Visiting the Tasman Peninsula and taking a Tasman Island Cruise is one of the best day trips from Hobart. Witness towering cliffsides, deep sea caves, stark landscapes, and a chance to spot whales, dolphins, seals and seabirds. Boarding a Tasman cruise is one of the best Port Arthur tours from Hobart and one of my most memorable experiences.
Tasman Island cruises come complete with a friendly (and very knowledgable) captain and crew from the award-winning Pennicot Wilderness Journeys, an open-air adventure vessel and a bright red jacket to block from wind and rain.
This isn’t a casual, leisurely cruise like you might think, it’s an adventure cruise! So expect to be zipping along the coastline and launching over Tasman Sea waves on this Tasman boat cruise.
This detailed Tasman Peninsula Cruise guide will outline what to expect, the options you have available to you for combination tours to highlights like Port Arthur Historic Site or Tasmanian Devil Unzoo, and if you decide to stay overnight in Port Arthur before an early morning boat cruise, the best Port Arthur accommodation.
Are you looking for the best things to do in Hobart without a car, why not take one of the many exciting day trips from Hobart?
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Map of Tasman Island & Tasman Peninsula from Hobart
Where is the Tasman Peninsula? Located about 90km east of Hobart, the Tasmanian peninsula stretched south to align with Bruny Island to the west. Tasman Island itself is positioned at the bottom tip of the peninsula and is the most southwesterly island in Tasmania.
Tasman Island can only be reached by a Tasmania boat cruise from Port Arthur, the main town on the Tasman Peninsula, through Pennicott tours.
What to Expect on a Tasman Island Cruise
This Tasmania boat cruise is one of the top things to do in Tasmania and is a must along your Tasman adventure. Of course, due to the wild nature of the Tasmania boat tours, you should be comfortable speeding along open ocean waters. Again, this is not a ‘cruise’ cruise, it’s rather an exciting adventure.
Checking Into Your Tasman Island Cruise
If you happen to be renting a car in Tasmania and have made the journey to Port Arthur on your own, park your car at the Pennicott Tasman Island Cruise headquarters and check in at their front counter. You will need a printed or digital form of your Tasman Island Cruise admission and a form of ID.
If you are planning your own Port Arthur tour from Hobart, make sure to get an early start, as they like all participants to be checked in by 9:15 AM and the journey takes a leisurely 1.5 hours from Hobart.
Next, they will direct you to a back shed to pick up your bright red wind and rain cover (essentially a waterproof poncho), for your Tasmania Island cruise. No need to throw it on now, because you’ll be boarding a bus after a briefing from your boat crew.
A friendly (and witty) boat crew member will give you the low down on how the Tasman Island Cruise is not a ‘cruise’ cruise and rather a thrill ride along the picturesque Tasman Australia coastline. He also explains that the crew will offer out sea sickness pills once you board the Tasmania cruise since most people end up needing them.
After a few safety lessons, you are allowed one last chance to use the restroom before boarding the bus.
Getting to the Tasman Island Cruise Boat
Embark from the Pennicott Tasman Island Cruise headquarters in Port Arthur, making your way north to Pirates Bay on a big comfortable tour bus. In about 25-30 minutes you will arrive at the boat ramp at Pirates Bay, overlooking Eaglehawk Neck.
Once you arrive, now is the time to throw on that big red poncho and ready yourself for the incredible things you will see along the Tasman Island Wilderness Cruise. Once you’ve boarded the boat, the captain will introduce himself and explain what you will see on your journey.
This is also the time they will offer out sea sickness pills (pure ginger tablets! Nothing scary here). I took them and am very glad I did since the captain said that we would be experiencing 6ft swells and a bumpy ride.
Your Tasmania boat trip should have lift-off by 10 AM.
What you Will See on the Tasman Island Cruise
Witnessing Tasmania by sea is something you’ll never forget. This Tasman Island 3 hour Wilderness Cruise will take you past some incredible landscapes, all while teaching you about the area and its wildlife.
Deep Sea Caves
Once you’ve sped out of Pirates Bay on your open-air vessel and turned south down the Port Arthur Peninsula coastline, you will pass by the iconic Devil’s Kitchen and Tasman Arch. These famous rock formations create a window where the frothing Tasman Sea meets the layered cliffs, creating a crushing effect.
Continue further, and your Tasman Peninsula eco cruise will stop to take a look at deep sea caves. These mysterious caves can only be entered if conditions are calm (they weren’t for us unfortunately), but even just witnessing how the turquoise waters lap heavily inside the cave is magical.
Just when you thought the towering coastline couldn’t get any more picturesque, you arrive at Waterfall Bay. You can see a statuesque stream of water gushing down from the cliffside, far off in the distance. The thundering drop gets louder and louder as you approach the base of the waterfall, and the captain will take you up close and personal.
TIP | If you have a camera, protect it from the waterfall spray!
