The best kid-friendly beaches in Queensland
Salty skin, sandy bums, and learning to swim and surf are all part of our Queensland DNA. But when it comes to the best kid-friendly beaches in Queensland for your next family holiday, we’ve scoured over 13,000 kilometres of beach-dotted coastline to come up with your ultimate family-friendly beach bucket list.
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The Gold Coast headlines the list when it comes to the best kid-friendly beaches in Queensland. After all, it’s home to Wotif’s number one choice for Best Australian Beach for 2019 – the ombre turquoise waters of Tallebudgera Creek.
With plenty of shallow banks for little ones to wade, families can literally soak up Tallebudgera’s charms. Think calm water, picturesque coves, and a chance to SUP, kayak or throw in a line. On the southern side of the creek, there’s a patrolled beach, playground, cafe, toilets and showers. But, local families often like to hang on the northern side too, with its ample dappled shade and less crowded shoreline.
Staying nearby at Tallebudgera Tourist Park (a short walk) or Burleigh Beach Tourist Park (a 30 minute walk) is the best way to avoid the summer crush in the carpark. If you’re driving, arrive early or consider visiting later in the afternoon when the sun dips into sunset and turns the creek a shimmering shade of pink.
Close by, Burleigh Heads Beach does have bigger waves, so be mindful to swim between the red and yellow flags. Pack a picnic, let the kids loose on the playground, or wind your way around the scenic oceanside walking track to catch the best views of the Surfers Paradise skyline or, on the southern side, those baby blue waters of Tallebudgera Creek.
Burleigh holds a special place in the heart of locals and tourists alike, due to its relaxed vibe and sparkling beach.
If your kids aspire to be the next Mick Fanning or Stephanie Gilmore, Burleigh is the perfect place to learn to surf and there are a couple of surf schools located on the beach.
Sure, big swells can roll through the headland but closer to shore it’s normally nice and protected.
Away from the sand, there’s a prime strip of parkland ready for picnics and BBQs, or treat the family to a holiday feed at the brand spanking new Burleigh Pavilion which occupies a dream spot on the beach.
Get the most out of your trip to Burleigh with our 48-hour guide.
Southern Gold Coast Charms
A little further south, families will discover Currumbin Creek. This tidal sanctuary has giant sandy banks, seagulls to chase and baby waves that wash gently ashore. For older kids eager to have a surf, Currumbin Alley is the place to ride with a number of learn-to-surf schools operating in the area.
Coolangatta is popular with locals too. Both Greenmount and Rainbow Bay offer sheltered bays, crystalline waters and the option to boogie board or take on the smaller surf that is best suited to beginners.
Beachfront surf clubs, cafes, ice-creameries and surf shops are sprinkled close by, so make a day of it. You may even bump into a world surfing champ in these parts with Parko, Fanning and Gilmore just a few of the salt-loving locals.
Islands of Sand
Three of the largest sand islands in the world hover just off the Queensland coast. Combine a short stay holiday to visit Fraser Island, North Stradbroke Island or Moreton Island, and dial up the family fun stakes by riding some pretty epic sand dunes too.
Fraser Island is home to Eli Creek. While technically not a beach, the end of the Creek is where its lazy river ride ends on 75 Mile Beach, so we’re bending the rules and counting it.
Kids will love heading up the boardwalk to join Eli Creek’s gentle flow for a float (pack the inflatables). And while on Fraser Island, check out Lake McKenzie too. Its shoreline is white silica sand spilling into some of the bluest waters you’re likely to find anywhere. Trek in yourself via 4WD, or join one of the local family-friendly tours operating on Fraser Island.
On North Stradbroke Island, Cylinder Beach is one of the more sheltered beaches patrolled by lifesavers. After a swim, take the North Gorge Walk so the kids can spot turtles, dolphins and manta rays from the headland. From July to November, you may also catch a glimpse of the Humpback Whales travelling past on Queensland’s whale highway.
Rounding out Queensland’s sandiest spots is Moreton Island – a 75-minute ferry ride from Brisbane. This place is perfect to consider for a day trip or a longer stay. Indulge in family-friendly beach time alongside the chance to feed wild dolphins at Tangalooma Island Resort, snorkel the Tangalooma Wrecks or join a glass bottom kayak tour (ages eight and over). Sand tobogganing is worth trying here too.
One of Queensland’s most surprising beaches is Streets Beach. An inner city, man-made lagoon in Brisbane flanked by sandy shores and shaded with tropical gardens, it fronts the Brisbane River at South Bank.
Families can enjoy the South Bank Parklands free of charge, which includes swimming in the patrolled lagoon and playing on giant playgrounds. When it’s time for a bite to eat, there are plenty of family-friendly options nearby. Or bring your own picnic rug and find yourself a shady spot amidst 17 landscaped hectares.
