Top spots to kayak in Brisbane
With a river that snakes its way through the CBD and branches out into waterways that flow into the surrounding regions – and all the way to some of Australia’s largest sand islands – there’s no better way to explore Brisbane than with paddle in hand.
Whether you’re looking to jump on board a Paddle and Prawns adventure, an island kayak tour, or want to BYO watercraft to explore el solo, here are the top places to kayak in and around Brisbane.
For one of the most accessible kayak experiences on offer in the River City, head to the Kangaroo Point Cliffs and walk down the stairs to find Riverlife Adventure Centre.
Here you can join one of their scheduled kayak tours along the Brisbane River with the skyscrapers of the CBD, and parklands and restaurants of South Bank, your backdrop.
On Friday nights, you can combine three great loves with a twilight paddle followed by beers and fresh prawns. Or on Saturdays, back up a 90-minute kayaking tour with a BBQ on the water’s edge.
Brisbane’s CBD might not immediately be on the beach, but a short drive east will take you to the water wonderland that is Moreton Bay.
Stretching 125 kilometres from Bribie Island in the north to the Redlands in the south, this is not only the access point for Brissie’s island neighbours – Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island – but the perfect playground for keen kayakers.
Paddling through the calm waters of the Pumicestone Passage will give you an entirely new perspective on Bribie Island, 80km north of Brisbane.
For those who dare, Ocean Adventure offers a four-day kayaking expedition on Pumicestone Passage, around the island and out into Moreton Bay to Stradbroke and Peel Islands.
*A minimum of four people is required to book the Moreton Bay Marine Park Adventure.
This under-the-radar beach town, just 30 minutes drive from Brisbane, lays claim to fame as the home of the Bee Gees, but kayak-mad travellers need only know you can grab a paddle here and easily explore Moreton Bay.
Kayak Hire Brisbane are opposite Queens Beach North in Scarborough on the Redcliffe Peninsula. And if you rely on Uber (or your own two feet) to get around, they offer a beach delivery service to help get you waterborne.
You can also join a guided kayak through Hays Inlet, an internationally recognised wader bird habitat. While you’re perfecting your stroke, keep watch for koalas and kangaroos, which can occasionally be spotted on the banks, and look up in the hope of spotting brahminy kites and sea eagles.
As well as offering kitesurfing and windsurfing lessons, these guys can hook you up with kayak or stand-up paddleboard hire to explore the Bay.
See water, will paddle: That’s the mantra at Manly Harbour, a half-hour drive from the city.
Moreton Bay Hire Boats in Manly have single and double kayaks for hire. Time your visit for the first or third Saturday of the month and reward your paddling efforts with a basket full of treats from the Jan Powers Farmers Markets afterwards.
They’re eco-friendly, stealthy and silent, and will take you places larger vessels can’t reach so it’s no wonder why kayakers love to seek out new territories. Redlands Kayak Tours offer 1.5 hour, half-day and full-day tours that will introduce you secret spots, not even Brisbane locals know about.
Feel your back muscles burn after a paddle around Wellington Point, Victoria Point, Thompson Beach, Coochiemudlo Island or Tingalpa Creek.
On this tiny isle – a compact five square kilometres – not a lot has happened since the ’80s, and the aqua bikes you’ll spy on the beach are just one of the many charming remnants. But you came here intent on hiring a kayak, and for that, Coochie Boat Hire has you sorted.
It’ll only take you two hours to paddle around the island at a leisurely pace – keep an eye out for dolphins, dugongs and sea turtles and have fun exploring the secluded beaches, Melaleuca wetlands and ancient mangrove forests, brimming with birdlife.
You’ve got plenty of options here:
– Join a day trip from Brisbane with Adventure Moreton Island and opt for either regular kayaking or use their hella-cool transparent kayaks to see the marine life pop up at you from below while you paddle across the blue sea.
– Book day trip to Tangalooma Island Resort and combine whale watching on the way over (during the season from June – October) with kayaking alongside Australia’s second-largest sand island.
– Australian Sunset Safaris also offer transparent kayaks on a daily tour BUT they then take things next level come nightfall with illuminated night kayaking, so it’s definitely worth staying on the island overnight if you can.
– Already on the island? See the guys at Tangatours (at Tangalooma Island Resort) if you just want to rent your own kayak for a couple of hours. They also offer snorkelling and kayaking tours, and transparent night kayak tours.
North Stradbroke Island
With beautiful beaches and natural tea tree lakes at your disposal, kayaking at North Stradbroke Island (aka “Straddie”) is one to tick off your Brisbane bucket list.
Owned and operated by Traditional Owners of Quandamooka who call “Minjerribah” (North Stradbroke Island) home, Straddie Adventures lead tours around Straddie with the added bonus of a lesson in Aboriginal culture.
If you prefer bush to beach, a 20-minute drive west of the CBD will put you the Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre. Here you can go swimming or kayaking in Enoggera Reservoir, enjoy a short bush walk, or go mountain bike riding in D’Aguilar National Park.
You can hire single and double kayaks (as well as stand-up paddleboards, segways and mountain bikes) from Walkabout Creek Adventures, who also offer short 30-minute tours at 10am and a 90-minute tour at 1pm each day.
Already have your own trusty fibreglass steed? Latch it onto the roof racks and check out these beaut’ Brisbane kayaking spots:
- Colleges Crossing in Ipswich (which also happens to double as a pretty damn fine picnic spot)
- Savage’s Crossing located along Banks Creek Rd, five minutes from the town of Fernvale
- The ultimate water park – Somerset Dam
- Lake Wivenhoe (aka Wivenhoe Dam), the largest lake in south-east Queensland
- The North Pine River in the Pine Rivers district, in Brisbane’s northern reaches
- Russell Island in the Southern Moreton Bay Islands
- Boondall Wetlands Reserve for more than 1,000 hectares of tidal flats, mangroves, saltmarshes, melaleuca wetlands, grasslands, open forests and woodlands