Magnetic Island and Townsville

Things To Do on Magnetic Island (2024)

Discover an array of exciting activities on Magnetic Island! Dive into crystal-clear waters for snorkelling adventures, relax on pristine beaches, and trek through lush national parks. Explore historic forts, encounter native birds and wildlife, and indulge in delicious local cuisine. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, there are many things to do on Magnetic Island that offer unforgettable experiences for all types of travellers.

Who can resist the allure of pristine blue waters and the laid-back island lifestyle? Experience a tranquil getaway teeming with unique wildlife on Magnetic Island. It was a moment when I craved a break, seeking an exotic yet affordable destination. While exploring potential destinations in Queensland, Magnetic Island caught my eye. Australia boasts a wealth of breathtaking islands, each offering its charm and beauty.

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PIN for later reference – Things To Do on Magnetic Island

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About Magnetic Island

Just off the shores of Townsville lies Magnetic Island, easily accessible by ferry, with the wharf just 8 kilometres apart. Referred to as Yunbenun in the Wulguru language, this island paradise is renowned for its vibrant coral reefs and abundant wildlife, earning its status as a national park.

Covering 70% of the island’s terrain, Magnetic Island’s lush national park is home to over 800 koalas, while its highest peak, Mount Cook, rises majestically to 497 meters above sea level. Dotted along its coastline are five charming villages: Horseshoe Bay, Arcadia, Nelly Bay, Picnic Bay, and West Point.

The island’s tourism roots trace back to the pioneering Butler family, who settled here in 1877. Their humble ferry service began Magnetic Island’s journey as a tourist destination.

For the ultimate experience, plan your visit during the autumn (March to May) or winter (June to August) months when the weather is pleasantly cooler. To fully immerse yourself in the island’s wonders, consider a minimum two-night stay, allowing ample time for exploration and discovery.

About Townsville

Located along the Queensland coastline in Australia, Townsville is a destination with stunning beaches and proximity to the magnificent Great Barrier Reef. Renowned for its natural beauty, Townsville is a must-visit destination in Queensland.

How to Get to Townsville?

By Air

Townsville boasts a well-connected domestic airport, offering flights to major cities and towns across Australia. Conveniently, Townsville Airport is the gateway to Magnetic Island, with Jetstar being an excellent choice for budget-conscious travellers.

By Road

Situated in northern Queensland, Townsville lies approximately 1330 kilometres north of Brisbane. Embarking on a scenic coastal drive by car from Brisbane to Townsville spans roughly 15 hours, with toll roads along the route.

For avid road trip enthusiasts, traversing the picturesque east coast of Australia from Brisbane to Townsville promises an unforgettable adventure.

By Public Transport

  • Bus Sunbus operates bus services to Townsville, connecting numerous towns and cities to this vibrant coastal destination.
  • Train – A direct train service from Brisbane to Townsville runs five times a week, offering a scenic journey spanning approximately 18 hours.

Ferry Service from Townsville to Magnetic Island

Sea Link, Magnetic Island Ferries and Fanta Sea Cruising jointly operate frequent ferry services between Townsville and Magnetic Island. With departures available throughout the day, travellers enjoy convenient access to this island paradise. A one-way ferry ticket typically costs around AUD 13, offering an affordable and scenic journey across the sparkling waters.

Travel within Magnetic Island

Once on Magnetic Island, exploring its attractions is a breeze. Visitors can rent bicycles, scooters, or cars to traverse the island’s picturesque roads. Alternatively, public buses operated by Sunbus provide efficient transportation between Magnetic Island’s villages and attractions. With its diverse array of transportation options, navigating Magnetic Island is convenient and enjoyable for visitors seeking to uncover its natural wonders and charming villages.

Barbie Cars

A delightful and charming activity on Magnetic Island is renting a Mini Moke, affectionately referred to as Barbie Cars. With their open-top design, these unique vehicles offer a fun and memorable way to explore the island’s beauty. Available for hire from Tropical Topless at a rate of AUD 80 per day, these iconic cars provide a whimsical and nostalgic experience as you cruise around Magnetic Island in style. If you’re seeking adventure or want to bask in the island vibes, renting a Mini Moke promises a delightful and unforgettable experience on Magnetic Island.

