Fraser Island camping

10 of the best beach camping spots in Queensland

Childhood memories spent beach camping in Queensland are etched across the minds of many Australians. Special times where days were measured only by the passage of the sun, not iPhones, emails or work commitments.

Meals were not GF, DF, RSF but quick and easy, so everyone could get back to the sun, surf and sand with minimal fuss. Sound familiar?

What if we told you these memories are still alive and well up and down Queensland’s 6,973 km of coastline?

All you need is this guide to the best beach camping in Queensland to holiday like you used to – delivering holidays that are low in cost, but high in freedom.

Noah Beach, Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation Camping

Quite frankly, camp sites don’t get more iconic than Noah Beach at Cape Tribulation where you’ll be sleeping just 50 metres from where the rainforest meets the reef.

If you’ve read this post about what lies north of Daintree River, you’ll know there’s a ‘world away from everything’ feeling when you point your bonnet two hours north of Cairns.

Even though the road to find Noah Beach is car-commercial worthy it’s that windy and scenic, this is one national park campground that can be accessed by conventional cars and small campervans, so don’t rule it out as inaccessible.

Good, honest fun is on the agenda. Think bushwalking the Daintree Rainforest, snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and eating homemade ice cream made from exotic forest fruits at Daintree Ice Cream Company.

Smalleys Beach, Cape Hillsborough

If you’ve come to the Hibiscus Coast to see the ‘roos and wallabies at sunrise on the beach, it pays to stay close to the Cape Hillsborough National Park action.

Smalleys Beach is well off the usual beaten tourist track, but has access and amenities on its side. Not to mention, it’s only a short five-minute drive to see the Cape Hillsborough sunrise show that featured in a recent Qantas ad.

Swimming togs are a must-pack, along with active wear. There are some great walking tracks throughout the park to tackle when you’re not paddling the Smalleys Beach shallows.

If you need to stock up during your camping break (or just crave a CBD fix), there are just 50 sugar cane-filled kilometres between Mackay and Smalleys Beach for a taste of the city.

For a full guide to Cape Hillsborough’s ancient volcanoes, roos and national parks, here’s something we prepared earlier.

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island

Whitehaven Beach

You didn’t think we’d write a beach camping list and exclude the best beach in Australia, did you?

If you’ve read this post, you’ll know visiting Whitehaven Beach is a bucket list experience. But what if we told you that you could stay the night for a permit fee of just $6.65?

You don’t even need to BYOB (bring your own boat) or charter your own yacht to get there. Scamper Water Taxi can drop off and pick up, and supply you with camping gear for the whole experience.

Numbers are capped at 36, but don’t worry if you’ve missed out. There are five more national park campgrounds on Whitsunday Island (the island that’s home to Whitehaven Beach) to choose from, all with equally postcard-worthy views.

When you’re not relaxing under your annex, fill your days island-hopping the Whitsundays, or ticking off these best things to do in the region.

Swamp Bay, Whitsundays

Swamp Bay, Whitsundays

Photo by @ollyanne

The clue is not in Swamp Bay’s name. This spot is in fact a 10/10 when it comes to secluded beach camping.

You’ll find it on the Whitsundays mainland, just 20 minutes from Airlie Beach in the rainforest-clad Conway National Park.

Accessibility is on its side. In fact, you only need two feet to find it – walking a short 2.1km from the Mount Rooper car park to your camping site beside the beach.

If you’re thinking of staying mainland side, brush up on these posts before you go:

Lady Elliot Island, Bundaberg

Lady Elliot Island glamping

While you can’t pitch your tent on this coral cay, you can sleep under the canvas at one of Lady Elliot Island’s glamping tents.

Two new glamping tents have joined their array of eco accommodation, merging the creature comforts of resort accommodation with what we know you love about camping – fresh air, sounds of the ocean and being at one with nature.

Getting to Lady Elliot Island is easy. With daily flights departing from BundabergHervey BayBrisbane and the Gold Coast and you won’t need excess luggage with everything set up for your arrival.

If you’re thinking of kicking back on this island known for its eco-philosophy, world-class diving and wildlife that piqued even the interest of David Attenborough, we’ve got 8 more reasons to book your ticket today.

Lady Musgrave Island, Bundaberg

If you prefer to share your campgrounds with seabirds rather than neighbours, stake your claim on Lady Musgrave Island.

