Noosa is well known in Australia thanks to its beaches, surf and tropical climate. It’s a busy place over the summer and school holidays as Aussies flock to the little town on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast to soak up the sun, waves, and outdoors. Noosa has a reputation as being a bit of a tourist town, which is a little unfortunate because there is so much more to Noosa than Hastings St and Main Beach.
One of Noosa’s biggest attractions is Noosa National Park. The park is located right on the tip of Noosa Headland at the north end of the Sunshine Coast. It has a large network of walking tracks allowing you to enter and exit at multiple points. The most popular entry point is right off Hastings St. The walking tracks follow along the coast past a number of bays where you can watch surfers catch some of the longest waves in Australia. Parking at the Hastings St end can be a hassle, so I would recommend entering at the Sunshine Beach end of the park.
From Sunshine Beach, the track takes you up and over the headland, past high cliffs overlooking rock formations with ominous names like Devil’s Kitchen and Hell’s Gate. Alexandria Bay is a long, beautiful white-sand beach that is usually pretty quiet due to the half-hour walk from the nearest car park (and the nudists who seem to have claimed the beach as their own personal sun-bed).
Noosa National Park provides so many options for a landscape photographer that you would never get tired of photographing it. The beaches and rock formations alone could keep you occupied for months. There are also koalas in the park as it’s a wildlife sanctuary, although I wasn’t fortunate enough to see one there.
I recommend getting down to the Sunshine Beach end for sunrise, but be careful on the rocks, there’s a good reason why they call it Devil’s Kitchen. I also recommend visiting Little Cove at the Hastings St end for sunset. Watching the surfers as the sun goes down over North Shore is pretty hard to beat. The Fairy Pools are also a great place for a dip as long as the tide isn’t too high.
If you’re a photographer, or even just a nature-lover, be sure to pay Noosa National Park a visit. Spend a day or two exploring and swimming, and don’t forget to look up in the trees for koalas!
Road trips are the best. I’m not sure if there’s a better way to see and explore a large area than on the road with my camera and some good company. You have the freedom to go wherever your vehicle will allow and you can stay as long as you like in each location. There are no flights, trains, or buses to catch. No tour guides telling you what the itinerary is for the day.
I had been planning to see the Rocky Mountains in Canada for a LONG time, so when the day arrived to pack up my Ford Explorer (El Tundy) and begin my epic Canadian Rockies Road Trip, needless to say, I was pumped. This would be the second big bucket-list item to tick off in as many months, and El Tundy was still warm from the Pacific Coast Highway
, so I knew she was rearing to go.
If you’ve seen images of Canada so beautiful that they stop you in your tracks, they’re likely from Canada’s Rocky Mountains in Alberta. The Canadian Rockies span four national parks and are home to some of the most spectacular mountains, lakes, hikes, and drives you have ever seen. Perfect for an epic camping, hiking, and photography road trip.
The Sea-To-Sky Highway
Connecting Vancouver with the famous mountain resort Whistler, the Sea-To-Sky Highway is a pretty stunning way to start a Vancouver to Canadian Rockies Road Trip. The views of the water and mountains will have you stopping so often that the drive can take twice as long as it needs to. You can drive to Whistler in under two hours, but it’s definitely worth taking your time to enjoy some of the incredible hiking, waterfalls, lakes, and photo opportunities along the way.
Revelstoke Mountain National Park
It was snowboarding that drew me to Canada, and if you like the fluffy white stuff, Revelstoke has a reputation as one of the best ski resorts in the country. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to get there. Unfortunately, it was July, so there wasn’t a lot of snowboarding to be had. Revelstoke Mountain National Park is still an incredibly beautiful place in summer. The Meadows In The Sky hike stands out as one of the highlights of the whole road trip for me.
The drive from Revelstoke through Rogers Pass and into Alberta and the Canadian Rockies is stunning, but it’s only a taste of what’s to come. The Icefields Parkway connects Lake Louise with Jasper and is considered to be one of the most breathtaking drives in the world. The road itself is only about 230km, but it winds up through impossibly huge, snow-capped mountains, emerald lakes, and glaciers. Your chances of seeing wildlife are also pretty good.
