Agnes Waters

9 of the best things to do in Agnes Water and 1770

Say hello to the Southern Great Barrier Reef: best known for its reef-fringed tropical islands and award-winning eco resorts (shout out to you Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrave).

But if you’re heading up that way, don’t be in too big a hurry to leave the mainland behind. The laid back coastal hamlets of Agnes Water and the Town of 1770 are equally worth your time – and not just because of their spectacular beaches and picture-perfect scenery (although that definitely helps).

From watersports to wildlife-spotting, get inspired with this list of the best things to do in Agnes Water and 1770.

1. Watch an ocean sunset from a kayak

Although better-known for surfing, Agnes Water and 1770 are also home to calm inlets tailor-made for stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.

BYO paddleboard or explore the coastline and waterways by kayak with 1770 Liquid Adventures. Sign up for their sunset tour and paddle past Captain Cook’s landing point and on towards the headland to watch the sun set over the ocean (a rare sight on Australia’s East coast).

2. Work up a sweat on a scenic coastal hike

Trek or bike your way up steep inclines, along boardwalks and across stepping stones on the 1.5 hr, 3km Red Rock Trail.  Begin your journey at the end of Springs Beach and head south along rocky trails dotted with pandanus palms all the way to the far end of Red Rock Beach.

Pack a backpack with swimmers and a towel as the stretches of beach you’ll encounter are nothing short of irresistible. Once you reach the giant rocky structures the trail is named after, cool down from the walk with a refreshing dip in the nearby rock pools.

Time your visit to coincide with turtle nesting season (November and December) and keep your eye out for green and loggerhead turtles nesting along the beach.

3. Soak up the serenity on secluded Chinaman’s Beach

Get off the beaten track and spend a day exploring the dramatic scenery and quiet solitude of Chinaman’s Beach. Beloved by locals for its distinct lack of crowds even during the busy season, you’ll find this hidden gem just south of Agnes Water at the end of a winding road, between Workmans Beach and Springs Beach.

Bring your fishing rod and drop a line in, or find a shady spot between the rocky escarpments that frame the beach and the foliage-filled hill that shields it from the road. Be cautious if swimming, as it’s not a patrolled beach.

For a more family-friendly beach experience, head further north to lifesaver-patrolled Agnes Beach: 5km of golden sand filled with families, surfers and bodyboarders. (Fact: it’s also the most northern surf break in Queensland).

4. Glamp beachside under the stars

If you’re a fan of glamping, Agnes Water Beach Holidays, just steps from Agnes Beach itself, has got you covered. Fall asleep under canvas listening to the sound of gently crashing waves from the comfort of your beachside safari tent. It comes complete with double bed, fridge/freezer and private deck with jaw-dropping ocean views.

Camping not your style? Agnes Water Beach Holidays also has apartments and powered caravan sites.

5. Get a local history lesson on board the LARC

LARC | things to do in Agnes Waters and 1770

Photo by @1770larc

Brush up on 1770’s colourful history aboard the equally colourful LARC, a bright pink amphibious tour bus.

Cruise along deserted sandy beaches and through pristine estuaries as you hear stories of the town’s early settlers and take in all the sights that made Captain Cook drop anchor all those years ago.  Spot seabirds, turtles, dolphins, mantas and more as you navigate the waterways in the hands of your expert guide.

6. Sample local flavours and home-cooked goodness

Recharge your batteries with sweet locally-made treats and Campos Coffee at local favourite the Getaway Garden Café.  Leave the beach behind you and enter the giant, handcrafted teak doors to a Balinese-style tropical escape.

Don’t miss the chance to sample their famous vanilla slice – said to be the best on the Discovery Coast – washed down with a freshly squeezed juice. The best spot to savour them is on the outdoor deck overlooking a tranquil lily pond.

7. Get lost in a sun-dappled paperbark forest.

Whether you’re young in years or just young at heart, you’ll love the enchanting journey through the Paperbark Forest Boardwalk.  Head south to the Reedy Creek Reserve on the outskirts of Agnes Water (off Springs Road) to tiptoe along 400 metre long path of wooden stepping stones.

Immerse yourself in lush undergrowth as you weave your way along narrow boardwalks and water crossings through a light-filled forest of towering paperbark tea trees.

8. Watch whales breach and blow from the 1770 Headland

whale watching | things to do in Agnes Waters and 1770

Take the easy 15-minute walking trail from Sir Raphael Cilento Drive up to 1770 Headland for unforgettable views over Bustard Bay and the ocean. Set your alarm clock and do the walk early: you’ll be rewarded by a glorious sunrise set to the soundtrack of the local kookaburras’ morning chorus. For a more romantic experience, head down at dusk to watch the sun set over the ocean (picnic blanket and bottle of wine optional).

If you’re visiting during whale-watching season (July to October) don’t forget your binoculars: you’re more than likely to see migrating humpback whales teaching their calves how to blow, breach and tail-slap.

9. Get your live music fix

If you’re a fan of live music you won’t want to miss the Agnes Blues Roots and Rocks Festival. Every February Agnes Water and 1770 are transformed into a muso’s haven for this eclectic three-day celebration held at the local SES Grounds.

By day, learn a new skill at one of the festival’s music workshops and explore markets and food stalls. By night, tap your toes to everything from gypsy and celtic bands all the way through to reggae, soul and funk.

Feeling inspired to visit the Southern Great Barrier Reef? Here are 30 more things to do while you’re in the vicinity.