Commonly regarded as Queensland’s best kept secret, the North Queensland town of Bowen is teeming with magnificent attractions that will keep tourists entertained for days on end.
The town sits on a peninsula, so it’s encompassed by a handful of beautiful beaches. These are arguably the area’s most treasured features. Horseshoe Bay (pictured below) and the ever-inviting Queens Beach are among the best strips of sand that fringe Bowen.
There are a few hotels dotted around the area, not to mention numerous caravan parks, motels and backpacker inns. This makes it possible for visitors to stay several days to enjoy the tourist fruits (pun intended) on offer.
Located in the central Great Barrier Reef region just north of Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays, Bowen is where the bush meets the reef. Airlie Beach tends to get most of the attention of visitors in the area wanting to discover the Whitsunday Coast, and that makes sense as there’s plenty of things to do in Airlie Beach.
However, Bowen is a relaxing town that boasts a surprisingly wide variety of attractions and landmarks in it’s own right, from sun-soaked golden beaches to the world’s tallest ‘mango’ (pictured below) .
Of course, sunbathing and swimming at the glorious beaches is only part of the fun. Sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving are also on offer here. Just off-shore from Bowen is Gloucester Island. Its crystal clear waters make for perfect diving spots.
Things to do in Bowen
The town is found in one of the most picturesque parts of Queensland, so memorable photo opportunities are in abundance. Many of Bowen’s best places to see are all a short drive from the main town centre.
1. The Big Mango
One of the first things you’ll see when you get to Bowen is the Big Mango. It’s hard to miss. This 10 metre high sculpture of a mango was created in 2002 and is a tribute to the town’s agricultural heritage and dependence on the fruit.
The Big Mango is adjacent to the Bowen Visitor Information Centre, just 4 kilometres south of Bowen on the Bruce Highway.
Big Mango: 18305 Bruce Highway, Bowen, Whitsunday Area Queensland, 4805
2. The Horseshoe Bay Jetty
This is one of Bowen’s most iconic and photographed landmarks. The Horseshoe Bay Jetty is a great place to take a leisurely stroll, fish or just admire the view. It’s also the departure point for many of the reef and island tours that operate out of Bowen.
3. The Bowen Historic Museum
The Bowen Historical Society Museum is located in an old church building on the corner of Queens Road and William Street. It’s a great place to learn about the town’s rich history and see some interesting artifacts from the past.
From most lodgings and hotels in Bowen, it is easy to reach the local museum on foot. The Bowen Historical Society Museum takes visitors through the town’s long and fruitful past, from its early port beginnings to the story of its flourishing mango trade.
The museum is open Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 12:30pm. Admission is free.
4. Flagship Marina
One of the best things to do in Bowen is simply watch the sunset over the harbour. The town has some great vantage points from which to enjoy the spectacle, but arguably the best is Flagship Marina.
The marina is on the southern side of Bowen and offers panoramic views of Bowen and the surrounding coastline. It’s a popular spot for both locals and visitors, so get there early to snag a good spot. While at the marina, try some fantastic fish and chips from Bird’s Fish Bar.
5. Snorkelling and Diving
The seas off the coast of Bowen contain millions of gorgeous fish. Hard and soft coral may be found just metres from shore and dedicated snorkelers can soak in the underwater splendour.
Rose Bay, Murrays Bay and Horseshoe Bays are the most popular dive sites to explore on the Bowen Coast, because the water is just around 6 metres deep.
6. Enjoy The Lookouts
For even better views of Bowen and the surrounding area, head to Flagstaff Hill. This lookout is on the southern side, just off Queens Road.
The views from the top of Flagstaff Hill (pictured below) are simply stunning. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Whitsunday Island and even across to Townsville. The lookout is open 24 hours a day and is completely free to visit.
Several lookouts can be reached on foot from almost anywhere in town, including Mt Nutt Lookout and Grays Bay Lookout. Picture-perfect views of the town and surrounding Whitsundays are on display for all to see.
7. Bowen Water Park Playground
The Bowen Waterpark Playground is located on Santa Barbara Pde near the waterfront. It is a great spot for the kids to safely play and get very wet, which is what it is all about. The playground has numerous slides, a huge water bucket, water jets and sprinklers that are activated by a push button. The water comes on for around five minutes at a time, so the kids can run through and enjoy the cooling spray before it shuts off again.
