Maria Island. Best Day Trip Ever

Meet the Taylor family – Emma, Rob and their three boys, Finn, Ashton and Ky.  The Taylors are a pretty typical Tasmanian family – they’re active and outdoorsy, and they love living at Triabunna, just across the Mercury Passage from Maria Island National Park on Tasmania’s East Coast.

Recently, the Taylors spent a day exploring Maria Island. They’ve visited the island a few times before, but this was their first opportunity in quite a while to really explore and see what this beautiful Tasmanian national park had to offer them.

They absolutely loved it.

So we asked the Taylor family what it was that made their visit to Maria Island National Park their ‘best day trip, ever’.

What did you love most about Maria Island National Park?

Emma: I can’t go past Shoal Bay. The colour of the water was incredible, and much to my surprise, the water temperature was inviting. An added bonus was that there wasn’t anyone else around – we had the place completely to ourselves.

Rob: The beautiful, wide open spaces, and feeling like we had the whole island to ourselves was very special. And, it was really quick and easy to get to the island using the new ferry service – just 30 minutes from Triabunna.

Finn: I loved the bikes! It was really fun to ride around the island, and there were no cars to think about. And I really loved seeing a wombat and having a picnic, up high on the cliff.

Ashton: Bike riding around the historic sites (even though I fell off twice!)

Ky: I really liked exploring Ruby Hunt’s Cottage, and imagining where people would have slept and eaten their dinner. 

Shoal Bay, McRaes Isthmus

Fossil Cliffs

Finn riding toward the Railway Cottage

Ruby Hunt’s Cottage

Did anything about Maria surprise you?

Emma: We were all blown away by the diversity of the island. There’s just so much to see, so many different sides to the island. It feels like it has something to excite everyone – adventurers can go bushwalking or climb mountains or ride mountain bikes, history buffs have all that World Heritage convict history to experience at Darlington, as well as all the other historic buildings and ruins, nature enthusiasts have all Maria’s wildlife and places like Fossil Cliffs to explore, and beach lovers like me are just spoilt by all the beautiful white sandy beaches (did I mention how stunning Shoal Bay is?). 

Railway Cottage

Shoal Bay, McRaes Isthmus

What was your favourite moment, place or experience on the island?

Rob: The Painted Cliffs were pretty special, but we all really loved Shoal Bay. Fossil Cliffs is also equally impressive. We loved it so much, we’re planning on heading back to Maria to spend more time in our favourite places. The kids really loved the old buildings too, it let their imaginations run wild. 

Painted Cliffs

Where did you go on the island?

Emma: When the ferry docked at Darlington, we did the short walk to the township there and had a bit of a look around the buildings – the Silos, Commissariat Store, Penitentiary, Miller’s Cottage and all the other fascinating historic buildings there – the kids loved them. We also visited Ruby Hunt’s Cottage, the Painted Cliffs (which are even more stunning than their beautiful photos), the old Railway Cottage, which was a great spot to get your camera out, Shoal Bay, McRae’s Isthmus, and Fossil Cliffs. It was a big day! 

Commissariat Store

Cement Silos, Darlington

Miller’s Cottage

What was the ferry trip to Maria like?

Rob: The ferry was great – efficient and smooth, and the staff were warm and friendly. It was a lot more spacious than I had expected, with lots of seating available and room to sit or stand safely outside. It was very clean, and so quick! 

Encounter Maria Island Ferry

What wildlife did you see? What happened?

Emma: As soon as we stepped off the ferry, there were kangaroos right there – waiting to greet us at Darlington. What a great start! We also saw wombats near Ruby Hunt’s Cottage, which was so exciting for the kids (and the adults, to be honest). There were lots of birds all around the island too. Our youngest son was delighted to find crabs and to see fish swimming around our feet at Shoal Bay. The animals didn’t seem too distracted by us and we were able to watch most of them from a distance. A major highlight was one inquisitive little wombat, who seemed to want to follow us around! 

Wombat at Darlington

What did you discover about Maria that you didn’t know before?

Rob: The kids were astounded to realise that people at one point actually lived on Maria Island – and that there was even a school and a football team! They were so intrigued by that, and it got them wondering what school would be like there and how long it would take to get to school. We also discovered that we don’t visit the island enough! We’ve lived so close to it all this time, and the amazing places – especially the beautiful isthmus – is right at our doorstep!

We literally felt like we were in a world of our own, there was nobody around – and no noise, other than the birds. What an exciting discovery!


Why do you think Maria is a great place for a family to visit for a day?

Emma: A day on Maria is a day filled with as much, or as little to do as you want. Depending on your family’s fitness levels, ages and the ability of your children, there really is a lot on offer. I like that it has a bit of history, and it also has amazing wildlife, lovely scenic spots and beautiful beaches. It’s really quite diverse. You can have a slow and carefree day on Maria, or an adventurous one. The choice is yours!

Clinker Storage, Darlington

What are your three top tips for families to help them have a great day on Maria?

  • Bring water, and snacks for the kids. Little ones will spend hours exploring, watching the wildlife, and running around on this vast island – so these are essential.
  • This is Tassie – so wear and pack clothing that is appropriate for four seasons in one day! Sunscreen is a huge must.
  • Plan your day as much as you can before arriving, as there is a lot to do and see and it’s very easy to get sidetracked by Maria’s beauty. And don’t forget your camera! You will want to revisit this place time and again – whether you come back in person or just enjoy the photos and memories you created on your day trip.

Best day trip ever!

Rob, Emma and their three boys had the time of their lives on Maria Island National Park. Creating your own ‘best day trip, ever’ is just as easy. Maria Island is a place full of new adventures, where wild natural beauty, wildlife and history come in one incredible package. It’s a truly captivating place that you’ll want to come back to again and again.

The Encounter Maria Island Ferry departs regularly from Triabunna – just over an hour’s drive from Hobart – and the whole big, beautiful island is always there, waiting for you to come and have your own adventure.

Start planning your unforgettable adventure

  • Leave ordinary life behind and start planning your trip here.
  • Read our tips for planning your next Maria Island adventure here.
  • Read important information you must know before travelling to Maria Island here.
  • To book your place on the Encounter Maria Island Ferry, visit

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© East Coast Tasmania Tourism

The Tasmanian tourism industry acknowledges the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and their enduring custodianship of lutruwita / Tasmania. We honour 40,000 years of uninterrupted care, protection and belonging to these islands, before the invasion and colonisation of European settlement. As a tourism industry that welcomes visitors to these lands, we acknowledge our responsibility to represent to our visitors Tasmania's deep and complex history, fully, respectfully and truthfully. We acknowledge the Aboriginal people who continue to care for this country today. We pay our respects to their elders, past and present. We honour their stories, songs, art, and culture, and their aspirations for the future of their people and these lands. We respectfully ask that tourism be a part of that future.