10 Reasons why you NEED to visit Magnetic Island Queensland, plus all of the top things to do there!
Updated: Mar 20
Before travel restrictions were a thing, Magnetic Island was far from our radar of places we needed to visit. Even when thinking of Queensland tropical Island escapes, it wasn't one of the first destinations that came to mind. Our list included Hamilton Island, the Whitsundays, Cairns and Port Douglas (and we'd bet we are not alone in that way of thinking). Lucky for us, we did discover Magnetic Island now we are here to share why underrated little paradise full of private crystal-clear bays and teaming with local wildlife needs to move up on your travel list!
Here’s 10 Reasons why you need to visit Magnetic Island. In this list, you’ll find all of the top things to see and do on your visit
1. Magnetic Island is just as beautiful and as easily accessible as the Whitsundays, without the price tag
A picture is worth 1000 words, so as for Magnetic Island’s beauty, see above! ALL of the beaches there are this beautiful, we promise.
SAVE on your Flights, Ferry and Car Hire:
As for the price, you can fly directly from Brisbane into Townsville, which is generally cheaper flight than onto Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays. From there the ferry cost is $60 return for 2 adults with Sealink Ferries, operating frequently and only a 20-minute ride from Townsville. Sealink also offer packages including discounted car hire options.
SAVINGS TIP 1 - Getting to Brisbane Airport: Drive to Brisbane airport and pre book your airport parking online. Right now, it's cheaper than the Airtrain and a taxi for an entire weeks parking.
SAVINGS TIP 2 - Getting from Townsville airport to the Ferry Terminal : Be sure to look out for or pre book the Ferry shuttle bus from the airport for $10 per person of $15 per couple as we found limited taxi options on arrival into Townsville airport
SAVINGS TIP 3 - Booking your accommodation: Finally book yourself an Ocean view apartment for a fraction of the cost of a Whitsundays resort. Check out these deals below:
We recommend stay at either Grand Mercure Apartments located at One Bright Point or Peppers, both walking distance from the Ferry Terminal and Nelly Bay.
Booking via our link provides us with a small commission at no additional cost to you.
2. Private and pristine beaches await
Be sure to visit the various Bays across Magnetic Island, they are all beautiful in their own right.
Best Bay to stay: Nelly Bay
Plan your stay at Nelly Bay for easy access to the Ferry Terminal, surrounding restaurants and waterfront views. Alternately Horseshoe Bay and Arcadia both offer stunning views and are nearby to restaurants and transport options.
Best Bays for a private swim: Rocky Bay and Balding Bay
Accessible only by foot make your way to Rocky Bay or Balding Bay and enjoy having pristine waters all to yourself
Best easily accessible and patrolled bays: Alma Bay and Picnic Bay
Just as beautiful is Alma Bay and Picnic Bay, both under lifeguard patrol and possible to drive right up to
Best Bays for Sunset: Westpoint or Horseshoe Bay
Enjoy watching the Sunset from Westpoint or Horseshoe bay.
3. With over 800 Wild Koalas living on Magnetic Island, it’s highly likely you’ll run into one
The best places to spot a wild Koala is along the Forts Walk, a 4km trail from the Forts Carpark. We sighted 5 within the one area, located around 1km into the track before starting the fort circuit along the right-hand side of the trail.
If you miss seeing one in the wild, check out the Koala Sanctuary which offer Daily Koala shows.
4. The local Rock Wallabies are waiting to make friends, and this is one of the only places in Queensland you can meet them
Rock Wallabies can only be found around this North Eastern region of Queensland making it all the more special to come and see them here. Make your way to Geoffrey Bay at Sunset as this is the Wallaby feeding time and these guys are friendly enough to take it right from your hands. Be sure to pick up some Wallaby food at a nearby general store first.
5. You can have more fun getting around when you’re topless
The best way to get around Magnetic Island – Topless of course! You’ll see loads of topless cars around the island. We rented our Jeep Wrangler from Mi Jeep Rentals for 3 days hire.
6. You can experience 360 degree panoramic island and ocean views along some of the most amazing hiking trails
Magnetic Island is full of picturesque hikes offering stunning views over the island landscape and glistening bays. Pack your walking shoes and take a few. Our favourites were:
Magnetic Island Hikes not to miss:
The Forts walks:
4km Return, where you can spot Koalas, explore abandoned forts and take in incredible views over the entire island.
Hawking’s Point Lookout:
1.2km Return offering views over Rocky Bay, Picnic Bay and Nelly Bay. Pack your swimmers for this one, as you may want to hike all the way down to Rocky Bay for a swim while you're on this trail.
Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay and Radical Bay:
1.5km Take the high tide route as you enter the trail to pass through a wild butterfly sanctuary full of bright blue and black butterflies as you make your way to these private bays. Once again, don't forget to pack your swimmers.
7. History awaits: Learn more about Australia's War History by visiting abandoned World War 2 Forts
Learn about Australia’s world war 2 history visiting the old Gun Batteries and Fort Buildings still standing today along the Forts Walk.
8. History awaits part 2: Walk straight out to sea and visit a 104-year-old shipwreck
Wait for low tide then head out to Cockle Bay, where you can walk out to sea to see the sunken SS City of Adelaide, wrecked there for the last 104 years.
9. The food!
Magnetic island is host to a range of delicious dining options, here are a few favourites we think you can't miss:
For fine dining: visit Saltwater Restaurant
For a casual outdoor dinner visit Man Friday Restaurant, offing a menu full of tasty Mexican food.
For Breakfast visit Scallywags Cafe or eat at any of the outdoor restaurants along Horseshoe Bay
For a causal ocean view pub lunch visit Arcadia Village Hotel or Picnic Bay Hotel
10. Oh and it’s doable within a weekend – no annual leave!
Yes that’s right, you can cover all of the above in just 2-3 days.
We hope you enjoyed guide to Magnetic Island in Townsville, Queensland. To see more of our other Australian destination guides click here.
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