About Magnetic Island
Historic bush walks, animal sanctuaries, art galleries, cafes, pubs, and more. This relaxing holiday destination has something for everyone.
Just 20 minutes across the bay from Townsville, Queensland is the wondrous World Heritage listed Magnetic Island, a truly unique holiday experience in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef region.
More than half of Magnetic Island consists of untouched national park and encompasses 23 secluded beaches and bays framed by inspiring rocky granite softened by majestic hoop pines.
In addition to its stunning surrounds, Magnetic Island is a haven for wildlife including rock wallabies, possums and over 100 species of birdlife. The island is also home to the largest colony of koalas flourishing in their natural habitat.
To make exploring Magnetic Island easier there is 24 kilometres of walking track offering many spectacular look outs.
Off Magnetic Island in the glistening turquoise water is an abundance of tropical fish and marine life with the magical sights of coral reefs awaiting exploration.
Offering a spectacular climate and weather all year round, in fact 320 days of the year, Magnetic Island is the ultimate destination for active pursuits.
The wealth of dive sites has earned the island a reputation as one of the best places to go to learn how to dive.
Just off Magnetic Island is one of the most famous shipwrecks, Yongala, located off Cape Bowling Green. Yongala is regarded as the best wreck dive in Australia and amongst the top five in the world.
In addition to diving the range of activities available on Magnetic Island is both wide and varied. Whether young or old, seeking active pursuits or relaxation, there is a selection for everyone.
Escaping to Magnetic Island is also easy: you can fly, drive or enjoy a rail experience to Tropics followed by a 20 minute Fastcat cruise across from Townsville.
Experience the delight on one of Australia’s most naturally beautiful and relaxed tropical island holiday destinations within the Great Barrier reef location, Magnetic Island in Far North Queensland.
Easily accessible (just 20 minutes by Sealink ferry from mainland Townsville), Magnetic Island is a unique blend of bush-land, fine beaches and secluded bays. More than half the island is ruggedly beautiful national park, with huge granite boulders and towering hoop pines that dominate the skyline. “Maggie” as she is affectionately called by the locals, boasts abundant wildlife.
Come spot a Koala on the forts walks or breakfast with them at Bungalow Bay Koala Village. You can interact instantly with the abundant wildlife on the island, be it a chance encounter with an Echidna, the delightful antics of the Kookaburras and parrots, hand feeding the Wallabies, or just sitting back on a warm evening and listening to the chorus of our many tree frogs.
If the ocean is more your thing we have self-guided snorkel trails, diving tours, canoeing, fishing and boat charters to experience the awesome sea life over our reef. There are twilight sailing options so you can sit back and relax with a glass of wine and good company and reflect on life at a slower pace. Horseshoe Bay offers hour long horse riding trails finishing off with a dip in the clear waters of the Coral Sea for man and beast to cool off!
Or you could just stroll on one of our family friendly, patrolled bays, collect some shells and watch the sun go down over a BBQ dinner and drink, or take in the view from the many beachside eateries available. The island currently offers a smorgasbord of food options from the very basic to Continental and European. Try the new Scallywags pirate themed Restaurant in Nelly Bay, fun for young and old alike. There is something to suit absolutely every taste and budget.
With a vibrant local community boasting artists and plenty of entertainment options, Stage Door theatre restaurant, famous weekly toad races, markets and a host of annual events such as Magnetic Island Race week, Tropical Jazz week, Adventurethon Magnetic Island and whale watching to name a few, there is always something to look forward to. The island is well serviced with a health provider, chemist, supermarkets, bakery, hardware, beauty services, galleries and real estate agents, taxis and newsagent.
For those who just want to get away from it all there are several day spa options, massage, yoga, or just relax with a book on our uncrowded and unspoiled beaches.
If you are feeling more adventurous then our many and varied hikes and walks will amaze you. Well signposted with information they are designed to help you and your family make the most of the spectacular scenery, flora and fauna. Our history is well documented through our Museum and the interpretive signage around the island. Guided tours are available through a variety of services, be it on foot or by pushbike, in a luxury stretch moke or by Segway. Our local Golf club is always ready to welcome new members if a quick 9 holes or a competitive 18 is your thing! Magnetic Island Lawn Bowls also opens its doors to welcome our guests.
So come and visit us! Book one of our famous open top cars, listen to our native Curlew songs, feed the kookaburras and the parrots or just relax and take in the natural beauty of this island!
Things to See and Do
Magnetic Island has a vast array of things to do whether you’re here for a day away from the hustle and bustle or you’re here for a week to relax or explore, theres plenty of things to keep you as busy or relaxed as you want. While theres more things to see and do than we could possibly list we;ve included a few of our favourites, but theres always more adventure and exploration to happen on the island which is just part of the charm.
Arcadia is perfectly situated in the smallest of the four main bays on Magnetic Island, and is surrounded by the much beloved Alma Bay and Geoffrey Bay.
Geoffrey Bay is a Marine National Park Zone this means fishing or collecting aren’t allowed but it’s still great for exploring during low tide. The old barge jetty is a great spot for feeding rock wallabies as dusk falls.
