Ultimate Guide – Your best Tasmania river cruise and boat tours (for every budget!)

There are soooo many amazing Tasmania river cruise and boat tour options for you to choose from, and some of them aren’t cheap.

Don’t stress! I’ve used my local experience and personal experiences to select the best of the best. River rainforest cruises, open water adventures, laid-back tours and high-speed excitement – this guide has got something just for you AND your budget 😊


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Best Tasmania River Cruise and Boat Tour - Maria Island cliffs and boulders
Maria Island Cruises is one of your best Tasmania river cruise and boat tours!

Tasmania is famous for its breath-taking scenery and wide range of wildlife you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

You’ll see plenty from behind the wheel of your car or campervan, but to discover some of Tassie’s most iconic and untouched destinations you need to get out on the water!

A Tasmania river cruise or boat tour is an unforgettable experience, with plenty of options to suit all types of interests and budgets.

Seals, dolphins and marine life? Ancient rainforests, colonial and indigenous history? Kingfishers, sea eagles, and platypus? Sea cliffs, sea caves, and wandering wombats? Yes, yes, and yes!

There are so many different river cruises and boat tours available in Tasmania, and they are super easy to add to your road trip itinerary.

Let me show you my favourites, so you too can experience the very best of Tasmania by boat!

Table of Contents (click to expand)

A quick summary of the best Tasmania river cruise and boat tours

The table below provides you with a quick summary of my recommendations for the best river cruise and boat tours, including links where you can learn more about each tour and to make your booking.

If you’re like me, you might also be worried about how rough the water might get? While I’m normally ok, I still like to know in advance what to expect in terms of the size of the swell, and whether to pop a ginger tablet or two before the tour. Check my ‘swell-ometer’ rating to choose the best cruise for you!

As you will see, some of these awesome tour operators are also providing exclusive offers to our community here – so don’t forget to use my LAPOFTAS code to secure your saving 😊

If you want all the details of each of the tours – including plenty of photos – please keep reading!

CompanyPerfect for...Swell-ometerBudgetBook
World Heritage Cruises (Gordon River)Families and couples seeking a scenic day trip filled with natural wonder, fascinating history, and jaw-dropping photos.

SAVE 10%: LAPOFTAS
🌊$$$

Book Now

Maria Island CruisesThe ultimate combination of sea, sand, remote natural beauty, and the cutest wombats ever!

SAVE 10%: LAPOFTAS
🌊🌊$$$$

Book Now

Leven River CruisesVisitors seeking a unique cruise with bird-watching opportunities galore – without the crowds!

SAVE 10%: LAPOFTAS
🌊$$

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Bruny Island CruisesTravellers wanting to experience one of Tasmania’s most iconic boat tours while visiting famous Bruny Island.🌊🌊🌊$$$

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Wineglass Bay CruiseCouples and families wanting to experience Wineglass Bay in style, comfort, and with the option of a little bit of luxury!🌊🌊$$$

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Tasman Island CruisesFamilies and couples looking for excitement and dramatic landscapes on the Tasmania Peninsula.🌊🌊🌊$$$

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Tamar River CruisesThe ultimate views of Cataract Gorge, and a unique exploration of the Tamar River.🌊$$

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Hobart Historic CruisesA leisurely tour of Hobart’s historic landmarks – without breaking the bank!🌊$

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Iron Pot CruiseTravellers with limited time, but wanting an exciting and fun tour from Hobart.🌊🌊$$

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Arthur River CruiseA unique 5-hour river tour through the rainforest of northwest Tasmania – no crowds!🌊$$

Book Now

* Prices correct at time of writing


Your best Tasmania river cruise and boat tours

1. Gordon River Cruise (World Heritage Cruises)

Perfect For: Families and couples seeking a scenic day trip filled with natural wonder, fascinating history, and jaw-dropping photos.

