After I posted on social media about our latest escape to Straddie – North Stradbroke Island – this comment popped up:
Ssssssshhhhh! Straddie is my fav holiday location EVER! Don’t tell too many people how perfect it is …
That’s the thing about holiday spots that are not necessarily on everyone’s radar, the people who do have them on their radar want to keep them on the down low.
I get that. I do. But I also am an over-sharer and love showcasing a destination that you may not have thought of adding to your wish list.
Most living in south-east Queensland would know of Straddie – two massive islands that sit off the Coast of Brisbane. South Straddie is closer to the Gold Coast. North Straddie is closer to Brisbane.
In the 1980s there was talk of building a bridge between the mainland and North Stradbroke Island (thank goodness that never came to fruition). So, the only way to reach the island remains via boat – your own, a water taxi or taking your car on a barge. This takes about an hour from Cleveland (which is about 45 minutes from the centre of Brisbane).
This accessibility factor has prevented Straddie from being over-run with visitors but the essence of laid-back island life has also remained the same for so long because there is limited allowable development on the island.
That means there is a finite amount of accommodation available. And it’s only available in three areas on the island – Dunwich, Amity Point and Point Lookout. So, even in peak times (Easter/Christmas), Straddie’s version of busy is quiet compared with our other beach destinations of choice, Burleigh Heads and Noosa.
I’ve been visiting Straddie on and off for about 18 years – since my now-adult kids were toddlers and pre-schoolers. That feeling of getting on the barge, crossing the bay for 40 minutes and driving off to find a coastline and crystal clear water that you usually only associate with an international destination is something that still makes me catch my breath.
A plan was hatched last year for our Easter 2018 visit because our usual fave spot at Burleigh wasn’t taking any bookings on account of the Commonwealth Games.
It had been five years between Straddie visits for us, so we were long overdue for a return stay. More friends jumped on board and before we knew it, there were four more families locked in for what turned out to be a fabulous long weekend away.
5 very good reasons to visit North Stradbroke Island
The colour and clarity of the water blows you away. It doesn’t matter how many times I visit Straddie, it blows me away. There is also a protected beach available to you for just about any conditions. Cylinder Beach is protected in a south-easterly; Point Lookout in a northerly; and we found Home Beach worked a treat in the easterly during our stay.
What you’ll also find on most visits is a tidal lagoon at Cylinder or Home Beach. On this trip, there was a huge lagoon at Cylinder’s but without much wash-out throughout the tides. The lagoon at Home Beach, however, was just perfect – deep enough at high tide for doing laps; high enough at low tide for some dugong-like wallowing (my favourite beach activity!).
The North Gorge Walk
We got up every morning, walked across to Cylinder Beach, grabbed a Merlo coffee from Coffee in Cylinder’s and walked the 4.5km round trip up to the North Gorge walk.
This track follows around the rocky gorges of Point Lookout, offering some pretty spectacular views and nature spotting. On our walks, we managed to spot dolphins, turtles, kangaroos and manta rays. In winter, you’d add whales to that list. Many of the walkways have been upgraded but there are lots of stairs so it’s not suitable for a strollers (unless you can carry the stroller up stairs) or wheelchairs.
Oceanic Gelati is a Straddie institution. The quality is up there with any we’ve sampled in Italy but when you add an Aussie twist to the flavours, you really get something else. Iced Vo Vo gelati, anyone?
When you can see the trawlers just off shore while sitting on your balcony, you know that the seafood you buy on the island doesn’t get any fresher. We ordered ahead for Good Friday prawns from Rufus King, Amity Point, picking them up on the way from the barge to Point Lookout. We also stocked up later in the weekend at Mal Starkey’s Seafood House at Point Lookout.
To fossick in shops
I didn’t do any of this this time … too busy swimming and socialising. I know, I don’t know who I am, either. What did excite me was that some faves from past trips are still going strong. Stradegy Fashion Shop (next to Oceanic Gelati) is filled with some of my fave fashion labels. Mr SY never misses a chance to check out Bob Mintee’s Surf Shop
To chill out
This is something that is so easy to do on Straddie. You never feel like you have to fill every hour of every day. Island time takes over and the best thing to do is to roll with it. The city is not that far away … enjoy the calm while you can.
For more ideas on what to do on Straddie, head HERE.
Eating out on Straddie
There are limited dining out or takeaway options on Straddie. Those that do operate are great but during peak times they are in high demand. It pays to plan ahead and self cater.
You can organise a food delivery from a major supermarket on the mainland to arrive during your stay. There is also a great Foodworks supermarket at Point Lookout for supplies. Across a weekend like Easter, though, it is in demand and what you’re looking for may not be available.
My hot tip is to try to bring with you as much as you can when it comes to groceries, meat and fresh produce, then you can top up with fresh bread, milk etc throughout your stay.
If you want to enjoy a wine or Champers across your stay, it’s a good idea to bring that with you too. There is a bottle shop at the hotel but prices will most probably be more than you’d pay at home.
Where to stay on Straddie
Many people are fond of a spot of camping on Straddie. Each to their own. You won’t be surprised to know I do not share that fondness.
I have a fondness for lovely beds and white sheets; fridges filled with bubbly bottles; big bathtubs and balconies with views … some of the things I have at home … and many of the things I WISH I did have at home.
Which is why (up until now) we’ve always holidayed in beach houses on Straddie.
The beach houses for rent on Straddie range from original 1950s shacks through to homes so worthy of a magazine cover, they probably have been featured on one. Many of the larger homes have been designed to accommodate more than one family at a time. This makes for a great holiday but also helps to bring down costs.
Property prices on Straddie are in the Lotto-winning stratosphere (we look and dream EVERY TIME) – even those original beach shacks – because available residential land is land-locked by national parks and most are within a stones’ throw of the water.
To work out where on Straddie you’d like to stay, get familiar with a map of the island and a map of Point Lookout. Some streets are walking distance to one of the patrolled beaches. Others are high up with views of the ocean. Think about your needs for your holiday and book a location to suit.
For this stay, we booked an apartment with another family at the iconic Straddie Pub. The location is pretty much unbeatable, with views across Home Beach to Moreton and easy access via steps to Cylinder Beach.
The apartments are modern, spacious and designed to capture the sea breeze. Just sitting out on the deck feels like you are a million miles away. We were pleasantly surprised to find that even though the apartments are located right next to the hotel, you don’t hear any noise filtering through.
Apart from the boys getting in the car for a surf check each morning and a run for fresh prawns, our car just wasn’t needed, as it was an easy walk to pick up groceries, coffee or head to the beach. Having the pool in the complex was also great when staying with kids – not a lot of accommodation options on Straddie include a pool.
If you are looking to book an apartment, I’d avoid using the online booking system for the hotel. We booked online in June last year, paid 50% deposit, got email confirmation of the booking and then, six weeks’ out from Easter, had our booking switched to a different accommodation type “because we shouldn’t have been able to book that apartment for that price and that length of stay”. To avoid the disappointment of this happening to you, I suggest phoning or emailing the hotel direct to make your reservation.
For more information about other house or unit accommodation options visit:
For more info about camping on Straddie, visit HERE.
Have you been to Straddie? Where do you like to stay? What do you like to do?
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