12 Queensland Beaches You'd Rather Be At
Hands up if you’re getting sick and tired of this whole winter thing?! There’s something to be said for a British winter—it’s cold, drizzly and not quite like winter anywhere else in the world, and even though we may be freezing, we love it. While there’s nothing quite like cozying up in fuzzy pajamas, just between us, I’m more than ready to switch up the grey skies for days spent beach hopping across some of Australia’s best beaches in perpetually sunny Queensland.
So, without further ado, here are my picks of the absolute best beaches in Queensland that you’d absolutely rather be at right now:
Despite the name, Nudey Beach is not a nudist beach. It is, in fact 2018’s Best Beach in Australia, according to beach expert Brad Farmer at least. Nudey Beach is a breathtaking stretch of white sand and coral on Fitzroy Island - which you’ll find 45 minutes by ferry out of Cairns - that sits on the shore of the Great Barrier Reef and is blanketed by tropical rainforest.
In case taking the title of the Best Beach in Australia doesn’t convince you, the beach is found via a short 15-minute stroll through said lush rainforest before arriving at one of the best views I’ve seen in my life: Nudey Beach. Can I please switch winter for this pronto?!
If Noosa wasn’t already on your ‘places I’d rather be’ list, then Little Cove should be reason enough to add it immediately. While Noosa’s main beach is beyond beautiful, it’s a little known fact that you can follow a walking track through Noosa National Park right from the beach.
You’ll find the coastal walk at the Surf Club end of Noosa Main beach. The first stop on your walk is Little Cove, a small stretch of smooth pebbles and sand and stunning aquamarine water. It’s a great spot for a surf and an even better spot to while away the day with a good book. Just don’t tell the locals I told you about their best kept secret. Plus, you can keep following the Coastal Walk through the national park to find even more hidden beaches like Tea Tree Bay.
Palm Cove is the kind of beach screensavers are made of. Think an endless stretch of sand, calm, tranquil waters, and rows upon rows of palm trees lining the cove. The beach is patrolled by surf life guards and is backed up by a bevvy of ridiculously delicious foodie spots and shopping haunts. My tip is to spend the day beachside and catch the sunset over the water with a glass of champagne in hand, naturally.
You’ll find Palm Cove 30 minutes outside of Cairns.
Words don’t really do Whitehaven Beach justice, but I’ll do my best. The sand here is 98% silica, meaning it’s some of the whitest sand you’ll ever see - I swear it almost glows - while the water is sparkling, crystalline blue.
While the beach is entirely breathtaking on foot, you can’t beat the views of the white sand and blue waters from above, so go all-out and book a scenic helicopter flight. If you’re after a way to see the views from above without the helicopter, the Hill Inlet lookout is the perfect spot to capture that postcard moment (with your feet firmly planted on the ground, thank you very much).
Fancy swimming with a crew of sea turtles or hanging out with a clown fish? Then Lizard Island is where you need to be. Lizard Island is (and I swear this isn’t hyperbole!) heaven on earth. It’s one of the only resorts to operate on over a 1,000 hectares of national park literally right on the Great Barrier Reef.
The island is home to only 40 rooms too, so you know you’re in for unadulterated relaxation without bumping into a single soul. And yes, I know: this is an island not a beach, but trust me, every inch of this island makes for one of the best beaches you’ll ever set foot on.
Horseshoe Bay, Bowen
Bowen is home to the Big Mango, which is what it’s known for to many. But, in my opinion, Horseshoe Bay should be the reason people are talking about Bowen. This sheltered bay is bordered by smooth, ochre coloured granite outcrops and calm, clear waters making it perfect for the whole family. You’ll even be able to spot fish and coral just off the shore. Winning!
As if that wasn’t enough to convince you to swap winter for summer, there’s even a coastal walk that follows Bowen’s coast line and gives you some pretty breathtaking views of the water and new beaches to spend your days exploring.
Now this is a seriously well-kept secret. Agnes Water is Queensland’s northernmost surf beach, as it sits just at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. You’ll find Agnes Water and it’s nearby neighbour, 1770 (named after the year Captain Cook landed here) a short drive from Gladstone (you can easily fly into Gladstone from Cairns and Brisbane).
Spend your days relaxing on the beach, kayaking or exploring the Paperbark Walk through coastal forests.
White sandy beaches, shipwrecks you can explore just off the shore, and dolphin feeding? I don’t know about you, but I’m sold. You’ll find Tangalooma just off the coast off Brisbane on Moreton Island. So it makes for a perfect day trip if you don’t have time in your itinerary to spend a few nights.
North Stradbroke Island (or Straddie as the locals call it) is another island just off the coast of Brisbane that’s home to a plethora of incredible beaches, dolphins and koalas.
Our pick of the island’s beaches is Cylinder Beach. This gorgeous cove is nestled between two of the island’s headlands and has camping facilities right on the beach. Plus, life guards regularly patrol this beach.
The Gold Coast’s Burleigh Heads isn’t just home to one of the best beaches, it’s also home to some of the area’s best foodie spots. You can find Rick Shores restaurant literally right on the beach here (promise me you’ll order the Moreton Bay Bug rolls, they’re incredible!), or the neighbouring Burleigh Pavilion also has a pretty sweet set up again, right on the beach. I can guarantee you won’t find spots like this in the UK!
As for the beach itself, Burleigh is a long stretch of sandy waters that are often much calmer than other stretches of beach on the Gold Coast. It’s popular with surfers and swimmers alike, so everyone is in for a good time.
If you want to do Queensland like a local, you can’t miss Rainbow Beach. Home to striking, multi-coloured sand (rainbow beach, get it?), stunning walking trails and the epic Carlo Sand Blow. The Sand Blow is one of the most beautiful look outs in Queensland...and it’s a sand dune! You can see out across Double Island Point, Inskip and even catch a glimpse of Fraser Island. Pro tip: head here for a sunset you won’t forget. Plus, Fraser Island is right nearby, making it perfect for day trips.
Golden Beach, on the Sunshine Coast, is a two-hour drive from Brisbane. Keep an eye out for the prehistoric Glasshouse Mountains on your drive from Brisbane, too and don’t forget to snap a pic or stop in at one of the areas look outs. I love Mary Cairncross Reserve, personally. You also pass Australia Zoo on your way to the lookout, so you might as well drop in and cuddle a koala while you’re there!
Golden Beach is perfect for swimming, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking...if you’re looking for something to do, you’ll find it here at Golden Beach! There’s even a coastal walking track that takes you from Golden Beach’s calmer waters to the nearby Caloundra Surf Beach.