Queensland islands

Islands are dotted along Queensland’s 7,000km coastline and are scattered up to and along the Great Barrier Reef. From the world’s largest sand islands in the south east to the unspoiled paradise of the Torres Strait, you’ll find an island to fit your next family escape, couple retreat or solo adventure.

Whether you’re after soft silica sand or isolated coral cays with easy access to the reef, our islands have footprint-ready beaches that’ll entice you to throw down a towel, prep your beach umbrella or set up camp and relax.

Venture beyond the beach on most islands and you’ll find freshwater creeks, hiking trails and lush rainforests to explore. Intrepid travellers or budding photographers hungry for their next shoot location will find look outs and peaks to capture sunrises, sunsets and ocean views any time in between. 

And when you’re exhausted, retreat to your luxury resort or budget accommodation. Either way, you’ll make island memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Islands off Queensland

Take your pick of the 900 islands off Queensland’s coast, starting in the Whitsundays. Visit one of its 74 tropical islands, and be sure to stick your feet in the sand of the famous Whitehaven Beach. From Townsville, you’ll be within reach of koalas along historical hikes on Magnetic Island, pick your own private beach on Orpheus Island (after you arrive by helicopter) and make your way around the Thorsborne Trail on Jurassic-esque Hinchinbrook Island

Tropical North Queensland is where you’ll find Fitzroy Island, a balmy paradise with its own fringe coral reef system and the best beach in Australia, Nudey Beach. From Cairns you’ll also be able to heli, fly or ferry into family-friendly Green Island, and luxe couple hot spots Lizard Island and Bedarra Island.

Towards the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll find the snorkel and dive trifecta, aka Lady Elliot, Heron and Lady Musgrave Islands. Walk off the beach at these eco-islands and be surrounded by gentle manta rays, friendly turtles and the rest of the Great Eight. So, grab your fins and mask, and snorkel straight into lagoons and bays teeming with new underwater friends.

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Island experiences and adventures

Sailing

The Whitsundays is Queensland’s ultimate home of sailing. Captain your own private bareboat and charter your course around the 74 islands to explore hidden cays, hike through Whitsunday Island and then watch the sun set from your deck. If you’d prefer to sit back and let someone else do the hard work, hire a skipper (and even a chef!) for your own private sailing adventure.

Diving and snorkelling

Kitted-out with your fins and mask, snorkel next to Nemo and the whole cast within metres of the beach on Heron Island, Lady Elliot and Green Island. Lady Musgrave’s 1,200-hectare lagoon is also teeming with turtles, manta rays, white and black-tipped sharks to grab a snorkelling selfie with as well. Follow the snorkel trails around Nelly Bay on Magnetic Island or snorkel the Tangalooma wrecks surrounded by turquoise waters and wildlife of the underwater kind.

Add in a day of scuba diving into your island itinerary or theme your whole holiday around meeting your scuba goals on Heron Island (one of Jacques Cousteau’s top ten dive sites in the world), Lady Elliot Island, Hamilton Island, Magnetic Island or Lizard Island.

Scenic flights

Flying over the Great Barrier Reef is an unforgettable experience; the blue and green hues will be etched in your memory forever. The best time for scenic flights is at low tide, so you’ll see more of the reef. Charter a heli-flight from Cairns to Green Island to see the reef from above or book a seaplane in the Whitsundays to fly over the iconic heart reef.

4WD tours

Lower your tyre pressure and get your 4WD sandy on one of the largest sand islands in the world. While Fraser Island is the ultimate beach driving island in Queensland, North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island are also popular spots to test your 4WD skills. If you’d rather play passenger, you can book tours with experienced guides that will do all the hard work for you.

Cruises

Take a leisure or adventure cruise along the Great Barrier Reef and admire our islands from a distance, or get up close and personal with a day tour. Cruise past the tip of Cape York and into the Torres Strait, a cluster of over 133 islands where summer lasts 9 months of the year. While you’re there, learn about the Torres Strait culture, visit art galleries and museums or reel in a trophy-worthy fish.

Queensland island accommodation

Turn your island day trip into an overnight escape (or stay even longer to get the full island treatment).  Take in an island sunset or a sunrise from your swaying hammock on the beach… Ahhh.

Whitsundays accommodation

There’s a variety of accommodation options in the Whitsundays. Choose from budget stays, family-friendly and self-catered apartments, bungalows and villas on Hamilton Island. Adventurers will love camping on Whitsunday Island or Hook Island, and couples will love the luxury resort on Hamilton.

Luxury accommodation

If five-star resorts, secluded beaches, private beach picnics and full body massages are what you’re after, there’s a Queensland island waiting with pillow menus, robes and slippers. Luxury island resorts are aplenty in the Great Barrier Reef from Bedarra, and Lizard Islands in the tropical north to Hamilton, Hayman and Daydream Islands in the Whitsundays.

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Best Queensland islands for couples

Romantic getaways, honeymoons and extravagant Valentine’s Day escapes are simple on a Queensland island.

Newly-weds and love birds will appreciate the romantic packages at Queensland luxury islands like Orpheus Island, Bedarra Island and Hamilton Island.

Adventurous couples may opt for hiking, camping and kayaking on Hinchinbrook Island, driving around in a topless car on Magnetic Island or 4WDing on Fraser Island, North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island.

Culture vulture couples will enjoy a round trip to the Torres Strait, where they can engulf themselves in the Indigenous Torres Strait culture and history.

And, for couples wanting complete seclusion, rent your own private island in Southern Great Barrier Reef (including a private chef). This is how you can do it.

