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Magnetic Island

Destination Information

We think Magnetic Island is an absolute hidden gem, and the ultimate paradise for backpackers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of cities and dive into epic adventures. It’s becoming more and more popular with travellers, and for good reason – but no part of this beautiful island has lost its charm and laid back lifestyle.

Stunning beaches, secluded bays, rugged hiking trails and an abundance of wildlife, this place is a dream come true. Whether you’re staying in the exciting Nelly Bay or charming Horseshoe Bay, expect to wake up surrounded by lush nature and gorgeous ocean views. Choose one of many scenic hikes to explore old forts, hidden bays surrounded by gigantic boulders, or keep your eye out for koala’s and rock wallabies – the island is famous for them! The island is also conveniently located in the central Great Barrier Reef, meaning the snorkelling spots here are unbeatable.
To explore the island in style, why not hire a topless island barbie car for an exciting adventure. Travel the winding roads with stunning ocean views on one side and lush rainforest on the other, diving into the untouched national parks that offer so many beautiful landscapes.

To get to Magnetic Island, you can get the Greyhound bus or drive to Townsville on the mainland. From there, it’s a quick and easy 20 minute Sealink ferry to the island.

A tropical island paradise at its best. Whether its laid back campfires on the beach, epic pool parties, or wildlife encounters, this island has something for everyone.

Nelly Bay

Nelly Bay is where the main port is, so it’s the first point of contact as you step off the ferry. Surrounded by gorgeous views of the turquoise coral bay, it certainly does not disappoint. A cool coastal hang out and super popular with backpackers as the place to stay while on the island. The beaches here are like paradise, where you can lounge on the pristine sand all day. Jump into the cool ocean for some fun water activities. Hip cafes, funky shops, and vibrant restaurants are all accessible here so it’s the perfect place to enjoy chilling out with new friends.

Alma Bay

It turns out that Alma Bay in Magnetic Island has been voted the #2 best beaches in Queensland by Queensland Surf Living Association. It’ a gorgeous beach with giant beautiful boulders protecting the bay and is hands down our favourite beach on Magnetic Island. Alma Bay faces due east and has two prominent granite headlands which run out for 300m at either end of the beach, giving it a bit of seclusion.

The Forts Walk

The Forts Junction Hub provides an entry point to the National Park walking track network. Car parks and bus stops provide easy access, toilet and drinking water facilities are in place, and interpretive displays make this the ideal spot to start and plan your experience here.

Being one of the most popular tracks on Magnetic Island, The Forts walk leads to fascinating historic WWII fortifications and infrastructure, where the Australian Coast Artillery Units operated the complex from 1943 until the end of the Pacific War in 1945.

Starting on Horseshoe Bay Road at the turn-off to Radical Bay, the track ascends, sometimes steeply in certain spots, to follow a ridge behind the bays before arriving at the ruins of the Forts complex operated during WWII. Along the way, stop to take in the breathtaking views. Don’t forget to look up for koalas (don’t worry, they aren’t drop bears) dozing off in the trees along the track. The 360 views from the top of the fortifications are more than worth the walk.

Geoffrey Bay

We think one of the best things to do on Magnetic Island easily has to be visiting the rock wallabies at Geoffrey’s Bay. These adorable little creatures live in the boulders in this are and are such a sight to find. Always keep a lookout, because they keep a similar colour to the rocks, allowing them a bit of camouflage.

It is an absolute gem to visit these guys up close. Visit at around 5PM and you’re to find these beautiful Australian animals ready to say hi to you.

Horseshoe Bay

Nestled on the picturesque north side of the island is Horseshoe Bay. A truly captivating coastal haven, the laid back and serene atmosphere will play into your island vibe fantasies. Perfectly crescent shaped, Horseshoe Bay offers a pristine beach with swaying palm trees and is perfect for swimming and kayaking, as the water is so tranquil – it really does feel like paradise. The turquoise bay also offers some unbeatable snorkelling spots, with vibrant coral reefs surrounding the bay from both sides. It’s also the starting point for some incredible hikes, with access to completely secluded beaches like Balding Bay and Radical Bay. You’ll be one of only few when you visit these picture perfect beaches, the walk is more than worth it.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best time of year to visit Magnetic Island?

Rainfall is usually quite a high percentage in the summer months of December-March, so we definitely recommend hitting the peak season which tends to fall in the months of June-October, where the weather is still very nice and tropical.

How do we get to Magnetic Island?

Magnetic Island is only a 20 minute ferry ride away from Townsville on the mainland of Australia. The ferries run from early in the morning to late at night, meaning you can easily spend just a day on Magnetic Island. We recommend spending at least two days however, so you can really explore and see the most of the island.

Does Magnetic Island have reception?

Yes. The island does cover reception for all service providers and many places have WIFI, so you shouldn’t worry about being off of the grid.

Is Magnetic Island a sacred place to the Indigenous?

Yes. Magnetic Island remains a significant cultural site for Wulgurukaba people. If you come across any cultural artifacts or pieces of land, please respect them.

How do you get around Magnetic Island?

To save your time from hiking around so much on the island, we recommend hiring a car to save you the trouble, and we definitely say the mini ‘barbie’ cars are our favourites. Zip around the island in miniature style.

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