If you want to go on a kayaking adventure in Australia, Queensland is a great place to start. It boasts awesome beaches, rivers, beautiful coral reefs and plenty of places to explore. From calm, crystal clear seas to exciting whitewater rivers - here are our top picks for places to kayak in the sunshine state.

The Great Barrier Reef (sea kayaking)

Where: Coral Sea, off the North East Queensland Coast

Difficulty Level: Easy, Intermediate

What better place to explore on your kayak than the world’s largest coral reef system? The Great Barrier Reef is home to some of the most beautiful and easily accessible kayaking locations on Australia’s east coast. There are a number of impressive islands and beaches you can explore on your kayak – including Low Isles, the Whitsundays, Mission Beach, Dunk Island and Cape Tribulation. You can cruise the impressive reefs by getting on board with a tour group or exploring at your own pace with mates. If you are a first time kayaker you will love paddling around the Whitsundays, with a choice of 74 islands to check out and plenty of places to rest along the way. Kayaking between Mission Beach and Dunk Island is also a great route where you will spot sea turtles and rays if you are lucky.

Moreton Bay Islands, Qld (sea kayaking)

Where: 25 km East of Brisbane CBD

Difficulty Level: Easy

Moreton Bay is just a 40 minute drive from Brisbane City and is a popular destination for diving, surfing, kayaking and sand toboggan enthusiasts. It’s not surprising considering it is lined by multiple islands; including Bribie Island, Moreton Island, the Southern Bay islands, St Helena and Peel Islands.  Moreton Island, the third largest sand island in the world, has mysterious shipwrecks and vibrant coral reefs just waiting to be explored. If you like surf kayaking the beaches located across the Moreton Bay Islands also have some great spots for both beginners and experienced folk. Some popular surfing beaches you might like to try on Moreton Island include North Point, Boulders and Taylor Bight. If you just want some calm kayak cruising and fishing, the sheltered side of Bribie Island is ideal for those of a more chilled nature – plus if you change your mind the other side of the island has some great surfing beaches too. So gear up and get paddling!

Tully River (whitewater kayaking)

Where: Cairns, Queensland

Difficulty Level: Difficult, Very Difficult

If you are keen for some whitewater kayaking, Tully River is waiting for you. This is one of Australia’s most popular white water rivers with hundreds of keen rafters and kayakers experiencing the thrill every day. Only attempt this location if you are an experienced kayaker because you may encounter some tricky manoeuvres, drops and waves. Those who don’t have a lot of experience white water kayaking don’t have to miss out on the heart pumping action – you can fly down the river with one of the rafting companies that frequent the water. The Tully Hydro Power Station controls the levels of the river by releasing water at certain times during the day, making for some great pushes in the upper section. Rafting companies pay for these releases to create the best conditions for the times of day they hit the water. Water is usually released at 10am and 2pm – try to be courteous and don’t get in the way of the rafting companies since they are the ones paying for the water release!

Snapper Island (sea kayaking)

Where: 20km north of Port Douglas, at the mouth of Daintree River

Difficulty Level: Easy, intermediate

If you plan on kayaking near Snapper Island be sure to pack your snorkel. Off the Island you will find colourful corals, a wide assortment of fish and, if you are lucky, you will even see a green sea turtle. On a calm day you can start at Wonga Beach and paddle 2 hours to Snapper Island to explore or relax and lull about on the beaches. Although there are no tracks to take you through the island’s lush forests; there are four campsites that have picnic tables, a toilet and tarp poles. If you want to stay at these campsites you will need a permit and be completely self sufficient (you can find out more about camping here).  If you want to kayak as part of a group there are also a number of kayaking tours that will take you to Snapper Island and organise camping for you.

If you plan on going on a kayaking adventure it is always better to take a mate and tell people where you are going.

Tully River image source: Andy O

Last updated: 26th March 2014

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