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Great Keppel Island

With your choice of 17 pristine beaches to explore, Great Keppel Island is sure to satisfy your tropical island craving.

By Katrina Lobley

Great Keppel Island, near the town of Yeppoon in central Queensland, is one of the best island getaways on the Southern Great Barrier Reef. It’s easy to see the appeal, with the option of snorkelling right off the beach or spotting wildlife while hiking its rugged hinterland. Day trips to Great Keppel include aquatic adventures such as boom-netting, or you can stay overnight and admire the magical sunsets and brilliant starry nights that are visible from the sandy shores.

Don't miss

  • Roam the island's 17 pristine beaches
  • Go boom-netting off the back of a boat
  • Take a guided jetski tour or try tubing

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Top things to do on Great Keppel Island

Find a new beach

With 17 beaches on Great Keppel Island, it’s possible to discover a new one every day. Roam the web of hiking tracks across the island's interior to evocatively named spots such as Wreck Beach, Red Beach, Clam Bay, Butterfish Bay and Monkey Beach. You might be the only one leaving footprints in the sand.

Go for a sunset cruise

Watch the sun turn the sky into a spectacular light show while cruising around Keppel Bay. The broad sweep of water is home to 18 islands, the largest of which is Great Keppel. The Great Keppel Cruises yacht, Keppel Dreams, offers half day and full day sailing adventures, as well as a sunset cruise with a cheese platter on the side.

Sign up for an "ocean spa"

Pressed for time and can only visit Great Keppel on a day trip? Head out from Rosslyn Bay near Yeppoon with Freedom Fast Cats, which offers an adventure cruise to Great Keppel four times a week. The best part is the boom-netting – also known as the ocean spa – in which you hang on tight to a net at the back of the boat and experience the thrill of being towed through the water.  

Stay the night

While there are plans to build a major resort on Great Keppel, for now the accommodation options are more low-key. Stay in a beachfront cabin at Great Keppel Island Hideaway overlooking Putney Beach. At Svendsen's Beach, an eco-sensitive accommodation retreat on the island's quiet side, choose from a house, studio or luxury safari tents.

Try out every kind of aquatic sport

Head to Keppel Water Sports on the island's main beach, Fishermans Beach, and see which of the aquatic activities on offer at the Bali-style hut takes your fancy. The company offers guided jetski tours, wakeboarding, tube rides and waterskiing. You can hire kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and snorkel sets.

Discover another world underwater

Hire a snorkel set or bring your own to see the underwater marvels just off Great Keppel's beaches. Shelving Beach, Monkey Point and Clam Bay are among the island’s best snorkelling spots, where you can easily see fish, corals, turtles and starfish. There's also good snorkelling right off the main beaches. 

Strike out on a hike

Those who like to ramble can explore the island via a network of bush tracks. Residents consider the unnamed walk up Mount Wyndham – the island's highest point – to be a highlight (most of the island's walking tracks do not have names; simply ask a local for directions). One of the most challenging hikes is the three hour return Lighthouse Walk, from Fishermans Beach to the 2.5 metre (8 foot) high lighthouse on Bald Rock Point. 

Meet the wildlife

Even from the island's main beaches it's possible to see dolphins cruising past in the water. Head inland and you might see blue-tongue lizards, possums and clouds of jewel-coloured butterflies.

How to get there

Great Keppel Island is a half hour ferry ride from Yeppoon, 30 kilometres (20 miles) north-east of Rockhampton. Rockhampton is a major transport hub, with plane, bus and Tilt Train connections to Brisbane and other cities.

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