Alma Bay is a popular swimming spot for local and visitors alike. The Arcadian Life Saving Club patrols the beach on weekends and public holidays. Public amenities include a gas barbecue, picnic tables, shaded children’s playground, changing areas and toilets.
Horseshoe Bay is the prime location for watersports on Magnetic Island and offers activities to excite the whole family. Along the shores of Horseshoe Bay is an array of equipment hire options including jet skis, kayaks, stand up paddle boards and then some. The Bay provides a great swimming enclosure as well as awesome fishing and sailing opportunities, along with a shady foreshore with magnificent views across the rocky outcrops and blue ocean waters.
After getting out on the water, sit back and relax at one of Horseshoe Bay’s restaurants, cafes or bars. The selection of shops and eateries along the Horseshoe Bay beachfront is a great location for a meal with an ocean view. Alternatively pack a picnic and make use of the sheltered picnic tables while the kids enjoy the nearby playground facilities.
A sweeping beach, a tranquil setting and the iconic jetty, Picnic Bay on Magnetic Island is a gorgeous location to enjoy a swim, beachside dining or a spot of fishing on the jetty. You can Snorkel and explore the abundant marine life of Picnic Bay or see what you can spot from above while taking a stroll along the jetty. The keen observer might even spot a turtle or a shy dugong.
With a number of shopping, dining and accommodation options, Picnic Bay is well suited to meet everyone’s holiday desires. Enjoy a meal along the beachfront at one of the dining outlets or pack a picnic and find a shady spot to take in the views.
Picnic Bay is also home to Magnetic Island’s only golf course. With breathtaking views and curious wildlife including koalas, wallabies and birdlife, a game of golf on Magnetic Island will be unforgettable.
Most holidays on Magnetic Island start at Nelly Bay, Magnetic Island’s main residential bay. Nelly Bay is the point of access for the passenger and car ferries and is an easy location to access bus transfers, taxis, hire vehicles or jump on board a guided tour.
Most of the Magnetic Island’s shopping and amenities are located in Nelly Bay, and it’s also a gorgeous place to go for that early morning run or a leisurely walk. It’s also a great spot to go swimming or snorkelling on the fringing coral reef. Towards the northern end of the beach, is a children’s playground, a coin-operated barbecue area and sheltered picnic tables and toilets.
Magnetic Island is home to bushland, beaches, and historical places of importance, most of which are accessible via walking trails of various degrees of difficulty.
One of Magnetic Island’s most popular tracks on the island is Forts walk wich leads to historic WWII fortifications and infrastructure. Lookouts along the way afford gorgeous views to the Palm Island Group in the north and Bowling Green Bay National Park in the south. Wildlife, including Koalas, can often be seen in trees along the track. The walk culminates in 360 degree views from the top of the fortifications.
Starting on Horseshoe Bay Road at the turn-off to Radical Bay, the track ascends, somewhat steeply, to follow a ridge behind the bays before arriving at the ruins of the Forts complex operated during World War II.
For visitors looking for a quiet getaway the Balding Bay track leads from the eastern end of Horseshoe Bay beach, the track climbs through a steep gully of closed forest to a ridge with open eucalypt woodland. One branch of the track leads down to the secluded Balding Bay. A toilet is the only facility at the bay and you’ll need to take water as drinking water is not available. At high tide access to the start of the walk at Horseshoe Bay may be through shallow water so check tide times and expect to get your feet a little wet.
Horseshoe Bay Lagoon
Horseshoe Bay Lagoon is a popular area for birdwatching. The track begins on Horseshoe Bay Road, about 200m from the beach, and leads to a lagoon where a number of waterbirds can be seen. Magpie geese nest in the bulkuru sedges, and the melaceuca woodland is ideal habitat for a number of woodland species.
Reefs and Dives
Magnetic Island is home to a great variety of snorkelling and dive locations, whether you’re just starting out or you’re ready to stretch your legs, there’s something for everyone to see.
Alma Bay Coral Gardens
On the northern side of this site divers can see a variety of corals and fish life in an easily accessible and safe diving environment. Corals include large brain, staghorn and plate, as well as colourful soft corals. Fish life varies from six-banded angelfish to trevally, bat fish, coral trout and box fish.
The Moltke Wreck – Geoffrey Bay
The Moltke is one of the most popular dive sites on the Island, this German barque was sunk in 1913, and now lies in 8 metres of water 100 metres off the shore in Geoffrey bay. The 50 metre wreck is encrusted in soft and hard corals and it’s remains provide a home for large sweetlip, bat fish, tustusk fish, barramundi cod and epaulet sharks. This wreck is best visited on a high tide in calm conditions and is an excellent night dive.
The Platypus Wreck – Arthur Bay
The Platyous wreck, located in Arthur Bay can be accessed by boat or directly from the shore. This wreck is the remains of the dredge that formed the channel to Townsville and is jammed into a rocky cove at a depth of 3 to 8 metres. The wreck is encrusted with hard corals. The huge steam boilers are still intact. Large schools of angelfish, sergeant majors, parrot fish, bat fish, trevally are common.