With over 1,700 beaches in Queensland and 7000 km of coastline, it’s hard to choose which golden shores you should be getting your tan on. From Surfers Paradise to Noosa Heads Main Beach, Four Mile Beach in Cairns to Seventy-Five Mile Beach on Fraser Island, we’ve handpicked some of Queensland’s best beaches and what you can do around them in your Thrifty hire car.
Home to long stretches of sandy beaches, surfing spots, hiking trails and theme parks including Dreamworld, Sea World and Wet ‘n’ Wild, Gold Coast is a destination that has it all. The drive from Gold Coast Airport to the city centre takes less than an hour and there are plenty of spots along the way to hop off and take it all in.
From the airport, pick up your hire car and make your way to Kirra Beach, one of the most iconic beaches on the Gold Coast and often referred to as Australia’s ‘spiritual home of surfing’. Catch some waves here or simply park yourself at one of the many cafes dotted along the beach. From here, it’s only a short drive to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, a heritage-listed zoological garden with plenty to see and do for the whole family. Along the way, you’ll always be driving past Bilinga and Tugun Beach, both worth stopping for a quiet picnic and a swim before hopping back into your car and making your way to Burleigh Heads National Park. One for nature lovers, this 27-hectare national park is lush with rainforest, eucalypt forest, pandanus groves, mangroves and a rocky foreshore. Here you can lace up your hiking boots and enjoy the Oceanview Walk or Rainforest Circuit, both doable in under an hour.
From Burleigh Heads, you can head straight to the iconic Surfers Paradise or enjoy a stop at Broadbeach for a bite or for some retail therapy at Gold Coast’s unmissable shopping and dining destination - Pacific Fair Shopping Centre. If you’ve made your way to Surfers Paradise and Gold Coast CBD, there’s plenty to do all around. Head to The Spit for a lovely stroll or spot of fishing paired with stunning views of the Gold Coast, visit one of the many theme parks or if national parks are more up your alley, enjoy an easy drive to Nerang National Park, just 12 km from Surfers Paradise. For those feeling more adventurous, Brisbane City is only an hour away by car.
Known for its balmy sunshine, slow beach days, untouched national parks and relaxed lifestyle, Noosa is a welcoming retreat for outdoor lovers. Once you’ve arrived at the Sunshine Coast airport, pick up your hire car from Thrifty and make Coolum Beach your first stop. Sink your feet into the soft, golden sand or enjoy a splash and surf in its clear, glassy waters. From here, a must-visit destination is Mount Coolum National Park. Meander your way through its rough, 800-metre track to the 208-metre summit where you can bask in 360-degree views stretching from Point Cartwright and the Glass Mountains in the south to the Blackall Range in the west and Noosa Heads to the North.
If you’d like to go where the locals love, Peregian Beach is a great spot. With a laidback energy and Peregian Village Square nearby, you’ll soon find yourself soaking up the beautiful, beachy lifestyle set amongst trendy cafes, restaurants and boutique stores. Keen to explore more local attractions? Lake Weyba is only a short 20-minute drive away. This well-kept secret of Noosa is a serene spot for birdwatching, fishing or canoeing while being embraced in its calming surroundings.
For more beach adventures, there’s also Marcus Beach, Castaways Beach as well as Sunrise Beach. Only 5 minutes from Hastings Street, Sunrise Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Noosa. Boasting a brilliant bright blue ocean and breathtaking sights, it’s also a quick 13-minute drive to the Noosa National Park where you’ll find plenty of walking tracks, spectacular views as well as Australian plants and wildlife including sleepy koalas snoozing in trees.
Home to the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforest, Cairns also boasts a long list of popular beaches that beckon to be seen so be sure to lather on that SPF and start exploring. A quick 20-minute drive from the airport will take you to Trinity beach where you can find calm and solace in its quiet waters or enjoy some sunbathing. Further up north, you’ll find picturesque Palm Cove lined with palm trees and surrounded by clear waters. Enjoy a dip here or a spot of kayaking while you take in the astounding views. A favourite among the locals is Ellis Beach and it’s easy to see why. Serene and inviting, it’s a great spot for a surf or a day at Ellis Beach Bar and Grill, famous for its beachside barbecues.
If you’re looking to venture out a little further, hop in your hire car and make your way to the iconic Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas, about an hour away. Covered in swaying palms, Four Mile Beach is popular among families and offers plenty of water-based activities including kitesurfing and sailing. While there’s an endless list of beauty and activities that Cairn offers, those looking to go beyond can explore Nudey Beach on Fitzroy Island. Accessible via a 45-minute ferry ride from the mainland, stroll through the rainforest to reach the main beach where you’ll be greeted by warm, white sand. Lay out a towel and soak up some sun or swim and snorkel amongst the colourful marine life before making your way back to the mainland.
Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and a World Heritage-listed site with wide, open beaches, shimmering waters and an abundance of marine life. One of the more popular beaches is Seventy-Five Mile Beach where you can enjoy some beach fishing. While the beach itself is not a safe place to swim due to dangerous currents and a large shark population, you can make your way to Eli Creek where you can take a cooling dip in its waters.
From Eli Creek, drive up to Maheno Beach, best known for its shipwreck of the ocean liner SS Maheno which ran aground in 1935. If you’re after more spots where you can cool off with a swim, try the Champagne Pools where naturally formed rock pools have created swimming holes right on the edge of the ocean. Here, soak in pools of bubbling water fizzing with seafoam thanks to wave after wave of water crashing over the volcanic rocks. Looking to check off more beach spots? Head to Indian Head for excellent swimming spots and its lookout point which offers jaw-dropping views of the surroundings. Not far from here, you’ll also find Orchid Beach, a well-known spot for fishing and boating.
No matter where you find yourself in Queensland, you can be pretty certain there’s a beach nearby. This state truly offers an invitation for beach lovers and all travellers to explore, soak in the sunshine and sink into a coastal holiday that’s filled with sun, sand and fun. To discover all of Queensland's best beaches, hire a car from Thrifty today!