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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.

Heron Island Resort

Heron Island, Gladstone Area
From AU$321 - 899
Heron Island is a natural wonderland to explore on the Great Barrier Reef. A true coral cay, located right on the Southern Great Barrier Reef the island is ribboned by white sands, crystal clear waters (swimmable all year) and acres of coral with beautifully coloured marine life.

Heron Island

Heron Island, Gladstone Area
Among the music of seabirds, tracks of turtles and multi-coloured clouds of fish, the feeling that you're a guest of nature itself is inescapable at Heron Island. Reef walking, viewing underwater life from semi-submersible, watching the sun set over the ocean - you become part of a community caught up in the timeless evolution of the world's largest living thing - the Great Barrier Reef.

Heron Island Research Station

Heron Island, Gladstone Area
The University of Queensland's Heron Island Research Station is a world-class research and teaching facility. It is the largest island-based research station in the Southern Hemisphere with a rich history of research, event pre-dating its construction in 1951.

Islands

Unleash your inner Bear Grills in the secluded and serene islands off the coast of Mackay. 

Islands to visit in Mackay 

The southern-most Whitsunday Islands, Keswick Island is situated 32 kilometres from Mackay and is accessible via the water from the Mackay Marina, or by air. Most of the island is national park and sub-tropical rainforest and fringed by white sandy shorelines, with coral reefs within swimming distance, perfect for snorkelling. Or, hike within the blue gum forests of Brampton Island, keeping an eye out for koalas along the southern entrance to the Whitsunday Passage, and view flatback and green turtles nesting and hatching on nearby Carlisle Island.

The Capricorn Region: Islands

Dive into untouched coral gardens and explore the Keppel Islands group of the Southern Great Barrier Reef, north of Yeppoon and Rockhampton on the Capricorn Coast.

Welcome to paradise

Take your pick of 17 pristine beaches and a wide range of accommodation options on Great Keppel Island. Learn to sail or steer your stand-up-paddle board to a secluded cay and snorkel with turtles and dugongs. Spot cheeky dolphins in the shallow shores during the cooler months or humpback whales migrating along the coast from April to November. Share the walking trails that lead to the heart of Great Keppel Island with local brushtail possums, blue-tongued lizards, goannas and over 90 species of birds.

Gladstone Region: Gladstone's Islands on the Great Barrier Reef

Leave Seventeen Seventy and Gladstone behind en route to the tropical paradise of Lady Musgrave, Heron and Fitzroy Reef Lagoon, in the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

The best islands to visit on the Southern Great Barrier Reef 

The Southern Great Barrier Reef is sprinkled with tiny coral cays that are surrounded by protective coral lagoons, providing exceptional snorkelling the moment you enter the water.

Heron Island is no exception, its surrounding waters are brimming with rays (eagle, cow-tail and giant shovel-nosed to name a few), turtles (primarily green, but keep an eye out for a giant and very old loggerhead named Ben) and reef sharks (don’t worry, they’re terrified of you).

Lady Elliot Island is regarded as the southern starting point of the reef, or as we prefer to call it, where GREAT begins. Located 46 nautical miles off the coast of Bundaberg, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is (as the name suggests) eco-certified and attracts divers from around the world who want to swim with super-sized manta rays.

Lady Musgrave is off the coast from Queensland’s birth town, the Town of 1770. This protected pocket of water is like swimming in an ocean aquarium, and its calm waters are perfect for families and swimmers of all abilities to snorkel and explore the colourful reef.

Located 89 kilometres north-east of Gladstone, Heron Island packs a punch with 16 superb dive sites within 15 minutes of the island. Plus, there’s no need for long boat transfers to the reef when you reach this island – you can literally swim off the beach and drift snorkel above colourful coral.

And rounding out these is an island that offers some serious island chill time. The biggest of the 14 islands that make up the Keppel group, Great Keppel Island has that relaxed feel where you can comfortably wander around in your togs (aka swimmers/bathers/cossie) and lose track of time. A quick hop across the bay from Yeppoon, Great Keppel Island has 17 pristine white-sandy beaches perfect for lounging, sand-castle building and beach cricket.



Whitsunday Islands

Welcome to the heart of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – littered with 74 islands including globally-known Hamilton, Hayman and Daydream Islands.

Step onto the soft silica sand of Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island and hike the many bush trails for 360-degree panoramic views, or traverse the Ngaro Sea Trail. Explore Hamilton Island, with lots of family-friendly activities, your crew will enjoy every minute.

Opt for something more lux like an impress an impressive bathtub with a view or camp overnight on a reef pontoon. Or sip cocktails from the comfort of your deck chair as you sail your own private charter yacht or grab a kayak and start paddling.

Access to the islands is by boat or ferry from Airlie Beach, Shute Harbour or Hamilton Island marina.

Moreton Island

Packed with adventure and natural wonder, Moreton Island is only 40 kilometres off the Brisbane shoreline and can be easily accessed by boat, barge or ferry. 

Traditionally called Moorgumpin, meaning place of sandhills, Moreton Island is only accessible by 4WD but if you’re staying at Tangalooma Island Resort you will step straight off the ferry and onto the resort sand.

Whether you choose to camp under the stars or opt for a resort stay, you will be guaranteed to be greeted with natural wildlife, stunning views and incredible experiences both on and off the shore.

Things to do 

Tangalooma Wrecks

Just off the shores of the island live the rusting bones of old hulls famously known as the Tangalooma Wrecks.  A total of 17 vessels were deliberately sunken between the 60’s and the 80’s and now reside in the turquoise waters of Moreton Bay. The Tangalooma Wrecks provide a stunning snorkelling spot for visitors where you can swim alongside over 100 species of fish and the occasional dolphin, wobbegong and dugong.

Land activities

Moreton Island is the third largest sand island in the world so as you can imagine there are some amazing sand dunes to fly down on a toboggan. Whether you’re taking the kids for fun or you want to feel the exhilaration of reaching 40km speeds on a sand toboggan, you can create your own experience based on your preference.   

The best way to see the island is on four wheels so try out a quad biking tour as you navigate through rugged bush tracks and along the sandy beaches of the island. If wind-swept hair isn’t your style, discover the island on a 4WDing tour or you can navigate your own 4WD to explore at your leisure.  

Hand-feed wild dolphins

At dusk two families of wild bottlenose dolphins visit the shore of Tangalooma Island Resort every evening. Venture down to the beach and hand-feed these beautiful creatures in knee deep water as you get to say hi and snap a photo with these friendly locals. 

Here’s how you can spend 48 hours on Moreton Island.

Magnetic Island

It might only be a 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville, but once you set foot on Magnetic Island you’ll soon be running on island time. 

How to get to Magnetic Island

From Townsville, jump on the Sealink passenger service for a 25 minute trip to the Island. For those arriving by car, Fantasea Cruising Magnetic is a 45 minute service which runs daily. 

Things to do in Magnetic Island

Work your camera and your legs on the Forts Walk, keeping an eye out for koalas, WWII military base ruins and views of the island’s 23 bays and beaches. Set out on a self-guided snorkelling tour of Geoffrey Bay then hand-feed rock wallabies once back on shore. Venture off the beaten path to some (almost) secret national park beaches including Arthur, Radical and Florence Bay. Prefer a different mode of transport? Feel the wind in your hair behind the wheel of a classic moke or topless car, or set sail on a tall ship. Saddle up for horse riding through Maggie’s best beach and bush real estate, or, get your heart racing at Horseshoe Bay with jet-skiing and sea kayaking.


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