Things to do on Great Keppel Island
Get back to basics and explore one of the Capricorn Coast’s most accessible island experiences, Great Keppel Island. The island is known for its expansive coastlines and abundant natural wildlife, but they’re only a few attributes that makes this roadless island a getaway magnet, with plenty of things to do on Great Keppel Island.
Whip off your shoes, feel the sand between each toe, and wade in the waters of 17 beaches available on this island escape. Affordable, accessible and inviting – the kind of trip that’ll have you saying, “we should make time for this more often.”
Getting to Great Keppel Island is easy
Great Keppel Island is the largest of the 18 islands in the Keppel Group on the Capricorn Coast, and can be accessed from beautiful Yeppoon (a trip in itself), around the halfway mark between Brisbane and Townsville. Ferry transfers depart daily from Rosslyn Bay Harbour at either Keppel Bay Marina or Pier One. They only take about 30 minutes to get to the island and leave twice daily during the week, and three times daily on the weekend.
If you take the 3pm ferry, you’ll catch the sunset as you step foot on Fisherman’s Beach. Roll your pant legs up and make sure your shoes slip off, sometimes you’ll have to get your feet a little wet on landing. Check out the timetables on Keppel Konnections or Freedom Fast Cats to plan your ride to the island.
For a spectacular arrival to the island, light planes or helicopter flights can also be arranged, overlooking one of the healthiest stretches of Great Barrier Reef coral on the Capricorn Coast. Pack your camera but don’t experience this flight looking through the lens, this treat is best captured by the eye and stored by the memory.
Beaches to explore on Great Keppel Island
There are so many things to do on Great Keppel Island, home to over 3500 acres of land to explore, 17 beaches to uncover, and rich with animal friends and Australian flora. Acquaint yourself with any one of the 17 sandy island exteriors, walking lengths of expansive beaches or slowing down with a book on just one.
The main beaches – closest to the resorts – are Putney Beach and Fisherman’s Beach. For those seeking a little more seclusion, Long Beach on the southern side of the island has ranked in the top 20 of Australia’s 101 Best Beaches.
At one end of this unique 2km stretch of pristine sands are ancient Aboriginal shell middens left by the Woppaburra peoples, the traditional owners of the Keppel Island Group. Great Keppel island is steeped in traditional history, with plenty to discover and learn on your journey, from cultural meeting grounds to plants like the soap tree, used as a fish poison for over 1000 years.
Things to do in Great Keppel Island’s waters
While exploring the waters, snorkelling the Southern Great Barrier Reef is a must. The water is warm and encounters with turtles and dolphins are frequent for visitors. There are plenty of private bays with pockets of fringing reef around the island that are a perfect spot to snorkel or dive. Keppel is lucky to boast some of the healthiest reef around, with many reefs boasting 95-100% healthy coral coverage. As a continental island, Great Keppel Island is lucky to have reef within reach, simply walk off the beach and explore remarkable diverse coral species, with a mixture of both soft and hard corals in impressive colours.
Keen anglers can fish off the beach or join a day’s charter. Good fishing spots include the headland near Putney’s Beach and near the mouth of Leeke’s Creek. The resort can advise on fishing zones and green zones.
From April to November, you might also witness whale sightings as the humpbacks migrate through Keppel Bay.
Enjoy the best of both the beach and bush
Abundant with walking trails and tracks there are plenty of things to do on Great Keppel Island by foot. With no roads or cars within cooee and no need for a 4WD, there’s no better excuse to hit the pathways and commune with nature. Gentle hikes lead to picnic spots and uncover lookouts with incredible views of the Capricorn Coast.
While hiking, keep alert for island wildlife, including goannas and blue tongue lizards which are frequently spotted amidst the bush. At night, look out for brush-tail possums along the paths to your stay.
Close your eyes and invite your other senses to explore the surrounds. Great Keppel Island is a fond spot for birdwatches, with over 90 species of birds. Be still awhile and listen for their calls, each unique and beautiful. Cross any number of feathered friends like sea eagles, ospreys, curlews, honey eaters, kookaburras and rainbow lorikeets.
Hide away the night on Great Keppel Island
Great Keppel Island Hideaway is a comfortable and laid-back resort, set just a few metres back from the beach. For the best views, book a beachfront cabin. It has a licenced restaurant and bar overlooking both Putney and Fisherman’s beaches, and on Friday nights it’s buzzing as everyone turns up for the popular Parilla Argentinian barbecue. They often book music acts across the weekend for visitors to enjoy, the perfect way to wind down after a whole day of discovery.
Great Keppel Island Holiday Village offers more of the same stripped-back experience that makes this place so special. Book a cabin with ensuite, decked tents, twin rooms, dorms and camping sites with the use of a communal kitchen, as well as larger houses for families and groups.