Dreaming of Magnetic Island? Here's What to See and Do
May 9, 2019 • Kaede Ker
6 min read
Located just off the east coast of Townsville, Queensland, is the gorgeous, secluded Magnetic Island. The island is quiet, home to our native koalas and has a natural, rugged feel to it. My partner James and I have visited the island twice now, so we think we have a pretty good take on what to see and do!
Getting to Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island is just eight kilometres off the mainland. You can get here by ferry from South Townsville. We jumped on the Fantasea and it only took around 25 minutes to get there, and we were also able to take our van across.
On approach to Magnetic Island, it’s clear this island is a little different to the other islands that lie in the Great Barrier Reef. While the island definitely has the hot tropical weather, it doesn’t have the typical tropical landscape. The landscape is instead mountainous with large boulders, although it is still lined with palm trees!
How to get around
If you don’t decide to bring your car across to the island, you can rent a car once you get there. On our first visit to Magnetic Island, we couldn't help but notice the cool little topless cars driving around. We knew on our second visit we had to take one out! We ended up taking out an orange coloured topless car from Tropical Topless Car Rentals.
Tip: If you do decide to take a topless car out for the day, make sure you take plenty of water with you and cover up! We visited in September both times and by that time of the year it's already really hot.
We only lasted half the day with topless car, before taking it back and heading down to R&R Bar at Picnic Bay to cool off with a drink and a really good lunch.
One of the main attractions on Magnetic Island are the beautiful beaches. We split most of our time between Horseshoe Bay, Arcadia Bay, Grays Bay and West Point. There are some other really nice spots to check out including Florence Bay, Picnic Bay and Alma Bay.
We were pretty lucky when we were there and had most of these spots to ourselves. It also helps that we are able to travel and experience these places during the week when most people are at work.
Our favourite sunset spot
When we travel, we love to explore. We’ll take roads that aren’t well known, or aren’t well sign posted. Our time on Magnetic Island was no different. This is where we discovered West Point. While two years ago there wasn’t that much information about this spot online (and also no one else there when we visited), this time around was a little different. It seems the secret’s out about this stunning sunset spot! However, if you get there early enough you’ll have no problem parking right up next to the beach to enjoy a special sunset with a glass of wine.
The Forts walk
If you’re looking for incredible 360 degree views of Magnetic Island, do the Forts walk to the very top – you won’t regret it. We did this walk just before the sun rose for the day. One, so there was no one else around. Two, so the weather was much cooler! And thirdly, golden hour. We couldn’t wait to get to the top to take some aerial photos here. The view from the top really was something else. The lighting was just amazing as the sun rose over the horizon. It was the best way to start the day.
On the way down, the weather had started to warm, but we were treated to a pretty special surprise – a sleepy koala in a eucalyptus tree munching away at the leaves. He wasn’t phased by us at all and we were able to get a pretty cute photo of him!
Where to see turtles
Something we didn’t see on first trip on the island (but were delighted to see on the second!) were turtles!! Horseshoe Bay is the place to see them. They were popping up everywhere in the water for some air. We always sat right near the boat ramp and saw them each day we were down here. They will swim right up to you as well if you decide to go into the water. We watched one lady get quite the fright when one popped up next to her!
If you’re keen to see some more wildlife head down to Geoffrey Bay in Arcadia. You’re sure to be greeted by some really cute little rock wallabies. They are super friendly too. To see these cute little guys head down Amand Way, all the way to the end.
If you take a peek over the water’s edge you might even be lucky enough to see an array of brightly coloured fish! We saw a bunch of parrotfish while we were down here. There is also a really great snorkel trail at Geoffrey Bay. If you can see these parrotfish from rocks, imagine what you can see swimming near the coral!
One of the main highlights for us was seeing the SS City of Adelaide shipwreck. James had been waiting to take some aerial photos of the wreck since the moment we stepped on the island. The only problem is, we had no idea where it was! After some exploring and some hunting on Google Maps, we found the wreck at Cockle Bay. It was amazing to see the mangroves growing out of it in person. It looked even more unreal from above!
All images by Aeroaus
Visiting the island
If heading to Magnetic Island is something you want to tick off your “Australian bucket list”, make sure you explore the island for yourself as well! There is SO much more to see and do here, these are just our favourite spots and activities.