🔍 World Heritage Cruises at a glance…

  • Location: Strahan (West Coast)
  • Price: Adults from $150 | Seniors from $135 | Children from $70 | <5yrs FREE
  • Lap of Tasmania discount: 10% off (use my LAPOFTAS code)
  • Highlights: Hells Gates | Sarah Island | Heritage Landing and Rainforest Walk
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Meals/drinks: Lunch is included | Drinks available for purchase
  • Shuttle bus: No
  • Swell: Flat as a tack – no need to worry about motion sickness

Since 1896, more than 100 years ago, World Heritage Cruises have been helping locals and visitors to explore the pristine waters of the Gordon River.

This family-owned business provides the perfect day trip for families, couples, and everyone in between – without breaking your budget!

Starting your tour at the Strahan Wharf you can look forward to a relaxing 6-hour river cruise that transports you back in time and reveals the rich West-coaster history that makes this part of Tasmania so special.

Points of interest you are going to love include:

  • Gordon River – The highlight of this incredible tour, with its mirror-like reflections, UNESCO World Heritage status, and ancient connection to Tasmania’s Palawa people
  • Hells Gates – Where the mighty Indian Ocean meets the tannin-stained waters of Macquarie Harbour
  • Sarah Island – A beautiful island with a sad convict history
  • Heritage Landing boardwalk – Immerse yourself in some of the world’s most picturesque rainforest, including 2000-year old Huon Pine trees

Lunch is always a treat, featuring local Tasmanian produce, and no matter which deck you choose you will find every single seat is designed for spectacular views. If you have any questions at all about the tour and the many sights enroute, you will be pleased to hear that the cruise staff go out of their way to help, and they are always receiving incredible feedback for their fantastic service.

Worried about your travel budget? Don’t stress and feel like you need to miss out on this natural wonder.

World Heritage Cruises are offering our readers here a very generous 10% discount on all full-priced adult and children’s tickets. All you need to do is use my LAPOFTAS code when booking online or just mention the Lap of Tasmania over the phone to receive your discount.

It’s the best way of experiencing this iconic Tassie attraction, while saving money at the same time!


2. Maria Island Cruises

Perfect For: The ultimate combination of sea, sand, remote natural beauty, and the cutest wombats ever!

🔍 Maria Island Cruises at a glance…

  • Location: Triabunna (East Coast)
  • Price: Adults from $275 | Seniors from $265 | Children from $135 | <2yrs FREE
  • Lap of Tasmania discount: 10% off (use my LAPOFTAS code)
  • Highlights: Iles des Phoques | Wombats | Painted Cliffs | Colonial History
  • Duration: 7.5 hours
  • Meals/drinks: Morning tea, lunch, and drinks are included
  • Shuttle bus: Pickups available from Hobart (extra cost)
  • Swell: Mostly sheltered waters, with possible chance of small/moderate swell

My wife and I have visited Maria Island many times, and it is easily my #1 favourite place in all of Tasmania.

Only got one day? No problems!

A cruise+walking tour with Maria Island Cruises is the best way of experiencing this unique ‘island off an island off an island’.

Mike, Ellen and the rest of team are your ultimate tour guides, taking you to places that you simply can’t get to by foot – and the best thing is that you get to see Maria Island from both water and land, including the most adorable wombats you will ever encounter in your life 😍

There are two sensational tours to choose from, with each providing a cruise in the morning, followed by an afternoon exploring Maria Island by foot.

  1. Maria Island + Circumnavigation
    • Enjoy a full loop around Maria Island by boat
    • See waterfalls, secluded bays, golden beaches and atmospheric sea caves
    • Anchor off the sandy ‘neck’ for a lunch with one of the best views in Tasmania
    • Spend the afternoon seeing the Painted Cliffs, local wildlife, Probation Station, and other natural attractions by yourself on foot, or enjoy a guided tour of Darlington and soak up its rich history
  2. Maria Island + Ile Des Phoques
    • Cruise beyond the northern tip of Maria Island to the legendary ‘Ile des Phoques’ or ‘Island of the Seals’
    • See an abundance of sea life on its rugged coastline – Australian fur seals, dolphins, and even whales at the right time of year!
    • Cruise inside one of the biggest granite sea caves in Tasmania 
    • Anchor in the sheltered waters of Booming Bay for a delicious lunch, including Tassie soft drinks, wines and beers
    • Either stretch your legs at your own pace in the afternoon, or take a tour of the old convict ruins
Maria Island Cruises - Tour Map
Maria Island Cruises – Tour Map

Mike and the team have been helping visitors to Tasmania to experience Maria Island and its gorgeous surrounds since 2006, and it won’t take long for you to see just how passionate they are to share this pristine corner of Tasmania with you.

