While tropical island holidays might be the reason a lot of visitors travel through Gladstone, there are a few local beaches that are suitable for swimming, sunbaking and water sports. But it's the islands of Wilson and Heron that draw the majority of tourism attention in the region.
Heron Island is an amazing tropical holiday destination. 2 hours by boat from Gladstone, Heron Island is located in its own coral cay deep in the Great Barrier Reef. Listed as a Marine National Park the island is surrounded coral, teeming with fish life. Beautiful white sandy beaches circle most of Heron, with crystal clear water beyond that, but it's the local wildlife that visitors come for from around the world. Swim or scuba dive, looking for Green and Loggerhead turtles and many other reef fish. The amount of bird life is truly amazing with birds like Black Noddies, Mutton Birds, Reef Herons, Ruddy Turn-stones, Eastern Golden Plovers and Wedge-tail Shearwaters just to name a few to visit the island. Humpback whales are a favourite with the tourists when they are active between June and October.
Just 40 minutes from Heron is Wilson Island is allowed only 12 guests at a time and is very eco-friendly. Some of the Barrier Reef's best snorkelling is right of the beach. Wilson Island is also home to many turtles and birds. Accommodation is in environmentally friendly tents, all with ocean views.
Closer to Gladstone on the mainland is the 2 islands covering the mouth on Gladstone Harbour, Facing Island and Curtis Island. Curtis Island is part of the Curtis Island National Park which also includes the Cape Capricorn headland. 30 minutes' drive south near the Gladstone region border is Boyne Island (which is more part of the mainland) and Tannum Sands and their beautiful sandy beaches. Tannum Sands now has the Millenium Esplanade with barbeques, play areas and showers right along the beach.