Queensland beaches, reefs and islands

Feel the powdery white sand between your toes, hear the sound of waves breaking on the shore and discover the hidden world beneath the ocean's surface.

With 7,000km of sun-kissed coastline to explore, your senses are in for a treat in Australia's Sunshine State. Take only pictures and leave only footprints while you appreciate unique marine habitats that never stop changing.

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Explore Queensland's Great Barrier Reef, beautiful tropical islands and seemingly endless white sand beaches.

Island magic

Queensland has a multitude of offshore island paradises to explore on day-trips or overnight stays. The Whitsundays group includes Whitsunday Island with the famous Whitehaven Beach, plus Hamilton Island and Hayman Island, which are home to various all-inclusive resorts. Lady Elliot Island, the southernmost coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef, has a highly-rated eco resort and a marine sanctuary with manta rays and turtles. Fraser Island, off the coast of Hervey Bay north of Noosa, is the world's largest sand island, complete with lakes and rainforest. It's a popular destination for 4WD safaris, camping and ecotourism, and a jewel among Queensland's natural attractions.

Moreton Island is just 58km off the coast of Brisbane. It's known for four-wheel-drive adventures, whale watching and tobogganing down epic sand dunes. Moreton Island also has a great selection of snorkelling trails that lead to sunken shipwrecks, giant granite rocks, caves and countless fascinating marine animals. Perhaps the most magical experience is the chance to feed the wild dolphins of Moreton Island, which you can do if you stay at the Tangalooma Island Resort.

However you choose to dip your toes into the warm waters of Queensland, you'll find yourself going back for more.

The coast with the most

Any trip to Queensland wouldn't be complete without experiencing the famous Gold Coast beaches. From the action of the always-spectacular Surfers Paradise beach to secluded spots favoured by the locals, you're sure to discover some of the top beaches in Queensland on this coast.

While it's well-known for ocean surf beaches, Queensland also has plenty of tranquil alternatives. Tallebudgera Creek on the Gold Coast is a great place to discover a river mouth beach. The calm, crystal clear waters make this a perfect spot to hire a kayak or stand-up paddle board. Under your own steam, you can explore along the sandy inner shoreline beneath the Burleigh Heads National Park.

Learning to surf, Noosa, Sunshine Coast, Australia.

Walking on sunshine

White sand, calm bays and warm water. The Sunshine Coast has some of the best beaches in Queensland, if not the world. It's all about white sand, warm water and manageable beach breaks. At Noosa you could go from grommet to accomplished surfer in no time. For beginners, the main beach offers gentle rolling waves and surf schools to help you get started or take your surfing to the next level. More experienced surfers can venture into the Noosa National Park to find bigger breaks around the headland, at Alexandria Bay or over the hill at Sunshine Beach. And don't worry, Sunshine Coast beaches aren't all about waves; there are plenty of calm, secluded bays perfect for lazing in the sun.

Further north, the Cairns beaches are known for coral sand and palm trees. Trinity Beach and Palm Cove offer plenty of accommodation options for visitors; they're also close to the Skyrail rainforest cableway and the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.

With such a fabulous coastline, it's no wonder that relaxing at the beach is a big part of the Queensland lifestyle.

Snorkelling with Humphead wrasse, Queensland, Australia.

Great Barrier Reef snorkelling

There's still so much we don't know about life under the sea. But we do know it's absolutely beautiful. For an up-close view, your best bet is to visit Great Barrier Reef, one of nature's finest creations. Only 90 minutes by boat from Cairns, the reef is home to more than 5,000 different forms of marine life.

Further south, the Whitsunday Islands provide a great spot to experience another area of the 2,300km reef. Here you can visit for a day, charter a yacht or stay at an island resort. After exploring the clear waters, sandy beaches and national park islands, you can relax - cocktail in hand - and soak up the evening view. If you're a bit more intrepid, hire a helicopter or seaplane and experience the full scale of the reef from above. It'll blow your mind.

For more exciting adventures in the sunshine State, see adventure and discovery in Queensland.

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