Which Queensland island is for you?
Just like a good meal or a fine wine, when it comes to island holidays, you want a destination that speaks to your soul.
With 6973 kilometres of coastline in Queensland, there’s a good chance you can find an island that whispers sweet holiday-nothings, specifically to yours.
Whether you’ve got a penchant for scuba, spas or sand tobogganing, we guarantee you’ll find your definition of Destination Relaxation here.
So, what are you waiting for? Make like Crusoe, set sail like Gilligan or seriously cast-away like Chuck Noland (and his pal Wilson) on one of these Queensland islands.
1. If you’re looking for romance
Giving new meaning to FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out), Hamilton Island is a one-stop romantic-holiday shop – especially if want to get loved-up on a tropical island surrounded by azure aqua.
For a taste of Australian Travellers’ Most Desired Escape (2015), look no further than qualia to experience the most romantic getaway money can buy.
There are even golf buggies to take you swiftly (or should that read Taylor Swiftly – she stayed here) between spa treatments, gourmet dining and sunset sailing.
Of course, if you venture beyond your bungalow’s doors, there’s 74 other islands to discover, a heart-shaped natural wonder and TripAdvisor’s favourite beach, Whitehaven Beach.
Want to know how to really make the most of it? Check out this guide.
2. If you’re looking for adventure
The world’s biggest sand island, Fraser Island, needs no introduction when it comes to raw, natural, and adrenaline-inducing appeal.
In fact, Fraser Island’s reputation for adventure pre-dates even the oldest Land Cruiser. Eliza Frazer, the island’s namesake, shipwrecked her boat loaded with spirits here in 1836 and ever since then, there’s been nothing soft about this 123-kilometre sand-strip.
When it comes to discovering this World Heritage-listed adventure playground, it’s four wheels, low range, diff lock or nothing.
Guide books will tell you the must-visit spots are Lake McKenzie, Eli Creek and the Maheno Shipwreck, but true adventure-chasers head north of Indian Head to go where only serious 4WD’ers dare to leave tyre treads.
Tip: If your idea of adventure is swapping four wheels for two feet – you’ll want to see how you can complete this Fraser Island Great Walk.
3. If you want to really ‘resort’
It turns out you don’t have to travel internationally to find those Club Med all-inclusive feels. Forty-one kilometres and 75 minutes from Brisbane, you’ll find Tangalooma Island Resort, which would easily look as at home on the Florida Keys as it does in Brisbane’s bay.
The world is your activity-oyster on Moreton Island and, in fact, you’ll find one of Queensland’s few oyster farms here too!
The Tangalooma tour desk will look after your adventure appetite – from sand tobogganing, quad biking, snorkeling or spa treatment – while the six onsite restaurants will look after your real appetite.
If you can only squeeze in one activity during your stay at this island resort, make it feeding the wild dolphins. Up to 10 dolphins come in for a feed each night and Tangalooma guests play waiter.
4. When you just want to be alone
If you’re looking for the same kind of seclusion that Hollywood A-listers and rock stars long for when they come to Queensland, look no further than Bedarra.
This island paradise 10 kilometres off the coast of Mission Beach, sure knows how to make you feel like the only two people in their 43-hectare world.
You won’t see much of the other guests who inhabit the other eight villas during your stay. In fact, your only real chance of a run-in is if you accidentally arrive at the bar to ask Lance to whip up another cocktail du jour at the same time. Seriously, it’s that secluded.
If you do bring yourself to leave your villa-digs, there are private dinghies to explore Bedarra’s surrounding islands (which, incidentally, also follow Bedarra’s privacy principals).
The rules for exploring are simple: if you see someone already on a beach, you’ll need to find yourself another one. Or better yet, another island. And just like that, your seclusion is guaranteed.
If you need more remote island-spiration check out these options.
5. If you’re looking for the ultimate kids club
Imagine an island where everything you could ever want, need or imagine is all within arm’s reach of your balcony suite. Dream no more friends – just get yourself to Daydream Island Resort and Spa.
It’s equal parts parent’s and children’s paradise – with a motto “it’s always playtime on Daydream”. The kids club practices what it preaches, entertaining daydreamers between the ages of 0-12 daily.
