Australia Destinations Queensland

Gold Coast to Cape Tribulation: A Guide to Queensland’s Best Beaches

With over 300 days of sunshine a year, there is no better place to hit the ocean: here is our guide to Queensland’s best beaches.  

A vast and varied tropical playground, Queensland is a treasure trove of beaches. From the glitz and glamour of Broadbeach on the Gold Coast to the laidback vibes of the Sunshine Coast and the remote feel of Mission Beach – there’s a spot on the sand for everyone.  

With our guide to Queensland’s best beaches, you can find the right stretch for you – whether you’re looking for romantic sunset strolls, family fun or a quiet escape from reality. 

Mission Beach, Cassowary Coast 

Mission Beach, image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

If the vibe you’re going for is ‘off-grid’, Mission Beach is the place for you. A long stretch of (largely empty) white sand provides an opportunity to completely disconnect from everyday life. With 14 kilometres of coastline to explore, it’s not hard to find an undisturbed spot to relax and take in your Tropical North Queensland surroundings. Stroll under the shade of the palms, admire the deep-blue water or take a dip in its pleasantly warm depths.  

Of course, Mission Beach is more than just a beach: the town is also your launchpad to adventures amid nature, from the Kennedy Walking Track to Great Barrier Reef dives and Dunk Island. 

Your beachside accommodation: Castaways Resort & Spa Mission Beach 

Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast 

Surfers Paradise skyline, image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

With its enticing bright lights, Surfers Paradise is the twinkling temptress of the Gold Coast’s beaches. Its vibrant energy draws you into a thrilling selection of beachside bars, shopping at Cavill Mall and family-friendly fun.  

During the day, find your spot on the sand for sun baking, take long jogs along the beachfront or brave the waves with a refreshing swim or surf. You won’t need to pack up and leave come nightfall; that’s when Surfers Paradise really comes alive. Check out the market for a bite to eat, hit one of the bars on Cavill Avenue or simply sit back and enjoy your view of the city lights.  

Your beachside accommodation: QT Gold Coast 

Broadbeach, Gold Coast 

Broadbeach, image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

You can’t mention the Gold Coast without including Broadbeach. Just 10 minutes from Surfers Paradise, this buzzing hub offers a picture-perfect stretch of sand. Weekends are busy with holidaymakers who flock to the beach for its warm waters, good surf and surrounding restaurants and bars. If you prefer a quieter atmosphere, come midweek for a sunset stroll – a quintessentially Queensland way to end the day.  

Your beachside accommodation: Aria Apartments 

Mooloolaba Beach, Sunshine Coast 

Mooloolaba Beach, image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

If you’re looking for a sandy spot that embodies the laidback feel of the Sunshine Coast, you’ll find it on Mooloolaba Beach. This calm stretch of sand was made for relaxing strolls and lazy cycles to Mooloolaba Spit, where sheltered swimming and seafood cafés await.  

The glamorous esplanade offers alfresco dining and chic boutiques, with excellent restaurants along Parkyn Parade. You could even join a fishing charter and catch lunch yourself. Don’t forget to visit the quirky public bathroom, which is famous for its sweeping views of the Pacific.  

Your beachside accommodation: Breeze Mooloolaba 

Palm Cove, Cairns Region 

Palm Cove, image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Arriving at Palm Cove is like letting out a long exhale and realising you’ve reached paradise. Here, tropical palm trees are moved by a gentle breeze, netted areas offer safe swimming year-round and high-end restaurants line the oceanfront.  

Long strolls along the beachfront can be interspersed with activities including kayaking, fishing, sailing and jet skiing. Come sunset, find a spot on the lush grassy areas or at your favourite alfresco bar and watch the gentle shift of colours over the shimmering ocean – bliss.  

Your beachside accommodation: The Reef House & Spa 

Four Mile Beach (Port Douglas), Coral Sea 

Four Mile Beach, image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

You can easily lose track of time on Four Mile Beach, a Port Douglas icon that draws as many locals as it does tourists. Take long walks along its stretch of golden sand or hire a bike and let the tropical breeze cool you as you ride. Netted areas make swimming safe, with the rock pools at the northern end a perfect place to let little ones paddle. 

Rise with the sun to find Four Mile Beach at its quietest or head to the water’s edge for a spectacular sunset. Restaurants and cafés line the esplanade, making it just as easy to find a morning brew as an evening glass of wine. Without a doubt, this is one of Queensland’s best beaches.

Your beachside accommodation: Port Douglas Apartments 

Myall Beach, Cape Tribulation 

Myall Beach, image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

The only place in the world where two UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites meet, Cape Tribulation is uniquely magical. Alongside being the gateway to the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation is also home to the stunning Myall Beach.  

Its remote beauty means you may well find yours are the only footprints on the sand when you visit. As you relax in the shade of the palms, see if you can find an unopened coconut to crack for a tropical refreshment. Once you’ve had your fill of sun-baking, stroll from the beach along the Dubuji Boardwalk, venturing through fern tree forests and across mangrove swamps while keeping an eye out for hidden waterholes and shy cassowaries.  

Your beachside accommodation: mist at Cape Tribulation 

Boathaven Beach (Airlie Beach), Whitsundays 

Airlie Beach area, image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

While most people flock straight to Airlie’s artificial lagoon, Boathaven Beach offers a quiet reprieve and an opportunity to swim in the actual ocean. It’s a favourite spot for couples and families seeking some time away from the buzz of Airlie Beach. Among Queensland’s best beaches, this is a true hidden gem.

Nets mean safe swimming and protection from the stingers, while shower facilities come in handy after days spent on the sand. Pop to Whitsunday Sailing Club next door for lunch with a view when you need a break from the sun. You can also use Airlie Beach as your launchpad to the Whitsunday Islands, including the iconic Whitehaven Beach.  

Your beachside accommodation: Pavilions Collection  

Featured image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland