State of play: Queensland’s best family holidays

Palm trees, white sand beach, sailing boats and islands in the background on Catseye Beach, Hamilton Island.
  • Jetstar
  • August 2020

Dreaming of a family beach holiday? Swap quantity time for quality time in Queensland. From Tropical North Queensland to the Gold Coast, the Sunshine State has beachside towns and family friendly resorts to give kids of all ages, and you, a break. Places perfect for building a sandcastle or a tan, for diving into tropical waters or a good book. Options for camping and self-catering, and five-star luxury with kids clubs and babysitting services.

These our top picks for your next family beach holiday.


Best for: nature, adventure activities, upscale resort towns

Tropical reefs and rainforests to explore, adventure activities for kids big and small, and kilometres of sandy beaches for the whole family to relax on.

Thing to do

Take junior marine biologists out to the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkel, dive or take a glass-bottomed boat on a mission to find Nemo. Spend a day on Green Island, or your whole holiday on Fitzroy Island, where camping, cabin and five-star accommodation awaits island adventurers.

Just outside of Cairns, take view seekers on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and glide over tropical rainforest in a gondola. The combined trip with the Kuranda Scenic Railway is fit for Thomas fans and grown-ups alike.

For lazy days, the enormous saltwater Cairns Lagoon on the Cairns Esplanade is an ideal spot for the whole family to swim and lounge, as is sheltered, family-friendly Trinity Beach, just north of the city.

Further north, upscale resort towns Palm Cove and Port Douglas make a luxurious family holiday base. Five-star family-friendly resorts and restaurants, beachfront accommodation, and long sandy Palm Cove Beach and Four Mile Beach are made for low-key relaxation time.

Places to stay

Cairns: Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort, Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina
Fitzroy Island: Fitzroy Island Resort
Palm Cove: Peppers Beach Club & Spa Palm Cove, Alamanda Palm Cove

Fly Jetstar to: Cairns

Saltwater Cairns Lagoon with swimmers, palm trees, sandy banks and ocean in background.
Cairns Lagoon

Gold Coast

Best for: theme parks, family-friendly resorts and beaches

Theme parks and national parks, beaches for junior waders and budding surfers, family-friendly accommodation for all holiday styles.

Things to do

Brace yourself for a wild ride at Australia’s theme-park mecca. Take the whole family (if you’re game) to Dream World opens in new window, Sea World opens in new window, Movie World opens in new window and Wet ‘n’ Wild opens in new window.

At Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary opens in new window kids can meet koalas, feed lorikeets, or take the Treetop Challenge. There’s even a water park if you can’t wait till the beach. Swap theme parks for national parks and head to Springbrook National Park opens in new window for walks and waterfalls, and stay until dark to spot glow worms.

Book in some beach time. Most beaches along the Gold Coast are patrolled, making them perfect for family visits. Tallebudgera Creek and Currumbin Creek are local favourites for little waders. Burleigh Heads Beach and Currumbin Alley are great spots to sign up for surf or SUP school. For more confident Fanning fans, head to Coolangatta’s beaches.

Places to stay

Resorts: Sea World Resort opens in new window, Turtle Beach Resort opens in new window, Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort and Spa opens in new window and Peppers Broadbeach opens in new window.
Tourist parks: Broadwater Tourist Park opens in new window and Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park opens in new window

Fly Jetstar to: Gold Coast opens in new window

People on the beach and in the water at Rainbow Bay and Snapper Rocks Beach, with lifeguard tower and palm tree in foreground, buildings in background.
Rainbow Bay and Snapper Rocks Beach, Coolangatta

Whitsunday Coast

Best for: family-friendly resorts, island hopping, parent pampering

Tropical islands to hop and underwater worlds to explore. Resorts with clubs and activities for kids, and day spas and bars for grown-ups.

Things to do

Dive into island life. Explore the underwater world on snorkelling or diving adventures. Teach the kids to SUP, kayak or sail a catamaran, or laze on the deck of a yacht and drift between islands. Spend the day swimming at famous Whitehaven beach, or pool-hop around the resorts.

Check out the kids activities at the main resorts – you’ll find something to keep kids of all ages (and their parents) entertained. Keep animal lovers busy at Daydream Island’s Living Reef opens in new window aquarium and Hamilton Island’s wildlife park opens in new window. Play family rounds of mini golf or bowling, or change up the island pace with go-karting and quad bikes. At night, settle in for cinema under the stars.

Or, treat yourself: sign the kids up to the kids club, book in a baby-sitter, and indulge. A massage, a lazy brunch, some uninterrupted reading time, sunset drinks or dinner – or even a nap.

Places to stay

Hamilton Island: Reef View Hotel opens in new window, Palm Bungalows opens in new window, Hamilton Island Holiday Homes opens in new window
Daydream Island: Daydream Island Resort opens in new window
Hayman Island: InterContinental Hayman Island Resort opens in new window
Airlie Beach: Big 4 Whitsunday Adventure Resort opens in new window
Camping: Whitsunday Island, Hook Island and Henning Island opens in new window

Fly Jetstar to: Whitsunday Coast opens in new window or Hamilton Island opens in new window

Aerial view of boats and beach-goers at Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island.
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island

Sunshine Coast

Best for: beachside towns, nature and wildlife

More than one hundred kilometres of white sand beaches, Fraser Island, and beachside towns Caloundra, Coolum, Mooloolaba and Noosa.

Things to do

Set up home in beachfront accommodation and settle into a slower pace of life in beachside towns Caloundra, Coolum, Mooloolaba and Noosa. Pick up picnic supplies and hit the beach for swimming, surfing and rockpool hopping at pristine, patrolled beaches. Or dig your toes in the sand and supervise the castle competitions.

Head to Main Beach, Noosa, and Mooloolaba for gentle swells, and Currimundi Lake for sheltered kayaking and SUP. Kings Beach, Caloundra is an all-day affair with ocean-front pool, patrolled surf area, playground, and rock pools. Point Cartwright is gentle enough for young waders and another favourite for rockpool explorers.

If you’ve budding Irwins in the family, head straight for Australia Zoo opens in new window and SEA Life Sunshine Coast Aquarium opens in new window, or sign them up to the junior eco ranger opens in new window program on Fraser Island opens in new window. Spend a few days on the world’s biggest sand island for its 4WD beach adventures, freshwater lakes, rainforest and wildlife. Set up a canvas home in a camping area, or let the resort take care of the housework.

Beyond the beaches, the Glass House Mountains opens in new window make for a fabulous hinterland daytrip, with walks and lookouts, and plenty of spots for a picnic or barbecue.

Places to stay

Caloundra: Oaks Oasis Resort opens in new window, Rumba Beach Resort opens in new window
Noosa: RACV Noosa Resort opens in new window
Fraser Island: Kingfisher Bay Resort opens in new window and camping opens in new window.

Fly Jetstar to: Sunshine Coast opens in new window

Boardwalk and palm tree in foreground, people and beach umbrellas on Main Beach, Noosa, people in water in background.
Main Beach, Noosa