Seating is available within the enclosed area, with bathrooms and BBQ’s also located close to the water park. Perfect to enjoy an alfresco lunch with family and friends! The Bowen Waterpark Playground is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Admission is free.
8. Bowen Beach-side Markets
Bowen’s beach-side Sunday Markets are very popular with locals and visitors alike, with street stalls ranging from local produce to handmade craft, delectable taste sensations and live music. Bowen’s community markets are held at Hansen Park every Sunday throughout the year, starting at 7am.
9. The Burdekin Falls Dam
The Burdekin Falls Dam is located about an hour’s drive west of Bowen and is the largest in Queensland and is a popular spot for fishing, swimming, boating and picnicking. Lake Dalrymple , the reservoir created by the dam, is also a great place for birdwatching. A camping area is on Burdekin Falls Dam Rd near the dam wall on the north side of the Burdekin River.
Bowen is a beautiful town in Queensland, Australia that offers stunning views, and eight great beaches all close to town. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day by the water or an adventurous outing, Bowen has a beach to offer everyone.
1. Foreshore/Front Beach
This is the main beach in Bowen and is on the town’s foreshore, just a short walk from the CBD. It’s a great place to swim, sunbathe or simply relax and take in the view. It’s also popular for paddle boarding, kayaking and water skiing.
2. Horseshoe Bay
Horseshoe Bay is one of Bowen’s most popular beaches. It’s on the town’s outskirts and is a great place to swim, fish or simply relax on the sand. There are also a number of restaurants and cafes located nearby, making it the perfect spot for a day out.
Because granite outcrops shield this short segment of beach, the water here is usually calm. On one side, a short but steep trek leads to the Rotary Lookout, which is stunning no matter what time of day you visit.
3. Queens Beach
Spanning around five kilometres, Queens Beach in Bowen is the longest beach in town. It’s a great place to go for a walk, run or simply relax on the sand. There are also BBQs and picnic tables along the beach, making it the perfect spot for a day out with friends or family.
4. Grays Bay
Grays Bay is a secluded beach west of Horseshoe Bay and really is a picture-perfect setting! With its clear turquoise waters, white beaches the bay is truly a sight to behold.
Watersports enthusiasts go to this bay in droves to indulge in their passions. Stand-up paddle boards, water skiing, tubing, wakeboarding, canoes, and kayaks are popular activities at Grays Bay.
Grays Bay is well situated for watching the sun set over the ocean – bring a picnic rug and have a seafood picnic while taking in the sights. Picnic tables and free BBQs are available at the nearby pocket beach, which is very next to Grays Bay.
5. Coral Bay
Coral Bay is a beautiful beach in between Horseshoe Bay and Grays Bay. It’s a great place to go for a swim, sunbathe or simply relax and take in the stunning views. The beach is also popular as its the only clothing-optional beach in the area.
6. Murrays Bay
Murrays Bay is a beautiful, secluded beach near Rose Bay and is a popular choice for walkers and joggers. The beach is also popular as there are plenty of rocks to explore and the nearby reef is perfect for snorkelling.
7. Rose Bay
Rose Bay is a secluded, protected beach near Murrays Bay. It’s hard to find a better view than the one in Rose Bay. From here, you can see all the way over to Gloucester Island’s majestic peaks. At the beach’s northern end, kayakers and paddleboarders may launch their craft, while divers and snorkelers can take advantage of the reef’s proximity. During low tide, the beach at Rose Bay is a perfect area for youngsters to explore the rock pools, while their parents relax and enjoy the BBQs and picnic tables that are available.
8. Kings Beach
Kings Beach is a beautiful, secluded beach situated near Queens Beach. Kings Beach is a beach of contrasts, with views of Gloucester, the Middle Islands, and Stone Islands. Magazine Creek’s mangroves are shielded by massive granite boulders, providing a unique opportunity to observe this fragile ecosystem up close. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, this lengthy stretch of sand is perfect for you.
