If you’re looking for the best things to do on North Stradbroke Island then you’ve probably heard of the island’s epic surf, nature, and beaches. Straddie is one of those places that defines South East Queensland. It has some of the most diverse wildlife in the region, is a fairly quiet year-round and has some amazing landscapes not to miss. 

Many people that visit North Stradbroke Island are looking for adventure and wildlife but haven’t yet planned their trip. Here’s a complete list of some of the best things to do on North Stradbroke Island.

Getting to Stradbroke Island

Getting to North Stradbroke Island means taking a ferry from the mainland. The island is best accessed by ferry from Toondah Harbour in Cleveland. There are large vehicle ferries that run every hour from 4:30 AM until 7:30 PM. The cost is roughly $60 for a car and $7 per passenger per crossing.

The total trip from Cleveland to Dunwich takes only 30 minutes. Check out the time schedule and ticketing here.

OR, BOOK A FULL DAY TOUR FROM BRISBANE FOR UNDER $160 PER PERSON WITH FREE LUNCH AND TRANSPORT

Getting Around on Stradbroke

The absolute best way to get around and explore Stradbroke Island is by car. If you have a 4×4, you can even buy a beach permit to drive on the long white sand beaches. In my opinion it is well worth it and definitely one of the best things to do on Stradbroke Island.

4×4 BEACH ACCESS PERMIT PRICE:
Off-road 4X4 beach access permits can be purchased online and cost $46.80 per vehicle registration.

The revenue goes towards maintaining the islands natural areas. You can purchase the permit online or at the following locations.

  • Straddie Camping Reservations Office
  • Amity Point Camping Ground
  • Cylinder Beach Camping Ground
  • Adder Rock Camp Ground

If you don’t have a vehicle, there are local buses running from Dunwich to Point Lookout every 30 minutes or so.

stradbroke island gorge aerial drone photo

HEADING TO CAIRNS? READ: 21 BEST THINGS TO DO IN CAIRNS

The Best Things to do on Straddie

Having the privilege of living in South East Queensland for a year gave me the opportunity to visit Stradbroke Island a few times. Below I’ve written about some of the absolute best things to do on Stradbroke Island.

Surfing

It’s no secret that many people visit Straddie to get some decent surf. There are several beaches on the Eastern side of the Island with good surf breaks. The most popular surf spot on Straddie is the Northern tip of Main Beach, just next to Point Lookout Surf Club. Main Beach is a massive stretch of white sand which spans 32 KM. On the Northern side of the beach, there are flags and it is patrolled by lifeguards in the Summer months.

surfer at stradbroke island drone photo

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Check Out South Gorge Beach

Just beside the North end of Main Beach, on the other side of Point Lookout Surf Club is a small gorge with a private beach. In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful corners of the island and is perfect for swimming and snorkelling.

stradbroke Island Gorge

Hang out with the local Kangaroos

There are kangaroos and wallabies everywhere on North Stradbroke Island. They love hanging out near the cliff lines under gum trees. Due to the increase in tourism, most of the kangaroos on Stradbroke are tame and will let you approach them and sit next to them while they eat.

Where to Find Kangaroos on North Stradbroke Island

The best places to spot Kangaroos on North Stradbroke Island is near Cylinder Headland Foreshore and along the North Gorge Walk. If you walk around the headlands you will see them grazing on the small patches right by the cliffs.

Swim with Giant Manta Rays

The marine biodiversity of Stradbroke Island is incredible. You can spot giant Manta Rays from the many high cliffs and viewpoints around the North-Eastern part of the island.

The best place to swim with Manta Rays on North Stradbroke Island is on Frenchman’s Beach. Although they might be harder to spot from the beach, if you’re just looking to observe from afar, then the Mantas can be spotted from the headland just above the Southern end of the beach.

