Travel

The Ultimate First Timer’s Guide To Stradbroke Island

By Victoria Patapan
24th Aug 2021

If you grew up in South East Queensland, chances are North Stradbroke Island is your go-to home away from home. Coming home tomato red after a weekend trip to Straddie is practically a rite of passage. And if you weren’t lucky enough to make the trip yourself, no doubt you had mates who went religiously, renting the same house year after year and coming back with epic tales of racing down the dunes and getting bogged near Brown Lake. Sound familiar? We thought so. 

Of course, Straddie isn’t the kind of place you can tick off your bucket list and never go again. This little slice of paradise will be forever burned in your brain, making you count down the days until your next visit. 

But whether this is your first trip or your tenth, we’ve rounded up the best local tips and tricks to make your island getaway one for the ages. Load up that summer playlist, this is the ultimate guide to Stradbroke Island, including where to stay, what to eat and the best beaches to lay your towel down on. 

How To Get To Stradbroke Island

There’s two main ways to get to Stradbroke Island, and surprise, surprise—they’re both by boat. While there’s plans in place for a Straddie ferry terminal at Howard Smith Wharves, for now, you’ll need to make the trek out to Cleveland, in Brisbane’s east. The SeaLink terminal is a 40 minute drive from the CBD, but hey, that’s what playlists are for. 

The first decision to make is whether you’ll be bringing your car along for the ride. If you opt for the car barge, you’re looking at a 45 minute trip to the island, at a cost $180 return. Of course, the barge fills up fast, so book in advance to score yourself a spot. If you’d rather leave the car at home, you’ll need to fork out $10 each way for the walk-on water taxi, which will get you to the island in 20 minutes or less. 

Whatever you choose, your next stop will be Dunwich on Stradbroke Island, a small town with plenty of cafes selling cold drinks to keep you cool (slushee, anyone?). If you opted for the water taxi, you can hop on the island bus to get to your next destination—it operates round the clock, and will drop you at either Amity or Point Lookout, depending on your preference. But if you’re travelling light, we recommend hiring a scooter for a more up-close-and-personal tour of the island. 

an outdoor shower and bath

Where To Stay On Stradbroke Island

THE MIRIMAR 

These cute little cottages in Amity Point are all full of beach shack vibes. There's several to choose from, all overlooking the water, but our pick would be Cottage 1, which has a gorgeous, boho interior and an outdoor shower and bath if all those dips in the ocean aren't enough for you. There's also Cottage 2, a smaller, but no less cute stay, and Bayview Cottage, with a wooden deck right at the water's edge complete with deck chairs and a table for eating your fish and chips.

Minjerribah Camping 

Camping on Straddie is a rite of passage, so if you’re new to the island, you’ll want to check out this Adder Rock campsite. Ranging from family cabins to unpowered tent sites, Minjerribah Camping has something for everyone, all the while sheltered by native padanus and tea tree forests. We recommend the island eco tents for a comfortable camping experience that won’t put your back out.  

Point Lookout Central Studio

So you made it to the island—where to next? Book yourself in at this central studio and score yourself a solid home base for exploring Straddie. The newly renovated abode is in the heart of Point Lookout, and just a five minute stroll from the local shops and beaches. Not only are small pets welcome, but the owners will even set you up with two push bikes for zooming around the island streets. That’s a win-win in our book.  

The Islander

With a circle window straight out of PlaySchool, a lagoon-style pool and a sprawling tennis court, this modern seaside apartment is perfect for a romantic island getaway. Complete with air conditioning and a small outdoor balcony, you can breathe in that fresh sea air while cooking up a storm on the communal barbecue.  

Yarrong Retreat 

Looking for a room with a view? Yarrong Retreat is a fully-contained luxury one bedroom apartment with stunning views out over the ocean. The handpicked coastal decor is sure to give you those vacay vibes, and the fire pit promises perfect evenings under clear and bright starry skies. The six foot fence and lush tropical garden is perfect for pets, so bring your doggo along for a stroll on Straddie’s off-leash beaches.      

interior of a beach-themed restaurant

Where To Eat And Drink On Stradbroke Island

Kokomo Beach House    

Formerly Whale's Way, Kokomo Beach House is under new ownership, and according to locals, it’s thriving. Run by a couple of guys from Byron Bay, the venue has undergone a major makeover, and has now fully transformed into a stunning island bar and restaurant. There’s simply no competition for Kokomo’s cocktails, and the fresh island seafood is next level. Head up to the beach house for a magical afternoon watching the sun go down as you spot whales and dolphins jumping in the distance. 

The Blue Room Cafe

For delicious gourmet food alongside classic beach shack vibes, set your sights on The Blue Room Cafe. With a menu devoted to diversity, the Blue Room serves up fresh brunch bites perfect for vegans, vegos and celiacs alike. Different items are served everyday, so be sure to book in a week-long vacay so you can sample the lot. Trust us, your tastebuds with thank you.   

