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.

View at Point Lookout overlooking the beach at North Stradbroke Island (Photo)
View at Point Lookout overlooking the beach at North Stradbroke Island (Photo)
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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.

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.

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. 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. Photo © David Coleman /
Moreton Bay Cruiser Moored off North Stadbroke Island, Queensland (Photo)
A Moreton Bay Cruiser anchored on the protected Moreton Bay side. Photo © David Coleman /
Photo of Ocean Swimmers
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. Photo © David Coleman /
North Stradbroke Island View at Point Lookout overlooking the beach (Photo)
Photo © David Coleman /

What to Know Before You Go

Stradbroke is an easy day trip from Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane.

Your best option is to take a car across on the car ferry from Cleveland. 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?

Travel Advice for Australia

You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Australia (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.

The British Government offers its own country-specific travel advice for Australia here.

Health & Vaccinations

The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Australia here.

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 »