Top 10 must-visit beaches in Queensland

Over the past 18 months living in Sydney, Will and I have taken every opportunity to explore Australia. Unsurprisingly for British expats in Australia, we love nothing more than a day at the beach. We’ve managed to visit several amazing beaches here in NSW, but unfortunately we’ve only made it to a tiny handful of beaches in Queensland, having barely visited Australia’s east coast. It’s mind-boggling how many beaches are in Australia, and how we’ve barely scratched the surface!

Now it’s chilly in Sydney, I’m daydreaming about the turquoise and most importantly warm oceans and sandy beaches waiting to be explored. I really want a Queensland adventure in the sunshine! I want to check out 4WD Fraser Island Tours, find a good lookout for whale watching season, enjoy the Moreton Island camping options, plan some Sunshine Coast holidays including a daytrip to Bribie Island National Park to name a few! Putting this post together has only made it worse!

I’ve teamed up with some fellow bloggers to help narrow down to the top 10 must-visit beaches in Queensland. They are listed from North to South, which are now firmly on my bucket list! If you’re searching for some of Australia’s best beaches, hopefully this list will provide you with some helpful holiday inspiration.

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1. Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas

Four Mile Beach is great for active games with kids

The famous Four Mile Beach is one of the great draw cards and best beaches in Port Douglas and a leisurely walk along its length is de rigeur for visitors. The miles of soft white sand are lapped by clear aquamarine waters on one side and fringed by palm trees on the other. The beach is very wide and flat making it ideal for long beach walks and also for active games with kids. Just a five minute saunter from the main street of Port Douglas, Four Mile Beach has many hotels and resorts along its length and walking from your hotel into town can be a delightful way to start the day.

You can also walk up to Flagstaff Hill Lookout for views of the beach in its full glory. Swimming at Four Mile Beach is not so straightforward though. You can swim around Port Douglas, but you need to avoid swimming in stinger season from October through to May. The only exception is the stinger net enclosure at the north end of the beach. Crocodiles? Well, yes, crocs have very occasionally been seen at Four Mile Beach. Stick to swimming at the northern end, near to the Surf Life Saving Club. The life savers will let you know of any possible dangers. You can drive from Cairns to Port Douglas in roughly an hour, a fantastic destination to explore the barrier reef.

Contribution by Seana of Hellosydneykids.com.au. Seana and her four kids (and husband occasionally!) love exploring Sydney and holidaying throughout Australia. You’ll also find great activities and ideas for kids fun, like how to find the best trampoline for your kids.

2. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays

Will giving a little shout out to his hometown in Cornwall

One of the handful of beaches Will and I have managed to visit in Queensland is the famous and award-winning Whitehaven Beach. Located on Whitsunday Island, its the largest of the 74 tropical Whitsunday Islands. Considering how many beaches are in Australia , to be award-winning means that this beach must be special! Despite not having visited many beaches in Queensland, we’re so lucky to have been able to spend a few precious hours here. The beach itself is 7km long, with brilliant bright white sand and gentle waves, along with unbelievably clear turquoise water.

If you’re feeling energetic, you can walk to Tongue Point and climb the hill to the lookout across Hill inlet and Whitehaven Beach. At low tide this offers a stunning fusion of colours and brilliant views. There are numerous options for Whitehaven beach tours, either departing from Airlie Beach or in our case from Hamilton Island where we opted to explore the barrier reef from.

We opted for the Reef Ryder Full Day Explorer tour, which included a trip to both Whitehaven Beach and snorkelling at Chalkies Beach, another gorgeous spot in the Whitsundays with fantastic snorkelling. Alternatively Hamilton Island offers seaplane, helicopter and sailing Whitehaven beach tours. However you choose to explore this this world-famous beach, make sure top of your list of beaches in Queensland to visit!

Contribution by yours truly. For other beautiful must-visit beaches check out Top 10 Best Beaches in Victoria, Top 10 Favourite Beaches in New South Wales or for swimming with a difference check out my list of Top 8 Wild Swimming Spots in the Northern Territory

3. Farnborough Beach, Yeppoon

The southern end of Farnborough Beach is easily accessible on foot from the centre of Yeppoon.

Farnborough Beach is immediately north of Yeppoon, and extends almost 20 km north to Corio Bay. On the lowest tides of the year, the beach can extend almost 200 m wide, which makes it suitable for kite buggies, four-wheel driving and really long walks along the water’s edge. Farnborough Beach is also home to Big Dune Surf Reserve, one of the first such surfing reserves in the world, and declared to protect its renowned surf break. This is particularly unusual as Farnborough Beach is protected by both Keppel Bay and the Great Barrier Reef, so surfing is not an activity that usually comes to mind up here!