Cars and Motorbikes

Exploring Magnetic Island is accessible by renting cars and motorbikes from operators around Nelly Bay. With multiple rental providers, visitors can select the vehicle that best suits their needs and preferences.

Car rentals typically start from around AUD 69 per day, offering an affordable way to discover the island’s hidden gems at your own pace. Whether you prefer the convenience of a car or the thrill of riding a motorbike, renting a vehicle on Magnetic Island ensures a seamless and enjoyable experience as you embark on your island adventure.

Fantasea Cruising is the sole ferry operator in Townsville that permits the transportation of cars across to Magnetic Island. If you want to bring your vehicle along, Fantasea Cruising provides the necessary ferry service, ensuring convenient access to Magnetic Island from Townsville.

Public Bus

While not as frequent, the public buses on the island, operated by Sunbus, offer visitors easy and convenient transportation options. Despite their limited frequency, these buses provide a reliable way of getting around Magnetic Island, allowing travellers to explore its attractions and picturesque landscapes easily.

Taxi Service

Taxi services on Magnetic Island are notably limited, with only three taxis available. However, travellers can utilize Uber services, which can be conveniently booked through the Uber app. While taxi availability may be scarce, Uber offers an alternative transportation solution for visitors seeking to navigate Magnetic Island easily.

Things To Do on Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island, nestled off the coast of Queensland, offers a treasure trove of experiences for visitors seeking adventure, relaxation, and natural beauty. Here’s a curated list of things to do on this enchanting island:

Hiking and Bushwalking

Strap on your hiking boots and delve into the verdant hinterland of Magnetic Island. Embark on a journey along its diverse network of walking trails, catering to all levels of hikers, from strolls to exhilarating treks.

Along the way, prepare to be captivated by awe-inspiring viewpoints, discover secluded waterfalls tucked away in the lush foliage, and encounter abundant native wildlife. Whether you seek a leisurely nature walk or a thrilling outdoor adventure, Magnetic Island’s hiking trails offer an unforgettable exploration of its natural wonders.

Snorkel at Nelly Bay

Snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the top activity when exploring Queensland’s coastal islands. Similarly, snorkelling at Magnetic Island ranks as a must-do experience. With pristine waters beckoning, Nelly Bay and other spots around the island offer ideal snorkelling trails. Follow designated snorkelling trails to encounter vibrant marine life, from colourful fish to unique species.

Keep an eye out for the nursery of Tiger sharks nestled between the island and the mainland, adding an element of excitement to your snorkelling adventure. Conveniently, snorkelling kits are available for hire from your accommodation, ensuring you’re fully equipped for an unforgettable underwater exploration on Magnetic Island.

Spot the Wildlife

As highlighted earlier, Magnetic Island is home to a significant koala population, with over 800 koalas recorded in a 2013 survey. With 70% of the island designated as a national park, encountering these iconic marsupials is common. Keep your eyes peeled while exploring, as koalas are often spotted lounging in the treetops or along the roadside.

In addition to koalas, Magnetic Island boasts diverse wildlife, including wallabies, possums, bats, and echidnas. These native species add to the island’s natural charm and provide opportunities for wildlife encounters.

However, it’s essential to exercise caution, as crocodiles have been sighted in the waters surrounding the island. Be mindful of your surroundings and adhere to any safety warnings to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to Magnetic Island.

Step into the History

Magnetic Island boasts several heritage-listed sites dating back to World War II. Explore the island’s eastern side to discover the Fort Complex, constructed in 1943 as part of the wartime defence efforts. Another notable site is the Picnic Bay Jetty, which is listed as a heritage site built between 1959 and 1977.

A stroll around these historic landmarks is highly recommended for visitors, offering insight into the island’s rich history and wartime significance. Don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the stories and architecture of these iconic sites during your visit to Magnetic Island.

