As Queenslanders, travelling to beaches outside of our great state always seems like an unnecessary trip. Crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches are a regular feature on Insta stories whenever the mercury rises past 24 degrees. Unfortunately, Queensland’s best beaches are our worst-kept secret, so relaxing seaside getaways can be hard to come by. But in times like these, we’re all in dire need of a vacay, which is why we’re spilling the beans on five Queensland beach towns that haven’t lost their quaint, quiet charm. Book yourself a beachfront cabin and hit the road.
If you haven’t heard of Bowen, it’s probably because the name has been lost to whispered declarations of awe and wonder over the peninsula’s most popular attraction—Horseshoe Bay. The iconic beach is regularly listed as one of the best in Australia (no surprises there, it is in Queensland) thanks to its two granite outcrops which provide perfect conditions for snorkelling just a short swim away from the beach. Of course, Bowen’s other beaches aren’t anything to sniff at either. The calm, azure waters of Gray’s Bay make canoeing and paddle boarding a breeze, and the secluded Murray’s Bay is an excellent fishing spot (hot tip, booking at the Whitsunday Sands Resort will get you easy access to all of them). If you’re a fan of the Big Pineapple, you can tick off a visit to another of Australia’s ridiculously-oversized fruit structures by checking out the Big Bowen Mango. Even better, bite into a real one while you’re there.
1770 And Agnes Water
Located about six hours north of Brisbane, the twin beach towns of Agnes Water and 1770 mark the northernmost surf beaches in Australia. They also happen to sit right on the southernmost tip of the Great Barrier Reef, meaning they’re a little slice of tropical beach heaven without the exxy resort fees (especially if you stay at 1770 Beach Shacks, which basically put you right on the sand). These quaint coastal towns offer the opportunity for visitors to surf, swim and snorkel while getting some much needed R&R against a stunning coastal backdrop. The numerous walking trails offer panoramic views of the Munro Range and Bustard Bay, as well as the chance to spot the beautiful blue tiger butterfly. Plus if you time it right, you may just get to see Queensland’s green and loggerhead turtle populations nesting along the beach. Who doesn’t love turtles?
When we promised you beach towns, it’s a pretty safe bet that Bundaberg wasn’t the first place on your mind—or the second. Or the tenth. But trust us, Bargara is everything you want and more in a perfect seaside getaway. Just 10kms east of Bundaberg town centre, you’ll be greeted by the sight of palm trees lining the foreshore, and golden sands stretching out to meet the sparkling turquoise ocean. On the Coral Coast, swimming is an all-year-round activity, and when the tide comes in we suggest heading to The Basin to feed the fish that will be vying for your attention the moment you step into the water. Of course, the beaches aren’t the only thing on offer—we recommend taking your appetite for the delicious cafes and bars dotting the town, and stopping at Robertson Flower Farm to smell the flowers on your way. But to get the full Bargara effect, you'll want to stay in a cute and cosy beach shack or cottage—we reccommend this one, this one or even this one with it's own outdoor spa, gym and firepit.
All-too-often overshadowed by its famous neighbour, world heritage-listed K'gari (Fraser Island), Rainbow Beach is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered. The sleepy surf town gets its name from a stunning stretch of beachside cliffs coloured with rippling shades of orange, red, amber and brown—you won't be spending much time indoors, so the cosy but perfectly situated Debbie's Place motel is an ideal spot to lay your head. You’ll want to head to Double Island Point to check out its 19th-century lighthouse, and stroll on a massive batch of sand at the Carlo Sand Blow. But if you’re looking for adventure, don’t be fooled by the town’s laid-back facade—Rainbow Beach is home to Wolf Rock, one of the most sought after natural dive sites in the world. The four volcanic pinnacles that make up the site are an official marine sanctuary for critically endangered Grey Nurse sharks, so you’re guaranteed to make some fishy friends. You can go on tour with Wolf Rock Dive to see the rock, but if you’re looking to head underwater, you’ll need to have a dive certificate.
Just under 40 minutes’ drive from Rockhampton sits Yeppoon, a stunning coastal town along the Capricorn Coast. Full of beach-chic boutiques, murals, and op shops, there’s plenty to keep you entertained before your feet even hit the sand. But once the waves start calling, hit the water and see if you can spot a dugong hiding amongst the seagrass, or wait ‘til the tide heads out to explore the caves and rock pools. The town even has its own lagoon, complete with a beachside infinity pool, and if you can get up early, it’s a stunning spot to catch the sunrise. Boasting delicious tropical produce and fresh seafood, Yeppoon is an idyllic introduction to beachside living—so good luck dragging yourself home, particular if you've booked yourself a room at the hipster-cool Yeppoon Surfside Motel, which is literally steps from the beach.
Looking to travel elsewhere? Here are Australia's best under-the-radar beach towns.
Image credit: Tourism & Events Queensland, Airbnb
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