Magnetic Island is a great little spot off the coast of North Queensland. It's great for couples and families alike offering lovely beaches, water sports, snorkelling and a good range of accommodation prices.
Don't get me wrong, it's not super cheap but its certainly cheaper than the Whitsundays or some of the other more exclusive areas.
Any idea why it's called Magnetic Island? When Cook landed on the island he believed that there must be a magnetic force here that was interfering with his compass. It later turned out he was wrong but the name has stuck ever since he first visited the island back in 1770.
You'll find Magnetic Island Australia off the coast of North Queensland near Townsville:
You would need to get yourself to Townsville to get the passenger or vehicle ferry over to Magnetic island Australia (there are plenty of ferries every day with Sun Ferries) You need to get a taxi or shuttle bus to the ferry port if you decide not to drive.
It cost us $35 in a taxi and we were quoted $25 for a family of 4 with young kids for a shuttle bus.
The ferry cost us $62 for 2 adults with our 4 year old and baby going free. If I went again I might be tempted to hire a car from Townsville airport and drive over to Magnetic. A car cost is approx $172 return based on 2 adults and 2 kids
The cheap airlines (Virgin Blue) flies to Townsville from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, making this a good affordable island holiday.
When you get to magnetic island Australia, you don't necessarily need your car. You can get around by a "Moke" which is a topless mini car or there is a bus service too that meets every ferry. We saw lots of back packers choosing to take the bus and there are certainly a lot of mokes around the island. we were recommended not to get a moke given we had 2 young children.
The beauty of the island however, is its beautiful bays and beaches. All the best ones are off the beaten track. This means you either need to be prepared to walk from the bus stop or park your moke and then walk. The paths are marked quite clearly - no mokes beyond this point. 4 WD only. I'd say you are looking at. 30 minute walk in hot sunshine to get to these beaches if you don't have a 4 WD.
We hired a 4WD for 24 hours so we could explore the island and its bays. It cost us $90 for the day including insurance etc. They picked my husband up from our hotel and dropped him off at the end of the rental which was also very easy. So, I wonder if it would have been more economical and easier to hire a car straight from the airport.
This island has everything and despite being in the Tropical north of Queensland where there is a definite wet season, it boasts to have 320 days of sunshine.
The rain doesn't seem to hit here although I'd still skip January through to March if you want to guarantee yourself no rain.
Best time would be October through to December with temperatures dipping slightly in June and July. Only watch out is stinger season which starts in November and runs through til about May. It means its not worth swimming in the sea due to the likelihood of getting stung by a jelly fish.
You'll find a few things to do on Magnetic Island Australia but the beauty of this place is that it's not too commercialised so don't expect hundreds of shops and the like.
Once on the island you can either enjoy the beaches (Horsehoe bay is probably the most well known), snorkel, do water sports, tennis or horse riding. Swimming is safe and it's warm enough to swim all year round. But remember my comment about stinger season.
The best bays are off the main road. There's a turning near the forts car park leading to Radical Bay. Along the road you'll find Arthur Bay and Florence Bay. They are not signposted though so you'll need to keep your eye out for small clearings to your right.
Most of this Australian Island is protected National Park so you are in for a treat when it comes to the bushland and granite rocks that you'll find here amongst the beaches. We didn't get chance to do much walking whilst we were here this time but there are heaps of amazing walks. You'll need to wear proper shoes as snakes have been sited in this area!! There's a ship wreck trail and beautiful coastal walks that link the main towns together.
Not only that, you'll find some great wildlife here including Possums, Rock Wallabies and of course plenty of birds. Follow the turnoff to Geoffrey Bay near Arcadia at around 4pm onwards to feed the cute little rock wallabies.
It's probably most well known for its resident Koala Bears that live in the trees - the kids (and you) will love looking for them. Speaking to the locals though, there are less and less sittings of Koalas these days. The walk to the old forts is a koala spotting walk. if you walk all the way to the forts, you may be lucky enough to see one there. if not you can pat a koala at The Bungalow bay Koala Village.
The sunset at West Point at Round 6pm depending on the time of year of course, is lovely. You'll need a 4wd to get up this narrow lane and sandy car park at West Point (we saw a ute stuck in the car park ) Bring a glass of something and maybe a picnic. There are certainly nicer beaches on the island but it's rare to see the sunset over the water on the East coast of Oz. We saw lots of fishermen here and we were also warned not to swim here due to sharks!
For luxury, stay at Peppers Blue Resort) (From $260) We enjoyed our stay here. The pool is enormous and a real feature. The apartments are spacious.
We had a 2 bedroom apartment with 2 bathrooms. I'd probably ask for an apartment on the ground level next time as trying to get the pram up and down the stairs to the front door of the apartment was a real hassle. Breakfast was included in our room rate and it was good.
I would have a look on line to see if you can find an apartment in the same resort through a private owner. It could be cheaper. I was surprised at how many privately owned apartments there were at the resort. Try www.stayz.com.au.
Mantra one bright Point (ask for a room with a view)
and for the budget end there are a few purpose built backpacker places e.g. Base Backpackers Hostel, Travellers backpacker resort, or Maggie's beach house.
Also try Arkie's resort or Centaur house or Foresthaven tropical resort if you want budget but not backpacker places.