First and foremost beaches are associated with swimming and sunbathing. Quite a few of them are scenic or outstanding at a special time. Share your favorite beach which you already experienced.
Moreton Island is a popular and beautiful paradise just 40 km from mainland Brisbane. The locals call it their own "Great Barrier Reef". This awesome island is a year-round destination, although the winter provides more stable weather. The island is occasionally overrun. To find out the quiet and peaceful time for your visit continue reading.
Peak Season - Avoiding Crowds
Fully booked ferry to Moreton Island
The entire island is super busy on long weekends, Christmas Holidays from mid-December to late January, Easter Holidays, and for the Spring Holidays around mid-September for more than two weeks. If traveling by 4WD advanced ferry booking of up to six months is recommended, by walk-in at least two weeks. Before booking the ferry check the campground availability first. Also, lots of day-trippers come by ferry either to Tangalooma or Bulwer, and cruise ships bring day-trippers as well.
Weather and Crowds (Season Details)
Moreton Island, Tangalooma Shipwrecks
Brisbane experiences a rainy season from November to March during the hot summer. Thunderstorms are likely to happen, cyclones are rare. April to October are drier, but showers can occur throughout the year.
Pleasant day temps on average above 25°C and night temps are refreshing cool below 20°C. Usually, not much crowded except the spring holidays around mid-September for more than two weeks. From October onwards, the sea starts to warm up and rain increases.
Day temps are on average around 30°C and night temps around 20°C. The Christmas Summer Holiday starts mid-December and lasts until late January. This is the most crowded time at all. If possible, avoid these weeks on Moreton. Often the weather is fine, but thunderstorms can happen quite frequently. The water temp is relatively warm at around 25°C.
Pleasant temps in April and May. These are the quieter months on Moreton, especially during the week except the Easter Holidays, which last two weeks. Campgrounds are not fully booked. The water temps are slightly cooler than in summer but still nice.
Pleasant day temps on average around 20°C but chilly nights with 10°C and below. So, bring a warm sleeping bag for camping. These months are the driest. Usually, Moreton is quieter at this time of the year except for two weeks holidays end of June/ beginning of July. The water temp is cooler almost 20°C. If you like to snorkel; bring a wetsuit or shorty.
Average Monthly Temperature and Rainfall for Moreton Island from 1991-2015
Where to Stay on Moreton
If coming by 4x4, you have lots of opportunities to choose from; like one of the five campgrounds with facilities or one of the basic ones on the island. Pre-booking is required.
- If you visit the island by feet, take the ferry to Tangalooma and pitch your tent next to the jetty. It’s just a short walk to the 21 beautifully located campsites. Online booking for the camping permit is essential. Therefore internet access is provided at the information board. Advanced booking is recommended during weekends and holidays. A spontaneous stay is possible but not guaranteed. Showers and long drop pits are available.
- Bulwer and the Comboyuro Campground are known to be very family-friendly. There is the Castaways Café, Resort, and Store with a good selection of groceries for a long term stay. They also offer beautiful cabins. It takes roughly two hours to walk from Tangalooma to Bulwer.
- The Blue Lagoon is a beach campground and also an excellent spot with the refreshing lagoon in walking distance on the eastern side. You can park your car next to your tent or trailer. Facilities are provided.
- Ben-Ewa north of The Wrecks reached by 4x4. It's a popular spot for families due to the sheltered bay waters. The campground offers shady sites and protection from stronger winds.
- North Point Campground can be reached by 4x4 only. The grassy sites, some provide shade are closely located to the surf beach. You can't park your vehicle next to the tent in short distance only.
Queensland National Parks Campsite Booking
- Another option for those who don’t want to miss a comfy bed book one of the view accommodations in Tangalooma on Moreton Island. Accommodation Booking for Moreton
- The Tangalooma Resort has some great offers; guests can rent a 4WD, guided snorkel trips are offered, and you can watch dolphins in the evening when they get fed. Tangalooma Resort
Tangalooma Island Resort
Ocean Life Highlights
- Whale watching at Cape Moreton during their migration from June to November. Book a tour to experience these amazing giants in the ocean.
- Dolphins, dugongs, turtles, and sharks can be spotted throughout the year around the entire island.
