Townsville Beaches: 8 Best Ones To Visit in 2024 [UPDATED]

Best Places for sun, sea and sand on the North Queensland Coast in Far North Qld

 

Best Townsville Beaches

 

Table of Contents

Hello! Welcome to my review of the best Townsville Beaches in Far North Queensland. Below is how the article is structured.

1. Introduction
2. Where is Townsville?
3. How to Get to Townsville
4. Best time to visit Townsville
5. Best Townsville Beaches
5.1 The Strand Beach
5.2 Magnetic Island
5.3 Balgal Beach
5.4 Toolakea Beach
5.5 Pallarenda Beach
5.6 Saunders Beach
5.7 Bushland Beach
5.8 Rowes Bay Beach
6. Where to stay in Townsville?
7. Where to eat in Townsville
8. Final Thought
9. FAQs

After reading my post, I hope you’ll check out these awesome Townsville beaches when you are next in the area.

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you interact with them).

Read Time: 8 Minutes

 

Introduction

Looking for the best Townsville beaches? Well you’ll be pleased to know there are several fabulous places you can sink your toes into the sand in this fabulous part of the Queensland north eastern coast.

The city is synonymous with housing one of the country’s largest army barracks – both the 3rd and 11th Brigades have their bases here. However, it has also transformed from a once sleepy coastal town to the biggest metropolis north from the Sunshine Coast. Thanks largely to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, World Heritage National Parks, verdant rainforests and several gorgeous islands.

While many travellers only manage a lunch stop here on their way to and from Mackay and Cairns, the beaches of Townsville offer an excellent opportunity to enjoy wonderful weather and discover the beauty of nature. In this post, I’ll show you why it’s worth staying here for a few days to highlight what they have been missing.

 

Distance to Townsville from Other Queensland Destinations

  • Charters Towers 136 km
  • Bowen 201 km
  • Mission Beach 235 km
  • Airlie Beach 274 km
  • Cairns 347 km
  • Mackay 386 km
  • Longreach 673 km
  • Rockhampton 718 km
  • Yeppoon 736 km
  • Gladstone 826 km
  • Mt Isa 904 km
  • Brisbane 1353 km
  • Where is Townsville?

    Townsville is a city of just over 179,000 residents located on Queensland’s north-eastern coastline. It lies roughly halfway between Cairns and Mackay is unofficially referred to as the capital of North Queensland.

    Offset by the Coral Sea, it is situated adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef’s middle section, which makes it a popular destination for day trips there, as well as Magnetic Island, which is just 13.5 km offshore.

    Most of the Townsville beaches are north of the CBD. They lie on land traditionally inhabited by the Wulgurukaba, Girrugubba, Bindal, Nawagi and Warakamai people.

    The city was named Townsville in 1866, after Robert Towns, an English merchant who was born in England in 1794 and became quite prominent figure in North Queensland.

     

    From Airlie Beach to Townsville and Cairns to Townsville, petrol stations and electric vehicle charging stations tend to be few and far between. Therefore it pays to have plenty of petrol or charge in your car for that section of the journey.

     

    How to Get to Townsville

    Townsville is a relatively easy destination to get to from most parts of Australia. If you are coming by car from Cairns or Brisbane, the chances are you will be taking the M1/Bruce Highway, which is a straight road that covers a distance of around 1709 km.

    The city centre is well sign-posted once you get to Townsville, though you might want to use Google Maps or Waze to help you find your way there.

    From Airlie Beach to Townsville and Cairns to Townsville, petrol stations and electric vehicle charging stations tend to be few and far between. Therefore it pays to have plenty of petrol or charge in your car for that section of the journey.

    If you need to fly into Townsville, you can do so directly to the airport, which is also known as the Garbutt Airport, in reference to its location. The likes of Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin all offer regular flights there throughout the day from all around the country. Once at the airport you will be able to catch a taxi, bus or Uber to the city, which is a journey of about 6 km.

    Otherwise to get to Townsville is via the Greyhound Bus or the Spirit of Queensland train. You can check out the bus timetables here and the train timetables here.

     

    Palm trees are a regular feature at Townsville Beaches

     

    Best time to visit Townsville

    As the city enjoys a subtropical climate, the Townsville weather is split into two distinct seasons. Between December to March it is the hot and rainy season, which is characterised by scorching temperatures, high humidity and heavy storms.