They always put their guests first, and have been consistently rated as Hobart’s #1 tour on TripAdvisor for 5 straight years!

As big supporters of the Lap of Tasmania they are also offering a very generous 10% discount on both their tours. Simply use my LAPOFTAS code when booking online to claim your discount.

Seriously, this is one of the most memorable tours you will experience anywhere in the world and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Click on the link below to check their prices, learn more about each of the tours, and to see exactly why this is my absolute favourite place in Tasmania!


3. Leven River Cruises – Picnic Forest Cruise

Perfect For: Visitors seeking a unique cruise with bird-watching opportunities galore – without the crowds!

🔍 Picnic Forest Cruise at a glance…

  • Location: Ulverstone (Northern Tasmania)
  • Price: Adults from $110 | Children from $50
  • Lap of Tasmania discount: 10% off (use my LAPOFTAS code)
  • Highlights: Native birds and wildlife | Rainforest walk | Tidal river
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Meals/drinks: BYO meal and drinks
  • Shuttle bus: No
  • Swell: Flat water – no need to worry about motion sickness

One of Tasmania’s true hidden gems, the Leven River is an absolute paradise for birdwatchers and anyone else who loves to get close to nature.

Just 20 minutes drive from Devonport, or 25 minutes from Burnie, a day out on the water with Kim and the team at Leven River Cruises is the best and most relaxing way for you and your family to see this beautiful corner of Tasmania.

There are two big differences to a Leven River cruise that I absolutely love, and that make it surprisingly different to any other river cruise you will find in Tasmania.

First of all, it’s the Leven River itself. This river is a tidal waterway, meaning it is constantly rising, falling, and changing its shape every minute of every day – so you never know exactly what surprises await!

The other thing I really like is their boat, the ‘Jus-Leven’. Unlike other tours, this boat is compact and nimble, meaning you can go places that simply wouldn’t be possible with a large boat filled with dozens of other tourists.

Sightings of majestic sea eagles, dazzling azure king fishers, goshawks and brown hawks are possible on every tour, and spectacular views are guaranteed from every seat. If you’re lucky you might even spot a Tassie platypus!

There are a variety of tours available, with each focusing on a different aspect of the river:

  • Picnic Forest Cruise (4 hours) <- My favourite
  • Bird Photography & Nature Cruise (3 hours)
  • Leven River History Cruise (2 hours)
  • Twilight Cruise (2-3 hours)
  • Bay Cruise (1 hour)

Leven River Cruises is a wonderful supporter of the Lap of Tasmania, and Kim is generously offering our readers here a special discounted rate of 10% off their tours. All you need to do is use my LAPOFTAS code when booking online, or to mention the Lap of Tasmania over the phone.

Take a look at TripAdvisor and you’ll see that Leven River Cruises receives amazing feedback from their many happy customers – especially families – and it’s no surprise at all that they are regular winners of the ‘People’s Choice Award’ for Tasmanian tourism.

Book yourself on one of their awesome tours and rest assured you’re in for a fantastic day of exploration, laughs and amazing photos of one of Tassie’s most unique waterways!


4. Bruny Island Cruises (Pennicotts)

Perfect For: Travellers wanting to experience one of Tasmania’s most iconic boat tours while visiting famous Bruny Island.

Best Tasmania River Cruise and Boat Tour - Bruny Island Cruises
See the spectacular Bruny Island Coast on a cruise | Graham Freeman

🔍 Bruny Island Cruises at a glance…

  • Location: Adventure Bay (Bruny Island)
  • Price: Adults from $155 | Children from $95 | <3yrs FREE
  • Highlights: Marine wildlife | Coastal scenery | Fast and exciting boat
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Meals/drinks: Not included
  • Shuttle bus: Pickups available from Hobart and Kettering (extra cost)
  • Swell: Exposed coastal waters with a reasonable chance of moderate swell

Bruny Island Cruises are an absolute must, whether you’re basing yourself in Hobart or you are staying on Bruny Island. This award-winning 3-hour tour takes you along Bruny Island’s rugged, awe-inspiring coastline to where the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean collide in a surge of white caps and salt spray.

