Guide to Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island offers quiet, secluded beaches, rugged nature, abundant wildlife and easy access to the Great Barrier Reef.
By Stephanie Williams
Palm-fringed beaches, koalas, hiking trails and snorkelling adventures are just a few of the things you'll find on Magnetic Island. The island is home to a thriving community of more than 2,500 people, as well as backpacker hostels, luxury resorts and quaint bed and breakfasts. Magnetic Island's relaxed tropical lifestyle and easy access to the Great Barrier Reef make it a wonderful place to relax and unwind.
- Follow the 1.2-kilometre (0.75-mile) Hawkings Track for views across the island
- Relax on one of the 23 beaches on Magnetic Island
- Dive the SS Yongala wreck or follow a Magnetic Island Snorkel Trail
How to get there
Things to do and top attractions on Magnetic Island
Explore the outdoors on foot
Magnetic Island National Park covers more than half the island and has 24 kilometres (15 miles) of walking tracks. The 1.5-hour Forts Walk includes World War II forts, incredible views and sometimes even a koala or two. Along the way, you may find rock art or shell middens – physical reminders of the Wulgurukaba people, who have lived on the island and mainland for thousands of years. Mount Cook is the island's highest point and marks the centre. During the summer months (December to February) sea turtles nest on the beaches. Explore the beautiful bays on a tranquil guided sea kayak tour or exhilarating jetski tour. Go horseriding along the beach or play golf at the Country Club in Picnic Bay. West Point is a great spot to watch the sun go down and you can walk there from Picnic Point. It’s graded as easy but does take about five hours return, so you might want to pack a head torch.
Check out the events and festivals
Each September the Magnetic Island Festival kicks into gear with a month of workshops, music, art, fairs and food. There are plenty of sporting events, such as the annual Magnetic Island Swim, an eight-kilometre (five-mile) open water swim from the island to Townsville surf life-saving club. The Great Island Trek lets you trek, walk or run across Magnetic Island and see secluded bays. Magnetic Island Race Week offers first-class racing on the crystal blue waters of Cleveland Bay. The annual event offers a full week of racing, live bands and festive parties.
Enjoy an ocean adventure
Magnetic Island has many excellent dive sites, including the shipwreck of the SS Yongala, one of the best wreck dives 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 or follow one of the fascinating Snorkel Trails at Nelly Bay and Geoffrey Bay. 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.
Relax in a beachside villa
There are plenty of great places to stay on Magnetic Island, from backpackers and apartment-style living to luxury beachfront houses. Most accommodation is around Horseshoe Bay, Picnic Bay and the marina. Check in to Lotus House, a private three-bedroom villa with beach access, swimming pool and uninterrupted beach views, or Maggies Beachfront Apartments for well appointed apartments with beach or garden views. Peppers Blue on Blue, at the marina, has resort-style studios and apartments. There's also a great range of beachside restaurants, cafés and pubs as well as a supermarket.
Indulge in the ultimate island escape with a sunset cruise around Magnetic Island. Float over the waves with a drink in your hand as you watch the sun sink into the sea. You'll find several operators offering half-day, full-day and sunset cruises. Check out Big Mama Sailing and Pilgrim Sailing to begin your seafaring adventure.