You can also frequently spot Mantas just off the shore at South Gorge Beach. However, they usually don’t hang around for too long here, and if you’re looking for a longer glimpse, I’d recommend trying your luck at Frenchman’s beach or the headland.

Stradbroke island manta ray photo drone shot

Walk Around the North Gorge

The North Gorge Walk is one of Straddie’s highest-ranked things to do. It’s a rather short walk around the headland, starting from either Headland Park or just off the main road opposite Oceanic Gelati.

The walk wraps around the headland, through trails and boardwalks. The views of the gorge are spectacular, with turquoise blue waters crushing into the steep cliffs below.

Spot Rays, Sharks and Turtles from the Cliffs

During the North Gorge Walk, you can often spot different sharks, large sea turtles and Manta Rays from the cliffs. On a calm sunny day, you will easily spot the dark figures swimming freely below you. The best place to look for them is on the tip of the Southern headland. Here you will also get views of Main Beach and Southern Gorge Beach.

Moreton Island Manta Ray Aerial photo

Don’t miss Tangalooma Wrecks on neighbouring Moreton Island: Read more

Go Beach Driving 

If you have a 4X4 or off-road vehicle, one of the best things to do on Stradbroke Island is to take it onto the beach. Although you’ll need a permit as stated above, it is well worth it, especially if you can split the cost within your group.

The largest stretch of sand is on Main Beach, which spans 32 KM from the North to South on the Eastern side of Straddie. With a 4X4, you’ll also be able to reach the most remote parts of this beach.

Spend the Night Camping

If you’re looking to spend more than just a day on the island, the best way to sleep is to camp under the stars. Although freedom camping isn’t allowed anywhere on the island, there are several campgrounds with cheap sites to rent.

One of the best campsites is Cylinder Beach Camp Ground. Here you can find shelter underneath gum trees only 10 M from the beach. There are also powered sites and caravan spots available. You can either book online or pay when you arrive depending on the availability of sites.

Swim in the Brown Lake (Bunmel Lake)

Brown Lake is a swimming area best accessed from the main port town of Dunwich. The lake retains its water due to an ancient build-up of leaves and other organic material that lines the lake bed. The water is also a rich tea colour, stained brown by the tea trees that surround it. Many make the trip for a quick dip and to soak up the clean tea water.

It takes roughly 15 minutes to drive here along sealed and unsealed roads. It is also the only lake for swimming in North Stradbroke Island. The smaller Blue Lake is protected by Ancient Aboriginal laws that prevent swimming.

Stop by the small local towns

North Stradbroke Island is home to only 2026 people. Upon arriving at the main port town of Dunwich, you instantly appreciate the small town vibe. There are a handful of small shops and cafes here, as well as a local rugby field just across from the ferry terminal.

If you have time, Amity Point, on the northwest corner of Straddie is also worth the visit. Similarly, there are only a few small fish and chips shops and a park. You can, however, get nice views of the interior of Moreton Bay from the shoreline. There are also netted swimming areas here, since there are undoubtedly many sharks that patrol this part of the shore.

Spot the Whales Without Leaving the Shore

Every year, there is a huge Humpback Whale Migration on the coast of Australia. One of the best places to spot the whales is on Stradbroke Island due to its relatively long distance from the mainland. The whales head north to the warm coastal waters to mate and give birth from late April to August. You can also spot them returning south from September to November.

The best place to spot whales on North Stradbroke Island is from the Southern Headland near the North Gorge Walk. Another great whale watching spot is from the sand at Frenchman’s Beach. We spotted dozens of whales without even searching for them while chilling at the beach and while walking around the North Gorge.

Stradbroke is one of my favourite destinations in South East Queensland. There’s no shortage of adventure and nature to explore. If you’re looking for other epic islands to check out in South East Queensland, you can find a complete list of guides and blogs here.

kangaroo with joey on stradbroke island
eagle resting over crystal blue waters in stradbroke island

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Best Things to do on Stradbroke Island - North Straddie Guide

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