Bowen Hotels and Accommodation
Bowen has many great hotels and resorts, perfect of a romantic getaway, weekend escape or family vacation. There are a few good places to stay in the town itself, but many of the best places to stay in Bowen are around the beaches.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Bowen that’s close to all the action, then look no further than Coral Cove Apartments. These modern apartments are situated right on the water’s edge just steps from Grays Bay and Horseshoe Bay Beach, and offer stunning views of the ocean.
The apartments are spacious and well-appointed, with all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay. Coral Cove is also located close to a number of restaurants and cafes, making it the perfect base for exploring Bowen.
For those looking for a more budget getaway, then Port Denison Motor Inn in Bowen is a great option. The rooms are simple but clean and comfortable, and the location is central, making it easy to get around town.
Click through the list below to check availability and pricing.
Bowen Caravan Parks
Bowen has several caravan parks on absolute beachfront, many with their own swimming pools and onsite restaurants. Most of the caravan parks in Bowen are located near the town centre, making it easy to walk to the shops and restaurants.
If you’re looking for a quiet and relaxing place to stay, then NRMA Bowen Beachfront Holiday Park is a great option. The park is situated right on the beach, and offers stunning views of the ocean. The park also has a swimming pool, BBQ area, and onsite restaurant, making it the perfect place to relax and unwind.
If you’re looking for somewhere more budget-friendly, then Bowen Seaside Caravan Park is a good option. The park is located a short walk from the beach, and offers a range of affordable accommodation options. The park also has a swimming pool, BBQ area, and onsite laundry facilities.
Bowen’s Best Caravan and Holiday Parks
Nrma Bowen Beachfront Holiday Park
The Soldiers Rd, Bowen QLD 4805
Phone: 1800 602 469
Harbour Lights Tourist Park
40 Santa Barbara Parade, Bowen QLD 4805
Phone: (07) 4786 1565
Bowen Holiday Park
18540 Bruce Hwy, Bowen QLD 4805
Phone:(07) 4786 1366
Tropical Beach Caravan Park
25 Argyle St, Bowen QLD 4805
Phone: (07) 4785 1490
Wangaratta Caravan Park
66 Golf Links Rd, Bowen QLD 4805
Phone: (07) 4785 1152
Explore The Region
Bowen was famous for being regarded as the capital of North Queensland, and for the port. Now days, though, Bowen is more famous for its magnificent beaches and for the iconic Big Mango in town. Bowen is certainly worth visiting though. It’s easy enough to spend a few days in Bowen, lounging at the beaches and exploring the reef and the trails.
There’s not a lot of Great Barrier Reef tour operators that leave directly from Bowen, however it easy to head into Airlie Beach, and from there the Whitsunday Islands are your playground! Head out and explore Whitehaven Beach (pictured above). Snorkel, swim and scuba dive off the many reefs and cays.
Getting There and Around
Bowen is about 1,290 kilometres (800 miles) just up the Bruce Highway north from Brisbane, or about an hour’s flight from the the Queensland capital. The town is served by Bowen’s Airport, with regular flights to and from Brisbane.
Once you’re in Bowen, getting around is easy enough. The town centre is small enough to explore on foot, and there are a number of rental car companies and tour operators that can help you explore the wider region.
If you’re planning on spending most of your time lounging on the beach, there’s no need to rent a car. You can easily get around town using the local bus service. Buses run regularly between the beaches, town centre and airport.
Queensland Road Travel Times
- Brisbane to Bowen – 1138km, 13hrs (via Bruce Highway)
- Cairns to Bowen – 549km, 6.5hrs (via Bruce Highway)
- Townsville to Bowen – 203km, 2.5hrs
- Mackay to Bowen – 191km, 2 hrs
Getting from Airlie Beach to Bowen
When driving to Bowen from Airlie Beach, it will take about an hour. Just make sure you don’t miss the turnoff, because the Bruce Highway doesn’t go through Bowen.
Bowen Weather and Climate
Located in the Whitsundays, Bowen is the perfect place to escape and enjoy the warm weather. The town enjoys a tropical climate, with warm weather all year round.
The best time to visit Bowen is during the cooler months from April to November. During these months, temperatures are comfortable and perfect for exploring the beaches and hiking trails.
In winter Bowen averages temperatures between 22 to 23°c while in the summer months the region averages around 30°c. The water temperature in the Whitsundays is consistently around 20°C all year round, making it a great destination for your next beach vacation.