One of the best things about living in Australia is its beach lifestyle. And since most of our cities are located along the vast coastline you never need to travel very far to find a world class beach.
Townsville’s beaches are mostly to the north of the city or on Magnetic Island (25 minutes by ferry).
The ones to the north are great for a picnic or a long beachwalk, but if you’re looking for the kind of beach where you can hire a paddleboard or kayak, then we’d recommend making the trip over to Magnetic Island.
Here’s our rundown of beaches in the Townsville area.
1. the strand
The Strand is the focal point of Townsville.
It’s a beautiful golden sandy beach that stretches for 2 kms along the shoreline with ample shade provided by palm trees.
If you like your beach to be close to ice cream, playgrounds, cafes and restaurants this is the place to be.
The only thing that prevents the Strand from being a 10 out of 10 is the view of the port. The container ships and cranes are a reminder that this is a big industrial city but all you need to do to avoid that is look left towards Magnetic Island instead.
2. rowes bay
If you travel north from the Strand past Kissing Point, the next suburb that you come to is Rowes Bay.
This is not the best beach in the area but it is in a great location, close to the city, and it’s relatively quiet.
There’s a good caravan park there if you’re looking for somewhere central and quiet to stay overnight that’s close to the beach.
3. cape pallarenda
Cape Pallarenda seems like a remote wilderness a million miles away from anywhere, and yet you can see Castle Hill and the city across the bay.
Most people go to Pallarenda for walking tracks and mountain biking but it does also have a couple of beaches.
This whole area is a conservation park that provides habitat for over 200 species of birds.
There are no facilities (besides toilets) so make sure you take sufficient water, insect repellent and sunscreen if you plan on exploring the walking tracks.
4. bushland beach
Just on the northern outskirts of Townsville, Bushland Beach is a suburban beach surrounded by residential housing developments all the way to the Bruce Highway.
This means there are the faciities to buy ice creams and drinks. There is even a pub right near the shoreline in the park, as well as BBQ facilities.
At low tide it’s a great place to take your dog for a good run (see top photo).
5. saunders beach (30 kms north)
This quiet little beachside community is harbouring what is probably one of the best unspoilt and undeveloped beaches in the region.
Saunders Beach gets our vote for the pick of the crop.
It’s has about 6kms of beautiful golden sands, and like many Aussie beaches, hardly anyone on it.
There is a small general store but little else. Overnight camping is available for campervans in Saunders Beach Park, where toilet facilities are also available.
6. toolakea beach/bluewater (40 kms north)
Quiet and residential, Toolakea Beach is lined with beachfront homes.
There aren’t any shops or facilities at the beach but you will have no problem finding an empty spot for a family picnic. Bring your own shade because the trees are set back from the beach.
At low tide you can see that much of the beach is shallow and rocky under the waves but if you head to the northern end, beyond the houses, the beach is better.
You need to swim a long way out to find water deep enough for swimming but we would recommend staying close to shore anyway.
There are crocs in nearby Bluewater Creek and locals do sometimes see them swimming past. They are known to swim out to the islands.
On the upside, this is a great beach for walking the dog or playing beach cricket at low tide.
Toomulla Beach is a small community and probably the most secluded but it’s popular for fishing and bird watching.
There is 48 hour camping available.
8. balgal beach/rollingstone (60 kms north)
It’s stretching it a bit to say that Balgal Beach is a Townsville Beach, given it’s nearly an hours drive north, but it’s great for a day trip from the city or as a stopover for roadtrippers.
Balgal Beach is the only beach to the north of Townsville with patrolled swimming enclosures during stinger season.
So its safe to bring the kids swimming and there’s also a small playground.
However, do not, under any circumstances, be tempted to swim in the estuary by the fish ramp.
No matter how appealing it looks, this is still croc country.
There is a licensed cafe and store by the boat ramp. They do great fish and chips, so grab some to eat under the trees in the park or on the beach.
There is 48 hour camping available either here at the beach or nearby at Rollingstone Creek.
9. magnetic island
If you’ve got time then you should definitely head over to Magnetic Island to spend a few days exploring all the beautiful secluded bays and beaches.
There are over 20 beaches on the island, some of which you can only get to by boat or hiking.
The beaches along the east coat are all developed so this is where most of the accommodation is.
Horseshoe Bay is the best beach for watersports.
travel nq fast facts:
- North Queensland is home to the very unfriendly saltwater crocodile. Always observe croc warning signs and never swim in estuaries. Some creeks are safe but check with a local before taking the plunge.
- Stinger season is November-May. During these months only swim in enclosures.