Apart from its incredibly wide beach slope, Farnborough Beach usually has few people using it, and even fewer houses along its edge, so feels wild and special. It’s a little patch of paradise close enough to Yeppoon and all the coastal town has to offer, but secluded enough to feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. If you’re looking for Yeppoon accommodation there is plenty to suit all budgets, including great beachfront options with a view over one of the most stunning beaches in Queensland.

Contribution by Lisa, editor at Runeatsleeprepeat.com.au, a for all Aussie women who love to (or want to love to) run. Whether you’re gathering the courage to register and participate in your first parkrun, or you’re preparing for your 77th marathon — this site is for you!

4. Rainbow Beach, Fraser Island

Boarding the ferry at Inskip Point

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world stretching over 120km, so it’s not surprising that it has some fantastic beaches to enjoy. It’s a Unesco world heritage site and one of the few places you can spot Dingos in Australia. A Fraser Island day trip and adventure is highly recommended and it’s definitely one of Queensland’s landmarks not to miss. If you want to take a 4WD across to the Island, you’ll have to take the barge from Inskip Point at the north end of Rainbow Beach.

Rainbow beach itself gained its name because of the multicoloured mineral sand that covers its rocky cliffs. Legend has it that the rainbow spirit Yiningie met his death at the cliffs during a battle and hence the sand is now an array of colours.  If you have a 4WD, you can drive along the beach which is fun in itself, and there’s plenty of activities around the area.

During whale watching season you can also take a tour of Hervey Bay where you’re bound to spot several humpback whales on their migration route. Around August the whales use the bay to rest and teach their calves survival skills.  It’s a 15-minute ferry ride from Inskip Point to Hook point on Fraser Island and if you’re lucky you’ll pass pods of dolphins jumping alongside the boat.  As you disembark the ferry, you get to what is known as the main highway of the Island, otherwise known as 75-mile beach.

If you’re wondering when the best time is to visit Fraser Island, check out this useful article about when to go to Fraser Island

5. 75 Mile Beach, Fraser Island

Maheno Shipwreck

Surprisingly (not!) this beach takes its name from its length, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s 75 miles long. There’s plenty to do on the beach but unlike most beautiful beaches swimming here is not permitted.  The strong currents in the water are one of the reasons for this, but there’s also a large shark population, not to mention a considerable number of Portuguese Jellyfish.  A sting off one of these requires medical treatment, so care also needs to be taken when walking on the beach as you’ll see plenty of them.

So why is 75-mile beach worth seeing?  Well, it’s a great adventure place for 4WD and its incredibly beautiful.  It is a highway, so there are strict rules just like any regular road, but driving on the sand is much more fun.  It really tests your skills as there’s patches of soft sand, wet sand, hard sand and a few hidden bumps. It’s not uncommon for people to get stuck, so make sure you’re in a group if it’s your first time driving on sand. It’s also sensible to pack a spade and a couple of planks of wood.

Walk further along the beach, you’ll find one of the more popular tourist sites on the Island, the Maheno shipwreck. The ship was bound for Japan when it got struck by a cyclone and eventually was washed up on the shore of Fraser Island in 1935. It’s continually being eroded by the salt from the sea, but the rusty colour of the wreck against the bright yellow sand and turquoise water is a great sight.

6. Indian Head Beach, Fraser Island

75 mile beach, Fraser Island

At the very top end of the 75-mile beach, you reach a beautiful spot known as Indian Head. The beach was named by Captain Cook in 1770 after he spotted native people from his ship.  The large rocks on this beach are also of significance as they are one of the reasons why this sand island formed. The rocks provide an anchor point for the sand to collect behind, so without them, there would be a 75-mile long beach. The lookout at Indian Head is a great spot for whale watching season. You can often see sharks, dolphins, turtles and manta rays in the water to, so don’t forget to bring a camera and a pair of  binoculars.  

Just a short walk from the beach you’ll find the Fraser Island Champagne Pools. These rock pools are formed from volcanic rock, and they’re the only place where salt water swimming is allowed on the Island. They’re called the champagne pools because of the way the water froths after a massive wave crashes over the rocks.

Whichever way you enjoy the beaches on a day trip to Fraser Island just remember to stay safe. It’s a stunning island, and the beaches are beautiful, but no matter how tempting the turquoise water looks, you must remember that it isn’t safe to swim.  You also need to be aware of the dingoes on Fraser Island, we did see a few on our visit, but they were always inland.  The dingoes seemed to be quite scared of us and didn’t get too close, but it goes without saying that you should never pet a dingo – they’re not domestic dogs.