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it all the way up to Jasper as it was the middle of the worst summer for wildfires in history. Many roads were closed due to wildfires, and reports were that the smoke was so bad that it was unpleasant at best and dangerous at worst. Disappointing, but we still got to see half of it.
One of the reasons I love road trips is that you have your own vehicle, so if you do want to visit a popular location, you can get there before the crowds. Moraine Lake is one of Canada’s most popular tourist attractions, and for good reason. It reminded me a little of Yosemite National Park – otherworldly. You’ve likely seen many photos of Moraine Lake before, but don’t let the popularity of it put you off. It’s well worth a visit, just make sure you get there early. We got there well before sunrise and it was definitely worth the 4am alarm.
They are so close that many visitors get them confused, but Moraine Lake is actually just outside Lake Louise, which is a lake and a village. Confusing, I know. Lake Louise is pretty stunning in its own right and well worth a visit. Again, get there early. I recommend the buffet breakfast at Chateau Lake Louise. Not cheap, but the view! Also, if you want to get your sweat on, the Plain of Six Glaciers hike starts at Lake Louise and your hard work will be rewarded.
Image courtesy of my travel buddy and partner in crime Rachael Doyle.
Banff National Park
As we didn’t make it as far north as Jasper, most of our time in the Canadian Rockies was spent in Banff National Park. The park itself is pretty huge, and is one of the jewels in Canada’s crown. The country is well known for its incredible scenery, and much of the most recognisable is in Banff National Park. Banff village is also a pretty cool little place. It’s hugely popular in winter, as it’s close to a number of world-class ski resorts. Again, we missed the magical white stuff on this road trip, but it was still a pretty magical place in summer.
Yoho National Park
Back on the British Columbia side of the Canadian Rockies is Yoho National Park. With some pretty impressive lakes and waterfalls, you could spend a lot of time exploring here. Lake O’Hara is so popular that visitor numbers are limited, meaning you need to book months in advance. We planned this trip a few weeks earlier, so we missed Lake O’Hara unfortunately. Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls still made Yoho National Park worth stopping, though.
From Yoho you can either head straight down the BC-5 highway back to Vancouver, but I strongly suggest you venture south to Okanagan Valley – wine country! Oliver is wine-lovers heaven. There are dozens of wineries in the area producing some of Canada’s best wines. I was told by one of the many experts that served me there that Okanagan shares the same latitude as Champagne, France. I guess that’s a good thing because the wine was damn good from what I remember.
You may be confused as to how Washington has made an appearance in my Canadian Rockies Road Trip. Well, driving straight back to Vancouver didn’t really take our fancy, so we decided to duck down into the US of A to take the long route back. We spent a night in a strange, but very cool little cowboy town called Winthrop before making the drive through the gorgeous North Cascades National Park. I was tempted to stop back at Baker Lake after falling in love with it on my West Coast USA Road Trip, but we needed to get to Seattle to spend the last night of our road trip watching a band play that I had been dying to see for over ten years.
Back To Canada
I would’ve happily stayed in Seattle for longer. Every time I go there I feel like I leave too soon, but our time was up. Three weeks on the road was fantastic, but all good things must come to an end. We drove back to the Canadian border and Vancouver, another epic road trip ticked off the list. Now I want to go back and do it all again in winter!
I am incredibly lucky to have called Mount Maunganui home for a few years. In New Zealand, “The Mount” is famous for its stunning views, it’s endless white-sand beach, and it’s laid-back surf lifestyle.
As you will see, it also makes for a dream travel photography location. The mountain alone will keep your camera focused without ever running out of new angles or perspectives.
So, here are 12 of my favourite photos of Mount Maunganui:
1. Tauranga Bridge Marina
This is one of the first photos I took after moving to The Mount. It initially wasn’t an image I liked, but one I found and re-edited a while later while searching through my photo-archives.
2. The Cross
This photo of the rocks on the north side of the mountain was a happy accident that I took while playing with seascapes one night. I found this crack in the rocks, and as the water flowed in and out during the long-exposure, it created a cross shape.
3. Mount Maunganui Sunset
One of the last images I made before leaving The Mount, this was taken while exploring the base of the mountain after a beautiful, hot summer weekend.