To add even more excitement to your fun family day out, add a visit to Queensland Museum or the Gallery of Modern Art. Or, take a spin on the Channel Seven Wheel of Brisbane for spectacular views over the South Bank Parklands, the Brisbane River and city skyline.
Sunshine State of Mind
The Sunshine Coast may be a little quieter than its southern cousin the Gold Coast. But it delivers just as many of Queensland’s best kid-friendly beaches.
Kick things off at Kings Beach at Caloundra on the southern Sunshine Coast. The kids can take turns swimming in the sea, the free 25-metre public ocean swimming pool, or splashing about in the water fountain that delivers cheeky spurts when least expected.
For little waders, toddler-friendly Bulcock Beach is close by, with sand banks that create pools of warm, shallow waters. Or for those a little more able and adventurous, the tidal rock pools on the headland are the perfect spot to beachcomb on low tide.
Mooloolaba Beach offers a soft spot on the sand along with a patrolled beach for safe swimming just a short walk from one of the Sunshine Coast’s favourite family holiday hubs. With a great range of family-friendly accommodation and eateries dotted along the Mooloolaba Esplanade, easily walk to the beach or out to eat without having to get in the car.
Coolum Beach is favoured by locals who prefer fewer crowds. If you have any budding pro surfers in tow, this is the home break to surfing champion Julian Wilson, who can often be spotted carving up the waves when home – or popping into a local café for a coffee.
Noosa completes the Sunshine Coast’s line up of best kid-friendly beaches in Queensland. Noosa Main Beach is a crowd-pleaser for little beach bums who enjoy swimming, boogie boarding, surfing or SUPing. As one of Australia’s few true north-facing beaches, conditions here are usually pretty perfect. If you want to change it up, take a walk into Australia’s most visited National Park, Noosa National Park for a swim at Little Cove. Or, venture that little bit further to find Instagram favourite Fairy Pools, which is always worth adding to the family photo brag book.
For the best kid-friendly beach though, head to Agnes Water Beach from Jeffrey Court. You’ll find a patrolled beach with warm golden sands and Queensland’s last bit of surf before the Southern Great Barrier Reef kicks in and buffers the coast from larger waves.
Reef and Beach
There are more islands off the coast of Queensland than days in a year, and plenty with ridiculously good-looking beaches. But we’ve narrowed it down to those most child-friendly, and Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays tops the list.
Located on Whitsunday Island (just over an hour by boat from Airlie Beach) and stretching for seven glorious kilometres, Whitehaven Beach has won so many awards that even we’ve lost count. Expect powder-like sand, waters shimmering in 50 shades of blue, and warm shallows perfectly suited for little swimmers and their parents.
Heron Island is 72 kilometres off the coast of Gladstone, just over two hours by boat or 30 minutes by helicopter away. If the kids like their beach with a side of nature, they’ll adore the chance to spot and even swim with turtles, see the resident rays, fish and sharks sweeping past and listen to the chatter of thousands of birds that call Heron Island home.
Lady Elliot Island is a little further south, but equally impressive for families who love nature. Find sheltered lagoons that turtles often visit, a resident marine biologist to answer all the kids’ questions and long stretches of coral-fringed beaches with tidal pools to explore.
Lagoons for year-round swimming in Queensland
Queensland is a year-round swimming hotspot. If your kids aren’t keen to swim in the sea, or you’re travelling during stinger season, Queensland is also home to some of Australia’s best free kid-friendly beachside lagoons and water play parks.
Hervey Bay’s Wetside Water Park will keep the kids cool and the entertainment in overdrive with waterslides, free water play areas and a special tot-friendly play area for the under fives.
Bluewater Lagoon overlooking the Pioneer River in Mackay spans 150 metres and sparkles with a host of free water-inspired activities. Think multiple lagoons for swimming, a water slide, giant drop bucket and waterfall.
Airlie Beach Lagoon is a shallow, sandy-bottomed swimming lagoon-style pool. It offers families a free sunny place to swim, sun and play with plenty of shady spots to enjoy the views over the Coral Sea and Whitsunday Islands.
Townsville’s Strand Water Park includes a free water play park with interactive play spaces, giant tipping bucket and playground. New picnic areas underneath shady trees make this a great spot to unpack the basket and enjoy sea breezes and Coral Sea views overlooking Magnetic Island.
Cairns Lagoon is a 4800 metre patrolled sandy-shored saltwater swimming pool suitable for all ages. It can get busy, with over 1000 swimmers at capacity. For families with kids under 10, Muddies Lagoon close by will keep them entertained for hours with multiple shallow water play zones, flying foxes, rope swings and climbing frames under the shade overlooking Trinity Harbour.