The famous and popular Figure 8 Pools are safely accessible around low tide only! The tides and swell must have a low level without strong wind to enjoy the amazing pools without an accident. Many people got injured by sudden waves just for a perfect selfie. Check Official National Park Website - Alerts
Update Feb 2019: Safety First! A young international student got washed off the rocks on Monday 25th. 9 people died in the Royal National Park along the coast since 2016. Don't come here during high tide. Check the National Park Alerts first and the wave status. Two young men got hit by an extreme wave and one drowned. Want to be on the safe side? Book a tour with the only licensed tour operator for Figure 8 Pools (these guys are excellent): Figure 8 Pools Photography & Hike Tour from Sydney (via Viator - TripAdvisor Experience)
Tide Times and Swell (Safety)
Again, it's only safe to be at Figure 8 pools during low tide, low swell and without very strong wind or storm! What you should know:
- What does low tide mean? Like in most other coastal areas, you'll experience two tidal cycles over the course of one lunar day. Which means, each day there are 2 high tides and 2 low tides. However, due to park opening times (read below) you can only be there during one of the two low tide periods on a single day. Plan your visit accordingly: Garie Beach Tide Times and Heights.
- When to arrive at Figure 8 Pools? Plan to be at Figure 8 Pools about 1-2 hours before the lowest tide time. Example: Low Tide at 3 p.m. means you should arrive between 1 and 2 p.m. You need to take into account the drive from the park entrance to the parking lot (about 20 minutes) and the hike from the parking area to Figure 8 Pools (another 1 ½ hours or less). Read below for more details.
- Is it always safe during low tide? No! Keep in mind, that even at low tide it can be dangerous during critical ocean conditions when big waves reach the rock shelf. Check the official Figure 8 Pools Risk Forecast. When it's set to 'Extreme', don't go. You'll find the same information at the visitor centre when entering the park. However, we went despite of a 'High Risk' forecast (one level below extreme) and it was fine. But still, we were very careful. Disclaimer: We are not responsible for any injury, death, or consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided here. This is just our experience!
Opening Times (Royal National Park)
You can only get to Figure 8 Pools, when the park is open of course. The opening times are from 7 a.m. to 8.30 p.m (Visitor Centre from 8.30am to 4.30pm daily. The only day when it's closed is on Christmas Day). However, the park can be closed at times because of severe weather conditions or fire danger. Also, plan your way back: You have to hike back to your car and after that, drive back to the entrance/exit. That's a total time of about 2 hours. If you stay too long and get back too late, you might be stuck in the park. They always close the gates at 8:30 p.m.
Getting to Figure 8 Pools
To get to the Garrawarra Farm car park it’s a long drive through the park on sealed roads, only 1.5 km is gravel.
Space is limited, and you are not allowed to park the car somewhere else. The entrance fee is 12 $ per car if you don’t have a multi or annual park pass for NSW. The gate closes at 8.30 pm and opens at 7:00 am. The hike to Figure 8 takes a maximum of 1½ hours, and the trail is 3.5 km long one way. No worries the trail is well marked, and there is no need for a map.
Avoiding the Crowds
The park is mostly super busy during the summer holidays (mid-December to January) and weekends as well. There is a lot of traffic, and the car parks fill up soon. Come early in the peak season; the car parks get closed when they are full. Traffic jams occur pretty often at this crazy time of the year.
The area around Sydney experiences hot summers with average daytime temps of almost 30°C and mild winters with an average daytime temp of about 20°C. There isn’t a wet or dry season, but droughts happen more often nowadays. On average rain occurs throughout the year with more precipitation from January to June with its peak in March.
- From May to November you may spot whales along the coast.
- The Visitor Center at Audley is open daily from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm.
- From July to November more than 700 different plants are in bloom on the plateau.
The spectacular coastline, the beach, and hikes are worth for several stops year-round. The summer is the foggiest season. Clearer skies and the best time for a visit are September and October followed by April and May. The beautiful scenery of Garrapata with very view visitors was a marvelous highlight for us in California.
Spring (special season):
An amazing time when colorful wildflower carpets cover most of the coastal area.
If visiting the beach, the best time is low tide. At high tide, parts may be inaccessible especially during strong surf. Tide times for Garrapata Beach
The Garrapata State Park is utterly overlooked therefore not busy like all the other State Parks. It's such a breathtaking coastal scenery with awesome walking tracks that you shouldn't miss. Plan at least half a day and make several stops. You won't regret it.
It’s a moderate cool coastal climate with moist air. The average temperature is between 50 to 65°F year-round. Most of the precipitation occurs from October to April with up to 50 inches / 1270 mm. Fog happens between May and October usually from evening until late morning. If it’s hot in the backcountry, the fog might stay until the afternoon. It provides moisture for the redwoods along the coast in the dry summer months.