4. Driftwood Seat
I was lucky to get a photo of this driftwood seat that somebody had made on Mount Maunganui Beach because somebody unfortunately destroyed or stole it soon after. It was a great seat for sitting and watching the stunning beach.
5. Moturiki Island
“Leisure Island” as it was known for a long time (and still is by some) got the name because it had a water park on it many years ago. Fortunately, it’s been left to return to natural bush. You can walk right out onto and around Moturiki. There’s a pretty sweet blowhole at the end that’s fun to watch when the surf picks up.
6. Mount Maunganui Nightscape
This was a photo that I took one night when I was hoping to get a shot of the Milky Way and stars over The Mount. Unfortunately, the sky didn’t come to the astrophotography party that night, but I was still pretty happy with what I walked away with.
7. Mount Maunganui Rocks
Another photo looking back on the mountain from the rocks on the north side, just off the base track. The sea was pounding the rocks pretty hard that day, but the long exposure gives the water and clouds a nice dreamy effect.
8. Crashing Waves
The waves were big and heavy on this night also. I was playing around with different seascape shutter-speeds to get different effects, and this was one of my favourites. I had to pack up pretty soon after this shot because the tide was coming in and it was getting pretty sketchy!
9. Milky Way over Mount Maunganui
I managed to get back to this spot on Moturiki Island to shoot the Milky Way not long after the attempt mentioned above. This is a number of images stitched into a panorama, and one of my first Milky Way attempts.
10. Stairway To Heaven
The walk up the summit track to the top of Mauao is a must-do for anyone living near or visiting Mount Maunganui. I highly recommend getting up early and doing it for sunrise because the view will blow you away. Hiking up only takes 20-30 minutes, but you’ll get hot, so doing it early in the day is far more pleasant.
11. Moturiki Island
This photo was another happy accident that I took while waiting to get the photo below. I was exploring the rocks on Moturiki Island while I waited for the light to improve when I turned around and composed this shot with the light behind me. Another reminder to turn around when shooting sunsets.
12. “The Mount”
This photo of Mount Maunganui is almost spiritual for me. Mauao is tapu (sacred) for Maori, and I understand why. It’s an incredible place, and it makes you stop and stare. I have this image printed large on my wall, and it never fails to make me stop what I’m doing and stare at it. Every photographer only gets to have a few images like that, and this is one of mine.
I hope you’ve enjoyed viewing Mount Maunganui through my camera lens. If you haven’t visited yet, be sure to add it to your travel bucket-list. If you have, I would love to see your photos. You can leave a link in the comments and I’ll be sure to take a look 🤙
I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted to do a road trip of the entire West Coast of the USA – the famous Pacific Coast Highway. It’s been on my travel bucket list for a long time. Last summer I was finally able to tick it off.
My guess is that most people start from the south end of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), but as I was coming from British Columbia, Canada at the time, my epic West Coast road trip began in Vancouver.
Day one saw us head straight from the US-Canada border to Baker Lake in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and North Cascades National Park. Mt Baker has always been on my radar as a place I would love to go snowboarding, but that was unlikely to happen given that it was late-May. Despite the lack of snow, the Baker Lake area was a pretty amazing spot for the first night of our road trip.
We pretty much had the place to ourselves so had the pick of the best campsites right on Baker Lake, but to be fair they were all pretty spectacular. We set up camp, built a fire, cracked a beer, and seriously considered staying there for the whole three weeks! In the morning we explored the lake area for a bit then followed the mountain road up to some natural hot springs. Despite coming out of the water almost black, it was well worth the sketchy drive and short walk. The hot springs at Baker Lake aren’t signposted at all, but ask one of the locals and they’ll happily point you in the right direction.
After washing the blackness off in the very fresh lake, we loaded back up and headed to Seattle. This was my third visit Washington State’s capital city, and I never get sick of it. We spent stayed with a friend who has an apartment with an amazing view over the city. We sat on the huge balcony and watched the sun set over the beautiful city skyline with a couple beers then headed out to a few of the local spots to enjoy the famous Seattle nightlife. I highly recommend Big Mario’s Pizza and Pike Brewing Company.