All three Fraser Island entries contributed by Fiona of Passportandpiano.com, a website providing  informative guides, travel tips and resources to inspire you to confidently visit unique destinations beyond the ordinary.

7. Various Beaches, Noosa

Noosa National Park

I love a stunning beach and in Australia we certainly aren’t short of them, but my all-time favourite Australian beaches in Queensland can be found in the Noosa National Park, a must-visit destination when planning your Sunshine Coast holidays. You can drive from Brisbane to Noosa in about 2 hours, traffic depending, and if you’re not driving you can hop on the Sun Air Brisbane to Noosa shuttle bus.

The entrance to the Noosa National Park is just a short stroll or drive from the famous tourist strip of Hastings Street.  From here you can easily walk along the Coastal track to beaches such as Little Cove, Tea Tree Bay, Granite Bay and Winch Cove. With the back drop of the lush Noosa National Park and the calm crystal clear water, these beaches in Queensland are without a doubt some of the most stunning in Australia. 

These beaches are perfect for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, or stand up paddle boarding.  When the tide is out the waves pick up just enough for some gentle boogie boarding too. There are so many attractions in Noosa to choose from, especially for kids, you’ll be spoilt for choice. My favourite beach is probably Little Cove, but highly recommend walking a little further to one of the further beaches along and you may well have the entire beach to yourself – your own slice of paradise!

Contribution by Melissa from Thriftyfamilytravels.com – a website providing information on affordable family travel destinations across the globe, without compromising on experience.

8. Bulcock Beach, Sunshine Coast

Bulcock Beach

Bulcock Beach on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland is located at an inlet where the ocean meets the Pumicestone Passage. It’s an easily accessible destination you should definitely visit on your Sunshine Coast holidays. Sitting opposite Bribie Island beach, this beach is popular with kite surfers and families seeking the calmer waters that come from its protected position. It is a lovely spot to have a cool swim and relax in the gentle currents. Depending on the tides it can be a great spot for fishing either directly off the beach or from the nearby elevated boardwalk. BBQ’s nearby mean dinner can be caught, cooked and on the table in minutes.

Beautiful Bulcock Beach is surrounded by cafes and is situated next to other popular Caloundra beaches including Happy Valley, Golden Beach and Kings Beach. There are plenty of places nearby where you can hire kayaks, canoes and other watercraft to make the most of the calm waters. Shady parklands surround the beach and one of the best playgrounds on the Sunshine Coast is just metres away. The beach is patrolled from September to May.

9. Bribie Island National Park, Sunshine Coast

Bribie Island National Park

If you are looking for a mix of calm water and ocean waves, then Bribie Island is what you are looking for. Located in South East Queensland, around 40 minutes from Brisbane, you can reach Bribie Island via a bridge from the mainland. The calm side of Bribie Island National Park is perfect for those looking to take out a boat and jet ski or relax with a fishing rod in hand. These protected beaches in Queensland are also popular with families looking for a beach experience without having worry about larger ocean waves.

On the other side of the island, known as the surf side of Bribie Island, you can look forward to patrolled beaches and waves. The ocean beaches offer kids a chance to practice their wave jumping and make use of their surfboards. If you have a 4wd you can purchase a permit and head to some of the less crowded beaches further down the island. Bribie Island National Park really has something for everyone making it one of the most popular beaches for a day trip from Brisbane.

Bulcock and Bribie Island contributions by Ngaire of Brisbanekids.com.au, the biggest kids website in Brisbane both in online audience and in terms of community engagement, helping families create memories in Brisbane.

10. Tangalooma Beach, Moreton Island

Kayaks at Tangalooma Beach

Our favourite beach in Queensland is at the Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island. Tangalooma Beach is a stretch of white sand perfect for families with young kids as it is sheltered and calm.It’s great for paddling or snorkelling, plus there is a watersport shop at the resort so you can hire kayaks, paddleboards, boats or take a tour if you want to be more active than just laying on the sand and looking out at the clear water.

It doesn’t take very long to get to Tangalooma Beach and Moreton Island; you can get a ferry from Brisbane to Moreton Island in 75-minutes, so make sure you plan a Moreton Island day trip. As soon as you arrive you feel like you’re on a tropical island with its swaying palm trees and resort lagoon pool just set back from the sand. The beach at Tangalooma is also the best place to watch the sun set with a cocktail, making it one of the must-visit beaches in Queensland.  

Contribution by Karen, founder of SmartStepstoAustralia – a website that helps families move to Australia to enjoy the travel and lifestyle opportunities on offer.   

Let me know in the comments which are your favourite beaches in Queensland.

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