What the island lacks in visitors, it makes up for with wildlife. There’s over 1500 species of marine life at its doorstep.

You’ll need to do a bit of pre-planning to make the two-hour journey from Bundaberg by boat, but island adventure awaits and will only set you back less than a movie ticket for a National Parks permit.

This is island camping in every sense of the word (there’s quite literally no food, water or shelter). So you’ll need to bring everything in and out with you.

If that’s got you in anxious sweats, let Lady Musgrave Experience take care of the accommodation and catering with their Sleep on the Reef experience, which will have you sleeping aboard their luxury 56 foot custom designed yacht.

Need more convincing? Hop over here.

Fraser Island, Fraser Coast

Fraser Island camping

The name Fraser Island is synonymous with beach camping. In fact, Fraser Island – AKA the largest sand island in the world – is home to a whopping 45 national park camping areas and attracts some 380,000 people to its shores each year – most, with camping equipment in tow.

What’s more, unless you choose to set up inland, you’ll be spoilt for beach-front camping choice.

If you’re camping with little ones, we recommend the Dundubara, Waddy Point and Lake Boonmanjin camping areas with dingo-deterrent fences and amenities.

Adventurers take note: you’ll find the crowds thin out the further north of Indian Head you go, if remote camping is more your cup of billy tea.

However, the trade-off for a more central position is access to the trifecta of Fraser Island attractions. You’re near Lake McKenzie, Eli Creek and the Maheno Wreck along with access to the Eurong Bakery in case you need to top up any bread, milk or bait supplies.

Regardless of where you choose to hammer down your sand pegs, you’ll be happy to know this island is almost entirely phone service free. We can hear your shoulders dropping from here.

We’ve prepared a bit of light reading before you go:

Inskip Peninsula, Rainbow Beach

Rainbow Beach camping

If you’re after the sand-driving, camping experience but none of the pesky boat transfers to get there, drop your pin on Rainbow Beach.

Just 10 minutes north from the main strip you’ll find Inskip Peninsula campgrounds and some of the best 4WDing in south-east Queensland (seriously, just check out their Facebook group for the off-road stories).

Your tent will be shaded by beach she-oaks and cypress pine, and you’ll have the choice of both open beach or estuary views.

New to beach camping? Inskip is the real deal, so you’ll want to check these beach camping tips before you pitch!

Noosa North Shore, Noosa

Noosa North Shore camping

Photo by @visitnoosa

Few get to experience the truly laid-back side of Noosa, but those who book a camp site at Noosa North Shore do.

Noosa North Shore might only be minutes from Hastings Street, but it feels worlds away.

It’s only a short two-minute ferry ride across the river to find the Noosa North Shore Beach Campground and swap the cafes and boutiques for the North Shore’s nature experiences.

Spend your days fishing, surfing, bushwalking, and 4WDing or kicking back at your camp base. Note, this park has limited amenities and basic facilities, so you’ll want to pack the kitchen sink.

Moreton Island, Brisbane

Beach camping essentials: The do’s and don’ts

Moreton Island may as well be called the capital of adventure, with a 4WDing scene that could rival the best of them.

Throw in snorkelling sunken shipwrecks, and sand-tobogganing inland deserts and you can see why this island just 57km offshore of Brisbane attracts 170,000 visitors each year.

The national park campgrounds on Moreton Island cater to both ends of the camping spectrum. There’s established sites with basic amenities through to self-sufficient camping zones, so even camping haters will find something to love about Moreton.

Is your idea of pitch-perfect is having someone set the whole thing up,? Then choose Castaways Moreton Island where you can check into one of 11 glamping tents, a sand’s throw from Bulwer Wrecks.

Need a little help planning your Moreton Island camping trip? Check out this weekend itinerary.

North Stradbroke Island, Brisbane

The second-largest sand island in the world after Fraser needs no introduction for those who love four-wheel driving, camping and fishing.

Pitch your tent on North Stradbroke Island away from the main hot spots of Cylinder Beach and Amity Point, to find a more isolated kind of Straddie experience over checking into Main Beach and Flinders Beach camping areas.

Good news for those who like to camp with their whole family (AKA fur babies and all): these campsites also allow dogs.

Sold? Head on over to Straddie Camping to book your spot.

Please note the temporary closure of all Queensland campgrounds in national parks, state forests and state-managed recreation and protected areas, in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.