Ah the tranquil island escape. Palm trees, azure waters, cocktails by the pool, this is the shit we dream about. Funny thing is, we don’t have to conjure up pictures in our heads as we drift into a slumber, because we can actually GO there!
We know you’ve probs spent a decent slice of your paid holidays with weddings, babymoons, grandma’s interstate 90th, and we know that days off don’t just grow on trees. So, to help you turn your island dreamin’ into real-life action, we’ve rounded up five island escapes so close to the coast that they should totally be considered for your next weekender.
This one needs the most planning and may require a sneaky sickie or a planned long weekend. Jump in your car, and head north for just over six hours to the quaint seaside town of 1770. Sure, you could easily spend your days wiling away time here, but we’re urging you, don’t stop for too long! It’s just gonna get better! From here, hop on a charter boat—or hire a tinny if you want to stay in control of your comings and goings—and head to Lady Musgrave Island on the Great Barrier Reef. One of the reef’s most southern islands, pack a tent, food, water, and snorkelling gear, and you’ll be set to have a totally remote, island holiday that you’ll be raving about to anyone who’ll listen. (We’ll listen, my friend. We’ll listen.)
You’ve often admired its endless sandy shores from above when flying into Brisbane. Clearly visible from the mainland, Moreton Island hovers on the horizon like some mystical mirage. But we swear, it’s a real place—we’ve even been there. The beauty of this island is that if you don’t have access to a 4WD, all is not lost. There are private tours that’ll take you boosting along the sand with just you, your mates, and a guide, or you can live the high life booking into Tangalooma Resort and living out the ultimate “cocktails by the pool” vision. Want to nail some “active holiday” shots for Insta? Get in your snorkelling get up and swim with the fish around the shipwrecks. #islandvibes
Fraser, if you’re a real SE Queensland local, you’ll know about this guy, sitting on our doorstep. No 4WD? Bribe that friend of a friend who has one, and go on a group camping trip to this sandy paradise. Packed with rainforest, waves, snorkelling, and epic off-road trails, an island escape to Fraser Island is something you need to do at least once in your life. No friends of friends of friends with a 4WD, no worries. Hire a beast from Noosa 2 Fraser, cruise along the beach from Noosa, jump the barge, and then get busy lake-hoppin’—there’s 52 freshies to explore. O-M-G!
Straddie—the daddy of the southern islands has a loyal holidayin’ fan base, and it’s not hard to see why. Cute-as-a-button beach shacks for rent or beachfront campsites, surf or calm waters, it’s pretty much the island for errybody. AND it’s easily accessible via ferry from Cleveland in Brisbane. The beauty of North Stradbroke Island, along with its “beauty”, is you don’t need a grunty 4WD to makes tracks, as sealed roads run between the main townships. Score! Transfer tickets are a little exxy for a daytrip from the Coast, so count this as an option when you’re taking an “unexpected” extended weekend, if you know what we mean. *cough*
The most “lived-on” of the islands in driving distance, Bribie is conveniently found floating between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. You can go au natural and explore the top half of the island (which isn’t much more than bush and beach) by paddling across the Pumicestone Passage from Caloundra’s Bulcock or Golden Beach. Or, if wining and dining suits you to a tee, head up the Bruce to the Bribie Island turn off, then before you scoot across the bridge (yep, no boat or 4WD needed), and go directly to The Oyster Shed at the impressive Sandstone Point Hotel. When you’ve knocked back all the seafood within reach, there’s plenty of caravan parks to pitch your tent and embrace the inevitable food coma. Now, exhale.
Image credit: Daniel Hine