On a quiet island peninsula just off the coast of Brisbane, you'll find a little slice of paradise to slow down your East Coast road trip. Easily accessible by car or ferry, Stradbroke Island is culturally significant for the Quandamooka people, who call it Minjerribah. With no shortage of activities available to help you reconnect with nature and learn about Australia's cultural history – we think it's well worth a few days exploration.

What to do when visiting Stradbroke Island

1) Go wildlife spotting

Straddie, as the island is affectionately known, is packed to the brim with Australian wildlife. From sleepy koalas to energetic dolphins close to shore, a local nature walk is bound to turn up an exciting encounter. 

Head to Amity Point at sunrise or sunset for guaranteed dolphin spotting, or take in the sea views of North Gorge walkway to have breakfast or dinner with the local kangaroos. If you've remembered your binoculars, you might be lucky enough to spot migrating whales at Morton Bay or from the Point Lookout from June to November, while scuba diving could bring you face-to-face with a manta ray, turtle, seal or shark.

2) Take a hike

You have several options for your morning or afternoon hike on Straddie. The walk through Naree Budjong Djara National Park takes you on a 5.2 km loop via Blue Lake. Culturally significant for the Quandamooka people, you can't swim in the lake, but you're best appreciating the bright blue colour from the shore anyway.

From Home Beach on the western coast, join the Whale Walk which eventually joins up with the North Gorge path. It's one of the more challenging walks on the island but the views make it more than worth the effort. Just remember some sensible footwear and a bottle of water.

3) Jump right in

Scuba diving isn't the only water activity on offer here. Kayaking tours to Peel Island are a great way to see marine life up close, while a swim in Brown Lake is a unique opportunity. Stained brown thanks to the tea trees surrounding the lake, the water is otherwise crystal clear.

Accompanied standup paddleboarding trips depart from Flinders Beach, or hire the equipment and design your own itinerary. Meanwhile, you can hit the waves at Main Beach and Cylinder Beach, or get some pro tips from the experts at North Stradbroke Island Surf School. If you're not too confident in the water, take on the impressive sand dunes instead.

4) Soak up some cultural vibes

For Aboriginal art, spend a couple of hours at the Salt Water Murris' Art Gallery in Dunwich. They have a wide selection on display, and have art for sale too so you can take a slice of Stradbroke home with you.

While you're in the area, check out Dunwich Cemetery – far from gruesome, it provides a fascinating insight into Queensland's early European settlement days. The North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum offers yet more local history on topics ranging from shipwrecks and convicts, to sandmining and the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum. 

Learn more about the islands aboriginal community and heritage by joining Minjerribah-Moorgumpin Elder Aunty Margaret Iselin for a one of her cultural talks, available Monday – Thursday. Meanwhile, those who enjoy getting their hands dirty can visit Handmade on Minjerribah for workshops in all things art-related – such as weaving and ceramics. 

Get your Brisbane car hire organised today, and start your journey to Stradbroke Island.