Brisbane is a place made for lazy ambling, languid rides on river ferries and cooling beers sipped on subtropical sandy beaches. Whether you're in search of tucked-away private paradises, dog-friendly coves or the perfect location for the kids to build their masterpiece sandcastles, Brisbane has a perfect beach for every occasion. Here are some of our favorites for when the urban heat becomes overwhelming and the ocean beckons.

Streets Beach

Best beach for urban chic

A central spot for a free dip is Australia’s only artificial, inner-city beach at South Bank. Complete with sandy banks, swaying palms and skyline views, it draws everyone from beach babes and strutting gym-bunnies to young families. If you're after a calming dip, you may find it challenging on weekends and during school-holiday periods. Changing rooms and shower facilities are available. Note that lifeguards are on duty from 7am to 10pm December and January, to 7pm February, March, October and November, and 9am to 5pm April to September.

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People sunbathing along a stretch of sand at Cylinder Beach, Brisbane
Cylinder Beach on North Stradbroke Island in Brisbane © OZBEACHES/Shutterstock

Cylinder Beach, North Stradbroke Island

Best beach for families

Bordered by Cylinder and Home Beach Headlands, this broad, beautiful beach is patrolled by lifeguards, offers easy access from the car park, and generally has smaller waves than neighboring beaches like the ominously named Deadman's Beach. As you'd expect, it's popular with families. Remember to swim between the flags.

A surfer walks down the beach towards the sea in the blazing sunshine
Surfer running toward the surf © joyfull/Shutterstock

Main Beach, North Stradbroke Island

Best beach for serious surfers

Below North Gorge Walk in Point Lookout, surfers and bodyboarders descend on Main Beach in search of the ultimate wave. This wild stretch of open ocean can be very dangerous; always observe and abide by the safety signs on the beach. For surfing lessons, contact North Stradbroke Island Surf School. Surfboard hire is available from Bob Minty Surfboards, Manta Lodge & Scuba Centre and Straddie Super Sports. When you're done with the surf, the views along of the entire beach from North Gorge Walk take some beating.

An aerial view of the Shipwrecks on Moreton Island, Queensland, Australia
An aerial view of the Shipwrecks on Moreton Island, Brisbane © Darren Tierney/Shutterstock

Moreton Island

Best beach for snorkelling and diving

If you’re not going further north in Queensland than Brisbane but fancy an island getaway, sail over to Moreton Island (Moorgumpin). The third-largest sand island in the world, its unspoilt beaches, dunes, bushland and lagoons are protected, with 98% of the isle comprising the Moreton Island National Park & Recreation Area. This protected natural wonderland delivers sweeping sandy beaches, vivid wildflowers, and pristine lagoons and creeks. Among these is the freshwater Blue Lagoon, a calm, popular swimming and kayaking spot. Off the west coast are the rusty, hulking Tangalooma Wrecks, which provide excellent snorkelling and diving. Bulwer and Tangalooma beaches are firm local favorites.

Palm trees on the south end of Suttons Beach, Redcliffe, Brisbane
Palm trees on the south end of Suttons Beach, Redcliffe, Brisbane © Shutterstock / Martin Valigursky

Suttons Beach, Redcliffe

Best beach for young kids

Just to the south of the Settlement Cove lagoon in Redcliffe is sandy, mangrove-free Suttons Beach, the closest 'proper' beach for Brisbanites at just 30 minutes away from the city center. There are beach showers, barbecues and lifeguards on summer weekends. The water is calm and suited to younger swimmers – as ever, keep inside the flagged areas for safety. The lagoon is a public pool with an adjacent playground, which is ideal for young children. There are BBQ facilities if you fancy making a day of it.

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