You don't have to drive up or down the coast for hours to enjoy a day of beach fun; believe it or not, Brisbane has several beaches right on its back door step.
North Stradbroke Island has undergone a major restoration in the past decade, but the beaches haven't changed a bit. Straddie (as it is commonly called) can be accessed via barge or ferry from Cleveland, Brisbane, to the terminal in Dunwich. The island has several surf beaches, making it popular with board riders, plus some more family friendly options.
Main Beach and Cylinder Beach, both in Point Lookout, are the best surfing beaches and are lifeguard patrolled from September until May. Both beaches offer separate areas for swimmers and surfers. Flinders Beach, between Point Lookout and Amity Point, is accesible only by four wheel drive and allows foreshore camping by permit, making it a good spot for a weekend getaway. Flinders Beach is partially patrolled by rescue boats and mobile four wheel drive patrols. Home Beach and Deadman and Frenchman's Beaches are more secluded spots that allow gentle swimming and rock pools for exploring. They are not patrolled.
Despite some minor cosmetic improvements, Bribie Island is still the same laid back beach village that you may have visited as a child. It's less than an hours drive from Brisbane and accessed by the Pumicestone Passage - no boats required!
Bribie has two distinct beach areas. The 'surf side' refers to Woorim Beach, a five kilometre stretch of coast with gentle surf that holds that ruins of Fort Bribie. One the other side of the island, the 'calm side' contains Bongaree and Bellara, two non-surf beaches. Bongaree offers play areas for children and neaby shops, while Bellara is a parkland and popular fishing spot.
Moreton Island is perhaps the less developed of the Moreton Bay islands, with a population of about 270. You can get there by catamaran from Pinkenba to Tangalooma. There are no paved roads on the island so you will need a four wheel drive if you are planning on going futher than Tangalooma.
The postcard-perfect beaches of Moreton Island are not patrolled and can get pretty rough, so be sure to take the proper precautions. If you don't feel comfortable in the waves, try a dip in the Blue Lagoon freshwater lake. Moreton Island also offers snorkelling and diving, which can be organised through one of Tangalooma's resorts, camping and four wheel driving. Be sure to consult the Department of Environment and Resource Management website before planning any Moreton Island activities, as 95% of the island is national park.