Australia's Got a Sunshine State, Too

And Florida it is not

Whitehaven Beach
Robert Schrader

In one way, traveling to Queensland, Australia between now and the end of March is a no-brainer. It's summer there, after all, with abundant sunshine, temperatures rising into the 80s and 90s, and as many outdoor activities to delight you as there are kangaroos, koalas, and surfers. Here are a few "winter" activities you might not have known you could do in Queensland, Australia's aptly-named "Sunshine State" – Florida it is not.

Trek Through The Daintree Rainforest

The farther north you go in Queensland, the more tropical the climate and landscape become – you might feel like you're traveling in Southeast Asia, rather than Australia. Nowhere is this truer than in the Daintree Rainforest, which occupies the northern tip of the Cape York Peninsula. Whether you camp inside the rainforest or see a small portion of it as a day trip from your hotel in nearby Port Douglas, this might be the most far-out destination Down Under.

Dive the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef, on the other hand, is far from a well-kept secret – the scuba diving here is among the best in the world! The Reef is accessible from many places in Queensland, but the easiest place to base yourself is in Cairns, which has the largest range of hotels in the region.

TIP: If you're not certified to scuba dive, but still want to see the Reef from below the surface, purchase a "Discover Scuba Dive" package, which allows you to dive in tandem with a divemaster, in lieu of having your license. Alternatively, you can always snorkel, but diving is really where it's at – you'll feel like Ariel from the Little Mermaid!

Surf on the Gold Coast

The coast of Queensland is a surfer's paradise, even if you don't happen to be catching waves in front of the city of the same name. To be sure, other destinations on the Gold Coast, such as Broadbeach Waters, are just as good for surfing. If you visit this part of Queensland, feel free to head west into the Australian Outback as well: Some of the country's most beautiful, rugged scenery sits just a couple hours away from the coast.

Glam it Up in Underrated Brisbane

When it comes to big, Australian cities, the southeastern metropolises of Melbourne and Sydney seem to get all the attention. Queensland's capital Brisbane is nothing to sneeze at, however—and not just because prices on Brisbane hotels tend to be much lower than those in its more famous siblings. To be sure, Brisbane is surprisingly cosmopolitan, whether you take an afternoon stroll in green South Bank, shop at Queen Street Mall, or take in a show at the Queensland Performing Arts Center.

The best news about visiting Queensland this winter? The destinations listed above are only the beginning of what there is to discover here! Frolic on Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands, or see a crocodile show at the Australia Zoo. Play with rock wallabies in Magnetic Island just outside of Townsville or participate in a sea turtle release in Bundaberg. No matter how you want to spend your winter here, Queensland's warm weather and sunshine are calling—will you answer?