It’s hard to pick when it comes to Queensland beach holidays but if you are wondering where to holiday in Queensland, these are my all-time favourites, the places I would jump to return to for a few days or longer.
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Where to holiday in Queensland
From Port Douglas to Coolangatta, Queensland is blessed with thousands of kilometres of white sandy beaches flanked by sparkling blue water. Most of the time the skies are blue too creating that picture-perfect holiday image that looks like it belongs on a postcard.
Each destination along the coast offers something different but you are sure to find plenty of things to do at a Queensland beach away from the sand as well.
Photo above – Nudey Beach, Fitzroy Island. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Alamanda Palm Cove is just metres from the beach in Queensland. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Six Queensland beach holidays
Start packing! You are in for a fabulous beach holiday in Queensland.
Far North Queensland
There are so many reasons I would holiday here, particularly in what we loosely call winter in Queensland. While the southern part of Australia layers up during June, July and August, in Far North Queensland it’s still t-shirt weather most of the time.
A long weekend in Palm Cove just north of Cairns is pretty hard to beat. I would definitely dine at Nick Holloway’s Nu Nu Restaurant (the Puffed Lemon Bread is amazing) but I would need to add in a dinner at Harrisons by Spencer Patrick in Port Douglas (try the tasting menu) and a stay at Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort Port Douglas. That’s a good fit with a Great Barrier Reef road trip too.
The beaches between Cairns and Port Douglas are small and relaxed but do swim inside the crocodile free enclosures. Give yourself a thrill and stop at Hartley’s Crocodile Aventures along the way.
While you are in Port Douglas, head a little further north for a mud crabbing walkabout on Cooyar Beach.
It’s a memorable Queensland beach holiday.
Flying over Hill Inlet, Whitsunday Islands. Photo: Kerry Heaney
There is something about the combination of sand, sky and water here that really tugs my heartstrings.
The water is that achingly pretty azure blue and the sand almost blindingly white, all backed by a clear blue sky. That’s my ideal day in the Whitsundays, probably viewed from a private boat trip to Whitehaven Beach, long before the multitudes arrive.
It’s the beach holiday in Queensland that you probably dream about.
You’ll find the essence of this barefoot luxury at eco-friendly Elysian Retreat where just 10 villas line the beachfront. Expect a private and relaxed holiday experience with attentive service, excellent dining and a spa on tap. Use this island as your base to explore the Whitsundays.
If you need a short holiday, take a Great Barrier Reef day flight from Airlie Beach and fly out to Whitehaven, see the real Heart Reef from the air, snorkel in a protected cay on the outer reef and head back in time for dinner. You can do this with Air Whitsunday.
South of Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays lies Mackay and a place where wild kangaroos come onto the beach at sunrise at Cape Hillsborough. You can camp here or stay close by and make a pre-sunrise trip to meet the kangaroos. Afterwards, explore the walking trails through the National Park.
Where to holiday in Queensland on Pumpkin Island.
The Capricorn Coast embraces Yeppoon and Great Keppel Island. This area flies under the radar a little bit but hidden beneath the laid-back charm are some real gems and genuine experiences.
You will be surprised by the white untouched sandy stretches between Yeppoon and Great Keppel Island that you will discover on this Queensland beach holiday.
Great Keppel Island is slated for redevelopment, but until that eventuates Great Keppel Island Hideaway is the main accommodation on the island and one of the cheapest island stay experiences around. It’s no-frills with no pool or spa but the beaches are superb, and you have ready access to some of the Southern Great Barrier Reef’s best diving.
Otherwise, stay at Yeppoon and enjoy beach cricket, let the children play in the waterpark and laze around the Yeppoon Lagoon. This giant man-made pool looks as though it belongs at an international resort but offers free entry.
Pumpkin Island is another local gem that hosts just small numbers of people in a relaxed, self-catering setting. It’s ideal for people who want to get away from it all and enjoy the island’s natural charms.
While you are in Yeppoon, don’t miss the chance to see big crocodiles up close and personal at Koorana Crocodile Farm. What will really surprise you here is how the handlers (also the farm owners) talk about the crocodiles with affection like they are old friends.
I also wouldn’t travel through Rockhampton without a pit stop at Saleyards Distillery for a bottle of their world-beating Capricorn Spiced Rum.
Turtle swimming on Lady Elliott Island. Photo Tourism and Events Queensland
I like to stay at Bargara where the beach is family-friendly and lined by parks and cafes. You can walk the Esplanade in the morning, swim in the protected Basin (a natural beach pool) on high tide and dine beachfront at night.
I know you are thinking Bundaberg Rum (and I highly recommend a distillery tour), but the food in this region is a real showstopper. There are some outstanding places to eat in Bundaberg where you will find local produce and seafood are menu highlights. Take a tour with Suzy Clarke from Bundy Food Tours to find the latest new gems.
Carlo Sandblow. Photo: Kerry Heaney
There are two things that would take me back to Rainbow Beach on the Fraser Coast in a snap.
I would start the day with horse riding on the beach. There are few places in the world where you can do this where the beach is edged by World Heritage Listed National Park and this is one of them.
Rainbow Beach Horse Rides is a very professional set up. Even if you are not a proficient rider but just an enthusiast (like me) you will have a comfortable ride as the horses are very well mannered and wear rainbow-coloured bridles (you have to love that).
The end of the day would see me at Carlo Sandblow watching an incredible sunset. Formed 50,000 years ago by a bolt of lightning, a Carlo Sandblow sunset is a breathtaking way to finish the day at Rainbow Beach. I would get there early and do a little sand hill surfing for fun too.
From Hervey Bay or Fraser Island, you also can go whale watching in the Great Sandy Straits.
Main Beach Noosa Heads. Photo: Kerry Heaney
From the Mary Valley and Gympie down to Caloundra, the Sunshine Coast is one of my favourite coastal regions. It is all accessible to Brisbane for a day trip although why just spend a day in this beautiful region?
When I’m asked what is my favourite Queensland beach holiday spot I always say Sunshine Beach. It’s just one beach south of Noosa. I have spent a lot of time here and this is my pick of the top things to do in Noosa Heads.
The laid back charm of Caloundra is also a great holiday experience and there are many Caloundra beaches to love. Find a seat on the balcony at Rumba Resort looking out over the Pumicestone Passage and you may never want to leave. There is a surprisingly funky food scene here with a craft brewery, spice cafe, and enviable pizzas. Take the street art trail to discover more of Caloundra’s style and history.
Where to holiday in Queensland
I hope these suggestions help you find your perfect Queensland beach holiday. There are certainly plenty of options so you might have to plan more than a holiday in Queensland!