We spent the next morning exploring the city and checking out a few must-see spots that I had missed on previous visits, but as much as I would have loved to stay and explore Seattle, we were itching to get back on the road. Our plan was to spend as much of our road trip as possible exploring the West Coast’s beautiful outdoors, and although I love exploring cities, it was the Pacific Coast Highway that was the attraction, so we were soon loading up El Tundy and back on the road.
We caught the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, which gave us some fantastic views of the city and Mt Rainier. The drive from Bainbridge Island around the north side of Olympic National Park wouldn’t have taken as long as it did had we not stopped so regularly to get out of El Tundy to gawk at the stunning views or take photos of all the little waterfalls on the side of the road. My extremely patient travel buddy Ryan didn’t complain once about the constant stops, after all, what’s a road trip if you don’t stop to enjoy the scenery? It didn’t help that we had a rule that we had to stop if we drove past a brewery!
When we got around to the west side of Olympic National Park, we heading inland up the Hoh River to the Hoh Rainforest. The rainforest is like nothing I’ve ever seen. The Hall of Mosses are the crown jewel of the rainforest and I can see why. Huge, ancient trees grow unimpeded and the mosses cover absolutely everything! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much green in my life. We spent a couple hours wandering the hiking trails that snake through the trees and along the Hoh River.
The day was getting on so we got back on the road and headed to our campsite. After setting up camp we jumped back in the car and drove back up the coast a bit to Ruby Beach for sunset. The beach is covered in a massive amount of driftwood and featured some pretty epic sea stacks, which make for great photos.
From Washington’s Olympic National Park we drove along the coast, stopping along the way to see the beaches, lakes, and more waterfalls until we crossed the border into Oregon. I’ve wanted to visit the rugged Oregon Coast for some time, so I was excited to finally be there. Our first stop was the famous Cannon Beach with its massive sea stacks. After our usual routine of finding a campground and setting up, we headed into the little township to feed and water ourselves (highly recommend Public Coast Brewing Company). With the day once again coming to an end far too soon, I grabbed my camera gear and made the short walk from our campground down to watch the Oregon Coast put on a spectacular display of colour over the sea stacks at the north end of the beach.
The next day saw us continue south along Highway 101 past beach after beach, with plenty of stops along the way, including a detour from the US-101 highway to do the Three Capes Scenic Drive, and a compulsory stop at the Pelican Brewery in Pacific City. We pulled up for the night at a campground in Reedsport to see the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Unfortunately, the Oregon Coast was living up to its rugged reputation, and the wind made it virtually impossible to explore the dunes. We filled our shoes and my tripod with sand and decided to call it a night because tomorrow would be a BIG day.
Every landscape and travel photographer on earth will tell you they have a photography bucket-list. Yosemite National Park has been at or near the top of my bucket-list for as long as I can remember.
We didn’t arrive until late because we spent about 14 hours driving from Oregon Dunes to Yosemite in one go. We hadn’t planned it that way, but due to having limited time we decided we would rather have an extra day in Yosemite, so we had one big, long 1000km drive day. Yosemite isn’t actually on the Pacific Coast Highway, it’s on the eastern side of California, bordering Nevada, but no American West Coast road trip would be complete without visiting Yosemite. Seeing as we arrived so late, we stayed at a campground just outside Yosemite Valley, and we set up camp and crashed in record time.
There’s no way I was wasting time sleeping in having finally arrived at Yosemite. We rose early, packed up, and made the short drive into Yosemite Valley, the crown-jewel of Yosemite National Park. I’m sure glad we did, because as the sun was coming up over the mountains into the valley as we drove in, and there was no wind, so all the water in the valley was like glass.
I thank it’s fair to say without exaggeration that Yosemite is the most breathtaking place I have ever seen. Like everybody else with internet access, I’ve seen many photos of the most popular national park on earth, but not one of those photos do justice to the sheer size and grandeur of the place. I spent a significant volume of my time there just staring up at the monstrous granite cliffs. It really seems like you’re in a movie or on another planet.
We spent three days in Yosemite. Driving, hiking, taking photos, sitting, staring, taking more photos, lying in the sun, watching the stars, and of course, taking more photos. Luckily I had enough juice and storage for my camera, as thankfully there is very little there in the way of electricity.