Around the next corner of the coastline, the epic Tasman cruise in Tasmania will take you to calmer waters, sheltered in Canoe Bay. Besides trying your hand at spotting white-breasted sea eagles (endangered in Australia) nested amongst the tree canopy, you will float past the remains of a steel-hulled barge.
In the 1940s, a barge named the William Pitt was used to construct the predecessor to the Tasman Bridge heading east out of downtown Hobart – a floating pontoon bridge. In 1955, the William Pitt was deliberately sunk to create a breakwater for smaller boats. This wreckage is what you will see in Canoe Bay.
If you have more time on the Tasman Peninsula, you can take a day to snorkel around this wreckage, it’s supposed to be great! On your way out of Canoe Bay, you will pass the white-sand paradise – Fortescue Bay Beach. This beach, as part of the Tasman National Park, makes for exciting hikes and camping.
The Monument at Cape Hauy
The Monument at Cape Hauy is one of the finest examples of volcanic dolerite cliffs along the Peninsula’s coastline. Boasting the 65-metre Totem Pole sea stack and equally as impressive Candlestick, it’s a road climbers’ mecca.
With tumultuous waters splashing up against an almost sheer vertical cliff, rock climbers make bold and harrowing ascents up the Totem and Candlestick every year.
Before wedging through the narrow and boisterous opening between the Totem Pole and Candlestick, you will get a closer look at the sea colony that dwells here.
The pinnacle of your journey on this Tasman Island Cruise, is, of course, Tasman Island. Just off the coast of the Tasman Peninsula and Cape Pillar, Tasman Island is home to one of Australia’s most inaccessible lighthouse stations. With only one all-steel lighthouse and three small buildings to out the lightkeeper and his family, the island suffered many strong storms.
Standing as the tallest sea cliffs in the southern hemisphere, Tasman Island’s windswept and desolate nature tops out at 240 metres above sea level. With almost vertical cliff faces, a steam winch was constructed to move supplies and people from the turbulent Tasman Sea waters. You can still see the winch today.
A colony of fur seals can also be found here on Tasman Island, for your second chance to see these wonderful seaborn creatures.
Depending on the time of year, you may have a special spotting of Southern Right Whales (we spotted one in the distance!), Humpback Whales, Killer Whales, Minkie Whales or Pilot Whales. But, what you will likely see is one or two large colonies of Australian Fur Seals. In Canoe Bay, try your luck at spotting the elusive Sea Eagles in their large (often multi-storied nests).
Out at sea, witness the marvel of the sheerwaters, which undertake the longest migration in the world, rarely landing, and the stunning Albatross as it floats around your Tasman Island Cruise vessel, often only flapping its expansive wings once or twice.
A Note About Your Tasman Island Cruise
In good conditions, you would head towards Port Arthur after seeing Tasman Island, whisking past Mount Brown toward the harbour. In my case, the swell was upwards of 6ft, so continuing around to the east of Tasman Island wasn’t possible. We headed back up the way we came along the western coastline to Pirates Bay.
If this happens to you, once you dock at Pirates Bay, take a few minutes to see the Blow Hole and Fossil Bay Lookout before hopping back on the bus to Port Arthur.
Hobart to Port Arthur Tour Options
Now you have a few options when it comes to how you want to experience a Tasman Island Cruise. Firstly, you can definitely take the straightforward 3 hour Tasmania cruise from Port Arthur if you have your own car. But if you are spending a weekend in Hobart or plan to visit Hobart without a rental car, I have a few tour options for you.
The Tasman Peninsula is also home to the famous UNESCO-listed Port Arthur Historic Site, a 19th-century penal colony, and the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo. Both are great options for your trip to the peninsula.
To get the most out of your Hobart to Port Arthur day trips, opt for one of these all-inclusive combination tours below:
1. 3-Hour Tasman Island Cruise from Port Arthur
Best For | Travellers with Rental Car
Duration | 3 hours
Tour Price | $155 AUD
Start Times | 9:15 AM and 1:15 PM
Book Tour | 3 Hour Tasman Island Cruise
First things first, if you are renting a car in Tasmania and have arrived in Port Arthur for a night or two, or are planning to make the drive from Hobart to Port Arthur yourself and want the flexibility to explore the Port Arthur Peninsula at your own pace, you can book the simple 3 hour Tasman Island Cruise in Tasmania.
This will depart the Pennicott headquarters in Port Arthur (where you can also park your rental car) at either 9:15AM or 1:15PM and take care of the rest for you. This tour does not include transportation from Hobart or food.
2. Full-Day Tasman Island Cruise & Sightseeing
Best For | Travellers Staying in Hobart
Duration | 10.25 hours
Tour Price | $245 AUD
Start Time | 7:30AM
Book Tour | Full-Day Tasman Island Cruise & Sightseeing
If your only goal is to experience the Tasman Island Cruise from Hobart, this could be a great tour option for you. Board your comfy tour bus at the Hobart docks and make the 1.5-hour scenic drive to Port Arthur. Enjoy a morning tea while getting a safety briefing from the cruise team.
