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Although just a short boat ride away from Australia’s third-largest city, North Stradbroke Island feels like a world away. It is the second-largest sand island in the world and a nature lover’s dream.
North Stradbroke Island, “Straddie” to the locals, is set in Moreton Bay. At roughly 24 miles (38 kilometers) long and 7 miles (11 kilometers) wide, the largely untouched sandy island has just three small settlements.
From the Brisbane suburb of Cleveland, catch the vehicle ferry or a water taxi over to the island. Public buses await those who come on foot at the ferry terminal in Dunwich. Grab a drink or get your supplies here and then head straight to Point Lookout on the northeast tip of the island. This tranquil village on a hilly headland has a good variety of accommodations and dining options with breathtaking ocean views.
Look for dolphins riding the turquoise waves, stingrays cruising in the shallows and kangaroos grazing on the green hillsides. From June to November, migrating humpback whales steal the show. The village’s Cylinder Beach has gentle waves and lifeguards on duty. Snorkel in the clear waters close to the headland for a chance to see colorful fish and sea turtles.
Follow the North Gorge Walk, an undulating path that takes you into the gorge and around the rocky headland with its crashing waves. The picturesque little cove at the end is a great swimming spot. On the other side of the Surf Life Saving Club is a seemingly endless beach with sets of large rolling waves that attract surfers.
Take a tour to the sandy interior of the island and walk around Blue Lake National Park to see the typical Australian eucalyptus, casuarina and banksia trees. Another highlight is Brown Lake, which is colored by tannins from the surrounding trees. Rest a while on its white-sand beach or wade in for a refreshing swim.
Drive or take the bus to Amity Point on the northernmost tip of the island. This sleepy village with small cafés has rocky beaches that are great for fishing and snorkeling. You may spot a koala in the surrounding eucalypts trees if you look closely.
Walking on soft sands slows you down and you can’t help but adapt to the relaxed pace of North Stradbroke Island, so instead of taking the ferry back the same day, stay for while to immerse yourself in its natural beauty.