The crowds were a little overwhelming, but if you get to the popular locations early or late you miss a lot of the bulk tourists who stop for 60 seconds for a selfie then pile back into their expensive cars and drive to the next selfie-location. We visited Tunnel View a number of times, each time sitting and staring for long periods while hundreds, if not thousands of people came and went. Sitting up there watching and photographing the stars until the early hours of the morning with only a handful of other photographers was a real highlight.
On our last morning in Yosemite, we needed to make a decision about where to go next. The plan had been to head to the Grand Canyon via Las Vegas, but as we were on a pretty tight schedule we made the painful decision to skip Grand Canyon and head to Joshua Tree National Park. Although we were both pretty bummed to miss it, it took the pressure off and freed up a couple extra days to enjoy the remaining part of the trip without rushing. I guess Grand Canyon will have to wait until next time 🙂
Each time leaving a location was a mix of disappointment with not having more time there and excitement about what was coming next. This was never felt as strong as it did leaving Yosemite to drive to Joshua Tree. Ryan had a friend who lived in the Joshua Tree area, and more importantly, there were BEDS waiting for us! I love camping, but if there’s one thing I can count on, it’s that it gives me a new appreciation for a bed and a hot shower.
By this stage we had come a long way south, and it was very evident driving into the heat of the deserts of California. Luckily El Tundy had some decent air conditioning because the drive would not have been fun without it. It was another long day of driving, but we arrived to an enthusiastic welcome, and as promised, a hot shower and real beds.
We spent a couple of days in Joshua Tree experiencing some incredible hospitality, riding quads, playing pool, and, you guessed it, taking photos. We even found a brewery! We went to Joshua Tree National Park one night to watch the sunset and do some stargazing. I had some fun playing with some astrophotography and light-painting. Star photography is one of my favourite things to do, but it’s not that often that the light pollution is low enough to really make the most of it. Joshua Tree National Park was perfect.
Next was a place I was super excited about for a couple reasons. I had heard so many great things about San Diego, so I always wanted to visit. The other reason was that San Diego would be the southern-most point of our West Coast Road Trip, so it was also the half-way point. That’s right, we now had to drive all the way back to Canada!
We only had time for one night in San Diego unfortunately, but we were getting pretty used to making the most of having less time than we would have liked. We checked into a hostel for the night and went out to explore the city. It was a Saturday and there was a baseball game on at Petco Park, so there were a lot of people out in the city, giving it a pretty fun atmosphere. We decided to take ourselves on a self-guided tour of San Diego’s breweries, and I can confirm that the city’s reputation for awesome breweries is well deserved.
We were a little slower leaving San Diego in the morning than usual, so we took our time driving up the stunning Southern California coast. We stopped along the way for amazing SoCal food, and to visit some of the famous spots like Huntington Beach, before heading to Los Angeles. Having visited a couple times before, I would have quite happily skipped LA, but we had been invited to stay with friends in Santa Monica, and how can you say no to that?
The weather wasn’t great for going to the beach, so we paid the famous Santa Monica Boulevard a visit, but didn’t stay long. We went to a Mexican-Korean fusion restaurant for dinner, which sounded kinda strange to me, but turned out to be A-MAZING! We then went back to watch one of the few things I have time for on TV – Planet Earth 2.
We got out of LA as quickly as possible the next morning and continued up the coast towards San Luis Obispo. I visited SLO a few years ago and LOVED it, so I was keen to get back there. San Luis Obispo is a little inland, so we decided to stay at a campground in Pismo Beach for the night instead.
Our plan had been to drive up Big Sur, another place I had wanted to visit for a long time, but our plans were thwarted by a huge landslide that had closed the road at the south end of Big Sur. I was gutted. To get there would have required driving all the way around and coming in from the north. I wanted to go there so bad that we almost did, but eventually we decided to carry on towards San Francisco.
We had a night in a beautiful little campground in Monterrey Bay before going to explore Santa Cruz for the day. We walked through the crazy amusement park on the beach, along the boardwalk, out onto the pier, watched some surfers for a bit, then went and found a brewery serving very average beer and below-average food. As with virtually all our stops, I wish we had more time there. Santa Cruz is rad.