Hop the Beaches

Explore Magnetic Island’s picturesque coastline, boasting over 23 captivating beaches. Whether you seek solitude in secluded coves or thrive in the energy of bustling beachfront, Magnetic Island offers an idyllic setting for every beach enthusiast. Bask in the sun’s warmth as you stroll along pristine shores, dipping your toes into crystal-clear waters.

Discover hidden gems along the coastline, where tranquillity meets natural beauty. With its diverse array of beaches, each with its unique charm, Magnetic Island invites you to indulge in endless days of seaside bliss. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, this tropical paradise has no shortage of breathtaking vistas and sandy shores.

Shop for Souvenirs

Magnetic Island boasts a variety of shops offering locally made products and souvenirs, perfect for taking home cherished memories. Explore antique and gift shops like Batuta Gallery and browse through the treasures at Horseshoe Bay flea markets.

From unique handicrafts to authentic island souvenirs, these shops offer a delightful array of items to suit every taste. Visit these charming boutiques on Magnetic Island and discover the perfect gifts to commemorate your island adventure.

Visit the Maritime Museum in Townsville

The Maritime Museum, founded in 1986, showcases the tragic tale of the SS Yongala shipwreck alongside an impressive collection of maritime artifacts and model ships. Open to the public every day except Sunday, from 9:30 AM to 2 PM; the museum offers visitors a glimpse into maritime history for an entry fee of AUD 10 per adult.

Another notable landmark is the Victoria Bridge in Townsville, a heritage-listed swing bridge in the Central Business District (CBD). Initially opened in 1889, this historic bridge is a remarkable testament to Townsville’s rich architectural heritage.

Townsville & Magnetic Island

Where to Stay on Magnetic Island?

Magnetic Island is a special place and a beloved holiday destination for Australians, offering many accommodation options to suit every traveller’s preferences. For those seeking luxury, Peppers Blue on Blue provides an exquisite retreat with top-notch amenities and unparalleled comfort.

On the other hand, budget-conscious travellers will find excellent value at Base Backpackers, also known as Nomads Magnetic Island. With affordable stay options tailored to backpackers and budget travellers, Bungalow Bay offers a cozy and wallet-friendly accommodation experience on Magnetic Island.

Is Magnetic Island Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

During my solo journey to Magnetic Island and Townsville, I encountered no troubles whatsoever. The island and the city are exceptionally safe for solo female travellers and rank among the safest destinations for solo exploration. I wholeheartedly endorse these locales for solo adventurers.

Townsville & Magnetic Island

However, as with any destination worldwide, it’s prudent to exercise caution, particularly after dark. By remaining vigilant and mindful of your surroundings, you can enjoy a secure and fulfilling solo travel experience in Magnetic Island and Townsville.

Closing Notes

Magnetic Island captured my heart during my brief visit, leaving me longing for more time on its shores. Although my stay was short-lived due to time constraints, I harbour a strong desire to return and immerse myself in the island’s beauty for an extended period.

While Magnetic Island may not be my top pick when selecting an island destination in Australia or Queensland, I firmly believe it holds its unique charm and allure, making it a destination worth experiencing. From its stunning beaches to its lush landscapes and vibrant wildlife, Magnetic Island offers a captivating escape that beckons travellers to return time and time.


  • The prices mentioned in the post are valid only at the time of publication. Ensure that you check the booking websites for up-to-date information and prices.
  • My opinions and views are unbiased. If the post is a collaboration, then they are specifically mentioned.
  • Ensure that you check the relevant websites for up-to-date information on COVID protocols.
  • For any adventurous activities, please note that there is a risk that can be dangerous. Ensure you read the terms and conditions recommended by individual agencies and do them at your own risk.
  • For visas, it is best to see the embassy website for changing rules.
  • While using the recommended guides, auto-drivers or taxi drivers, do your due diligence and trust your judgement.

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Things To Do on Magnetic Island (2024)
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    PIN for later reference – Things To Do on Magnetic Island

    PIN for later reference - Things To Do on Magnetic Island
    PIN for later reference – Things To Do on Magnetic Island