    By contrast the months of April to November constitute the dry season, and specifically within that, the mercury is a bit cooler in the period between May to September.

    Typically, the peak tourist season falls during the dry months, as conditions are ideal for spending time at the beach, exploring the surrounding outdoor areas or trips to the Great Barrier Reef. Holiday accommodations tend to be more expensive at this time though and you would be well advised to make a booking in advance of your visit.

    That said, if you are travelling on a budget and don’t mind the heat or occasional tropical rain shower, you can pick up some terrific, discounted hotel accommodation Townsville deals at this time.

     

    List of the Best Beaches in Townsville

  • The Strand Beach
  • Magnetic Island
  • Balgal Beach
  • Toolakea Beach
  • Pallarenda Beach
  • Saunders Beach
  • Bushland Beach
  • Rowes Bay Beach
  •  

    Best Townsville Beaches

    Defined by their idyllic landscapes and laidback nature, Townsville Beaches are as good as anything you’ll find in Queensland. If you plan on visiting the city and want to enjoy some of its best coastal areas, here are the eight main options available to you.

    Each of them offers a different drawcard and experience for the visitor. So regardless of whether you want to sunbathe, swim in a stinger net, each a seaside barbecue or just soak up the ambience of its stunning setting, there is a beach in Townsville for everyone.

     

    The Strand Beach

    The Strand is the most popular of all Townsville beaches and as such is one of the main focal points of the city.

    It comprises a stunning 2 km stretch of golden sandy shoreline, lined by gently swaying palm trees, that would give it a completely idyllic edge, were it not for the views of rusting container ships and towering cranes that reside over at the neighbouring port. (For this reason you should avert your gaze left to Magnetic Island when taking your Instagram shots).

    Notwithstanding, The Strand was awarded the title of Queensland’s Best Beach in 2021 by the good people at Surf Life Saving Queensland in 2021. So, it clearly has some merit, not least in regard to swimming, as it is considered an excellent spot to cool offer from the intense heat of the North Queensland sun.

    As it is protected by several offshore islands – Magnetic Island included – as well as a breakwater, it is not the best spot for surfing. However, the water conditions are perfect for those visiting with young children who want to splash around in one of the two designated safe swimming areas at the north and southern end of the beach, which have stinger nets and are patrolled by lifeguards.

    Flanking the sand is a vibrant seafront promenade where people come to walk, jog, cycle and enjoy a picnic or a bit to eat at one of the waterfront cafes. If you are feeling adventurous, you can also go jet-skiing or stand-up paddle boarding here.

     

    Magnetic Island

    If time permits, I would highly recommend you visit Magnetic Island for the chance to visit the 23 beaches and bays that reside within it. Some of which are so secluded, they are only accessible by hiking or boat.

    Ideally you should spend a few days at ‘Maggie’, as the locals call it, and if you head to the east coast of the island, you’ll find most of the main holiday accommodation providers there. As you can get from Townsville to Magnetic Island by car barge or ferry, you can always just go there for a day trip.

    Overall, the island has five main beaches and is known for being a hotspot for watersports. Of them, Horseshoe Bay is regarded as being one of the best of all Townsville beaches for snorkelling and swimming. It is also a great place for viewing dolphins, stingrays, dugongs and turtles.

    Elsewhere, Alma Bay is an excellent spot to set yourself up for the day, as it has barbecues, a children’s playground and some fabulous rock pools, while Geoffrey Bay accommodates giant clams and a fascinating wreck dive site.

    Picnic Bay is a good place for fishing as it has a jetty. It also has the wrecks of a wooden steamship and a paddle steamer, which are quite arresting. However, if you want to do nothing more than sit under a palm tree on a long stretch of golden beach, Nelly Bay is a great place to go.

     

    View of The Strand beach in Townsville, North Queensland
    View of The Strand beach in Townsville, North Queensland

     

    Balgal Beach

    Ok, so technically Balgal Beach shouldn’t be included in a list of the best Townsville Beaches because it is actually an hour’s drive away from it. However, if you are in the area, it is worth popping to it on a day trip, or en route north to Mission Beach and beyond.

    This beautiful coastal area is one of the few beaches north of Townsville that has patrolled nets during the stinger season. This means it is a safe place to bring your little ones for a swim during that time. There is also a little playground for them to enjoy.

    It is worth noting that Balgal Beach is prime crocodile country. So, you should under no circumstances, swim near the boat ramp, where the estuary is located.

