Queensland's coastal towns
Discover Queensland's inspiring coastal cities.

Map of the Great Barrier Reef

The coastal towns and cities of Queensland are some of Australia’s most unique holiday destinations and a pleasure to discover, and many are great bases from which you can explore the Great Barrier Reef. Queensland is unique among the Australian states in that it has a number of genuine coastal capitals.

This sense of individuality has made cities and town like Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Mackay, Bundaberg and Maryborough independent centres which do not rely on Brisbane.

It has also ensured that rural Queenslanders don’t see Brisbane in the same way that people in New South Wales, for example, regard Sydney.


Cairns is a modern, sophisticated city, and is an ideal destination from which to explore the wider Tropical North Queensland region with front door access to World Heritage listed reef, rainforest and outback as well as the unique town of Kuranda experience at it’s doorstep.

Islands to explore close to Cairns include Green Island and Fitzroy Island and a little further north is Lizard Island.

Cairns Reef Tours

The city itself is where much of the accommodation is situated close to international standard restaurants, boutique shopping, modern art galleries and evening entertainment.

All the attributes of a world class modern city are to be found in Cairns: International air access, rail systems, high-standard accommodation facilities, an art gallery, botanic gardens, university, a casino and a convention centre.

– Read more about Cairns.

Port Douglas

From glamorous Four Mile Beach to the wilderness of Dickson Inlet, picturesque Port Douglas is one of Australia’s great holiday destinations that has become an international holiday mecca – just 70 kilometres north of Cairns.

Port Douglas Queensland

Development is low-rise, low-key and relaxing. It is regarded as the most popular base from which to explore the northern areas of the reef and Daintree rainforest and Cape Tribulation.

– Read more about Port Douglas.


Rockhampton is situated on the Fitzroy River, and lies 40 kilometres inland from the beautiful Capricorn Coast beaches and the coastal tourist towns of Yeppoon and Emu Park.

Rockhampton from Mount Archer

The city of Rockhampton is surrounded by the Berserker Ranges and Mount Archer, posing an impressive backdrop for the vibrant City centre, coast and the outback beyond. The island closest to Rockhampton is Great Keppel Island.

– Read more about Rockhampton.


Located on the north-eastern coast of Australia, Townsville is the unofficial capital of North Queensland and one of the fastest growing holiday destination in Queensland. Situated on Ross Creek and overlooked by the 290m-high Castle Hill, Townsville is a thriving metropolis.

Townsville marina in Queensland

Townsville is also encircled by other interesting towns and places to see, such as Charters Towers and Ayr. The closest island to the town is Magnetic Island.

– Read more about Townsville.

Airlie Beach

While Airlie Beach is one of the most popular entrances to the Whitsunday Islands, the town itself is a wonderful vacation spot all year round. As one of North Queensland’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, the charming town of Airlie Beach and the neighbouring Shute Harbour are known for its reputation as a backpacker haven.

Aerial view of Airlie Beach

With a laid-back yet tourism vibe and a slew of activities, the town has a lot to offer visitors.

– Read more about Airlie Beach.


Just north of Airlie Beach, tourists can spend days exploring Bowen’s stunning sites, which are sometimes referred to as Queensland’s best-kept secrets. The town boasts a surprisingly wide variety of landmarks, from sun-soaked golden beaches to the world’s tallest ‘mango’ – yes, that’s a thing!

Horseshoe Bay at Bowen

Located at the end of a peninsula, the town has access to several lovely beaches – Horseshoe Bay (pictured above) and Queens Beach – are two of Bowen’s most popular beaches.

– Read more about Bowen.

Mission Beach

Partway between Townsville and Cairns, Mission Beach is situated on the gorgeous North Queensland coast, surrounded by pristine other beaches.

As a seaside town that is both serene and fun, Mission Beach is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the area. It is only four kilometres from Mission Beach to Dunk Island.

Mission Beach

The beach is a popular spot to go skydiving, with such an incredible view on the way down, it’s easy to see why. Innisfail and Tully are other great little towns not to far from Mission Beach.

– Read more about Mission Beach.

Great Barrier Reef Experiences

There are plenty of things to experience on Great Barrier Reef.

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More great Australian travel destinations
About 'greatbarrierreef.org'

greatbarrierreef.org is a 'Web Magazine' website that is dedicated to all things related to the Great Barrier Reef. We are passionate about Australia's great natural wonder, its vast marine life, its golden sun-kissed beaches, its warm turquiose waters and the unforgetable experiences that are waiting for all who visit. Our aim is to discuss the Great Barrier Reef, its history, its environment, its marine life and its spectacular destinations. We hope that this website will inspire all who visit, just as much as the Great Barrier reef has inspired us.

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