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It’s worth planning an itinerary for this state alone, starting in south-east in the laid-back Gold Coast, up for a few hikes on the Sunshine Coast, maybe a trip inland for some classic Australian outback, and then back into the tropical paradise that is far north Queensland. Whatever your itinerary, this state has some of the best beaches Australia has to offer, and here are five not to miss.
Yes, this list would not be a list without this beach as the headliner. Famed globally for its secluded white sand beach and clear water, Whitehaven Beach is just that – a white haven. It’s the true pageant contender for aesthetics, and the only way to get there is via boat. The moment you step off the gangplank and into the crystal turquoise water, the reality really hits you – this is heaven, and this is why you came to Australia. With one breath, you’ll be surrounded by gardens or coral and schools of tropical fish in the natural aquarium that is the Great Barrier Reef.
Despite its misleading name, this beach is not actually a nudist commune. Clothes are compulsory (fact: Queensland has no legal nudist beaches). It’s a beautiful (and short, don’t worry) trek through a rainforest of canopying trees, granite rock formations and coastal woodlands to reach the island beach – so don’t forget your snorkel. The beach is fringed by reefs with marine life darting in and out of the multicoloured coral. It was once a quarantine station for Chinese gold prospectors and later, a haven for adventure travellers and boating enthusiasts. Whatever your desire, Nudey Beach won’t disappoint if you’re looking for a taste of the beauty tropical Queensland has to offer.
This is the secluded paradise of your Castaway dreams – no big hotel chains, five-star resorts or boutique storefronts (sadly, no Tom Hanks either), but do not underestimate this pearl. It’s a place where reality surpasses expectations, and the beach is a two-way mirror into the marine park beneath the surface. If you’re wondering why it hasn’t cropped up on the ‘add this to your bucket list!’ promo vids on your Facebook feed, it’s because the protected waters of Basil Bay are relatively unknown to tourists, even though it’s a frequented swimming spot for locals. Go photo-crazy here; it’s certain to make you the envy of every desk-dweller on social media.
If you walk up the giant sand dune at the southern end of Rainbow Beach, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the entire beach and more significantly, the Coloured Sands – 200 meters of multicoloured cliffs with over 72 different colours of sand. Aboriginal Dreamtime tells the legend of the Spirit of the Gods, Yiningie, who took the form of a rainbow. When he was killed in a fight over a woman, he crashed into the cliffs and his spirit coloured the sands. If you head a bit further you’ll be treated to a spectacular sunset at Carlo Sandblow, one of Queensland’s most stunning natural attractions. The unique sand mass covers over 15 hectares overlooking the Coloured Sands, with amazing views of Tin Can Bay and Double Island Point.
Port Douglas is the luxurious gem of tropical North Queensland, and Four Mile Beach is the sparkling point. Not actually four miles long (it was named after a local family with the surname Fourmile), the beach has plenty of space to feel like you’re on your own secluded paradise. There’s minimal development in the area, but the beach is patrolled by lifeguards and decked out with stinger nets, making it super safe for all swimmers. This is the best beach for long romantic walks, with the glistening shoreline leading to the reefs of Island Point and the mouth of Mowbray River.