    Instead, get yourself some fish and chips from the licensed cafe that is next to it and enjoy an al fresco lunch on the beach or under the shaded trees in the adjacent park.
    If you fancy camping, you’ll be able to do so for 48 hours either on the beach or at the nearby Rollingstone Creek.

     

    Toolakea Beach

    Situated about 40 km north of Townsville is the relaxed and low-key Toolakea Beach.

    Lined with quaint and surprisingly inexpensive beachfront homes, this largely residential sand area is a terrific spot is one of the best Townsville beaches for walking your dog at low tide. During this time, you will note that much of the beach is rocky below the surface of the waves. However, if you make your way beyond the waterfront homes, the expanse of beach gets better.

    You won’t find any facilities or shops at the beach, but there are several picnic spots. Just make sure you bring your own shade, as the trees are a little way back from the sand.

    If you want to swim you will have to go a long way out, which I would not advise. Apparently the crocodiles at the adjacent Bluewater Creek are known to swim out towards the islands. So, it is best not to risk it.

     

    Magnetic Island Qld is full of brilliant Townsville beaches you simply have to visit
    View of a beach at Magnetic Island in Queensland

     

    Pallarenda Beach

    Pallarenda Beach is one of the nicest Townsville beaches you can visit. Separated from Rowes Bay by Three Mile Creek, the east-facing beach runs for about 2.5 km.

    It is a lovely spot for swimming, featuring stinger nets during the months of November to May and being patrolled by surf lifesavers during that time. Additionally, the beach is dog-friendly, which means Fido can run free off-leash until its heart is content. However, it will have to be aware of crocodiles if it wants to splash around in the water.

    The beach’s northern area is part of the Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park – a historic section that accommodates a WWII battery and former quarantine station. It is also home to over 200 species of birds, making it a fantastic place for bird watching, as well as several miles of tracks for walking and mountain biking.

    Overall, Cape Pallarenda has a distinctly remote feel, partly because it has no facilities except toilets. That said, you can see the city and Castle Hill from across the bay.

    If you do decide to come here, make sure you bring plenty of sunscreen, insect repellent and food and water, you’ll need it if you plan to explore the trails.

     

    Saunders Beach

    In my opinion, Saunders Beach is one of the most pristine Townsville Australia beaches you can visit.

    Extending for approximately 6 km, there is a good chance you will have this fabulous stretch of sand all to yourself. So it is a good spot for a long beach walk and to practice a bit of cheeky nude sunbathing.

    This quaint seaside community is located about 30 km north of the Townsville CBD. It has a tiny convenience store, but that is about it. Therefore, you’re best off bringing your own food and beverages with you.

    This beautiful beach is a lovely spot to linger. If you are visiting it in a campervan, you might want to spend a night or two at Saunders Beach Park, which offers toilet facilities.

     

    Child sitting on one of the beaches in Townsville

     

    Bushland Beach

    Situated about a 25-minute drive north from the Townsville CBD, just off the Bruce Highway, is the scenic Bushland Beach.

    Located slightly off the tourist trail, this suburban beach is flanked by residential housing communities that run all the way to the main turn-off. However, there are several places to stay for holidaymakers and passing tourists.

    There are also good facilities for visitors to use, such as toilets, BBQs, picnic areas, a boat ramp, children’s playground, a beachside kiosk and tavern.

    Bushland Beach does not have a stinger net, so it is one of the Townsville Beaches that you should not swim at when the tide is high. However, it is considered a very good spot for fishing.

    When the tide is low, it is an excellent spot for children to search the shallow for marine animals and shells. The receding waterline also reveals the fascinating remains of a wooden shipwreck and is an excellent spot for dog-walking.

     

    Rowes Bay Beach

    Rowes Bay is situated due north of the city. It resides just past Kissing Point and can be accessed by a walking path that leads you there from The Strand Rockpool.

    While it might not be the best of all Townsville beaches in terms of optics, it does have a terrific location to enjoy some quiet time away from the main esplanade or CBD.

    Unfortunately the beach is not patrolled and doesn’t have stinger nets, which means swimming is not recommended. However, as it stretches for over 4 km, it is a fabulous beach for walking on, beachcombing and playing ball sports in the sand.

    You will also find good fishing here at its northern end around the mouth of the Three Mile Creek, and as a nice grassy foreshore for picnics. For those wanting somewhere central to stay that is quiet and close to the beach, there is an excellent family-orientated caravan park not too far away.

