North Stradbroke Island, Australia

NORTH STRADBROKE ISLAND, Australia — Known to the locals as “Straddie,” North Stradbroke Island near Brisbane separates southern Moreton Bay from the Pacific Ocean. With miles of spectacular ocean beaches and an abundance of local marine life such as whales, sharks, turtles, and dolphins, it’s a popular summer holiday destination and yet still manages to feel remote.

View at Point Lookout overlooking the beach at North Stradbroke Island (Photo)
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Filed Under: Australia

Unless you live in Southeast Queensland, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of North Stradbroke Island. Although it barely rates a mention in most travel guidebooks, North Stradbroke Island—”Straddie” to the locals—has an awful lot going for it.

In a part of the world blessed with some of the world’s most stunning beaches, Queensland’s are among the best. And this is an island of sand—the second-largest sand island in the world, as it happens, only beaten by Fraser Island, which is a bit to the north and harder to get to.

North Stradbroke Island, near Brisbane, separates southern Moreton Bay from the Pacific Ocean. At one point, it was joined to what is now known as South Stradbroke Island, but a storm in 1896 blew a channel between the two sand islands.

The only way there is by boat–there’s no airport, and there’s no bridge. There is a regular car ferry from Cleveland and Redland Bay.

As you would hope for open ocean, marine wildlife thrives here. Dolphins play in the surf, whales come in nearby regularly each year, prompting an annual pilgrimage of whale watchers at Point Lookout, sea turtles come in near the rocky headlands to feed, and yes, there are sharks—quite a lot of sharks, actually. Great Whites cruise the coast, and herds of bull sharks venture into the passage between Stradbroke and Moreton islands to the calmer, western side of the island. The Amity Island in Jaws was a fictional place, but the real Amity Point on Stradbroke Island has, unfortunately, been the site of some horrific recent shark attacks. But as much press coverage as those attacks generate, they’re rare, and common sense offers excellent protection.

For the most part, Stradbroke remains a fairly anonymous and low-key holiday destination with some spectacular beaches, but there’s one thing above all others that puts it on the global news from time to time: sharks. Every now and then, it makes global news for that oh-so-Australian news story the latest shark incident like this amazing shot of a huge bite taken out of another great white or these swarming sharks.

Photos of Stradbroke Island

North Stradbroke Island Cluster of Ti-trees at Brown Lake (Photo)
Ti-trees at Brown Lake. The lake’s water gets it color from the trees, and it ends up looking like tea (without milk!). Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Kangaroo crossing sign on North Stradbroke Island, Australia, with Car on Road (Photo)
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
North Stradbroke Island Point Lookout Headland Panorama Australia
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
North Stradbroke Island Surfers waiting for waves (Photo)
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
North Stradbroke Island Cylinder Beach view (Photo)
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Amity Point on North Stradbroke Island (Photo)
Amity Point on the northern tip of the island. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Moreton Bay Cruiser Moored off North Stadbroke Island, Queensland (Photo)
A Moreton Bay Cruiser anchored on the protected Moreton Bay side (western side) of the island. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Photo of Ocean Swimmers
Point Lookout on the northeast corner. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
North Stradbroke Views (Photo)
Cylinder Beach. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Lifeguards at the beach on North Stradbroke Island, Queensland (Photo)
Lifeguards on duty at Cylinder Beach, which has a great swimming area protected by the headland. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
North Stradbroke Island View at Point Lookout overlooking the beach (Photo)
Looking south from Point Lookout. To the left is the wide open Pacific. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel

What to Know Before You Go

Stradbroke is an easy day trip from Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane.

There’s no airport or bridge. The only way there is by boat (or a very long swim.)

Your best option is to take a car across on the car ferry from Cleveland or Redland Bay. Without a car, it’s quite a bit harder to get around—the ferry drops you off on the bay side of the island in Dunwich, which, while pleasant enough, doesn’t have the long surf beaches of the ocean side. But whatever you do, don’t try to drive there, even if your GPS says you can. That stuff that looks like water is water. Really.

About North Stradbroke Island

  • Location: North Stradbroke Island, also known as Minjerribah, is situated off the coast of Queensland, Australia, in Moreton Bay, approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) southeast of Brisbane.
  • Indigenous heritage: The island is the traditional land of the Quandamooka people, who have inhabited the area for thousands of years and have a strong cultural connection to the land and its history.
  • Size and geography: North Stradbroke Island is the second-largest sand island in the world, stretching over 38 kilometers (24 miles) long and 11 kilometers (7 miles) wide, with diverse landscapes that include white sandy beaches, freshwater lakes, and coastal heathlands.
  • Access: The island is accessible via ferry from Cleveland, a suburb in Brisbane, with both passenger and vehicle ferries making regular trips.
  • Popular beaches: The island is known for its beautiful beaches, such as Cylinder Beach, Main Beach, and Frenchman’s Beach, which are popular for swimming, surfing, and fishing.
  • Flora and fauna: North Stradbroke Island is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, including koalas, kangaroos, and the endangered glossy black cockatoo.
  • Whale watching: Between June and November, the island is an excellent spot for whale watching, as humpback whales migrate along the coast during their annual migration.
  • Brown Lake and Blue Lake: The island is home to several freshwater lakes, including Brown Lake (Bummiera) and Blue Lake (Karboora), which hold cultural and spiritual significance for the Quandamooka people.
  • Point Lookout: Point Lookout is a popular lookout on the island, offering stunning views of the coastline, Moreton Island, and the chance to spot marine life such as dolphins, turtles, and whales.
  • Recreational activities: Visitors to North Stradbroke Island can enjoy various recreational activities, including bushwalking, birdwatching, four-wheel driving, and snorkeling.
  • Accommodation and amenities: The island has a range of accommodation options, from campgrounds and holiday houses to resorts and hotels, as well as restaurants, cafes, and shops.
  • North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum: The museum provides insights into the island’s history, showcasing the Quandamooka people’s heritage, European settlement, and natural environment.

Stradbroke Island FAQs

What is Stradbroke Island and where is it located?

Stradbroke Island is a large sand island located off the coast of Queensland, Australia. It is situated approximately 19 miles (31 km) southeast of Brisbane.

How big is Stradbroke Island?

Stradbroke Island is approximately 22 miles (35 km) long and 1.9 miles (3 km) wide at its widest point. It has a total land area of approximately 30 square miles (78 square km).

What are some popular activities to do on Stradbroke Island?

Stradbroke Island is known for its beaches, wildlife, and outdoor activities. Popular activities include surfing, fishing, whale watching, and hiking.

How can I get to Stradbroke Island?

The most common way to get to Stradbroke Island is by ferry. Ferries run regularly from Cleveland, a suburb of Brisbane. Visitors can also charter private boats or take a water taxi.

What is the best time to visit Stradbroke Island?

The best time to visit Stradbroke Island is during the spring and fall months (September-November and March-May), when the weather is mild and the crowds are thinner. However, the island is a popular destination year-round.

David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »