Today we are going to explore the four largest sand Islands in the world, how to get there, and what you can see or do on the Island. Consequently, all have various styles of accommodation to stay for longer periods, along with convenient one or two-day organised tours.
The Australian state of Queensland is known for having some of the best beaches in the world, and this is no different when it comes to the sand Islands.
Therefore, read on below, and let’s explore your options.
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What are the 4 largest Sand Islands In the World?
1 – Fraser Island (K’Gari), Queensland, Australia (1655 square Kilometres in size)
2 – North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah), Queensland, Australia (275 square Kilometres in size)
3 – Moreton Island, Queensland, Australia (186 square Kilometres in size)
4 – Bribie Island, Queensland, Australia (148 square Kilometres in size)
Where are they?
The four largest sand islands are located around the southeast corner of Queensland, Australia. They reside within about 400 kilometres from Brisbane to Bundaberg and can be accessed easily from the mainland. All four are very popular islands to visit and have a community of permanent residents.
Additionally, supplying resort accommodation, holiday homes, or beach camping stays there. Each one has its own unique attractions, activities, and things to do, therefore, there is a valid reason to visit all four.
(Please click here for the Map Directory Link of the 4 largest Sand Islands to open or apply directions from your location)
1. K-Gari or Fraser Island
(Largest Sand Island in the World)
- Where is it – The Island lies off the coast, from Bundaberg & Rainbow Beach.
- How to get there – Ferry or Barge leaves from Hervey Bay and Rainbow Beach
- Resorts – Kingfisher bay Resort (west side) and Eurong Beach Resort (East Side)
- Population – 182 people (mostly resort staff)
- Tours – There are Brisbane, Hervey Bay, Rainbow Beach, Noosa Tour options available
- Size – 1655 square Kilometres
The Island of K’Gari or otherwise known as Fraser Island, is the biggest of the sand islands (in the world) and receives over 300 thousand tourists each year. Consequently, it’s 1123 kilometres in length and 22 kilometres at its widest point.
The indigenous name K’Gari translates to “Paradise” and has been inhabited by the Butchulla Aboriginal people for thousands of years. Furthermore, it was UNESCO world heritage listed in 1992.
The entire island is a four-wheel-drive-only site and part of the Great Sandy National Park, including the Rainbow beach area. Therefore, you will need to either take your own car to drive around, hire a car or purchase one of the organised tours from the mainland.
(Note: If you hire a car, please check the guidelines that you’re able to drive on Fraser Island)
Island accommodation consists of off-grid beach camping, a couple of caravan parks, or staying at one of the two different resorts. Apart from that, you will find alternative fixed accommodation, like holiday homes, beach houses, and private rentals.
➡ Find somewhere to stay on Fraser Island HERE
Organised tour buses will have you exploring for a day, or have you staying one or two nights in the resort. Mostly, these will pick you up from your hotel accommodation in either Hervey Bay, Noosa or Rainbow Beach and drop you back thereafter.
Choose different tour options based on the different sites you want to see. Some locations can be harder or more time-consuming than others, so round down your highlights and choose the best tour for you.
Overall, I would recommend a 2 day/1 night option as the best and I have done this option twice now from Brisbane. While that’s my preference for enough time to see the best things, I’ve also done the 1 days tours from Hervey Bay & Rainbow Beach and found them sufficient, but busy!
➡ Find Tours HERE to Fraser Island with GYG
Things to see
There is no short supply to see things on K’Gari, or keep yourself entertained and suit everyone travelling with you. While beach swimming is not common, there are plenty of swimming spots at the Champagne rock pools, Eli Creek, Lake Wabby, and Lake McKenzie.
Lake McKenzie happens to be one of the most stunning freshwater beaches in Australia with fine, white silica sand and crystal clear waters. You will be in awe when seeing this lake for the first time, and easy enough to spend a couple of hours here.
Apart from the swimming, you have history boasting sites like the unusual Pinnacles rock formation or walking around the SS Maheno Shipwreck. Alternatively, you can explore some of the rainforests full of red gums, stag horns, swap box, and paperback trees. In fact, Fraser Island is the only place in the world where a rainforest grows in sand.
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2. North Stradbroke Island or Minjerribah
(Second Largest Sand Island in the World)
- Where is it – The Island lies off the coast of the Queensland capital of Brisbane.
- How to get there – Ferry or Barge leaves from Cleveland, Brisbane, and takes 45 minutes to get there.
- Resorts – there are many different Stradbroke Island Accommodations to choose from.
- Population – around 2000 permanent residents and inbuilt community
- Tours – There are Brisbane or the Gold Coast tour options available
- Size – 275 square Kilometres
North Stradbroke Island ( or Minjerribah) lies off the coast of Brisbane and is only a short 40-minute ferry ride from the suburb of Cleveland. Both the people and car transfers leave from Cleveland and can be organised through SeaLink South East Queensland Ferry service.
The small community or permanent residents provide tourists with all the facilities and creature comforts needed for the perfect holiday. These include grocery stores, local arts and crafts, restaurants, and cafes.
The Naree Bujong Dajara National Park covers about fifty percent of the Island and means “My Mother earth”. The original owners, the Quandamooka People have been living there for thousands of years and boast untouched nature and a variety of wildlife.
There are conveniently sealed roads and a public bus service over the main sections or suburbs of the island. These include Dunwich, Amity Point, and the popular Point Lookout. Accessing any other part of the Island or the beaches will require a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a permit to drive there. These can be purchased from the Minjerribah Camping website, along with the camping permits.
With a high percentage of permanent residents, you will find any kind of accommodation options on Stradbroke Island. This includes beachside resorts, luxury-style accommodation, budget motels, Airbnb, and holiday homes. There will be something to suit your style and budget, but do keep in mind this is an Island and tends to be a little higher than the mainland.
➡ Find North Stradbroke Island Hotel Deals HERE
There are a few tour options to North Stradbroke Island from Brisbane and the Gold Coast. These will visit the amazing beaches and a couple of the highlighted points on the island.
➡ Find North Stradbroke Island Tours HERE with GYG
Things to see
Stradbroke Island ( or Straddie by the locals) is known for some of the best beaches in this area and one suited to your situation. Amity Point faces the west and is great for low-key swimming for kids, paddle boarding, or jet skiing. Flinders Beach has plenty of great swimming, or beach camping options.
Otherwise, Cylinder Beach area on the north side does get a few waves, but still a great spot for swimming. Point Lookout is on the east coast and where you’ll find the bigger waves and all the Surfing opportunities.
There is two beach driving sections on North Stradbroke Island, these are Flinders beach in the North and Main Beach running down the east side. Consequently, this is also where the beachside camping is, which needs you to purchase permits.
Point Lookout is located on the east side and is one of the more popular sections of Stradbroke Island. This is where you find the Gorge Walk meandering through the rocky headland and come across local wildlife like Kangaroos or passing whales.
Alternatively, there is some freshwater swimming at Brown Lake, which is amazing. It’s stained a slight brown colour due to the Tea-Tree tannin, but a nice quiet area to sit back and enjoy nature. It’s also a great location to look out for Koalas.
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3. Moreton Island “aka Tangalooma”
(Third Largest Sand Island in the World)
- Where is it – The Island lies off the coast of the Queensland capital
- How to get there – Moreton Adventures Leaves from the Brisbane Port, or the Tangalooma Flyer leaves from Eagle Farm in Brisbane. Both will between 1 to 1.5 hours to get to Moreton Island or the Tangalooma Island Resort. Barge Transport for vehicles will only leave Port of Brisbane.
- Resorts – Tangalooma Island Beach Resort.
- Population – 243 people (mostly resort staff)
- Tours – All tours will leave from Brisbane or start on the Island itself
- Size – 186 square Kilometres
Moreton Island is our third largest of the sand Islands and still conveniently located off the coast of Brisbane, taking 1.5 hours to get there. This Island is a perfect day trip and has the Tangalooma Flyer (people transport) leaving several times a day from the Eagle Farm depot.
It’s easy, due to the catamaran dropping you off right near the Tangalooma Island resort and having all the facilities right there within walking distance.
The rest of the Island is Gheebulum Kunungai National Park, and you will need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to access it (or a tour that takes you through there). Privately owned Barge transfers for vehicles are available at the Port of Brisbane.
The Vehicle Barge will not drop you anywhere near the resort, and it’s at least 30 minutes to walk there. However, it is right near the Tangalooma Wrecks and you can spend the day hanging out on the beach. Therefore, unless you are beach camping or driving around the National park, it’s better to take the Tangalooma Flyer or book a tour to get around.
As mentioned above, Moreton Island is popular for off-grid Beach Camping and permits will need to be purchased through the Qld Parks website before arriving. Apart from that, you have the Tangalooma Island Resort, with several different types of accommodation from budget to Luxury.
The Resort is Eco friendly and has many facilities running off solar power. The Island and resort were even used in the blockbuster movie scenes of the Scooby-doo Movie.
➡ Find Moreton Island or Tangalooma Hotel Deals HERE
Moreton Island is a perfect day trip from Brisbane and generally revolves around swimming, snorkelling the best shipwrecks in Queensland, checking out the coastal sand dunes, or scuba diving. Not only that, but can include using the resort facilities like the pools, mini-golf, or paddle boarding.
➡ Find Moreton Island Tours HERE with GYG
Things to see
The biggest highlight and what draws people to Tangalooma Island Resort is the Dolphin feeding. Wild dolphins have been visiting the jetty area for years and are now controlled by the wildlife rangers. Every night around sunset, you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with these Dolphins and learn about their many habits. You can see my experience here by watching my YouTube vide.
Apart from this, the resort hosts both charged and free activities like paragliding, Quad bike Tours, Helicopter flights, swimming in resort pools, or sand tobogganing down the sand dunes. Alternatively, there are fifteen shipwrecks about 20 minutes’ walk from the resort and often the best spot to search for underwater life.
The activities have been developed to limit footprints on the Island and ensure sustainability for future generations to come. In the end, with the resort facing the west, it makes it the perfect spot to watch the sunset and a great way to end the day.
4. Bribie Island
(Forth Largest Sand Island in the World)
- Where is it – The Island lies off the Queensland coast in North Brisbane.
- How to get there – This is the only island fitted with a joining Bridge and can be accessed anytime with your own standard two-wheel drive vehicle.
- Resorts – There are many different Bribie Island accommodations to choose from.
- Population – over 16 thousand people and inbuilt community
- Tours – Options will start on Bribie Island itself
- Size – 148 square Kilometres
This might be the smallest of all four sand islands, but it does have the biggest population. Bribie Island is located on the north side of Brisbane and can be accessed using your own vehicle and the Bribie Island Bridge.
Like Stradbroke Island, you have communities and facilities available on both sides. The west side with low keys waters, and the east side faces the open ocean. These are all on sealed roads and very easy to get around.
The northern side of the Island is bushland and part of the Bribie Island National Park. Permits are needed for driving and camping through the QLD parks website, and you will need a four-wheel drive to access it.
With the biggest population, you also have the biggest amount of accommodation choices. These include hostels, motels, hotels, luxury, and beachside accommodation. There are also channels and waterways on the east side with Bed and Breakfasts and private rentals.
Whatever style or budget you’re after, you will find it on Bribie. Alternatively, there are some stunning beach camping spots( Ocean Beach Campsite), which can be booked out quickly – so plan ahead for that.
➡ Find Bribie Island Hotel Deals HERE
If you’re visiting without your own four-wheel drive, then a tour through the national park might be a great option to check out the Island. Ferryman cruises leave from the waterways and explores the Pumicestone passage area.
You can hire paddle boards and kayaks at any time on the east coast of the island, or try your hand at learning to surf on the west side. Additionally, if you have a group of people, then hiring a Barbeque boat for a few hours of fishing and swimming is a fun day out.
➡ Find Bribie Island Tours HERE
Things to see
Bribie Island has 55 square Kilometres that are uninhabited, which means it’s full of wildlife, bushland, lakes, and many different areas to explore. Apart from that, you have several different beaches, Hiking, kayaking, fishing and very popular for jet skiing. Locals will bring over their own human-propelled vehicles and spend days around the water.
For those options out of the water, you have plenty of shops, restaurants, cafes, museums, and even a Butterfly house to check out.
What are Sand Islands?
Obviously, all of these sand islands is one that’s completely made out of sand. Smaller ones we tend to refer to as sand bars and often come and go with the tides. It’s a low-lying area created by deposits of loose particles in the ocean and carried by current and waves. They are more common in tropical or subtropical regions but can be formed absolutely anywhere.
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Wrap Up – The Four largest Sand Islands in the World
Thanks for reading this blog today and exploring the Four Largest sand islands in the world and I hope you found what you were looking for. However, if you’re still researching, please get updated Queensland Articles HERE for planning and Inspiration.
“This website provides general information based on my (Chris Fry, Aquarius Traveller’s) personal experiences. Use of any information on this website is at your own risk, and I will not be liable for any loss or damage arising from its use. For more information, please refer to my Terms and Conditions Here.“