Here’s everything you need to know before heading out on the Cape Hauy hike, the best short hike in Tasmania. This article includes when to visit, where to stay, fees, and things to see on the hike.
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Cape Hauy: The Best Short Walk In Tasmania
The final cape of famous Three Capes Walk will engulf you in all of its raw and rugged beauty. Leaving you in awe of the wildly beautiful coastline.
At the edge of Cape Hauy is the iconic Totem Pole and Candlestick. The wild coastline is a breathtaking sight and one we’ve now been fortunate enough to witness several times.
Despite the bone-chilling wind on the hike out, Cape Hauy is every bit as beautiful as imagined.
The Three Capes Walk is Tasmania’s premier multi-day hike taking four days to complete the 48km trail. Should you want to spend four days immersed in nature and inspiring views, the Three Capes Walk is just as incredible as it is made out to be. It is during the fourth and final day of the hike that you emerge on one of the main highlights of the entire walk, Cape Hauy. You can read more about the full Three Capes Walk here.
If a beautiful day hike, the best short walk in Tasmania is more of what you are looking for, Cape Hauy is a standout. The 10km return day-walk starts and finishes from Fortescue Bay on the Tasman Peninsula, just 1.5hrs from Hobart.
Our detailed guide to the Cape Hauy hike provides you with everything you need to know to enjoy this natural spectacle. With insider tips on how to avoid the most popular times and get the most of your hike.
Cape Hauy - Hike Details
Hike distance | 8km return
Time | 4 hours
Elevation Gain | 500m
Difficulty | Moderate
When to visit | All Year
What to pack | Hiking boots, water, rain jacket, warm layer, camera, snacks, first aid kit
Cost | Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife national parks pass is $60 per vehicle (up to eight passengers) and valid for up to eight weeks. More options available here.
Cape Hauy Hike - A Step By Step Guide
The 8km Cape Hauy Hike is a moderate hike which should take around 4 hours to complete.
That being said, we recommend taking your time to stop and enjoy the views along the way.
The trail is well defined, and is clearly shown on Google Maps and Maps.me. If you do encounter any issues, ask a fellow hiker or parks and wildlife ranger for directions.
Starting from Fortescue Bay boat ramp, the hike follows a gravel trail along the water’s edge. Until you begin ascending the many stairs up to what is known as the junction. This section of the hike is challenging as it is continually uphill. However, the path is well-formed with beautifully constructed stairs. Some people argue that this hike should be classed as difficult because of the 800 or so stairs in this section, but the trail itself is in fantastic condition. The hike is achievable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and plenty of time for a few breaks along the way.
The junction is the perfect place for a rest before continuing out onto the cape. From here there is a short descent down before once again continuing up. It is this section that has the most memorable viewpoints.
Cape Hauy offers incredible views of the coastline stretching from Cape Pillar all the way to Maria Island. It is labelled as the best short hike in Tasmania for many reasons, but all are very well deserved. From the lookout platform at the end of the track, the walk returns to Fortescue Bay along the same trail.
Cape Hauy - Trail Map
The Cape Hauy hike is well marked and easy to follow. However, we do recommend downloading a map just in case, as phone reception can be patchy. Telstra is by far the most reliable in the region and all of Tasmania.
We recommend downloading the brilliant navigation app Maps.Me for android or Ios. It’s completely free, and you can use it all over the world offline as long as you download the regions. This, along with an area map for the Tasman Peninsula, and you will be able to navigate while offline quite easily.
When Is The Best Time To Hike To Cape Hauy
The Cape Hauy hike is an iconic Tasmanian trail and therefore gets extremely busy between the summer months of December and February. If it’s possible, we would suggest avoiding visiting during this busy period.
In our opinion, the best time to hike to Cape Hauy is either side of the peak period in November and March. If you don’t mind the cold, hiking the trail during winter can be extremely rewarding with fewer people and high chances of spotting a Southern Right Whale. They migrate past the Tasman Peninsula each year from June to October.
If you can’t avoid hiking the trail during the busy summer months or want a higher chance of clear sunny weather, we recommend making the most of the long daylight hours in Tasmania. Leave early in the morning before 8 am or later in the afternoon between 2-4 pm (depending on the month and your fitness level) to avoid most of the crowds.
All hikers on the Three Capes Walk will be back at Fortescue Bay before 4 pm to catch their return shuttle bus. With sunset in Tasmania sometimes being as late as 9 pm there is ample time for an afternoon hike. This is also the best time of day for photography.
How To Get To The Cape Hauy Hike
Cape Hauy is located on the Tasman Peninsula on Tasmania’s South East coast, 1.5hrs from the capital Hobart.
Below is an overview of how to get to the Cape Hauy hike starting point, at Fortescue Bay:
Car – How To Get To Cape Hauy
We highly recommend hiring a car for the duration of your stay in Tasmania. It makes reaching all the wonderful natural attractions very easy, and gives you far more freedom to explore the region.
To get to The Tasman Peninsula via car from Port Arthur you will need to take the Tasman Highway (A3) from Hobart.
At Sorell Turn right onto the (A9) Arthur Highway and follow this for 88km all the way to the Peninsula then turn left onto Joiners Link / Fortescue Bay Road in Taranna.
