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Magnetic Island Travel Guide

survivor magnetic islandIf you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of your normal life, Magnetic Island is one spectacular option for doing so in Australia. I know I’ve tossed around the word “paradise” since my recent trip to this glorious tropical island, but there really is no better word than that. If you visit Magnetic Island, you get a true taste of the island life!

Maggie, as the locals call it, feels so special as most of the island is national park. Because of this, there are very few areas that have shops and hostels; you are simply submerged in tropical surroundings. The entire island holds a population of just 2000 people, and for how amazing it is, there were far fewer tourists than one would expect.


Magnetic Island is located off the coast of Townsville in Queensland. The 8 kilometer distance from the mainland can be covered in 20 minutes by ferry.

How to Get to Magnetic Island

Being a small island, your best bet for getting there is by ferry from Townsville. There are two main ferry companies you can go the distance with: FantaSea and SunFerries. FantaSea runs less often than SunFerries, but this company also serves as a car ferry if you’re wanting your own wheels while on the island. SunFerries costs $29 return for an adult ticket, and takes about 20 minutes to complete the journey.

By plane, you can get to Townsville from Sydney in 2.5 hours. Budget airlines do travel here, so it is possible to get a ticket for around $150 one-way (less if you seek a good deal). You can search for flights to Townsville using the widget below:


Driving to Townsville takes about 4 hours from Cairns and about 17 hours from Brisbane. It is pretty far north into tropical Queensland, so if you do drive, you’ll want to make it a real trip with stopovers along the way. Think about renting a car or getting a campervan rental to do so. You can expect similar timeframes for both bus and train travel to Townsville.

Magnetic Island Weather

Magnetic Island boasts 320 fine and sunny days each year. The average highs throughout the year range from 25 to 31 degrees Celsius, so you can hit the beach at just about any season. Be sure to bring sunscreen and protective clothing if you wish to be in the sun a lot on your trip as the tropical sunshine is some of the strongest in the world.

Getting Around Magnetic Island

4wd rental moke magneticBus: Sunbus runs from the major bays of the island, so this can be an easy way to get around. Buses typically run once an hour and can take you from Horseshoe Bay all the way to Picnic Bay. The ferries also coordinate their runs with the bus schedule. A typical fare from Nellie Bay to Horseshoe Bay is $2.60 per person.

Bike: There are a number of hills to climb on this island, but if you think you have it in you, then renting a bike is a good option to get out and enjoy the island.

Moke: A moke is something in between a car and a golf cart. There are a few moke rental places on the island, but they are all manual transmission. If you got that covered, then you can get a moke for 24 hours for around $70 AUD.

4WD: Since I can’t drive a manual transmission (this is starting to become a trend in Australia), I rented a small 4WD vehicle. It was only about $10 more per day, and it allows you to access the secluded beaches of the island – the ones that people in their topless mokes can’t . Florence Bay and West Point were some of my favorite places on the island, and we couldn’t have gotten there without the 4WD (unless of course we walked, but that wasn’t in my holiday agenda). You must be over 25 to rent the 4WD.

Car: If you take the FantaSea ferry, you can ship your car over to the island and have free reign of the roads including the unsealed roads if you trust your vehicle to do so.

What to Do on Magnetic Island

Being an island with such glorious weather, you can be sure there is a significant amount of outdoor and water activities to take part in on Magnetic Island. Horseshoe Bay is the beach to hit up if you’re looking for water sports, such as boating, kayaking, jet skiing and tubing. Of course, there’s always swimming and snorkeling for those wanting a calmer water experience.

In addition to these outdoor activities, you can go horseback riding on the beach, partake in bird watching, try your hand at fishing or play a round of golf over at the Magnetic Island Country Club in Picnic Bay.

The Great Barrier Reef is accessible from Magnetic Island. If you wish to use Maggie as your Great Barrier Reef hub, book a day cruise.

geoffrey bayAnimal lovers are able to indulge in the local wildlife. In fact, Magnetic Island has the largest population of wild koalas throughout the national park. If you don’t happen to find one in the wild, you can always take a tour of the Koala Village at Bungalow Bay YHA. Rock wallabies inhabit the boulder areas of Geoffrey Bay and are quite used to human interaction. Be sure to grab a back of feed for a couple of bucks at the shop and head over at dusk to hang out with these amazing little creatures. I am still sad that I couldn’t take one home with me.

Bushwalking is another big outdoor activity on the island, and there are both short and long hikes to add to your itinerary. The Hawkings Point walk is the shortest coming in at about 30 minutes in length, while the Horseshoe Bay to Radical Bay walk will take nearly 4 hours to complete. Don’t forget to pack plenty of water and snacks for the journey.

Each month, Base Backpackers hosts a full moon party. If you like wild parties and dj’s, then you should definitely check it out.

Where to Stay on Magnetic Island

When staying on Magnetic Island, you have the option of Magnetic Island hostels, hotels and holiday rentals to choose from. Although not a huge number of each exist on the island, there is still something to suit any traveler and budget. Have a read through of my Bungalow Bay YHA review, or check out these cheap hostels in Magnetic Island. Otherwise, search for a hotel using the widget below.


Book a stay in Magnetic Island now