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It's official—Queensland National Parks have the best beaches!

Is this on your 2021 bucket list? Enter the Queensland National Parks camping giveaway for your chance to win a $100 camping voucher.

How do we know? There's a list going around of Australia’s Top 101 beaches to visit. It’s ‘scientifically’ compiled each year by Tourism Australia’s Beach Ambassador (how do you get a job like that?) so we know it’s ridgey-didge.

A quick scan of Australia’s Top 20 from recent years reveals that, unsurprisingly, many of Queensland’s best beaches are in Queensland National Parks! But of course, we Queenslanders already knew that …

So here’s a peek at 5 of the (recent) best, as judged by the experts.

Cape Tribulation—Australia’s #5 in 2019

A white sandy beach sweeps towards a rocky headland clad in dense rainforest, lapped by clear blue waters.
Cape Tribulation | © Queensland Government

Daintree National Park, an hour or so north of Cairns, is renowned as the only place on earth where two World Heritage areas connect at the rainforest and the reef. The beach at Cape Tribulation, known as Kulki, has the best of both these worlds, with white sand and blue sea from the Great Barrier Reef fringed with ancient green rainforest from the Wet Tropics.

Walk out to the lookout at Kulki to gaze at the ocean and imagine the maze of reefs out there that caused trials and tribulations for explorer Lt James Cook, who named this headland in respect of his troubles.

Then wander onto the sand, and just walk … admiring the rainforest clad mountain slopes that rush down to meet the shore. Remember, this is not a place for taking a dip, or walking along the water’s edge, as crocodiles call this area home!

Lake McKenzie, K’gari (Fraser Island)—Australia’s #10 in 2019

White sands and shallow turquoise waters have a backdrop of deep blue lake and distant forested dunes.
Lake McKenzie, K’gari | Adam Creed © Queensland Government

A beach doesn’t have to be near the coast to be one of the best! The shores of Lake McKenzie (Boorangoora) on K’gari (Fraser Island), Great Sandy National Park, are surely one of the best beaches going!

With white sands and sparkling blue waters this popular lake attracts many admirers. Known as a perched lake, it sits in a ‘dip’ between sand dunes, and boasts the most incredibly clear sand-filtered waters.

Short walks from the picnic areas will bring you to the lake’s shore for a welcome cooling dip. Remember to leave food and drinks (except water) behind to avoid encouraging dingoes at the lake.

Nudey Beach, Fitzroy Island—Australia’s #1 in 2018

Clear blue waters lap smooth granite boulders with two snorkelers exploring shallows.
Nudey Beach, Fitzroy Island | Matt Harvey © Tourism and Events Queensland

Think serene island seclusion surrounded by nothing but nature and ocean at Fitzroy Island National Park. A ferry ride from Cairns will have you on this attractive ‘high’ island clad in rainforest in next to no time.

Sheltered Nudey Beach, framed by large water-worn granite boulders and shaded by overhanging trees, is a short walk through rainforest and coastal woodlands from the jetty.

Impossibly blue waters beckon—will it be a cooling dip, a snorkel over fringing coral or simply long hours relaxing in the tropical ambience? The choice is all yours! But keep your gear on—its nudey by name but not by nature!

Burleigh Head—Australia’s #5 in 2018

The sun is rising over a beach, dousing the water, sand and beach-side suburb in brilliant orange morning light.
Burleigh Head National Park | © Ben Edmonds Photography

Near the heart of the glitzy Gold Coast is a wild and natural headland, where the famously-picturesque beach meets the Tallebudgera Creek inlet. Pull off the busy highway and enter the haven of Burleigh Head National Park’s rainforest, eucalypt woodland, pandanus groves and tussock grassland.

A short stroll along the Oceanview track skirting the rocky headland will have you ‘oohing and aahing’ over amazing coastal views. Watch for whales in winter, Richmond birdwing butterflies in summer and white-bellied sea-eagles anytime.

Enjoy a picnic with a view and then hit the fabulous beach for your dose of salt, sand and sun fun!

Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island—Australia’s #17 in 2018

Footprinted sand and large boulders in the beach shallows are bathed in soft light at sunset.
Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island National Park | © Tourism and Events Queensland

A short ferry ride from Townsville will bring you Magnetic Island National Park, where the golden sands of Horseshoe Bay sweep in an arc between rocky granite headlands studded with majestic hoop pines, and blue ocean waters lap against the shore.

To experience the true ‘essence’ of Horseshoe Bay, arrive on foot. Follow the 7.5km one-way track from The Forts car park. Wind your way around scenic coastal headlands, overlooking secluded Arthur, Florence and Radical bays. Detour into Radical Bay for a refreshing snorkel and swim before enjoying the delights of Horseshoe Bay. Remember to carry water!

Give ‘em a go

With the ocean lapping at your feet, the sun warming your shoulders and the sea breeze clearing out the cobwebs, it’s little wonder Queensland beaches are undoubtedly, unequivocally and unmistakably some of the best in the country, if not the world.

As you visit some of these amazing places, take a moment to reflect on the incredible natural beauty that is before you, and remember that any time spent in nature, and especially near the ocean, will refresh both your body and your mind!

It’s time to find your best beach experience!

Find your own special 'beachy paradise' with a search of parks near you, or learn more about these 'winning' parks:

Last updated: 25 August 2020

Acknowledgement of Country

The Department of Environment and Science acknowledges Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and custodians of the land. We recognise their connection to land, sea and community, and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

Design developed by Boyd Blackman, a Butchulla and Birri Birri man, featuring the artwork of Elaine Chambers, a Koa (Guwa) and Kuku Yalanji woman.