Best Tasmania River Cruise and Boat Tour - Cruise inside a cave with Bruny Island Cruises
Explore exciting sea caves | Sean Scott

You’re guaranteed to be mesmerized by the gorgeous sea and cliff views, and at one iconic location you even get to stop, drift, and listen to ‘Breathing Rock’! There are plenty of opportunities to see a range of marine life in its natural habitat, including seals, dolphins, whales and a multitude of sea birds, and the friendly guides on board know exactly where to look to find some of the more elusive species you won’t get to see anywhere else.

This adventure-filled Tasmania boat tour is perfect for couples, families, and groups that want to connect with mother nature at its most wild!


5. Wineglass Bay Cruise 

Perfect For: Couples and families wanting to experience Wineglass Bay in style, comfort, and with the option of a little bit of luxury!

Best Tasmania River Cruise and Boat Tour - Wineglass Bay Cruise
Crystal clear waters at Wineglass Bay | Wineglass Bay Cruises

🔍 Wineglass Bay Cruise at a glance…

  • Location: Coles Bay (East Coast)
  • Price: Adults from $175 | Children from $105
  • Highlights: Wineglass Bay | Schouten Island |
  • Duration: 4.5 hours
  • Meals/drinks: Lunch is included | Drinks available for purchase
  • Shuttle bus: Not available
  • Swell: A mix of sheltered and exposed waters with a reasonable chance of small/moderate swell

Wineglass Bay would have to be Tasmania’s most famous beach, and you can have the best view of this iconic stretch of white sand from the comfort of your chair onboard with Wineglass Bay Cruises.

Forget scrambling up a hot, dusty trail – this is how to see Wineglass Bay in style!

This half-day tour is filled with rich history where you’ll learn about aboriginal heritage and tales of the first colonial explorers of the region. And because much of the coast is only accessible by boat tour, you’ll be able to enjoy vistas of untouched beaches with thriving local wildlife.

You’ll love the boat as well. Enclosed and air-conditioned, this vessel provides you with panoramic views from its two uber comfortable lounge areas. The adult-only Sky Lounge offers some delicious food and drink options, while the family-friendly Vista Lounge allows you to bring your own snacks – or for a little extra you could purchase lunch.


6. Tasman Island Cruises 

Perfect For: Families and couples looking for excitement and dramatic landscapes on the Tasmania Peninsula.

Best Tasmania River Cruise and Boat Tour - Tasman Island Cruises
Tasman Island Cruise | Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Joe Shemesh

🔍 Tasman Island Cruises at a glance…

  • Location: Port Arthur (Tasman Peninsula)
  • Price: Adults from $155 | Children from $95 | <3yrs FREE
  • Highlights: Tallest sea cliffs in southern hemisphere | Wildlife | Fast and exciting boat
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Meals/drinks: Not included
  • Shuttle bus: Pickups available from Hobart (extra cost)
  • Swell: Exposed coastal waters with a reasonable chance of moderate swell

Tasman Island Cruises is a unique 3-hour tour that offers some amazing seascapes along the soaring cliffs and granite sea caves of the Tasman Peninsula, between Port Arthur and Eaglehawk Neck. If you are planning on visiting Port Arthur, or even if you are using Hobart as a day-trip base, then I thoroughly recommend adding this awesome cruise to your itinerary.

Best Tasmania River Cruise and Boat Tour - Tasman Island Cruise
See the soaring cliffs of the Tasman Peninsula | Poon Wai Nang

The vistas along the Tasman National Park are filled with an abundance of wildlife all year long. You’ll have the chance to see pods of dolphins, migrating whales, seals, and hundreds of local bird varieties. And those cliffs…. wow… There aren’t enough words to describe the feeling you get, floating at the foot of these monstrous columns of solid rock and tilting your head back. It pays to keep your eyes peeled as well, because you may even spot a rock climber, perched precariously above the waves!

