An updated guide featuring the best things to do on North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) in Moreton Bay, Australia.
As the world’s second-largest sand island, Straddie is one of those places that defines South East Queensland. It has some of the most diverse wildlife in the region, is fairly quiet year-round, and has some amazing Aussie landscapes with pristine natural beauty.
If you’re looking for the best things to do on North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) then I highly recommend checking out the island’s epic surf, nature, and beaches.
While living in South East Queensland, I visited Stradbroke Island several times, by tour and independently by taking the ferry. In this guide, I’ll give you a complete rundown of the fun things to do on North Stradbroke Island based on my experience with a few tips on how to get there to plan your own trip.
By Olly Gaspar, traveler, travel blogger & photographer for 5+ years with 600+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.
Quicklist: Here Are the Top Things to do on Straddie
Want the quick answer? Here's the full list of the top 15 things to do on North Stradbroke Island that I'll cover in this blog post.
- 1. Surfing at Main Beach
- 2. Check Out Frenchman's Beach
- 3. Swim at South Gorge Beach
- 4. Hang out with the Local Kangaroos
- 5. Swim with Giant Manta Rays
- 6. Walk Around the North Gorge
- 7. Spot Rays, Sharks, and Turtles from the Cliffs
- 8. Go Beach Driving
- 9. Spend the Night Camping on Straddie
- 10. Visit Brown Lake (Bunmel Lake, or Bummiera Lake)
- 11. Visit Blue Lake
- 13. Stop by the Smal Local Towns and Amity Point
- 14. Spot the Whales Without Leaving the Shore
- 15. Go Scuba Diving
Read on for a detailed breakdown!
15 Best Things to do on North Stradbroke Island
Having the privilege of living in South East Queensland for a year allowed me to visit Stradbroke Island many times.
Below I've written about some of the absolute best things to do on Stradbroke Island based on my extensive experience exploring the island.
1. Surfing at Main Beach
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
2. Check Out Frenchman's Beach
Wedged between the popular Main Beach and Cylinder Beach, Frenchman's Beach is a great spot to visit if you're seeking relaxing vibes with great swimming conditions.
The beach is also ideal for surfing, with consistent waves that are suitable for surfers of all levels.
Related: Mount Beerwah Climb
3. Swim at 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. Who knows, you might even spot some manta rays cruising by.
4. 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.
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.
5. 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 Northeastern 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've had the best luck on my trips at Frenchman's Beach or from the headland.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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 pristine beaches. Although you'll need a permit as stated below, 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 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.
9. Spend the Night Camping on Straddie
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.
10. Visit Brown Lake (Bunmel Lake, or Bummiera 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
It takes roughly 15 minutes to drive here along sealed and unsealed roads. It is also the only lake for swimming on North Stradbroke Island. The smaller Blue Lake is protected by Ancient Aboriginal laws that prevent swimming.
11. Visit Blue Lake
The Blue Lake, known as "Karboora" is located within the Naree Budjong Djara National Park. It's one of the two large lakes on the island and definitely worth visiting on your trip to Straddie.
This lake is a place of deep cultural value to the Quandamooka people and therefore swimming here is not advised. However, it is worth visiting for a short walk to enjoy the serenity and beautiful view of the eucalyptus trees reflecting on the lake.
12. Stop By Cylinder Beach
Cylinder Beach is another excellent stretch of soft white sand sheltered by Straddie's rocky headlands. This beach usually provides calm, crystal-clear water for swimming, making it a popular place to visit for families with young children.
However, if conditions are right, you can expect some decent waves as well, which is great for beginner surfers.
13. Stop by the Smal Local Towns and Amity Point
North Stradbroke Island is home to only 2191 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.
14. 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 humpback whales is on Stradbroke Island due to its relatively long distance from the mainland. The whales head north to the warm coastal waters
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.
15. Go Scuba Diving
Did you know that North Stradbroke Island is one of the top scuba diving sites in Moreton Bay? There are plenty of great dive spots scattered around the island's coast, offering a unique opportunity to dive with Australian marine life like Grey Nurse Sharks and Manta Rays!
If you're staying on the Gold Coast, the best-bet is to book this scuba diving trip which includes all of your transport and dive equipment for an epic day beneath the surface.
How to Get to North Stradbroke Island
Straddie is located in Moreton Bay, on the South-East Queensland coast, approximately 30 kilometres from the coast of Brisbane.
The island is easily accessible by a short ferry ride from the mainland but there are also many great day trips you can book from Brisbane or the Gold Coast.
Below I will detail the three options that are available to get you to Straddie.