Now it’s time to embark on your epic Tasman boat cruise. After witnessing the towering cliffs, wildlife and incredible nature, it’s time to dig into a big lunch. On the way back to Hobart, stop off at the Tasmanian Chocolate Foundry and picturesque Port Arthur Lavender Farm before heading back to the city.
This Port Arthur day trip from Hobart takes just over 10 hours, departing at 7:30 AM and returning to Hobart around 6 PM.
3. Tasman Island Cruise & Port Arthur Historic Site
Best For | History Buffs
Duration | 10 hours
Tour Price | $280 AUD
Start Time | 7:30AM
Book Tour | Tasman Island Cruise & Port Arthur Historic Site
This tour would be my top choice for a Port Arthur day tour from Hobart. I stayed two nights in Port Arthur with my own rental car, but I constructed an epic one day in the Port Arthur area that included a 3 hour Tasman cruise and a 3 hour exploration of the UNESCO-listed Port Arthur historic site. I thoroughly enjoyed it and so I recommend this tour for you to get the most out of the Tasman Peninsula.
- Scenic bus tour from Hobart to Port Arthur (departing at 7:30 AM)
- Morning Tea
- Port Arthur Historic Site (including 20-min Port Arthur Harbour Cruise)
- Hearty Lunch at a Local Restaurant
- 3 Hour Tasman Island Cruise
- Bus back to Hobart arriving around 5:30 PM
4. Tasman Island Cruise & Tasmanian Devil Unzoo
Best For | Wildlife Lovers
Duration | 10.5 hours
Tour Price | $265 AUD
Start Time | 7:30AM
Book Tour | Tasman Island Cruise & Tasmanian Devil Unzoo Tour
For all you wildlife lovers, get an up close and personal experience with the endangered Tasmanian Devil on this epic 10.5-hour day tour from Hobart to Port Arthur. After a 1.5-hour journey in a comfortable coach from Hobart, sip on your morning tea and ready yourself for an adventure on the Tasman Sea.
After your 3 hour Tasman Peninsula cruise disembarks, enjoy a hearty lunch before spending a few hours in the Tasmania Devil Unzoo in Port Arthur. A great way to see Tasmanian wildlife in a wild setting (not captive!). Return by bus to Hobart at roughly 6 PM.
How to Get to Port Arthur from Hobart
If you are renting a car in Tasmania and need to make the Hobart to Port Arthur drive, you should expect the journey to take roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes (without stops). The distance from Hobart to Port Arthur is 90km.
Take the Tasman Bridge from downtown Hobart heading west and continue on the A3 Highway. Continue straight onto the A9 Highway at the small village of Sorell. Continue on the A9 all the way to Port Arthur, crossing the scenic Eaglehawk Neck, connecting mainland Tasmania to the Tasman Peninsula.
NOTE | There is no longer a ferry from Hobart to Port Arthur, you will have to get from Hobart to Tasman Peninsula by rental car, bus or tour
Best Port Arthur Accommodation
Port Arthur Tasmania accommodation has something to offer everyone. From camping and caravan parks to boutique hotels. With so much to see on the Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur area, I recommend spending at least a night here, if not two (given you have enough time on your Tasmania itinerary).
Other Day Trips from Hobart
Hobart is blessed with many day trip opportunities with a 30-minute to 2-hour drive from the city centre. My favourite is the gourmet haven of Bruny Island just south of Hobart. Take an epic Bruny Island tour and discover the island’s best produce and products, plus beautiful panoramic views from The Neck Lookout and Cape Bruny Lighthouse.
Staying a few nights in Hobart? Here are the best places to stay in Hobart and top hotels.
Tasmania Travel Planning Guide
► Is it safe to rent a car in Tasmania?
Absolutely, it is safe to rent a car in Tasmania. In fact, renting a car in Tasmania is the best way to see and explore the island.
You can make a very scenic lap of Tasmania in 10 days with your own rental vehicle. Plus public transportation between major tourist hubs in Tasmania is relatively limited.
► What is the best way to book my Tasmania accommodation?
I always use booking.com for all of my accommodation worldwide, and Tasmania is no exception. I stayed in some really epic places on my adventure around the island.
For more cozy apartment-style accommodation try VRBO (better and safer than Airbnb).
► Can you drink tap water in Tasmania?
Heck yes! Tasmania has some of the cleanest tap water in the world. Outside of a few small rural areas where this might not be the case, I really enjoyed drinking straight from the tap in Tasmania.
If you plan to do a lot of hiking in Tasmania, I recommend bringing my favourite self-filtering water bottle with you, just in case.
► What are the best day tours in Tasmania?
Taking a day tour in and around Tasmania is a must when visiting the island.