Endless beaches, tropical jungles, and never ending sunshine are just three of the reasons to visit Queensland, Australia. Many visitors to Australia begin their trips in this state, and with good reason: Queensland is home to some of the most well-known spots in the country. There are so many things to see and do, getting started can be a little overwhelming. Here are our top choices for can’t miss things to do in Australia’s tropical northeast.

Learn to surf at Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise is a lively, populous, and sprawling community of high-rise apartments, shops, and trendy restaurants and nightclubs in Gold Coast., a city in southeastern Queensland, about 50 miles from the state capital of Brisbane. This glorious strip of beach stretches for miles and is the perfect spot to chill out. It’s also the perfect spot to go to surf school. With sandy banks and manageable waves, it’s a good place for beginners to learn.

The Get Wet Surf School, located at The Spit, just north of Surfers Paradise, is a good option for beginners because of calm surf protected by the seaway wall. Instructors guarantee students will stand up during their first lesson; if not, students get their money back. The Spit also is a beautiful spot from which to catch sunrise before lessons begin.

Great Barrier Reef

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located just off the coast of Queensland (and other portions of Australia). The Great Barrier Reef attracts divers, snorkelers, and others who come to witness the abundance of marine life living in the largest coral reef system in the world. A helicopter flight over this magnificent natural wonder is a must. From the sky, you can truly appreciate the vastness of this living underwater system

Viewfinder Tip: Keep an eye out for warnings when swimming. The area around Gold Coast is known for strong rip currents.

The Daintree Rainforest

The Daintree Rainforest is one of the most important ecosystems in the world, due to its biodiversity and age. Far older than the Amazon, the ancient jungle has earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is a must-stop for Queensland visitors interested in the outdoors.

When we visited, we stayed at the nearby Silky Oaks Lodge. This property had boardwalks leading to treehouses and bungalows, as well as a crocodile-free, freshwater river. It was a perfect base from which to explore the Daintree Rainforest. One of our favorite activities during our stay was going on a Dreamtime Walk with an Aboriginal guide. This experience allowed us to learn about traditional medicinal plants and life inside the rainforest as well as aboriginal traditions and history. It was a fascinating tour, and a beautiful hike through the 100-million-year-old jungle.

Whitewater rafting

The Tully River, near Cairns, is Australia’s most famous whitewater rafting experience. With Class 4 rapids, the river offers extreme adventure; if you want an adrenaline rush, this is the place to be. Palm Cove, located right on the water, is a good spot in which to stay during your visit. The great thing about this area is that it offers choice. If you aren’t up for the extreme adventure, you can try less daunting (but still exciting) rapids along the Barron River. Because it’s a little closer to the city of Cairns, the Barron makes for a perfect afternoon excursion.

Hot-air balloon rides

A trip to Queensland wouldn’t be complete without an adventure in the sky. From Peppers Broadbeach, our hotel in Gold Coast, we were shuttled inland, to Canungra, where we boarded a hot-air balloon for an unforgettable ride. Taking off just in time for sunrise, we floated high in the sky, reaching an altitude of 3,000 feet! We soared over farmland and, after 30 minutes, descended to spot kangaroos jumping through the fields. From there, our ride took us to a vineyard for a champagne breakfast.

With so many choices, Queensland makes an excellent choice for a tropical vacation. In addition to all of these great adventures, the Australian state also has plenty of options for great dining, nightlife, and relaxation.

What sorts of adventures do you seek when you travel internationally?