Just a 20 minute ferry ride off the coast from Townsville, Magnetic Island's relaxed tropical lifestyle, quiet secluded beaches, unspoilt nature, abundant wildlife and easy access to the Great Barrier Reef, make it an ideal place for a day trip or longer stay.
Magnetic Island sits within the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, but the landscape here is different to the usual tropical rainforest found on many of the Great Barrier Reef islands.
Around 275 million years ago, nature’s forces created an extraordinary landscape of rocky terrain and giant boulders. Magnetic Island has less rainfall than the Wet Tropics to the north and the Whitsunday Islands to the south. Its climate is typical of the dry tropics and it is covered with eucalypt woodlands.
The traditional owners of Magnetic Island, the Wulgurukaba Aboriginal people, have inhabited the island for thousands of years. They called the island ‘Yunbenun’. Stone tools and cave drawings are some of the reminders of their ancient presence. Magnetic Island was named by Captain James Cook in 1770 when the island appeared to affect the magnetic compass on his ship.
The main areas of Magnetic Island are Horseshoe Bay, Arcadia Bay, Nelly Bay, Picnic Bay and West Point.
Magnetic Island’s mild, sunny climate stays much the same throughout the year, making it perfect for all types of outdoor activities and water sports. Magnetic Island has many excellent dive sites, including the shipwreck of the ‘HMAS Yongala’, renowned as the best wreck dive in Australia and one of the top five in the world. The warm, shallow waters around the island are also ideal for beginners. You can snorkel right off the beach at Alma, Arthur and Florence Bays. Magnetic Island is also famous for its big game fishing. Join a fishing charter or just hire some gear and drop in a line at West Point or from the jetty in Picnic Bay.
Magnetic Island National Park covers more than half of Magnetic Island and has around 24 kilometres of walking tracks. At its centre is Mount Cook, the island’s highest point. The island is a haven for native Australian birds and wildlife. During the summer months sea turtles nest on the beaches. Explore the beautiful bays on a tranquil guided sea kayak tour or exhilarating jet-ski tour.
Magnetic Island has also played an important role in Australia’s military history. The Forts Walk at Horseshoe Bay is one of the most popular on the island. Watch the spectacular sunset from West Point. Go horse-riding along the beach; or play golf at the Country Club in Picnic Bay, said to be where Greg Norman first played.
Magnetic Island is also the place to party. Every month Magnetic Island hosts the Full Moon Party, where up to 3000 people gather to dance on the beach until sunrise.
The passenger ferry to Magnetic Island from Townsville departs regularly throughout the day, or you can take a car across on the car ferry and explore the island at your leisure.