You wouldn’t expect to find a tropical island with dramatic, straight-from-a-screensaver scenery and heart-stopping adventure just off the coast of a capital city. But at Queensland’s Stradbroke Island (or ‘Straddie’, as the locals call it), that’s exactly what you’ll find. A natural wonderland for romantic and action-packed experiences (even the ferry ride over is sure to get the holiday vibes happening), the island makes for an unforgettable escape. Dreaming of getting away? We know just how to spend a weekend or short break in this paradise…
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Hit the beaches, obviously
It’s a bit of an obvious go-to, but visiting Stradbroke’s beaches is exactly what you’ll want to do when on the island. Luckily, you’re blessed with a wide array of incredible options. A beloved spot for generations of locals, Cylinder Beach in the north is every bit the surf-and-sand idyll. Known for its fabulous surf, sparkling waters and picturesque tropical surrounds, it’s perfect for doing as much or as little as you like (check out the surf schools and watersport equipment hire groups nearby if you’d prefer to do the former). Another brilliant option, Frenchman’s Beach in the northeast seems made for sunset walks. Getting here is a bit of a challenge, with a steep, winding walkway leading down tree-topped cliffs to golden sands below. Trust us, you’ll be well rewarded with remarkable beach once you finish your descent. And the walk back up is truly breathtaking (in more ways than one), offering couples some of Stradbroke’s most sensational outlooks.
If you check out one spot, though, make your way just past Point Lookout’s shopping strip. On the island’s east, you’ll find two postcard-perfect beaches that are vastly different, offering something for pretty much everyone. To the left of a grassy hill (home of the local SLSC), South Gorge (feature image) is a tiny pocket of sand that’s utterly enchanting. Shaded by towering rocky cliffs, this beautiful spot is a winner for crystal-clear waters and summery vibes. Alternatively, Main Beach on the right of the hill seems to stretch on forever (38 kilometres and the island’s entire east coast to be exact) and is great for 4WD-ing, swimming, surfing and fishing – you can even bring your fur-baby here for a walk!
Discover Straddie’s romantic dining scene
It’s not all fish and chips on Stradbroke (though you can get some seriously delicious fried morsels here, too). From summery classics to exceptional international cuisine and health-focused fare, you’ll stumble across an array of fantastic foodie havens. A real stand-out, French Ease at Point Lookout is a definite must-visit. A laid-back joint adorned with eclectic treasures, the restaurant serves up delectable French dishes (yes, on Stradbroke) with a serve of sigh-inducing water views. Pull up a chair on its deck for a generous breakfast and spot whales in the distance, or treat yourselves to a romantic candlelit dinner with the sound of crashing waves in the background. Visiting after midday? Don’t leave without ordering at least one cocktail – we can personally recommend their Zombies and Espresso Martinis. Expertly made with quality ingredients, the drinks here are the best you’ll find on the island.
Looking for something a little more casual? The bistro and beer-garden at Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel is the place to go for more spectacular water views, a chilled atmosphere and no-fuss pub fare. Our tip? Make it a leisurely lunch-turned-dinner and toast a spellbinding sunset with an ice-cold Corona or three. Or, for a romantic dining experience of another kind, pick up some fresh seafood from Point Lookout’s The Prawn Shack and find yourselves a picnic table at the parklands, overlooking the coastline. Oysters, prawns, relaxing breezes and panoramic water views – it’s a combination that’s hard to beat.
Seek out the island’s most breathtaking views
There’s no shortage of gorgeous outlooks in Stradbroke, with the island boasting some of Australia’s most amazing landscapes. If you’ve already ticked off the beaches, don some walking shoes and check out the North Gorge Walk at Point Lookout for more heavenly scenery. A real Stradbroke landmark, the walk clings to the side of a rocky outcrop and takes in everything from dazzling blue ocean to dense bushland (look out for kangaroos) and pristine beach. The main attraction, though, is the gorge itself. Here, giant waves crash against the craggy cliffs before settling on deserted sands and forming tranquil pools for creatures like giant sea turtles. Needless to say, watching the spectacle is like something out of a nature documentary.
Amity Point in the islands’ northwest is also cherished for its Insta-ready views, especially at sunset. Walk along its jetty at twilight and you’ll be treated to a pastel sky that fades from orange to deep lilac. Avid fishers, you can also drop a line over the side and catch yourself something for dinner – there are also barbecue facilities in the nearby parklands that make seafood barbecues an enticing dinner option.
Get your fill of adventure
Besides its beaches, Stradbroke is famed for its action-packed adventures. Catching some choice waves is an exhilarating pastime here that visitors and locals alike never seem to tire of. But there’s also excitement to be found under the water’s surface. Manta Lodge & Scuba Centre at Point Lookout takes couples to the island’s top diving spots daily, including Manta Bommie (in the summer) where giant manta, eagle and bull rays live alongside leopard sharks and giant loggerhead turtles. An open water certificate is required to join one of the group’s tours, with beginner, advanced and specialty diving courses available.
Looking for adventure in-land? Enjoy surfing of another kind when you head to Stradbroke’s giant sand dunes. You’ll feel like little kids again when you join one of the local tour groups for a white-knuckle sand-boarding experience and glide head-first down giant, powder-soft mountains. Or, get revved up and explore the island’s challenging 4WD tracks (if bringing your own vehicle, a permit is permitted). There are a range of tracks scattered across the island, weaving their way through eucalyptus-filled bush, past lakes and over mountains. It’s on the sand, though, that keen adventure-seekers opt for, with the Flinders and Main Beaches offering 4WD access – perfect for channelling your inner Russell Coight.
Stay somewhere beautiful
Complementing the romantic scenery, there are plenty of excellent accommodation options on the island that couples will love. A bit of a Straddie favourite, the Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel & Spa makes planning a loved-up getaway wonderfully easy. With stylish accommodation that overlooks the azure coastline, the hotel has everything from direct beach access to terrific dining spots and an indulgent day spa.
If you envision escaping to a charming beach shack, base yourselves at Allure Stradbroke Resort. Just a short walk from Home Beach, this tranquil hideaway boasts a range of comfortable bungalows and villas, all tucked away in secluded bushland surrounds. Stradbroke is also home to a collection of marvellous holiday homes that range from old-school fibro shacks to super-luxe resort-style abodes. Whatever you’re after, you’re sure to find a room-with-a-view on the island that’s seriously lovely.
For something a little bit different
Prefer to get back to nature? Beach camping is big on Stradbroke, with local group Minjerribah Camping offering couples their choice of scenic spots. Luxury-lovers won’t be disappointed, though – at the Adder Rock Camping Ground you can book yourselves a ruggedly romantic glamping escape. Hidden amongst native tea trees, a collection of cosy bell-shaped glamping tents feature all the mod-cons – think quality bedding with deluxe pillows and cotton sheets, bamboo deck chairs, and sumptuous styling. There are also decked-out eco tents that are equally lavish – who says camping means roughing it? Helpful links: Stay:Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel & Spa // Allure Stradbroke Resort // Minjerribah CampingPlay:Manta Lodge & Scuba CentreEat:French Ease // The Prawn Shack
Looking for romantic Queensland accommodation? Find plenty of inspiration here…Image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland and sourced via www.facebook.com/French-Ease/, stradbrokeisland.com and www.facebook.com/MinjerribahCamping/