Home to the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest and endless white-sand beaches, coastal Queensland, Australia, will impress even the most seasoned travellers. To help plan your trip, here’s our pick of the best hostels in the region – bookable with Culture Trip.
There’s a reason why people who live in the towns dotting Queensland’s coastline – including Brisbane, Townsville, Noosa and Cairns – are so laid-back. The perennially warm weather and impressive natural diversity make it a beautiful place to live and enjoy as a tourist. And with a spread of friendly hostels offering purse-friendly stays, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to experience Queensland’s riches.
Directly opposite the teal-hued Esplanade Lagoon – a year-round safe saltwater swimming spot with no stingrays, jellyfish or crocodiles – Global Backpackers Cairns is the perfect budget stay in the middle of this Far North Queensland city. Here, choose between one of the four-, six-, eight- and 10-bed dorm rooms – both mixed and female-only – or one of the private rooms with ensuites. When you want to relax, there’s a sun-soaked rooftop kitchen and lounge space with glorious sea views.
Voted as the most popular hostel in Cairns, Travellers Oasis Backpackers is a chilled-out haven fringed by palm trees. The mixed dorm rooms have coin-operated air conditioning. It also has private rooms with shared bathrooms, and the deluxe double rooms have private balconies and hammocks. When you’re not sunning by the pool, Cairns’s esplanade and night markets are a short walk away.
Set between two restored abodes, Tropic Days Backpackers is an ideal home from home. It has an impressive spread of facilities, including an outdoor swimming pool, garden hammocks, a yoga and meditation lawn, a vegetable garden, an outdoor Balinese hut and bike rentals. Priding itself on being a social hostel, it hosts communal dinners on Mondays and a pizza and movie night at its outdoor cinema each Friday.
As its name suggests, Base Backpackers Magnetic Island boasts a prime position on Magnetic Island – just off the coast of pretty Townsville. As it sits directly on a golden beach, you can fall asleep to the sounds of gently lapping waves – either from your private ensuite room or one of the mixed or female-only dorm rooms. Come nightfall, there are bar games and music to enjoy, and the on-site cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Built among 6ha (15 acres) of lush, tropical gardens, 1770 Southern Cross Travellers Retreat is just a few minutes from the golden sand of Agnes Water. Rooms come in the form of rustic cabins, with dorm-style and private options available. It also has a communal area with hammocks, a wood-fired pizza oven, a cosy beer garden and a resort-style swimming pool.
With three bars, a nightclub, a gaming room and an in-house restaurant, Gilligan’s Hotel and Resort is a one-stop stay in central Cairns. With four floors of accommodation, there are dorm and hotel-style rooms available. However, you’ll likely spend most of your time at the open-air bar or in the lagoon-style swimming pool. When you’re keen for a night out, there’s also a powder room with hairdryers and straighteners – ideal for those travelling light.
Set in the heart of Magnetic Island National Park, the aptly named Bungalow Bay Koala Village has an on-site koala sanctuary. Book into the hotel on a Wednesday or Saturday, as this is when the hostel runs its breakfast buffet with the koalas. Otherwise, there are two daily tours of the sanctuary. Accommodation here includes camping, dorms, ensuite rooms and bungalows – so simply take your pick.
If you’re after an upmarket spot with brilliant beaches, rainforests and volcanic mountains on the doorstep, it has to be Noosa. Nomads Noosa Youth Resort is the best option for a budget stay in this area, and all rooms have seasonally timed air conditioning to help escape that humid Queensland heat. The hostel hosts various events throughout the week, including a laid-back barbecue on Sunday nights.
Bunk Surfers Paradise is just a 10-minute stroll from Surfers Paradise’s famous sandy beaches; if you stay on a higher floor, you might be able to spot the sea from your window. When you’re not at the beach, you can take advantage of the hostel’s hot tub, plunge pool and sundeck. It offers a complimentary breakfast each morning too. Nights here are filled with pub crawls and beach parties, so meeting other travellers is easy.
Minutes from the beach, Surf Inn Hostel is ideal for the laid-back traveller. Rooms are dorm-style, with mixed and female-only available. There’s a lovely large pool, and the TV in the communal area has Netflix. When peckish, the Surf Inn Restaurant offers relaxed dining with an all-day Asian-inspired menu – there are also theme nights, such as Italian Night and Poolside Barbecue Night.
Sitting on Brisbane’s popular Kangaroo Point, with the free ferry to the city centre a 10-minute walk away, Breeze Lodge is a luxe option for those on a budget. Rooms are private or dorm-style, but you’ll likely spend more time sunbathing on the rooftop or cosying up with a Netflix show in the spacious lounge area. There’s also a fully equipped kitchen, so cook yourself something nice and head to the rooftop at sunset.
The charming seaside village of Agnes Water has plenty to explore, from swimming in the pristine waters near the Great Barrier Reef to hiking through the surrounding national parks and rainforests. Cool Bananas Backpackers Hostel is a great place to relax after an active day; it offers mixed, female and private dorms. Boasting 24-hour unlimited wifi, tropical gardens and complimentary tea and coffee for those in need of that morning boost, it’s only a short stroll from the beach and nearby shops.
Close to Sunshine Beach and Noosa National Park, Flashpackers Noosa offers simple yet colourful dorms featuring comfy bunk beds and shared bathrooms. However, if you’d rather have some privacy, single rooms are also on offer, some of which feature ensuites and flat-screen TVs. The best part about Flashpackers is its freebies, including continental breakfast, use of surfboards, shuttles to and from the station, an outdoor pool with a sun deck and the occasional evening events for all those social butterflies.