Top things for couples to do

  • Snorkel fringing reef right off the beach
  • Take your dive buddy and learn to scuba dive
  • Stay dry and see the reef from a glass-bottom boat 
  • Laze by the resort pool
  • Book into the island day spa or arrange a couple’s massage in your room
  • Arrange a private jet ski tour 
  • Spend the day under palm trees at your own private beach 
  • Pre-arrange a sunset dinner on the beach

Best Queensland islands for families

Island escapes offer the perfect family break from your hectic life. They’re a chance for your family to reconnect, have fun and make memories together.

Families with babies, toddlers and tots should head for Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays. When you’re on the island, Guest Services can take care of all your needs from organising spots at the day care centre, to providing prams and baby seats for your mini golf cart (available for hire on the island).

Adventurous families will love Green Island, 35 minutes by ferry from Cairns. The resort is family-friendly and there’s a lot for kids to learn and do on the island. From snorkelling to glass-bottom boat tours, your kids will be entertained, and you will be relaxed. 

Outdoorsy families, pack the 4WD and head straight for Fraser Island on the Fraser Coast. With freshwater creeks, abundant wildlife and a whopping 45 national park camping grounds to choose from, your family will be setting up camp and roasting marshmallows in no time.

Best family resorts

Treat the kids (and yourselves) to either Heron Island or Lady Elliot Island, the ultimate family-friendly resorts. Both are natural playgrounds with over 1,200 species of marine life and have a Junior Reef Rangers program where kids from five to 12 can learn about the reef and conservation. Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island also offers a wildlife warriors program. Here your kids will learn all about mangroves, tidal zones and even go stargazing.

If your kids want to hand feed wild dolphins or slide down huge sand dunes, Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island is your next family holiday destination. Your kids will love swimming, kayaking and snorkelling around the Tangalooma wrecks, too.

Top things to do for families

  • Meet marine life and see the Great Barrier Reef first-hand with education and conservation classes
  • Hand feed dolphins at Tangalooma Island Resort
  • Snorkel straight off the island or on a day tour
  • Stay dry and see the reef from a glass-bottom boat 
  • Sand toboggan down mega sand dunes on Moreton Island
  • Kayak, swim and have fun with the water sports on offer

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Bedarra

Bedarra Island, Cassowary Coast Area
From AU$1025 - 2075
When you just want to retreat from the world, there is no better place to escape to than the all-inclusive haven of Bedarra. With just ten villas hidden amongst 45 hectares of tropical rainforest, Bedarra offers solitude, privacy and sublime views over the turquoise waters of the Great Barrier Reef, with a maximum of 20 guests.

Great Keppel Island Hideaway

Great Keppel Island,
From AU$125 - 330
Great Keppel Island Hideaway welcomes guests to share their barefoot island paradise, an authentic locally owned Island resort situated on the Southern Great Barrier Reef, merely 30 minutes ferry from Yeppoon.

Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort

Lady Elliot Island, Bundaberg Area
From AU$160 - 385
Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay located at the southern tip of Australia's World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef, 80 kilometres north-east of Bundaberg (north of Fraser Island). Situated within a highly protected 'Green Zone', the Island is a sanctuary for over 1200 species of marine life and is renowned for an abundance of manta rays, turtles, reef sharks, amazing array of spectacular marine life and unspoilt coral reef.

Fitzroy Island Resort

Fitzroy Island, Cairns Area
From AU$155 - 410
Fitzroy Island is a tropical paradise of rainforest and coral beaches within the calm sheltered waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Australia, located only 29 kilometres off Cairns. Just 45 minutes by Fast Cat, Fitzroy Island Resort offers affordable 4.

Fraser Island Retreat

Fraser Island, Fraser Coast Area
From AU$180 - 230
Fraser Island Retreat is located in Happy Valley on the Eastern Beach of Fraser Island about halfway between Hook Point (the southern tip) and Indian Head. They are only 200 metres back from the beach.

Pumpkin Island

Yeppoon, Livingstone Area
From AU$325 - 2870
One of Australia's hidden gems and best-kept island secrets nestled in the Keppel Group of islands, 14 kilometres off the coast from Yeppoon. A holiday on Pumpkin Island offers a blissful escape from the stresses of modern day life and a chance to partake in pristine nature.

Lizard Island

Lizard Island, Cook Area
From AU$1800 - 6380
Lizard Island, Australia's northernmost island resort on the Great Barrier Reef, is truly secluded from the rest of the world and is located a one hour scenic flight over the reef from Cairns. With only one resort on the island hosting 40 rooms – it is the tranquillity and natural beauty of the island that will first greet you.

Peppers Blue on Blue Resort

Magnetic Island, Townsville Area
From AU$194 - 580
Experience the unique allure of one of Australia’s most relaxed escape destinations, Peppers Blue on Blue Resort on Magnetic Island. Just 20 minutes by ferry from Townsville, Magnetic Island is a blend of native Australian bushland, breathtaking beaches and sandy bays.

Orpheus Island Lodge

Townsville, Townsville Area
From AU$1500 - 2900
Located amidst the magical waters of the Great Barrier Reef, Orpheus is a secluded island hideaway accommodating just 28 indulged guests. Access is either via a 30 minute helicopter journey from Townsville, or a 1.

Hamilton Island Palm Bungalows

Hamilton Island, Whitsunday Area
From AU$380 - 495
Romantic and affordable, Hamilton Island Palm Bungalows are designed for couples and families holidaying on a budget. Surrounded by tropical landscaped gardens and Hamilton Island's lush foliage, the bungalows have everything you need for a comfortable island holiday.
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