After a night in a sweet campground in the woods along the 101 just outside Pescadero, we rolled into San Francisco. There are few cities in the world that I would be more excited to visit than San Francisco! We needed to be there on this particular day because we had tickets to Beer Camp! Beer Camp is the largest craft beer festival in America, and in case you hadn’t noticed, I like beer. It was everything we had hoped for. There were brewers from all over the US pouring tasters, and it was all free! We drank some beer, we ate some amazing food truck munchies, we drank some more beer, we made some friends, and we drank more beer with our new friends!
We did see some of San Francisco too, but as I said, the cities were less of a priority, and I know I’ll be back to do San Francisco properly someday. We also needed to get back on the road as we were meeting a couple others in Portland for my birthday. It was quite a way from San Francisco to Portland, so we opted to take the main highway rather than the PCH. It was still a solid ten-hour drive, so we broke it up with a night in a campground in southern Oregon. It was the only unpleasant experience we had staying in a campground, which was due to the neighbours getting pretty hammered and yelling abuse at each other all night. It’s the only place on the whole road trip that I didn’t want to stay longer.
Oregon Round 2
The next day we rolled into Portland, where we met up with my girlfriend and another couple friends. We had booked an Airbnb for a couple nights, and once again, we were looking forward to real beds and hot showers after camping and staying in hostels. Portland was exactly what I expected it to be. Weird. I loved it!
We spent our time there exploring the city with the help of my local friend who served as tour-guide and chauffeur. We found amazing food, quirky shops and cafes, and you guessed it – breweries! As I was celebrating my birthday in Portland we went out for dinner our second night to a Vietnamese restaurant called Luc Lac, which was so cheap and SO GOOD!
Washington Round 2
Once again we had to be back on the road far too soon, but we knew we were going to love our next stop. We decided to go back and try to make the last night of our road trip as awesome as our first by revisiting Baker Lake in North Cascades National Park. We had two more people with us, and we wanted to show them this amazing spot. Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly as awesome due to the rain that arrived and stuck around all night and the next day (the only rain we had the whole trip – I still blame our new recruits). We somehow managed to build a fire to cook and stay warm, but it was a pretty cold miserable night.
If there’s one thing you can always enjoy in the rain, it’s a hot soak, so in the morning we headed back up the now-wet, sketchy back road to the natural hot springs and got warm and black again in the steaming water. After turning into prunes, we finally dragged ourselves out of the water, drove back to the campground, washed off in the less-than-pleasant lake, packed up, and headed home.
The Best Road Trip Ever?
Road trips are such a great way to travel. You can see so much more and have a lot more freedom to see and do what you want on your own schedule. I have done a few great road trips, but the only one that rivals this epic West Coast USA adventure was the Canadian Rockies. I’m currently planning a massive road trip around Australia, so stay tuned for more travel photos and stories from down under!
Have you travelled the American West Coast? What were your highlights? Any tips for others who are planning to visit? Leave them in the comments!
I love waterfalls. I mean I REALLY love waterfalls. I could stare and listen to the sights and sounds of thundering water falling onto rocks for hours. Whenever I’m visiting somewhere new and researching potential photo locations, I almost always search for waterfalls. They appeal to both the outdoor adventure lover and the photographer in me. They can make for some gorgeous images, especially being a big long-exposure photography fan. Long exposures can easily turn moving water into beautiful silky-smooth streams.
Needless to say, before I travelled to Canada, I spent many hours researching great locations and scenery to photograph. As most of my time was going to be based in British Columbia I searched for waterfalls in BC. Brandywine Falls, just outside Whistler, was one of the most dramatic, so I made my way there with camera gear in tow. Going in early summer was a great idea, as the water was pumping out from all the snow melting off the mountains. This image was made from the viewing platform above the waterfall, but I’m hoping to get back there to hike/climb/fall down the apparently very sketchy trail to the bottom of the falls.
If you’re planning to visit Whistler or BC, I highly recommend checking out Brandywine Falls. It’s an easy walk from the roadside parking lot to the viewing platform, and it’s well worth seeing for yourself!