Guide To Tasman Island Cruises, Explore South East Tasmanian Coastline

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Tasman Island is one of the most dramatic and striking uninhabited islands off the Tasman National Park peninsula.

It’s known for its huge sea cliffs, variety of wildlife such as seals, dolphins, and whales, and abundant sea birds such as sea eagles, albatross, peregrine falcons, and cliff-nesting cormorants.

One of the best ways to explore this island is on a Tasman Island cruise, which is as thrilling as the scenery itself!

rock cliffs

As you jet around on a custom-built vessel, you get to witness the highest vertical sea cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere, marvel at rock formations, sea caves, waterfalls, and jet through archways.

We chose to do a Tasman Island Cruise from Port Arthur with Rob Pennecott Tours. In this guide, I have shared how you can do this tour and what to expect.

About Rob Pennecott Tours

Rob Pennicott tours Hobart Tasmania
We’ll race you back

Rob Pennicott is a Tasmanian celebrity. He has been running Tasman Island cruises along the coastline of Port Arthur since 1999.

He reminded me of Steve Irwin.

Quick with a joke and a smile, a passion for nature, and enthusiasm about the rugged beauty of South East Tasmania’s coastal wilderness.

It started as a small family business, and now because of its world-class service and sustainable coastal wilderness experiences, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys has a staff of over 70, has won numerous awards, and now runs several island cruises in the area.

A woman smiling
Nat from Mummy Smiles enjoying the ride
woman with camera smiling
Sarah from A Beach Cottage
people on a boat Tasman Island cruises
Another of Rob’s boats come to say hi
person taking photo
Give us a smile!

25% of the business profits are donated to conservation projects and in 2011 Rob circumnavigated Australia in a 5.4 metre dinghy raising over $290,000 for conservation and assisting Rotary in eradicating polio.

Not a bad tour guide.

I was fascinated by Rob, as much as I was by the stunning scenery and the seals that waved to us from the sea.


We like to book our tours when we travel through Get Your Guide you can book now, but pay later, you can change the date of your tour should something go wrong and cancel up to 24 hours in advance. Here’s the Tasman Island Cruise

About Tasman Island Cruises

people on boat looking at island scenery
Enjoying the scenery

Tasman Island Cruises take you on a journey to see the wildlife of the Tasman Peninsula and Tasman Island which is part of the Tasman National Park in Southern Tasmania.

We opted for a three-hour wilderness cruise which departs daily at either 9:30am (check in at 9.00am) for the morning cruise or 2.00pm (check in at 1.30pm) for the afternoon cruise.

Be sure to arrive early because you need to do a pre-cruise briefing.

You can also do a full day tour which includes a visit to either the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo or the Port Arthur Historic Site, but we had already been so opted just for the 3 hour cruise.

a mountainside

If you opt for a full day tour then you get a morning tea and a lunch included with your ticket price.

All cruises depart from the Tasman Island Cruises Booking Centre in Port Arthur. It’s located just before the Port Arthur Historic Site entrance on the left side of the road.

Port Arthur is about a 90 minute drive from Hobart.

The boat is small and has tiered seating, so everyone gets a great all-round view. There is a maximum of 43 people on the boat and is has an open-air design.

Our Experience on a Tasman Island Cruise

seals lying on rocks

You cruise around in one of Rob’s yellow boats, the 4WD of the sea, which allows you to maneuver close to the cliff faces and go inside the deep-sea caves.

Rob ensures he’s always respecting the animal’s space and comfort levels.

A seal lying on a rock


a seal on a rock
seals lying on rocks
A seal on a rock
seals lying on a rock
A seal on a rock

A seal sleeping on a rock

“Okay, let’s get moving now, the seals have had enough.”

“No we won’t get any closer to the penguin, you can see he’s not that interested to talk to us today.”

We were promised lots of marine life sightings: Australian and New Zealand fur seals, bottle-nose dolphins, cormorants, diving gannets, and little penguins.

wheel on a boat
Let’s drive this thing

“For the past week, we’ve seen orcas every day. Just yesterday one breached right near us.”

I was excited. My eyes and camera were ready for the entire 3 hour trip. The seabirds were having a feeding frenzy and it was amazing to see so much wildlife.

We were cruising to Tasman Island, the turning point for the racing Sydney to Hobart yachts and home of the flying fox and haulage-way that carried supplies up to the lightkeeper’s houses.

It reminded me of my favourite children’s book, “The Lighthouse Keepers Lunch.”

waves pounding against the cliffs
Pounding waves
Some of the world’s best seaweed
water lapping up to rugged cliffs
Exploring sea caves
fisherman boat in ocean
Local lobster fisherman
man holding lobster in each hand on fishing boat
Today’s catch
colorful cliff face
Gorgeous colours

It was isolated and eerie, a lonely place to sit and watch with only seals on the rocks below as friends.

