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 © David Coleman /
Kangaroo crossing sign on North Stradbroke Island, Australia, with Car on Road (Photo)
Photo © David Coleman /
North Stradbroke Island Point Lookout Headland Panorama Australia
Photo © David Coleman /
North Stradbroke Island Surfers waiting for waves (Photo)
Photo © David Coleman /
North Stradbroke Island Cylinder Beach view (Photo)
Photo © David Coleman /
Amity Point on North Stradbroke Island (Photo)
Amity Point on the northern tip of the island. Photo © David Coleman /
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 © David Coleman /
Photo of Ocean Swimmers
Point Lookout on the northeast corner. Photo © David Coleman /
North Stradbroke Views (Photo)
Cylinder Beach. Photo © David Coleman /
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 © David Coleman /
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 © David Coleman /

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.

Where to Next?

David Coleman / Photographer
by 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 »