leading to Cape Bruny lighthouse (3) is unsealed, which means rental cars may not be able to access it. But if you go there with your own vehicle or on a tour, the stunning views from the lighthouse make the journey worthwhile. To avoid the crowds, I recommend visiting the lighthouse before 9 am, particularly if you plan to stay on the island for a few days. Additionally, check the availability of lighthouse tours to experience the best views from the top.
Hiking on Bruny Island is a must-do activity, with several tracks of varying lengths and difficulties available around the island.
If you only have one day on the island, I recommend focusing on a specific area. As the Pennicott Wilderness Journeys cruise* leaves from Adventure Bay (4), you may want to explore another nearby activity. The walk to Fluted Cape (5) provides a unique perspective of the cliffs, and we even saw some adorable wallabies along the way. Even if you don’t complete the full loop, it’s still worth going to the point in front of Penguin Island (6) and climbing a bit towards Fluted Cape to enjoy the stunning views from above.
If you have a second day on the island, the Cape Queen Elizabeth hike (7) is another popular choice. It’s best to plan this hike during low tide to access The Arch (8) – which is the highlight of the walk – by simply walking on the beach. The arch is submerged in water at high tide. We completed the entire track and were impressed with the views from the cliffs at the end.
Finally, keep in mind that some hikes, such as East Cloudy Head (9) and Labillardiere Peninsula (10), may require a vehicle authorised on unsealed roads, so it may not be suitable for rental cars.
If you’re staying overnight on Bruny Island, a must-do activity is visiting The Neck at sunset to watch little fairy penguins emerge from the water and waddle up to their burrows. To ensure the safety of the penguins, it’s important not to use a torch or camera flash, as this can blind and disorientate them. Visitors should stay on the lookout platform (11) and avoid disturbing the penguins.
Food and wine tasting
Foodies will love Bruny Island for its delicious local produce. You can try fresh seafood, award-winning cheese from the Bruny Island Cheese Company (12), pure honey (13), and even handmade chocolate (14). For a full food experience, consider booking a gourmet sightseeing tour* that focuses on the island’s local gastronomy.
Bruny Island is also home to Australia’s most southern vineyard (15) where visitors can taste local wines.
Tips to organise your trip to Bruny Island
You’ll need to either book a tour or bring a vehicle to the island to explore Bruny Island. Tours will save you effort in organising, but a vehicle will allow you to see some of the best places without the crowd.
Tips for a day trip without a car
The drive from Hobart isn’t particularly interesting. If we had visited Bruny Island as a day trip from Hobart, I would have preferred to book a cruise so that the journey there would be part of the experience. It’s also less stressful not to have to worry about ferry timetables and queues.
Tips for a day trip with a car
If you’re planning a day trip with a car, consider taking the first ferry in the morning to maximise your time on the island. Keep in mind that the ferry can get crowded during peak season, so arrive early to secure your spot. Also, plan your itinerary carefully, as there is a lot to see and do on the island.
Tips if you’re renting a car
You cannot rent a car on Bruny Island; you’ll have to do it from Hobart. Make sure you check the rental conditions and ask for permission to go to Bruny Island. Not all rental companies allow it. Our rental company (CheapaCampa/Apollo) confirmed it should be possible but didn’t want to give us written permission before we picked up the vehicle, which is a bit stressful when organising the trip. The vehicle insurance was not valid on the ferry and the island.
Also, you’re usually not allowed to drive on unsealed roads with a rental car, so the lighthouse is likely to be off-limits.
Tips for an overnight stay
If you’re staying overnight, book your accommodation in advance*, especially if you’re visiting during the peak season. Many of the accommodations are self-contained units or holiday homes and dinner options are limited on the island, so make sure you stock up at a supermarket near Hobart before taking the ferry.
If you’re looking for dining options on Bruny Island, it’s best to call ahead to check opening hours. Consider Hotel Bruny Bistrot, Bowls Club at Adventure Bay, takeaway options at Alonnah and Bruny Island Premium Wines on the weekend.
Lastly, don’t forget to bring warm clothes and windproof and waterproof gear, as the weather on Bruny Island can be unpredictable. Even if they provided extra jackets during the cruise, we still felt cold.
What are your favourite things to do on Bruny Island? Share your experience in the comments below!
Map of things to do on Bruny Island
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