Oceanic Gelati & Coffee Bar

When it comes to ice cream, there’s only one place on Straddie to curb your sweet tooth. Oceanic Gelati And Coffee Bar is an island institution, beloved by locals and tourists alike. Just a stone’s throw from the start of the Gorge Walk, the gelateria serves up a range of drool-worthy sorbets and creamy gelati flavours. Iced vovo, rosewater meringue and cherry ripe are some of our faves, but there’s simply no beating the classics (their chocolate gelato will ruin icecream for you forever). They even have a range of vegan and lactose-free options, so you can indulge in sweet treats without the side serve of guilt. 

Sealevel 21

If you’re as big a fan of breakfast as we are, you’ll want to pay a visit to Amity Point’s Sealevel 21. Known as the home of the best breakfast on the island, Sealevel 21 is a local fave serving up Insta-worthy dishes from their outdoor patio with some serious island vibes. The waffles are an absolute must, and there’s simply no passing on those oh-so-delicious arancini balls. 

The Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel

Can’t pass up a classic pub feed? Pick up a parmi with a view at The Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel, aka the best beer house on Straddie. With live performances every Saturday and Sunday, it’s the perfect place to put your feet up and kick back with a beer as you cool off post-sunburn. Bonus, you can make use of their free courtesy bus to pick you up and take you home. 

Rufus King Seafoods

The title of best seafood on Straddie is highly contested, but having surveyed them all, Rufus King Seafoods is our top pick. Located at Amity Point, Rufus’ always had a line out the door, with locals and tourists alike queuing for a taste of freshly caught prawns, oysters, crabs and bugs. Pick up a bag of fresh prawns to eat on the beach or grab a seafood feast to cook up back at your Airbnb.

Straddie Woodfired Pizza

For a taste of authentic Italian on the Aussie coast, set your sights on Straddie Woodfired Pizza. With a truck down at Cylinder Beach every weekend, treat yourself to a slice of Italy with a classic margherita topped with plenty of cheese. Order ahead to skip the queue and indulge on oven-hot pizza by the beach. 

two people walking on a beach

Things To Do On Stradbroke Island

Meet the Wildlife on the Iconic Gorge Walk 

Easily the island’s most famous activity, trust us—the Straddie Gorge Walk lives up to the hype. Clocking in at just 1.5km, this iconic coastal loop consists of a gentle stroll along the Point Lookout boardwalk, with plenty of spots to snap a pic. You’ll likely stumble across a kangaroo or two, but don’t forget to cast your gaze seaward for a chance to spot dolphins, rays, whales and turtles. Up your gorge game with a $50 Indigenous Quandamooka Guide who will walk you through Stradbroke’s Indigenous history and the incredible cultural significance of the island’s natural wonders. 

Explore Underwater At This Premier Dive Facility

Straddie is known for its incredible sea life, so it should come as no surprise that scuba diving is one of the island’s many attractions. Sign up for a three-day open water course and become a certified diver, so you can take those scuba skills anywhere in the world. The course will take you to four local dive sites and teach you all the skills you need to make friends with the fish—just be sure to keep an eye out for sharks.  

Get Your Bowl On at the Local Lawn Bowls Club

Get a group together and lock in a day at the Point Lookout bowls club. With stupidly cheap drinks and a laid back atmosphere, it’s the perfect place for a Sunday sesh by the beach. Keep an eye out for kangaroos enjoying the bowling green—there’s a good chance they’ll try to steal your lunch.   

Greet the Dolphins at Amity Point Jetty

Ever seen a dolphin out in the wild? Head down to Amity Point Jetty at sunset, and be greeted by a pod of dolphins looking for a feed. You aren’t supposed to feed them, so try to avoid it if you can, but there’s no harm in paying the dolphins a friendly, food-free visit, 

The Best Beaches On Stradbroke Island 

Being, you know, an island and all, Straddie is blessed with some of Queensland’s most beautiful beaches, almost all of which put our mainland hotspots to shame (sorry, but there’s really no competition). But depending on the vibes you’re after, you’ll want to pick your beachspot carefully, so it matches your vacay plans.  

If you’re into an early morning surf, set your sights on Main Beach, which offers consistent, clean waves and rideable swells with gentle, offshore winds. For those with kids in tow, Cylinder Beach is known for its safe swimming conditions, and shady picnic spots. Home Beach is dog-friendly, and comes complete with a picturesque freshwater lagoon so clear you can see the fish swimming around you. If you’re after a bit more adventure (and came prepared with a 4WD), Flinders and Main Beach are both four-wheel friendly—just be sure to pick up a vehicle access permit before you go.     

Looking for more summer holiday inspo? Here’s how to spend an epic weekend at Tangalooma Island Resort

Image credit: Tourism & Events Queensland, Kokomo Beach House 

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