Queensland's top 10 beaches

Surf Life Saving Queensland’s reveals the state’s best.

Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) has released its annual list of Queensland’s top 10 patrolled beaches for 2021.

The list ranks popular locations based on safety, facilities and nearby services. 

Coolum, Sunshine Coast

Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast has claimed the top spot for the first time.

 More than 270,000 beachgoers pack its shores across summer. Lifeguards and volunteer surf lifesavers are on hand 365 days a year with two sets of red and yellow flags providing ample space for swimmers to enjoy the water. 

The location, access to parking and public transport, nearby services and cleanliness helped Coolum Beach secure the converted first position. 

It is also wheelchair accessible on weekends, ensuring everyone can enjoy the beach. 

SLSQ tip: Always swim between the red and yellow flags. 

Alma Bay, Magnetic Island 

Picturesque Alma Bay’s calm conditions resulting in zero rescues during the 2020-2021 summer period despite more than 75,000 beachgoers visiting the bay. 

The bay is great spot to snorkel but ensure you’re aware of surf conditions and stay within your limits. 

The beach is patrolled all-year-round providing ample opportunity for visitors to Magnetic Island to swim between the flags. 

SLSQ tip: Make sure you wear a stinger suit if swimming during jellyfish season (May-Nov). 

Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast 

Protected from south-easterly winds by the headland, Burleigh is a great family-friendly beach.

Volunteer lifesavers patrol on weekends, conducting more than 600 preventative actions throughout summer. 

Regularly serviced amenities and ample parking make it appealing to Gold Coast beachgoers with the surrounding restaurants and shops providing a great place to take a break after a dip in the ocean. 

World-class surf breaks around the headland attract experienced surfers to the area providing a great spectacle to watch from Burleigh Hill. 

SLSQ tip: Always surf with a mate. 

Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas 

Four Mile Beach is the gateway to the rainforest and Great Barrier Reef. 

The beautiful long stretch of beach is patrolled 365 days per year with coffee, shops and food easily accessible. 

Located an hour drive from Cairns International Airport and two hours from Cape Tribulation, it is a beach for both locals and visitors.

SLSQ tip: Stay sun safe and remember to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide. 

Cylinder Beach, North Stradbroke Island 

Cylinder Beach has always made SLSQ’s best beaches due to its protected conditions throughout the year. 

Take a ferry from Cleveland and make a day trip or stay at the campground within walking distance. It is easily accessible by public transport and there is ample parking for those travelling by car. 

SLSQ tip: Ask a lifesaver or lifeguard if unsure about conditions. 

Nielson Park, Bargara 

Nielson Park is the best beach in Bundaberg due to its calm conditions and only four rescues performed across summer. 

Local restaurants and food outlets are within walking distance and the caravan park is a stone’s throw away, so it’s great for both locals and visitors. 

Be sure to check patrol times before heading to the beach and only swim when lifesavers or lifeguards are on duty. 

SLSQ tip: Always swim in patrolled hours. 

Coolangatta, Gold Coast 

Coolangatta is a fantastic spot to roll out the towel with its clear waters and protected surf conditions making a swim appealing. 

A pathway runs along the entire foreshore allowing you to take in the sights by walking or riding. 

Numerous accommodation options are available on the southern stretch of the coast, making it an ideal spot to take a holiday. 

SLSQ tip: Don’t drink and swim. 

Rainbow Beach, Sunshine Coast 

Rainbow Beach is a hidden gem on the northern end of the Sunshine Coast. 

Its accessible by road from Gympie or along the beach from Noosa, taking in the sights of the rainbow-coloured sand cliffs on the way. 

A great spot to pull up for lunch and a swim on the family road trip, with the barge to Fraser Island just down the road. 

Lifeguards and lifesavers ensure the flags are positioned in the safest place to swim every day of the year. 

SLSQ tip: When arriving at the beach always read the conditions report. 

Trinity Beach, Cairns 

The laid-back atmosphere makes Trinity Beach one of Cairns’ much-loved beaches among locals. 

Calm conditions making it a great spot to cool off on those hot North Queensland days. 

It’s patrolled year-round with the flags positioned inside a stinger net during stinger season. 

SLSQ tip: Always swim with a friend. 

Kings Beach, Sunshine Coast 

Great place to hit the beach with friends, go for a swim and then head up to one of the many local cafes and restaurants to catch up over lunch. 

It is home to the Sunshine Coast’s only saltwater ocean pool so there’s still a place to cool off if surf conditions aren’t great.

SLSQ tip: Always keep children within arm’s reach.