Horseshoe Bay – The Main Points
Location – Horseshoe Bay, Bowen, Queensland Australia
SUP – Own Drift Rigid 10’6″ Purple Frangipani Stand Up Paddleboard
Cost – Free but limited parking
Conditions – Horseshoe Bay is Saltwater
Other users – Swimmers paddlers
Entry Point – Sandy beach with gradual incline
Surrounding amenities/Bathrooms- a small cafe and a camp ground at the bay. The town of Bowen is just under 6km inland with supermarkets etc.
Getting There – The town of Bowen is approximately half way between Mackay and Townsville. Follow the Bruce Highway to Bowen 1135km North of Brisbane. From the centre of town follow Herbert Street, then The Soldiers Street north east out of town. Follow the tourist signs for Horseshoe Bay.
Wee Blether – Horseshoe Bay
Horseshoe Bay is a picture postcard of perfection type of location. It is quite a small protected bay which is why parking is limited. As the name suggests the bay is the shape of a Horseshoe and makes for some exceptionally good Stand Up Paddleboarding. The water is calm and flat – the very conditions which we find perfect!!
There is a really handy camp ground, Horseshoe Bay Resort right next to the Horseshoe Bay. It also has some really cute little cabins to stay in (which is what we decided to do). The camp ground has a little cafe in amongst the leafy shady trees, a welcome relief if on a particularly hot day.
Adjacent to Horseshoe Bay is Spice and Pepper Cafe and Restaurant and the Whitsunday Sands Resort. You pass both of these on the way into the bay. These make a nice alternative to eating and sleeping options offered by the camp ground.
The Horseshoe Bay Area is a conservation area and so unfortunately dogs are not permitted onto the beach. For a great nearby alternative you can try Rose Bay. You may be lucky enough to have the beach to yourself like we did!
Tropical Water Paddling
The conditions can be pretty hot especially in the warmer months. If you can schedule your visit between June and August you may find the weather more enjoyable. One thing to be aware of is that if you are paddling in tropical waters between October and May you will need to wear a Stinger Suit. You need these to protect you from Stingers. These suits are usually made of lycra but if you have a full length rashie this will also do the trick. You also need covering for hands and feet if you expect to spend time in the water instead of on your board. Stingers found in Australian waters are some of the most dangerous in the world, a sting from them can cause serious injury and death so please don’t underestimate them. Fortunately most beaches have information signs to educate those wishing to use the beach.
We saw a couple of swimmers get stung which, fortunately for them, was just an unpleasant experience and no long term harm was experienced. It is also worth saying here that it is advisable if swimming to only use beaches with a life guard, which Horseshoe Bay has, so that they can help administer first aid if needed. The life guards at Horseshoe Bay were able to help the swimmers who got stung. First aid usually involves the application of vinegar which stops the stinging cells of the stinger from being able to fire. The Life guards create a daily ‘Stinger Report’ which is written upon a blackboard for beach users to read.
The Surrounding Area
Just off the beach is a walk which climbs up through the native bushland onto a rocky outcrop which affords a spectacular view back down over the bay and is definitely worth the effort. Ensure that you are taking some water with you even though it isn’t a particularly long walk. You will also find that the walk is more pleasant if experienced earlier in the day before things warm up!
While you are in the Bowen area, take a trip to Flagstaff Hill Lookout where you will be able to take in views over the Whitsunday area. You might also like to check out the Big Mango if you like your fruit large. About 70km to the south is the town of Proserpine where you can find the Whitsunday Gold Coffee Plantation which makes a really great stop for the coffee buffs. There is a cafe that serves some of the best iced coffees we have had, along with the usual hot variety. North East out of Proserpine is the famous Airlie Beach – Gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. Airlie is a beautiful laid back resort town and is popular with Back Packers and the Uber Trendy alike.
For other awesome locations to Stand Up Paddleboard in Queensland click here.