Just 20 minutes off the Queensland coast sits North Stradbroke Island, the second largest sand island in the world.
Offering a welcoming balance between the hustle and bustle of the Queensland capital, and the remoteness of its more northerly older cousin, Fraser Island, North Straddie is an easily-accessible tropical oasis which appeals to all the family.
The island consists of 3 major townships, Dunwich, Amity Point and the major tourism hub Point Lookout.
Getting to North Stradbroke Island
North Stradbroke is accessible by passenger ferry or car ferry departing from Toondah Harbour, Emmett Drive, Cleveland.
From the Gold Coast
Head north and leave the Pacific Highway at exit 30.
Head south from the city and exit the Cleveland exit past the Gateway toll. The ferry terminal at Cleveland is clearly signposted from both directions.
Stradbroke Ferries operates a vehicle ferry service that disembarks at Dunwich main terminal on the island. The crossing takes approximately 45 minutes and is an excellent opportunity to get your trip started in comfort while relaxing with the breeze in your hair as the hustle and bustle of Brisbane shrinks into a distant memory. Numbers are capped, so it’s highly recommended you book in advance.
If your accommodation is local to the harbour or you’re taking part in a guided tour and don’t need transport, a water taxi operates hourly. The crossing takes only 20 minutes via fast passenger ferries. The Water Taxi connects to the local bus to Point Lookout.
Things to do on North Stradbroke Island
Watch whales from Point Lookout
During the winter months (June to October in Queensland), majestic humpback whales migrate towards warmer waters offering spectacular sites to onlookers.
From the land, Point Lookout is a great vantage point to watch whales frolicking, hunting for krill and engaging playfully in their pods in the glassy blue waters.
Also keep a sharp eye open for dolphins, turtles and even the occasional dugong which are often visible from the land.
North Gorge Walk
For keen amblers, the stunning North Gorge walking trail gives the opportunity to take in unprecedented views of the pristine beach contrasting with the spectacular bushland. Watch out for the local wildlife that graces the trail and for the eager birdwatchers, take your binoculars and tick off the pelicans, black swans, silver gulls and Caspian terns as they fly above your head.
The walk will take approximately 30 minutes and is an easy track suitable for all ages and abilities from newborns to the elderly.
Four-wheel drive on the beach
For an authentic desert experience, take the four by four off-road for a cruise along the dunes. Belt up, the road may be less travelled, and while you’ll see some fantastic sights off the beaten track, you may be in for a bumpy ride! A permit is needed for your 4WD adventure which are available for purchase on the ferry or at the service stations on the island.
Surf or bodyboard
North Straddie is home to some of the best waves on the East coast and far less populated than the famous Gold Coast hot spots. For those whose surfing skills are somewhat lacking, take a bodyboard into the deep blue sea and keep your eyes peeled for dolphins or schools of tropical fish as you catch the waves.
Scuba diving and snorkelling
North Stradbroke Island is home to some of Queensland’s best dive sites. The island is home to the Manta Rays during the summer months and Grey Nurse Sharks during the winter months. There are also sheltered sites, ideal for snorkelling.
Getting around North Stradbroke Island
You don’t need a four-wheel drive to get from A to B on North Stradbroke as the main roads are sealed.
If you do decide to go off the main road, you can get to your destination via the unsealed beach roads and rugged terrain, but make sure you have the right permit before doing so as penalties apply.
If you want to take public transport from the ferry to the accommodation, a local bus service operates in the area. Make sure you have cash and check the timetable well in advance as services can be limited.
While Uber doesn’t yet operate in the area, you can take a taxi if you find yourself stuck. Taxis are a convenient yet more expensive option that will help you avoid getting stranded.
One-day tours generally include the ferry crossing over from the mainland. You’ll get picked up from Dunwich terminal and transported around the sights of the island. Spot native wildlife, soak in the stunning views of the pristine beaches, or sand surf down the dunes – a once in a lifetime experience for the thrill-seekers!
North Stradbroke Accommodation
North Stradbroke boasts a range of accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets.
Whether you’re a backpacker on a basic budget, or a tourist looking for five-star luxury, accommodation options cover a broad spectrum including resorts, hotels, and getting up close and personal with nature on the beachside camping site.
Restaurants and eating out
North Stradbroke provides all-day dining options to suit all budgets and palates. Whether you want breakfast consisting of fresh local produce, a luxurious lunch sampling the finer items on the wine menu, or a celebratory dinner for all, there’s a seat in a restaurant or eatery with your name on it!
Treat the kids to pizza, sample freshly caught fish at Point Lookout, or for the health conscious, the Islands Fruit Barn at Dunwich offers a selection of local produce including fruit, freshly baked gluten-free bread and vegan and dairy free dishes to boot.
A welcome balance between the remoteness of Fraser Island and the bustle of Brisbane, North Stradbroke provides an island day trip or getaway that will help you wind down in tune with nature’s heartbeat.