Since AirBnb launched in 2009, it’s exploded. Approximately 6 million people use this online platform to book accommodation and short-term rentals, browsing 800,000 properties across 34,000 cities in 90 different countries. We had used it occasionally prior to moving to Sydney, but since being in Australia it’s become one of our first stops when planning any of our getaways. There are so many unique, affordable places on offer that are so much more interesting than staying in a hotel. Staying in AirBnBs has allowed us to travel extensively, meeting great people, without breaking the bank. When booking your next AirBnb property however, the choice can be staggering, especially in popular areas or cities. It can be a bit of a minefield when sifting through all of the different options, and photos don’t always do a hosting justice. I’ve pulled together 5 of our favourites so far in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji that Will and I highly recommend; hopefully they may help you if you’re planning on visiting any of these destinations on your next adventure!
This bach, to use the traditional Kiwi term, is located on the hillside in Plimmerton, Porirua, which is around half an hour from Wellington city centre. If you’re wondering how much Airbnb vacation rentals cost in New Zealand, this bach was an affordable way to explore the area. It’s a self-contained studio, a former potters shed, that has been thoughtfully converted into a cosy hideaway perfect for a weekend getaway. It had beautiful coastal views, that can be enjoyed from the terrace with a glass of pinot in the sunshine, as well as its own private entrance and off-road car parking. I loved the coastal living styling of the studio, bright white walls with pale blue accents and nautical-inspired ornaments. We arrived after a busy day of exploring nearby vineyards in Martinborough, and hiking through the Kaitoke Regional Park to find the elves in Rivendell, and were excited to have a cup of tea on the terrace and enjoy the sea air. We met the owner, Julie, who is originally from Canada. Julie is welcoming and friendly, and she gave us some great tips on local eateries a 20 minute stroll away. We decided to walk down to town for a curry at the local Indian (not entirely surprising given my obsession with curry that I talk about in this post here). This walk was parallel to the stunning Karehana Bay, with incredibly still water and a breathtaking sunset. After dinner we snuggled into the ridiculously comfy bed listening to the famous Wellington wind howling outside. It was a perfect night’s stay.
Morning Bay Cottage was a secluded slice of paradise. Will and I wanted to go away for Valentine’s weekend; it’s always been a tradition of ours to book a cheap flight to a European destination. We very nearly missed this listing as we tend to only search for ‘entire place’ when looking for an Airbnb property, whereas Morning Bay Cottage is classified as a private room in a house as it doesn’t have a kitchen. However, you stay in a completely separate cabin in the garden with its own bathroom that comfortably sleeps two guests, and Rowena and John are very respectful of your privacy. You can only access Morning Bay cottage by boat, or via a half hour hike in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, so we chose to be collected from Taylor’s Point wharf by British ex-pat John in their boat. John had moved over to Australia after success as an investment banker during the Margaret Thatcher years, and had met Rowena, a Sydney native. They had made their home in Morning Bay, had two now grown up children, and use AirBnb as a way to make a bit of extra cash but also to meet interesting people. We were blown away by the stunning views over the Pittwater from John and Rowena’s terrace, especially at sunset. You have full use of their kayaks, so we headed off for a paddle around the bays and inlets, before enjoying a glass of wine on their pontoon. They offer to cook you a 3 course dinner for an extra $30pp including wine, which was delicious and healthy, and felt like having a dinner party with old friends. The next day after John’s full English breakie, we hiked up to Willunga trig lookout, the highest point in the national park, before John ferried us back to Taylor’s Point. The cabin is secluded and peaceful and whilst it’s quite basic, the whole experience of Morning Bay was absolutely unforgettable.
Minerva Cottage in Vincentia, Jervis Bay, felt like a home away from home; the moment we arrived after a long drive from Sydney we relaxed immediately. This was our first trip to Jervis Bay, with two friends from the UK in tow, so this two-bed cottage with private parking was just perfect, easily sleeping 4 guests. The property feels quirky and boutique, with lovely personal touches such as complimentary home-made muesli and a bottle of rose wine left in the fridge. There are slippers, bathrobes and luxurious Aesop goodies in the bathrooms for your use. There’s plenty of beach equipment around as well, including towels and all important sunscreen if you’ve forgotten yours. We had a typical Aussie dinner of steak and prawns on the Meat Eaters barbie out on the entertaining deck and made full use of the herbs growing in their garden to season our dishes. After dinner we made use of their collection of board games and Netflix with a bottle of wine from the Scarborough Wine Company. We didn’t meet owners Rob and Bede, but they were helpful and responsive via AirBnb, and provided us with lots of tips on the local area, including restaurant recommendations. It was a great base to explore all that Jervis Bay has to offer; we went diving with Dive Jervis Bay, sunbathing and swimming on Hyam’s and Chinaman’s beach, watched sunrise at Greenfield beach and did a bush walk to Steamers beach. You can feel the love that has gone into making Minerva Cottage a stylish but welcoming coastal getaway, and we highly recommend it.
You can read more about Hyam’s Beach and Steamer’s Walk in my top 10 favourite beaches in New South Wales post
We stayed at Galtimore Cabin, Ponatahi near Martinborough, after an exhausting walk to the Cape Palliser lighthouse and a hike to the eerie Putangirua Pinnacles. The log cabin is located in the middle of the rolling countryside, behind the main house with its own private parking and entrance. The photos on AirBnb really do not do this place justice! As you make your way down the uneven steps and turn the corner onto the decking you are blessed with a tranquil and totally rural scene, with cows meandering alongside a running stream. You can sit on the terrace, which comes complete with a BBQ, or take a long blissful bath in the spa tub. There is a log burner and cut logs available, which we made full use of whilst curled up on the sofa watching the Great Gatsby. There are freshly laid eggs available for breakfast as well as bread, spreads and cereal which we enjoyed on the terrace. We didn’t get a chance to meet Joanne the host unfortunately, however her directions and instructions were spot on, and she was very helpful. The cottage is a short ten minute drive from the wineries of Martinborough, and as we love a boutique winery we settled on Tirohana Estate for dinner, which was absolutely delicious. Our waiter happened to be from my home town in the UK which added a nice touch of familiarity.
Fantasea, a 46 foot yacht built in England in 2000 and moored in Nadi, is our best ever find on AirBnb. To quote Luc, her French owner, ‘Do not expect a 5 star luxury yacht, she is a comfortable, rustic and purpose built charter yacht for tropical waters.’ For Airbnb guests, she is just for use for accommodation purposes, with two private cabins, a saloon with a kitchen, 2 toilets with showers, and a deck with comfortable lilo’s perfect for sunbathing. Once you book Fantasea, or her sister Gipsea, via AirBnb, Luc will contact you to offer additional experiences including sunset cruises, or private charter multiple day cruises, which is what we decided to do, for an additional fee. This is through his company Sail in Fiji which you can take a look at here. If you do not opt for these extras, the boat will remain moored just off Wailoloa Beach for the duration of your stay. We sailed around the Mamanuca Islands for 4 days, all food included, with an all-Fijian crew, who were some of the most friendly, humble people I have ever met. We spent the night on an uninhabited island, snorkeled off undisturbed, secluded reefs and barely saw another tourist. This is a bucket list AirBnb hosting that you simply have to book, right now!
I have written a more detailed post Finding our sea legs in Fiji. Have a read if you want to find out more about our experiences aboard Fantasea.
Which is your favourite AirBnb? Drop me a note in the comments below!