How To Organize Your Perfect Day Trip To Magnetic Island, Queensland

There are countless jaw-droppingly beautiful tropical islands off the coast of Queensland. However, most of them are uninhabited and not that easy to access – unless you have a boat (in this case feel free to invite us for your next getaway 😛 ). Magnetic Island is the exception. And we show you how you can organize a day trip to Magnetic Island for yourself, how to get and what to do there.

Magnetic Island got its name from Captain Cook who observed that the island has a “magnetic” effect on his ship’s compass. Though no one else has ever noticed this effect again, the name remained. Aussies, of course, have a nickname for everything, so the island is also known as “Maggie”.

This pretty mountainous island with its secluded beaches, coral reefs and eucalypt woodlands tempted us, and we didn’t resist. As it turned out we could have easily spent several days there, swimming in the fabulous bays and hiking on the trails of Magnetic Island National Park.

How to get to Magnetic Island?

Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia

The island is very close to the city of Townsville, and there are regular ferry rides from Townsville to Magnetic Island’s Nelly Bay. They take only 30 minutes, so we barely started to look around and enjoy the views from the ferry when we already arrived. Well, we couldn’t complain about the views on the island either.

We were thinking about booking ferry tickets online in advance, but finally we didn’t. It’s not necessary, ferries are quite frequent and you can buy the ticket at the ferry terminal.

Explore the island on foot!

Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia

We left our campervan at the ferry terminal’s parking lot in Townsville, so we arrived to “Maggie” on foot. And that’s no problem since this is an island that you can easily explore even on foot!

Okay, it’s not that small that you can walk around the whole island within a day (or maybe you can if that’s really your goal), but we could easily walk to nearby viewpoints and bays from Nelly Bay. In case you’d like to explore further, there’s a bus that goes around the island and works like a hop on hop off bus. We haven’t used it though, because we spent our time walking, hiking and swimming close to Nelly Bay.

What to do on Magnetic Island within one day?

Picnic Bay, Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia

Tons of things. But the best thing here is simply chilling out surrounded by all those natural beauties, blue and green shades of the ocean, the sky, the forests. So we don’t recommend planning too much if you only have one day. We did plan too much, and luckily we threw our plans out of the window…

Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia

So after our ferry arrived to Nelly Bay, we casually walked towards the Hawkings Track, and then hiked to Hawkings Point Lookout. It took about an hour and was such a nice path all the way. We were happy to do it in the morning though, because there’s not much shade on the trail. When looking around from Hawkings Point with all the pretty beaches below us, we were eager to go for a swim as soon as we can.

Picnic Bay, Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia

We headed towards Picnic Bay. This long, shallow, sandy bay was perfect for swimming. It even had a small patrolled beach with a stinger net around it. But it was the end of stinger season and we had our stinger suits, too, so we also went snorkelling at the eastern end of Picnic Bay. And half of our day has already passed. Ooops. But who cares? 🙂

Rocky Bay, our dream beach

Rocky Bay, Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia

We already noticed a small and somewhat hidden bay on our way to Hawkings Point Lookout in the morning. We wanted to take a closer look, and we ended up spending the rest of our day there, in Rocky Bay.

A steep, narrow dirt path led us down to the beach. And what a beach we found! Soft sand, clean blue waters, impressive rock formations and no people. Not that crowd was a problem on Australian beaches, but there were literally just the two of us in Rocky Bay the whole afternoon. It was our romantic little corner on Magnetic Island.

What else to see?

Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia

So we fell in love with Rocky Bay and forgot about all the other places we planned to visit on Magnetic Island. It was just right. This fabulous little island is a place where you should enjoy every moment without being in a hurry. Everyone can find his happy corner there.

In addition to the places we’ve seen, there are Geoffrey and Alma Bays, Arthur and Florence Bays and Horseshoe Bay. Forts Walk and Sphinx Lookout offer more great views. And Magnetic Island National Park is home to the largest colony of koalas in Northern Australia.

Wherever you go on this island, it’s the best place. Follow your heart. Enjoy this barely known paradise.

Do you have a favorite tropical island?


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By Beata Urmos

Bea is the co-founder of Our Wanders. She’s the writer and the trip organizer, and she’d love to help you plan your own amazing trips! She likes hiking, good novels and chocolate, as well. Her motto is: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” (John A. Shedd)

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