The entire spectacular coastline is isolated and rugged and unspoiled.

jetty with colored sheds on sand
Getting ready to board at Eaglehawk Neck
a pier on water
Eaglehawk Neck
bird sitting on jetty pole
Such a beautiful day

We stopped to explore sea caves, wildlife, passing lobster fisherman, dolerite spires and sea stacks named Cathedral Rock, the Candlestick and Totem Pole (I mistakenly imagined it was something else–imagination please people), and the highest sea cliffs in the Southern hemisphere at Cape Pillar.

very high Cape Pillar
Cape Pillar- the highest sea cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere

But, no whales as it was the wrong time of year. And no dolphins either which Rob was shocked by. The pod of playful dolphins are always the main attraction and never fail to show.

That was until we crossed over the open Southern Ocean to arrive back in Port Arthur. The swell was large, and I held on as I stood next to Rob chatting.

He skillfully moved us safely across the water while sharing his story with me of how he turned his passion into a lifestyle.

a rock cliff in the ocean
Rugged coastline

“There they are there.” someone shouted.

Dolphins were jumping and playing beside the bow wave of the boat. We all let out a cheer at our good fortune and followed them as they surfed the waves.

seals in the ocean

And, of course, as every traveller understands, the SNAFU comes into place, when you have an amazing opportunity for great camera footage. In all your excitement you didn’t notice that you turned the camera off instead of on.

Such is life.

I thoroughly enjoyed my Tasman Island cruise with Rob Pennecott. I would definitely add it as a worthwhile experience when you visit Tasmania.

A body of water surrounded by trees
Returning home to Port Arthur
A body of water next to a sand dune
Beach near Port Arthur

We like to book our tours when we travel through Get Your Guide you can book now, but pay later, you can change the date of your tour should something go wrong and cancel up to 24 hours in advance. Here’s the Tasman Island Cruise

Tips for Doing the Tasman Island Cruises

Tasman Island lighthouse (1)

Before you go, here are some tips to make the most of your experience.

  • If you suffer from sea sickness, take some meds beforehand. Sit at the back of the boat for a less bumpy ride.
  • Wrap up warm, even in the summer, as the wind is cold. Beanies, gloves, scarves and warm jackets are recommended.
  • Wear your life jacket for the duration of the cruise as the ocean is quite choppy.

Don’t miss this guide to Port Arthur Historical Site (highly recommend) and we loved the Port Arthur ghost tour! Here is our guide on things to do in Hobart, including the fantastic Salamanca Markets and MONA Museum.

Disclaimer: I travelled to Tasmania as a guest of Tourism Australia on the T-Qual Tick Race.

19 thoughts on “Guide To Tasman Island Cruises, Explore South East Tasmanian Coastline”

  1. I did the Bruny Island boat tour a few weeks ago, it was excellent!

    We got stuck in a storm that wasn’t on any radar, so the experience turned into more of a jetboating trip than a scenery trip. Everyone on the boat was laughing like kids.

    To apologize for the sudden change of trip, we were all given a free pumpkin soup and 10 dollars worth of merchandise from the store (I chose wool socks!). The crew also offered to dry any clothes that got wet in the storm.

    Now I want to do the Port Arthur tour next time I’m there…

    1. Great story Beatrice!! As long as it is a story to tell in the end. I’m considering doing the Bruny Island tour later this year when we go to Tassie

  2. These photographs are absolutely amazing. I love boat tours, especially when the local wildlife is cooperating! Thanks so much for sharing this.

  3. Oh my gosh what incredible scenery and wildlife! I’d be happy enough just to enjoy the sea caves but to see all that incredible wildlife too!? Amazing. And great to hear that you had such a great guide; they really can make or break the trip.

  4. Photos like that just make me want to explore home more and more. I often forget just how diverse Australia. Great post Caz, have to make tassie a stop off for me next time I’m home.

  5. I’d love the wildlife experience, the brilliant view of the scenery and the cliff. This is an awesome tour. Exploring this place is magnificent.

  6. Hi Great to see my home state through the eyes of another.Stunning photos. Glad you enjoyed your time here..Makes me appreciate where I live even more..Thankyou

  7. I had no idea Tasmania had a coastline like that – just spectacular. It’s always a bit of a let down when the wild animals don’t show. Today I was hoping for woodland caribou or a moose on a hike – and no luck either.

  8. Breathtaking! I’m so relaxed just by looking those photos, specially the sea animals and sea caves. Mouthwatering with those lobsters you have in one of the photos. Awww.. and those cute Seal, i just love it! If I am going to visit Tasman Island, I will really try Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. And I will make sure not to miss out Port Arthur tour as well. Thanks for sharing this. One great helpful post you got!

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