There’s no better place for people watching than at Byron Bay, and Noosa is unrivalled for its luxury vibe, but there’s an enormous coastline out there filled with shimmering ocean waves, pure white sand and picturesque headlands just waiting to be uncovered.
If you’re willing to venture out a little, there’s a heap of super cute beach towns within driving distance of Brisbane that offer epic scenery, great cafes and lots of activities, without the crowds. Here are 5 beach gems worth checking out this summer. Get in the car already!
#1 Brunswick Heads
Is Brunswick Heads the new Byron Bay? We sure hope so. Just 20 minutes north of Byron, this little beach town punches well about its weight in terms of good food. Brunswick Head’s Fleet is a degustation restaurant that people travel miles to get to, Table View does Scandi-inspired lunches to perfection, while the beautiful Hotel Brunswick’s beer garden was practically made for Sunday sessions. When you add in swimming in the calm Brunswick River or sunbaking on the enormous length of beach, this is a beach town worth flocking to.
Chilled to the core, the relaxed beach town of Yamba, around 3 hours south of Brisbane, is a place to get back to nature and camp by the beach. Look out for dolphins frolicking in the waves next to surfers or head up to the Yamba Lighthouse to get a good vantage point for whale watching. If you don’t travel to anywhere without good coffee, know that local favourite Beachwood Café serves up great brews during the day and is known for its authentic Turkish meze later at night.
#3 Agnes Water and 1770
The neighbouring beach towns of Agnes Water and 1770, around 6 hours north of Brisbane, boast the northernmost surf beach in Australia and also the first point of contact with the Great Barrier Reef. You know what that means? It’s the perfect combination of surfing, swimming and snorkeling all in one place. Take a boat ride out to Lady Musgrave Island to check out the amazing coral and fish along the reef, it’s incredible.
Bundaberg is not normally associated with beaches, but the little beach hub of Bargara, 20 minutes from the centre of Bundaberg, is seriously cute spot. You’ll not only find great surf at Neilson’s Beach, but if you time your visit well you can watch thousands of baby turtles being hatched right on the beach at nearby Mon Repos! While you’re in town, don’t forget to head to Bundy’s Indulge Café, the produce-focused eatery was voted Queensland’s Best Café in 2015.
#5 South Burleigh Headland
If you think you know all the great little spots on the Gold Coast, think again. The stunning hidden cove of South Burleigh Headland on Tallebudgera Creek is an undercover gem. To get there, walk along the path from the southern end of the National Park headland for around 300 metres until you pop out at a magical little beach enveloped by subtropical rainforest. When you’re ready to re-join the masses after swimming in the azure waters, Burleigh central has plenty of options for a feast including Middle-Eastern influenced Canteen Kitchen, burger kings Ze Pickle and new craft brewery Black Hops.
If you're in need of a weekend away, check out our wrap of 50 awesome things to do in Noosa. Beach heaven.
Image credit: Pacific Coast