Limited free parking available at Port Arthur, so try to arrive early if possible. Alternatively, you could also pay a little extra and book your transportation from Hobart directly through Tasman Island Cruises.


7. Tamar River Cruises – Morning/Afternoon Discovery Cruise

Perfect For: The ultimate views of Cataract Gorge, and a unique exploration of the Tamar River.

Best Tasmania River Cruise and Boat Tour - Tamar River Cruises
See Cataract Gorge from the water with Tamar River Cruises | Photo: Pete Harmsen

🔍 Tamar River Cruises ‘Discovery Cruise’ at a glance…

  • Location: Launceston (Northern Tasmania)
  • Price: Adults from $110 | Seniors from $99 | Children from $45 | <5yrs FREE
  • Highlights: Cataract Gorge | Tamar Island | Vineyards | St Matthias Church
  • Duration: 2.5 hours
  • Meals/drinks: Light meal and drinks provided
  • Shuttle bus: No
  • Swell: Mostly flat water, with a slight chance of small swell

Tamar River Cruises offers four wonderful cruise options, from their 50-min Cataract Gorge Adventure cruise up to their 4hr Batman Bridge Luncheon Cruise, all departing from Home Point just a few minutes walk from central Launceston.

My recommendation? I always suggest that travellers book the morning or afternoon ‘Discovery Cruise‘. It provides the ultimate balance in sights, not only taking you up the breath-taking South Esk River and Cataract Gorge, but also heading further downstream along the mighty Tamar River and past St Matthias church, Tamar Valley vineyards, and the impressive Tamar wetlands.

Along the way, you’ll be provided with light snacks, coffee/tea, and spirits (for additional cost). This is one of those relaxing Tasmania boat tours that offers a casual atmosphere with really interesting historical commentary.

If you are trying decide between the morning and afternoon tours, I recommend going for the afternoon tour, as it often boasts spectacular colours that light up the river as the sun begins to set!

If you are seeking a concession or family fare then you will need to call them direct, as these fares aren’t selectable on their website.


8. Hobart Cruise (Hobart Historic Cruises) – North/South Route

Perfect For: A leisurely tour of Hobart’s historic landmarks – without breaking the bank!

Best Tasmania River Cruise and Boat Tour - Hobart Historic Cruises
See Hobart from its beautiful harbour and the Derwent River | Image: Julia Smith

🔍 Hobart Historic Cruises at a glance…

  • Location: Hobart (Murray Street Pier)
  • Price: Adults from $28 | Seniors from $25 | Children from $17
  • Highlights: Botanical Gardens | Tasman Bridge | Government House | Kangaroo Bay
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Meals/drinks: Not included (but available on their ‘Lunch’ or ‘Dinner’ tours)
  • Shuttle bus: No
  • Swell: Mostly sheltered waters, with slight swells possible

Hobart is famous for its vibrantly beautiful, deep water harbour, and the best way to experience the full panorama – without breaking your budget – is with Hobart Historic Cruises.

They offer a number of different cruises daily, but their two most popular options are their morning tour (showing the sights of the northern section of the harbour), the and their afternoon tour (taking you to the southern section).

On both tours you will get the chance to explore the area and see some of the most popular Hobart sites from a unique vantage point – on the water!

Sights include:

  • Northern Route (mornings)
    • Botanical Gardens
    • Government House
    • Tasman Bridge
    • Rose Bay
    • Montagu Bay
  • South Route (afternoons)
    • Battery Point
    • Sandy Bay
    • Casino
    • Bellerive Bluff
    • Kangaroo Bay

Relax in the air-conditioned interior of the boat or step onto the deck to enjoy the bracing sea breeze. This is one of those leisurely Tasmania boat tours that will easily fit into any schedule and any budget.

I do suggest that you book your Hobart Cruise early, as they fill up quickly. Parking is available on the waterfront, but it can be a little bit pricy. Better value parking options are available at the Argyle Street Car Park where the first hour is free, or you can park up on the domain for lower rates than you’ll find in the CBD, and walk in.


