From the Gold Coast’s sandy beaches to the very tip of mainland Australia – Queensland’s coastline stretches a whopping 6,973 kilometres in length! The sunshine state’s diverse natural landscape boasts an abundance of pristine bays, inland waterways, coral reefs and tropical islands. There are three Marine Parks scattered along the coastline – Great Barrier Reef, Great Sandy and Moreton Bay – which are home to more species of marine wildlife than any other state. From world class snorkelling and fishing, to sailing and water sports – Australia’s sunshine capital has a little something for everyone. So get ready to hit the water and explore Queensland’s best boating spots!
Moreton Bay Marine Park
Stretching 125km between the Gold Coast and Caloundra, Moreton Bay Marine Park is definitely one for the boating bucket list! As one of the largest estuarine bays in Australia, many marine species call this slice of paradise home including bottlenose dolphins, dugong and humpback whales during the winter months (June to October). The Marine Park offers access to North and Stradbroke Island, Bribie Island and Moreton Island – each of which boast incredible beaches, sheltered bays and many freshwater lakes that are ideal for fishing (check out our top fishing spots near Brisbane for more tips). Both The Wrecks and Curtin Reef are fantastic spots to snorkel, scuba dive and spot for turtles, rays and tropical fish.
The Gold Coast Waterways
Fun fact! The Gold Coast is home to nine times the amount of waterways than Venice. From the infamous Gold Coast strip, to the enchanted riverways of the Hinterland, there are more than 260km of navigable waterways weaving throughout the Gold Coast region, all of which can be accessed by a wide range of vessels, from small powered boats and jet skis, to super yachts. The best bit? Most of the waterways offer direct boat access to the region’s plentiful restaurants, shops and cafes. Explore the many islands scattered along the Broadwater, cruise along the Canals as you take in the sights of the luxurious waterfront homes in Paradise Waters and the Isle of Capri, or make your way along Coomera and Tweed Rivers to the remote sandy banks of Tallebudgera or Coomera Creek.
Great Sandy Strait
Home to the world’s largest sand island – Fraser Island – the Great Sandy Strait extends from Tin Can Bay in the south, to Hervey Bay in the north. Protected by the western skirts of Fraser Island, this 70km strait offers pristine boating conditions for most vessels, from tinnies through to yachts and catamarans. Anglers will be spoilt for choice with many inland creeks and fish species on offer – including barramundi, threadfin salmon, flathead, whiting, mud crabs and prawns. The strait provides the perfect vantage point to canoe or kayak along Mary River, explore the remote western beaches and walking trails of Fraser Island, and discover the underwater wonders of Great Sandy Marine Park.
Fitzroy River & Keppel Bay
Located just a short drive from Rockhampton on the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, Keppel Bay is a gateway to Fitzroy River and Keppel Bay Islands National Park. Fitzroy River is a mecca for fishing enthusiasts. The river’s 480km stretch of estuaries and tidal mangroves attract anglers far and wide, eager to catch barramundi and king salmon. For those boating enthusiasts eager for a spot of beach exploring, snorkelling or scuba diving, the Keppel Bay region boasts 19 stunning islands – all of which offer remote and white sandy bays, rainforest walks, unique wildlife and plentiful reef formations just waiting to be explored!
Home to 74 stunning islands and the infamous Whitehaven Beach, the Whitsundays are one of the most popular boating destinations in Australia. From sailing to power boating, the islands are relatively protected year round, offering idyllic views while enjoying a spot of kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, or exploring the underwater wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s also one of the only places in the world where you can hire a multi-million-dollar sailing yacht without a licence, and one of the safest locations in Australia for those keen on bareboating (hiring a boat without a licence). Many of the islands offer direct boat access, along with on-island accommodation and camping – the perfect opportunity to island hop your way around this World Heritage Listed paradise.
The Beaches, Islands & Mangroves of Cairns
Cairns… an adventure hub for boating enthusiasts! From inland waterways and rainforest-clad beaches, to tropical islands and coral cays, the region is best explored by boat! For those travelling direct to Cairns, there are a number of places that offer boat hire for all types of water-based adventures. For the anglers, castling a line at Trinity Inlet is a must! Located just a short drive from Cairns, Trinity Inlet boasts 9km of mangrove lined waterways and 40 species of fish including Golden Snapper, Mangrove Jacks, Trevally and Barramundi. For those eager to explore the northern beaches of Cairns, boat ramps are located along the coastline at Machans Beach, Holloways Beach, Yorkeys Knob and Palm Cove. For those keen to cruise along the Great Barrier Reef and explore the islands, we highly recommend a day or overnight trip to Fitzroy Island. Rugged and rich with rainforest, the island offers beachfront camping facilities along with kayak, snorkel and paddle board hire.
Hope Islands National Park
For those keen to venture beyond the beaten track, a visit to Hope Islands National Park is a must! Located around 37km south-east of Cooktown, the national park is home to four remote islands which form part of the traditional sea country of the Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people, who hunt and fish on the islands. Snapper Island is located just 20km north of Port Douglas and offers a small number of tent-only campsites which must be booked in advance. With lush forests, remote beaches and fantastic small boat fishing – this slice of tropical paradise is definitely one for the bucket list.
Before you head off…
Be sure to check tide times and weather updates on the Maritime Safety Queensland website before heading off. The website also has a helpful Recreational Boating and Fishing Guide with more information on Queensland boat licensing, marine safety, recreational fishing rules and marine park zonings. If visiting one of Queensland’s Marine Parks, visit the Queensland Government website for more information on permits, zoning restrictions and public mooring points.
And of course, a good quality marine battery is essential! To make sure your boat or ski battery is reliable and up for the challenge, visit one of our many Marshall Battery stores located across Queensland.
And remember, if you find yourself in need of assistance in Queensland, you can always holler for a Marshall on 1300 627 742.