Where to Stay (bookmark the link)
Most people experience the Garrapata State Park by accident along the HWY 1 although it's worth to stay here for the entire day. It's one of the most beautiful parks along Highway 1. What we loved most; we were most of the time alone on the hiking trail. Very difficult to get such a benefit during August where all other parks are overrun. You always get a parking space even in the busy month of August. If your schedule allows staying at least a night here. The best situated hotel with spectacular views is the Resort Hyatt Carmel Highlands.
Popular small beach frequently with lifeguard during the day in summer. Less busy and even more beautiful in the evening at sunset and low tide. Tide pooling during the day is much fun for the younger ones at low tide. The Natural Bridges State Beach is open from 8 a.m. until sunset. The visitor center is open from 10 am until 4 pm. The State Beach vehicle fee is 10 $ a day.
There is limited parking in front of the State Beach allowed for 20 minutes only. Plenty of parking lots close to the visitor center, shoulder parking direction the entrance kiosk, and outside the State Beach. Anyhow, on weekends in summer it gets quite busy.
Walking through the bridge is possible at spring tide only a couple of times a year. It occurs in spring and fall when the full or new moon is closest to the earth. Tide times Natural Bridges
- On the second Sunday in October the monarch butterfly is welcomed from 11 am until 4 pm. It's an amazing festival for the whole family.
- The second Saturday in February is dedicated to the whale migration.
The park is a temporary home for thousands of Monarch Butterflies during the winter. They migrate from the cold Rockie Mountain Valleys. The mild climate and the eucalyptus trees provide a safe place for them. They feed on the nectar of the milkweed. The butterflies arrive around mid-October and stay until late January to mid- February. Guided Monarch Butterfly Tours are offered in fall and winter at 11 am and 2 pm.
During spring wildflowers are in bloom.
Weather and Water Temperature
During the summer from June to August, it's dry, and drought occurs. The average day temp is 17°C / 62°F, but 30°C / 86°F can happen as well. Water temp in summer around 16°C / 61°F only. Most precipitation in winter from December to February with its peak in February. Average day temps are around 10°C / 50°F.
Natural Bridges Park Map and Brochure including wheelchair accessibility
The trips are offered from March to October; at the peak season in summer up to 4 times and in the shoulder season twice each day.
The morning tours are slightly quieter, and it’s less hot in summer. We preferred the afternoon trip to get the best light for taking pictures. Usually, the sea is calmer in the morning and a bit rough in the afternoon.
Some providers offer sunrise and sunset trips in summer.
Less busy during the shoulder season. The sea is still a bit cold in May and June, September is great.
Despite the weather, it‘s a breathtaking beach where you walk between huge rock stacks for almost two kilometers at low tide. At high tide, the sea covers the entire beach up to the steps. The tidal range can be up to 7 meters during the big spring tides. The tides are coming in pretty fast. You need to enter a gate to get to the 120 steps down to the beach.
From November to February the gate is closed due to severe weather and surf and also during periods of bad weather. This spectacular beach is best visited up to two hours before low tide to maximise your time here. Plan at least 3-4 hours for a visit. Tide Times Bedruthan Steps
Often only the main car park is open. At low tide and around midday cars are queuing for space. If you arrive one or two hours before low tide, you increase your chance for a parking lot. The Café is popular for jacket potatoes, cream tea, and homemade scones; the reason that it gets busy at midday especially at weekends.
The coast experiences a mild climate throughout the year. The average temps in the summer are around 20°C, but 30°C are possible in July and August. Autumn is slightly colder on average 13°C to 18°C. The spring temps are around 11°C to 15°C. Due to drizzle, fog, and wind which occurs throughout the year, it may feel pretty chilly. Usually, the driest months are April, May, and August. The water temp is quite cold even in the summer maximum of 17°C.
Stay nearby in Padstow for a couple of days to visit Bedruthan, Tintagel Castle, Lanhydrock House. Bodmin Moor to mention a view of the many highlights.
Our favorite hike is the coastal path from Carnewas at Bedruthan to Padstow. The rugged scenery is just mind-blowing. We highly recommend staying in the luxury Padstow Townhouse B&B. The only issue you may have afterward is that you don't want to leave this awesome house and this high-level service. Another option for low budget travelers is the Hostel YHA Treyarnon Bay north of Bedruthan Steps.