9. Iron Pot Cruise 

Perfect For: Travellers with limited time, but wanting an exciting and fun tour from Hobart.

Best Tasmania River Cruise and Boat Tour - Iron Pot Cruise
Best Tasmania River Cruise and Boat Tour – Iron Pot Cruise

🔍 Quick Tips – Iron Pot Cruise (Pennicotts)

  • Location: Hobart (Franklin Wharf)
  • Price: Adults from $135 | Children from $110 | <3yrs FREE
  • Highlights: Shot Tower | Iron Pot Lighthouse | Wrest Point Casino | Betsey Island
  • Duration: 2.5 hours
  • Meals/drinks: Not included
  • Shuttle bus: No
  • Swell: Mostly sheltered waters, with small swells likely and moderate swells possible

I really like what Pennicott Wilderness Journeys are offering with their the Iron Pot Cruise and I recommend it to anyone who would like to know more about not just the landmarks close to Hobart, but also further out in the harbour to Iron Pot lighthouse and Betsey Island.

Everyone I speak to says that they love how easy it is to fit this 2.5hr cruise into your itinerary, even if you’re only in the city of Hobart for a day or two.

Heading south from the Hobart waterfront you will get to see iconic sights such as affluent and historic Battery Point, the unmistakeable architecture of Wrest Point Casino, the fascinating ‘Shot Tower’, and of course Australia’s oldest lighthouse, Iron Pot!

Booking your Iron Pot Cruise in advance is essential as spots tend to fill up quickly. As with Hobart Historic Cruises, there is limited parking available at the waterfront, but you will also find better value parking at either Argyle Street Car Park or up at The Domain.


10. Arthur River Cruise 

Perfect For: A unique 5-hour river tour through the rainforest of northwest Tasmania – no crowds!

Best Tasmania River Cruise and Boat Tour - Arthur River cruises
Best Tasmania River Cruise and Boat Tour – Arthur River Cruises

🔍 Quick Tips – Arthur River Cruise

  • Location: Arthur River (North West Tasmania)
  • Price: Adults from $110 | Seniors from $105 | Children from $25 | <4yrs FREE
  • Highlights: Stunning forest reflections | Wildlife and endangered flora | Rainforest walk
  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Meals/drinks: Morning tea, lunch, and drinks are provided
  • Shuttle bus: No
  • Swell: Flat as a tack – no need to worry about motion sickness

Arthur River Cruises is located up in far northwest Tasmania, and while might be a little bit off the well-beaten tourist trail I reckon that’s a big plus!

The Arthur River Cruise is an amazing experience that is well worth adding to your itinerary if you are heading to Stanley or Cradle Mountain.

During your 5hr excursion, you will cruise 14km up one of Australia’s most beautiful waterways, surrounded by lush greenery and wildlife at every bend in the river, including incredible mirror-flat reflections in the water which make for stunning photos.

Morning tea is included in your fare, and halfway into your tour you will also enjoy a delicious lunch onboard the historic MV George Robinson.

The intimate setting provided by this Arthur River Cruise is unlike any other, and if you are keen for that little bit ‘extra’, have a look at their ‘Deluxe Cruise’ option!


Final thoughts and next steps…

I hope you’ve found this guide helpful in choosing the best Tassie river cruises and boat tours for your holiday.

If you are looking for more info to help plan your Tasmania holiday itinerary, then you will love these articles and guides that I have created. I’ve lived here for 20 years now and I love a road trip, so you know you’re getting solid advice!

Thanks again, and happy travels!

Andrew.

Andrew Strikis

Andrew Strikis

Andrew is an award-winning travel writer and photographer from Tasmania. Over the last 10 years he has been an advocate for Tasmanian tourism, working with and supporting many of Tasmania's prominent organisations such as Tourism Northern Tasmania, Hobart and Beyond, and MONA. Together with his wife he enjoys exploring Tasmania by road, and he looks forward to helping others plan and enjoy their own Lap of Tasmania road trip.

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