Option 1: Book the Stradbroke Island Day Trip from Brisbane
For travellers staying in Brisbane, explore North Stradbroke Island and discover freshwater lakes, coastal walks, and beautiful beaches on this epic day trip.
This is a great option and very cost-effective, especially if you're travelling solo or in a small group. The trip includes return boat transfers from Brisbane and visits most of the iconic attractions on North Stradbroke such as:
- Gorge Walk
- Cylinder Beach
- Point Lookout
- Amity Point
- Myora Springs
- Koalas and wildlife spotting (with a guide)
Option 2: Book the Easy Day Trip from the Gold Coast
Staying on the Gold Coast? You're in luck, there's also a great adventure day trip you can book to visit North Stradbroke Island for an amazing day out. Similarly, this trip includes all of the attractions and wraps up the day with an epic sunset before heading back to the Goldy.
3. Take the Stradbroke Island Ferry
Getting to North Stradbroke Island means taking a ferry from the mainland. The island is best accessed by the SeaLink ferry from Toondah Harbour in Cleveland. There are large vehicle ferries that run every hour from 4:55 am until 6:25 pm. You can view the timetable here.
The cost is $85.50 for a standard car in off-peak times and $98 during standard times. For passengers, you'll pay $12 for a one-way fare or $21 for a return ticket. There are also concession prices, student prices, and varied pricing for larger vehicles.
If you have the option, I recommend bringing a car with you to Stradbroke. In my experience, this gives you the most flexibility to explore the attractions and fit more into your list of things to do on the island. A good option for those who want to visit Stradbroke on a DIY trip is to rent a car in Brisbane and take it with you.
The total trip from Cleveland to Dunwich takes only 45 minutes but there is also a Fast Passenger Ferry that takes only 25 minutes.
Where to Stay on North Stradbroke Island
1. Whale Watch Ocean Beach Resort Luxury
A relaxing stay close to everything with magnificent views over the ocean. It boasts large rooms with fully equipped kitchens & large outdoor balconies to watch the whales migrating.
2. Samarinda Jewel by the Sea Mid-Range
A great pick for families and large groups wanting to relax in apartment-style accommodation with a pool and views over the ocean.
3. Manta Lodge YHA & Scuba Centre Budget
Dorm accommodation offering the perfect choice for those wanting to explore what the island has to offer underwater with its scuba diving centre located on-site.
How to Get Around on Stradbroke Island
The absolute best way to get around and explore Stradbroke Island is by car. If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you can even buy a beach permit to drive on the long white sand beaches. In my
4x4 Beach Access Permit Price: Off-road 4X4 beach access permits can be purchased online and cost $57.80 per vehicle registration that lasts one month.
The revenue goes towards maintaining the island's 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.
FAQ About Visiting North Stradbroke Island
How do I get to North Stradbroke Island?
Take a ferry from Cleveland near Brisbane. Three options: a vehicle ferry (45 mins) and a fast passenger ferry (25 mins). Buses meet most ferries.
Is a car necessary to explore Straddie?
Not mandatory, but useful. Public transport is limited but covers popular spots. Another option is to book a tour.
When is the best time to visit?
The best time to visit Straddie is between December to April for warm weather or June to November for whale watching.
More Queensland Travel & Adventure Guides
I hope that this updated guide to visiting North Stradbroke Island has been useful for planning your adventures in South East Queensland. Before you head off, don't miss my other useful guides below for more travel and adventure inspiration.
- 60+ Things to do in Cairns - my ultimate Cairns and FNQ travel resource covering the best activities, hidden gems, and unmissable experiences.
- Cairns Hiking Guide - a huge list of epic rainforest, waterfall, and lookout hikes in Cairns.
- Cairns Waterfalls - a huge list of epic waterfalls that I've visited in Cairns and the surrounding tropics.
- Cairns Islands - discover my favorite Great Barrier Reef islands near Cairns and Port Douglas.
- Cairns Tours - my roundup of the best tours you can book in Cairns and FNQ, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Daintree Rainforest.
- Cairns Packing List - tips on what to pack for a trip to Far North Queensland.
- Top Things to Do in Port Douglas - a comprehensive guide to the sleepy Far North Queensland town of Port Douglas.
- Epic 5-Day Cairns Itinerary - my suggested adventure itinerary if you only have 5 days to spend in Cairns.
- Cape Tribulation Travel Guide - discover where the rainforest meets the reef at one of my favourite places in Australia.
- Magnetic Island Travel Guide - your ultimate resource for visiting "Maggie" near Townsville.
- Best Things to do in the Atherton Tablelands - my guide to one of Far North Queensland's most underrated adventure destinations.
- Accommodation Resources: Discover where to stay in Cairns, the best hotels in Port Douglas and my Cape Tribulation accommodation guide.