Follow this road for 12km to Fortescue Bay. The road has recently been upgraded and is a dirt road in excellent condition.
Although the distance is only 100km, Tasmanian roads are renowned for being slow going and windy. Allow plenty of time to ensure you have a safe journey. 1.5 – 2hrs is a pretty standard timeframe for the drive. There is ample free parking at Fortescue Bay. But you will need to purchase a parks and wildlife pass to enter the national park.
Check prices and dates for car rental here.
Tour – How To Get To Cape Hauy
Tours leave from Hobart and are roughly 10 hours long. Tours include the following:
- Transportation to and from Hobart
- Morning tea/coffee and snacks
- Picnic lunch with dietary options are available
- Two qualified local guides
The tours operate in all weather conditions (including wind and rain) so be prepared for any weather and expect rain even in summer. Comfortable walking shoes are required for the 8km walk and tours are not suitable for children under the age of 10.
Public Transport – How To Get To Cape Hauy
There is no public transport to Fortescue Bay except for the bus for the hikers on the Three Capes Walk. It is possible to reach Port Arthur by public bus service but Fortescue Bay is 20km from there.
The following options will take you to Port Arthur, but you will need to arrange how to get to Fortescue Bay from there.
Pennicott Wilderness Journeys have a fantastic bus service between Hobart and Port Arthur for $35. If you arrange your ticket in advance, they can also collect you from the Hobart Airport.
GreyLine have a very similar transfer service for $45 one-way.
TassieLink operate the local bus service. Bus 734 will take you from Hobart (or other stops along the way) to Port Arthur. The cost is around $24 if travelling from Hobart. Check their website for timetables and pricing.
Since there is no other public transport in the area, we highly recommend hiring a vehicle or taking a tour.
Where To Stay Near The Cape Hauy Hike
There are plenty of accommodation options around Port Arthur. There is something to suit every budget.
The area is very popular over summer (Dec-Feb) with most accommodation booking out well in advance during this period.
If you would like to start the hike early or finish later in the day staying at the lovely Fortescue Bay campground is a good option. The campground is run by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service and has basic facilities but is right on the beautiful white sand beach.
Below are the best options, for staying in the Port Arthur Region:
Stuarts Bay Lodge is always a favourite option and hard to go past.
The NRMA Port Arthur Holiday Park has fantastic Safari tents that sleep 4. We really love this option and have stayed here a few times.
Also worth considering is Nextdoor@PortArthur.
Alternative Cape Hauy Hike
If you’re looking for something less popular than the Cape Hauy hike the Cape Raoul track has recently been upgraded. The 14km round trip takes 5hrs. Once out on Cape Raoul, there are fantastic views of Cape Pillar and on to Hobart and Bruny Island. This is a gorgeous hike and another great way to experience the Tasman Peninsula and it’s stunning coastline.
Responsible Trekking In Tasmania
Tasmania is world renowned for its remote untouched wilderness and pristine natural environment.
As the island state becomes more and more popular to travellers each year it is important that we look after these natural environments. Here’s a few key rules to remember while hiking in Tasmania:
Bring a reusable water bottle – There is no need for anyone to buy bottled water in Tasmania. All tap water in Tasmania is drinkable but if you dislike the idea or taste purchase a water filtration & purification system.
Hike out of peak season – As the best short hike in Tasmania, Cape Hauy can get extremely busy in the peak of summer. We suggest trekking either side of the peak period (Dec-Feb). You will get to hike the trail with far less people, which we love and believe makes for a far better experience. It’s also a good idea to start hiking early in the day to avoid crowds.
Cultural respect – The Pydairrerme people are the traditional custodians of the land. Although not always visible to the average person they have a strong connection to the land and have many sacred sites in the area. It is important that you remain on the trail at all times and obey signs in the area.
Leave only Footprints take only photographs – A popular saying in Tasmania. Simply, anything that you bring into the park with you needs to be taken away and disposed of correctly. You definitely do not litter in this unspoilt environment. If you do come across rubbish that is not yours, please collect it in a bag and take it off the trails with you to dispose of later. We can all do our small part to help preserve this beautiful place.
Trail Etiquette – A few simple things to help everyone improve their time on the trail, especially on one like the Cape Hauy track with so many stairs. Always give way to uphill traffic, keep to the left, listen to any music through headphones and always be friendly and have fun.
Travel Insurance - Stay Safe In Tasmania
Make sure that you are covered for any mishaps that may happen on your trip to Tasmania. Things can go wrong even for the most experienced travellers.
Be confident in knowing that you’ll be covered for anything that may happen. Hiking injuries, car accidents, lost and delayed baggage, are all things that can go wrong on any holiday. Give yourself peace of mind with quality travel Insurance.
Other Things To Do & See On The Tasman Peninsula
The Tasman Peninsula has so much more to offer than Cape Hauy and the Three Capes Walk. There are many incredible natural attractions such as remarkable cave and the devil’s kitchen. There is also a Tasmanian Devil sanctuary, lavender farm, gin distillery and vineyard, all close to Port Arthur. You can read all about these wonderful attractions and more in our post on the best things to do and see on the Tasman peninsula here.
Still want to know about Tasmania? Read our post on the best things to do in Tasmania here.