The 7 best things to do on Magnetic Island
When considering going on an island holiday, it’s easy to assume you’ll be completely disconnected—from the mainland, reception, and WiFi.
Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville, Magnetic Island is a big, beautiful exception. This stunning part of Queensland has all your island wants, and all your accessibility needs. The island is home to more than 2,500 residents and has its very own postcode, so it’s essentially a thriving Townsville suburb.
This handy convenience factor makes it the perfect spot for spontaneous weekend getaways or a cheeky mid-week sojourn, but that’s not really why you’re here.
Magnetic Island is magical. It’s a place for those looking to get back to nature in a tropical oasis that’s not quite like anywhere else.
So, whether you’re going for a quick trip or an extended break, make the most of what the island has to offer. Check out this list of seven things to do on Magnetic Island, and experience an island getaway you’ll never forget.
1. Cruise in comfort
A great way to experience the 52-square-kilometre beauty of Magnetic Island is to hire a topless car from Tropical Topless Car Rental and go sightseeing. With the option to hire for one day, 24 hours, or longer, you’ll have plenty of time to blast some tropical tunes while taking in the stellar views in the cutest little beach buggies going ‘round.
Upon pick up, conveniently located at the Nelly Bay ferry terminal, you’ll receive a map highlighting the must-see island attractions, which will help you get your bearings. If you’re travelling with children, complementary boosters and baby seats will be provided so the kids don’t miss out on any cruising time.
2. Hike towards military history
Forts Walk is one of the most popular tracks on Magnetic Island National Park, and it’s easy to understand why. Not only does the track lead you to an incredible piece of history—the ruins of forts operated during World War II—but you’ll be able to marvel at the breathtaking views and snoozing koalas on your way up (there’s over 800 over them on the island!).
When you reach the forts, climb up the stairs and take in the stunning 360-degree views.
One of the great things to do on Magnetic Island—not to be missed.
3. Cuddle a creature
There’s nothing quite like meeting animals that you usually only see in books or on screens. So, head over to the Bungalow Bay Koala Village and say hello to the furry and scaly creatures of this eco-accredited animal sanctuary. Cuddle a koala or a wombat, hold a snake or a lizard, and even feed the lorikeets.
Bungalow Bay is doing amazing things for both animals and the environment. They established and continue to sponsor the wildlife rescue on Magnetic Island, which nurtures sick, injured and orphaned native animals. With sustainability firmly front of mind, they operate with minimal energy consumption. This is achieved by using open tropical ventilation techniques—raising their facilities off the ground, eliminating walls, having high ceilings with fans, and roof insulation.
4. Sail the seas
Admiring the glistening blue water of Magnetic Island is a treat in itself, but nothing beats actually getting out on the ocean. Sailing is the island’s ultimate mode of water transport, and there are two excellent options for this experience—Big Mama Sailing and Pilgrim Sailing.
Big Mama Sailing is a family-owned business that loves welcoming visitors aboard their floating home. Their sailing charter explores the island at a range of different times, so you can pick one that suits your schedule. If you visit Magnetic Island during the migration period (from early July to late September), you’ll have the unique opportunity to see Humpback Whales during your trip.
Pilgrim Sailing specialises in sunset cruises and private charters, for the ultimate sailing experience. The friendly crew and onboard menu, filled with fresh, local ingredients, make for a delightful day (or night) on the water. Perfect for a romantic outing or a special occasion, this is one to make time for.
5. Meet the rock wallabies
Every evening as the sun sets, the native rock wallabies of Magnetic Island come out to play on the granite boulders overlooking Horseshoe Bay. Hand-feeding these cute creatures is OK, so come prepared—they love all crunchy vegetables, but capsicum is one of their favourites.
While these wallabies are very approachable and won’t say no to a delicious snack, make sure to keep your distance while they munch a way. They’re still wild animals, so always practice safety first.
6. Go for a nature walk
The majority of Magnetic Island is protected as a National Park, which makes up over 70% of the island. With a 36-kilometre network of walking tracks, there are an abundance of plants and paths to explore. From granite headlands and sandy bays, to eucalyptus trees and coral reefs, going for a hike is the best way to soak up every last bit of the island and its culture.
Keep an eye out for yellow flowers (in August) and cotton wool-like seed pods (in December), as these flourish on the special kapok plant. This plant was used by Aboriginal people and early settlers for bedding, and can be found on the lower slopes of the island.
7. Dive into a piece of history
Yongala Dive offers an immersive experience like no other; taking divers down to the ocean floor to see Australia’s most intact shipwreck—the S.S. Yongala.
In 1911, this ship was en route from Melbourne to Cairns, but sank after being steamed by a cyclone. Now, divers have the opportunity to see the shipwreck up close, as well as swim with marine life that call the Great Barrier Reef home.
Take a day trip or a diving course – either one will be a memory you won’t forget.