The island is located eight kilometres off the coast of Townsville accessible by a short 25 minute ferry ride. The island gets its name from Captain James Cook who sailed pass the island commenting that it was affecting his compass- hence Magnetic Island.
Unlike many other islands within the Great Barrier Reef, Magnetic Island has a wide variety of accommodation options and services available to visitors to suit any budget. In fact, Magnetic Island is the only island to have it’s own postcode and 2500 residents call this tropical island home.
It is not hard to see why this island is popular with locals and tourists because of the 23 bays and beaches that the locals are more than happy to share with visitors. Nature lovers will enjoy the 24 km of walking tracks with amazing views of the island. You may also have the opportunity to get up and close with Koalas, wallabies, possums and many bird species in their natural habitat but please look and don’t touch. There is also something to offer for the history buffs with WWII artefacts, command posts and gun emplacements still intact on the island on the Forts Walk.
The four main bays within the island are: Nelly Bay, Picnic Bay, Geoffrey Bay and Horseshoe Bay.
Nelly Bay is your first port of call as all ferries and cruises depart from this point. You will be met with local buses to help you navigate the island or taxi, car and bike hire options if you did not bring the car over. Nelly Bay is good for swimming, sailing, and snorkelling and there are many hotels, resorts and services nearby.
This area is popular for water sports with kayaking, stand up paddling boarding, jet skis and more. For a unique way to explore the beach and the bush you might also consider the horseback rides that are on offer. There is also a safe swimming enclosure, children’s playground and BBQ facilities available for a beach picnic on a tropical island. There are many restaurants and café’s nearby to sit back relax and enjoy a glass of wine or beer overlooking the bay.
Picnic Bay is another area on the island that offers a relaxing swim or snorkel with abundant marine life visiting the area. It is not uncommon to see turtles in this area. Again, there are café and restaurant options available or you can catch your own with a spot of fishing the jetty. You will also find a 9-hole golf course in the middle of this tropical island.
Geoffrey bay is part of a snorkel trail stretching the length of the beach and is popular with divers also. Fishing is strictly off limits here but is a great spot for a relaxing swim or snorkel. The beaches are often frequented by rock wallabies at dusk looking for a feed and make for amazing photo opportunity.
To reach Magnetic Island you must fly into Townsville and then travel by ferry to the island. Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar fly into Townsville daily. There are a few different ferry companies that offer passenger or vehicle ferry services to Magnetic Island and are reasonably priced.
Queensland Rail Travel have daily services into Townsville Railway station. For more information on pricing and schedules you can visit their website. Greyhound Buses travel through Townsville daily for those travellers who are travelling up and down the east coast. If you are driving Townsville is approximately 350km from Cairns or 1300 km from Brisbane.
Getting around the island
Bus services on the island as well as a taxi service to help you find your way around the island. The roads on the island are sealed so you can bring your own vehicle over to the island to conveniently travel around as you please. If you do have a hire car it is recommend that you check whether you may take the vehicle over to the island due to insurance restrictions.
Magnetic Island’s ideal location island in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is perfect for the many snorkel and dive operators that can pick you up at Townsville or Magnetic Island ferry terminals. There are also island operators who will take you to the best sights on the island. For a fun way to explore the island take a Segway tour or unwind on one of the many walks or the day spa.
‘Maggie Island’ is a popular choice for visitors due to its wide variety of accommodation providers that suit any budget. If you want luxury you can stay at a private beach house, resort or hotel. If you want a memorable and unique and personalised experienced then a bed and breakfast is highly recommended. This island is also accessible for those on a limited budget with backpackers, motels and camping facilities available.
Magnetic Island is lucky to experience warm tropical temperatures all year round making it an ideal destination any time of the year. The average minimum temperature during the winter is 20 degrees whilst summer temperatures are usually around 30 degrees. Given the island’s tropical climate a wet and dry season is experienced. Wet season is November to March and the dry season from March to November. Please note that box jellyfish are most common in the summer months and it is recommended that you stick to beach swimming enclosures and consider stinger suits when venturing into the water.