     

    Townsville offers a diverse culinary scene that caters to every palate, so if you are a foodie, you will be in your element!

     

    Where to stay in Townsville?

    If you plan to spend some time checking out these Townsville Beaches you are going to need a place to stay. Thankfully there are several hotels and holiday accommodation providers in the city you can stay at.

    You will be able to see a full list of these places to stay in Townsville here. However some good options include The Ville Resort-Casino, Aquarius on the Beach and Rydges Southbank.

    The Ville Resort-Casino is an upscale resort-casino on The Strand that offers several bars and restaurants, a day spa, a lagoon-style pool and terrific views of the Coral Sea. Guests can enjoy spacious rooms and suites with a range of modern amenities including complimentary Wi-Fi.

    Also offering incredible views of the Coral Sea, as well as Magnetic Island, is Aquarius on the Beach. This stunning beachfront boutique hotel on the Strand presents a superb selection of comfortable rooms with private balconies for guests to relax and on.

    It also has a bar and restaurant that looks out to the water, free parking and easy access to the beach promenade. All of which combine to make it the perfect destination for a relaxing seaside getaway.

    Another good choice of Townsville accommodation is the Rydges Southbank. Offering a convenient base for exploring the city, it overlooks Ross Creek and is within walking distance of popular attractions like Reef HQ Aquarium. The hotel provides guests with stylish and comfortable rooms to relax in after a long day of sightseeing and beach fun.

    It also has an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant and bar they can use if they don’t fancy leaving the property.

     

    Distance to Townsville from Other Australia Destinations

  • Coffs Harbour 1736 km
  • Newcastle 1945 km
  • Sydney 2076 km
  • Canberra 2172 km
  • Woollongong 2174 km
  • Bendigo 2347 km
  • Ballarat 2469 km
  • Melbourne 2475 km
  • Darwin 2504 km
  • Geelong 2535 km
  • Adelaide 2625 km
  • Perth 4908 km
  • Where to eat in Townsville

    Townsville offers a diverse culinary scene that caters to every palate, so if you are a foodie, you will be in your element!

    One of the best places to eat is Chico Rio Townsville which you will find on Flinders Street. This buzzy Brazilian Churrascaria resides in the heart of the CBD in a funky space that bursts with colour. It presents a delicious menu of Samba-inspired dishes, including their signature Churrasco, which will instantly break you out into omm nom nom noises!

    On the same side of the street from Chico Rio, but a little further down is Shaw & Co. These guys offer some of the best steaks in down, as well as a good selection of vegan and vegetarian options for those who aren’t down with or fancy eating meat.

    A little bit further away from Flinders Street, within The Ville Resort-Casino is The Palm House. This waterfront dining venue is an excellent place to bring kids as they have an all-you-can-eat buffet and excellent children’s menu. The food here is of a very high standard and on Thursday, kids between the ages of 0-12 eat free!

    If you happen to be over at Ross Creek when the hunger pans hit, its a good idea to visit Bridgewater Q. This stylish, upscale venue presents a top-notch menu of dishes curated from the vision of chefs Tyron Samuel and Matt Merrin.

    For lunch, their tempura quail or hoisin glazed pork jowl are wonderful options. However, if you are feeling in the mood for some indulgence at dinner, their 5-course degustation meal is sensational.

     

    Final Thought

    For many people Townsville is a base for snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, the arid landscapes of the Queensland outback and the stunning rainforests that lie within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

    However, the capital of Tropical North Queensland is more than just a jump off base to other places. It also possesses a number of notable attractions of its own to engage the interest of the visitor for days.

    Top of this list is the eight wonderful Townsville beaches that are easy to get to from the CBD. As you have read, they all offer a completely different experience, which makes them all worth visiting.

    Infact you might enjoy them so much, you won’t want to leave!

     

    Townsville Beaches FAQs

    Here are my answers to some frequently asked questions about Townsville Beaches.

     

    Which are the Best Townsville beaches for Swimming?

    Overall, there are two Townsville beaches that are considered safe spots for swimming. They are The Strand North and South, both of which have stinger nets and are regularly patrolled in the summer months by lifeguards.

     

    Are there crocodiles on the Townsville beaches?

    Whilst it is an extremely rare occurrence, unfortunately crocodiles are occasionally spotted on Townsville beaches. So it pays to be vigilant and you should never enter the water if you are alone.

     

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