Daydream’s Reef Ranger program is the source of serious nagging from kids the world over, offering little ones the opportunity to become quasi-marine biologists in the Living Reef, a man-made reef that winds through the resort.
It’s home to 120 marine species, including a shark named Bruce, and kids can assist the island’s marine biologist care for the critters during their stay.
Where’s mum and dad in all this? Oh, just Daydream’s Rejuvenation Spa which has a treatment menu that would rival a wine list in a fancy restaurant for its length and diversity.
Tip: Check out this guide if you’re thinking of doing the Whitsundays with kids.
6. If you’re on a budget but want to vacay
Just like a bag of Allen’s Party Mix, North Stradbroke Island offers something for everyone.
And for little more than a bag of Party Mix, you can stay on the island at an unpowered site, with box office views – making this a budget island with big-buck facilities. We’re talking tarmac roads, a township and plenty of watering holes to wet your whistle.
Being the world’s second-largest sand island, it’s no surprise this island playground is popular for 4WDing, fishing and surfing. Don’t judge Straddie by its cover, though. It’s all adventure at the front, serious island relaxation at the back – and if you’re into meditation, chilled dining and island-time – you’ll find that here too.
There are 38 kilometres of sub-tropical island fun to explore and we’d recommend at least 48 hours to getting acquainted with Straddie’s hidden secrets. Here’s how.
7. If you’re looking for laid back with a capital L
Plunge pools? Don’t need ‘em! Sky decks? Don’t want ‘em! And butler service just wouldn’t feel right on an island which is more about holidaying like a local and assimilating to island life, than any atoll on this list.
It could be the fact that about 2000+ people permanently live on the island, or the fact that Maggie attracts backpackers during their east coast odyssey – but either way, you’ll be turning back the clock and embracing your happy-go-lucky-side on this island.
Granite boulders, eucalypt forests and Australia’s most northern koala population are what this island, smack bang in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, is all about.
If you make it to Maggie, be sure to check out these things to do.
8. For box-office reef views
If the words ‘turtle-selfie’ mean nothing to you, then get searching the hashtag #LadyElliotIsland or check out this post.
Aside from rocking out where shells come out, LEI – as it’s affectionately known by Southern Great Barrier Reef locals – is the kind of place where mere footsteps separate the beach from your bed.
Sure, the accommodation is basic, but you don’t come here room service. It’s a comfortable eco-accredited island and you’ll spend more time in the water than out of it.
The marine encounters from turtle encounters to manta rays will have you singing like Ariel “Under the Sea” faster than the flight to get here. Did you know you can visit Lady Elliot Island in a weekend (see how)?
9. For the brag-factor
Nothing brings out holiday envy in your co-workers like a One&Only Hayman Island coconut selfie – and that’s only just the beginning of the wow factor here.
Everything about this resort is worth writing home about – the luxurious beach villas were designed by architect-extraordinaire Kerry Hill, the Hayman Pool is seven times the size of an Olympic swimming pool and if you book a massage, you’ll take it on a spa bed in the middle of the Coral Sea.
Even the location is spectacular. You’ll find it in the northernmost part of the Whitsundays wonderland – a good boat or helicopter ride from the mainland or any of its island neighbours.
Most stay and play for a while, but if you don’t have a heck of a lot of time you can visit Hayman Island in a weekend – see how.
10. When you need to get as far away from the city as possible
There’re times in your life when you just need to get wander-fully lost. That’s where Haggerstone Island comes in.
You’ll find it 600 kilometres north of Cairns – and each and every one those 600 clicks contribute to its charm.
The island, which measures 2.2 kilometres in circumference, is the exact opposite of a concrete jungle. In fact, there are only seven structures on the island – four huts, a beach house, pavilion and jetty – which sport a Fijian bure design-vibe.
More than just another island resort, Haggerstone is a labour of love for its owners, who fell in love with the island and castaway from the mainland in 1985 to build Haggerstone as we see it today. These modern-day Crusoe’s built it thatch-roof by thatch-roof, jetty by jetty, garden by garden and boy, we’re glad they did.
What’s your favourite island experience and why?
Some of the businesses listed above have been impacted by recent weather events in Queensland. Please make contact with the operator or visit their website for information regarding bookings and travel plans.