Why Magnetic Island offers one of the best holidays for kids
With an abundance of bays, beaches, trails, and sunshine, Magnetic Island is a natural wonderland for families and a great place to set the kids free in the great outdoors. ‘Maggie’, as the locals call it, is located only 20 minutes by boat from Townsville and sets the stage for one of the best holidays for kids. Ever.
The island has a range of family-friendly accommodation in its handful of charming settlements, along with a safe, laid-back vibe. But the showstopper is that over half of the island is national park, meaning there are plenty of places to explore, making you and your kids feel like you’re in another world.
But if you need a little more convincing, here are 7 reasons why Maggie is the perfect island for families.
The beaches are stunning
Magnetic Island has around 23 beaches, which makes choosing tricky, each one with golden sand lapped by the warm waters of the Coral Sea. Some are hard to access making them a haven for backpackers, while others are not patrolled, or have no facilities, so the best pick for families is Alma Bay in Arcadia.
Alma Bay also has a shaded area, playground, gas barbecues, picnic tables and toilets. A semicircle shaped bay bounded by jumbles of rocks, making it ideal for anyone who loves to climb. The water is shallow, usually calm and patrolled by lifesavers.
There Are Diverse Walking Tracks
The island’s unspoilt natural beauty is a unique combination of stunning headlands, eucalypt forests, and remnants of rainforest making it a hiker’s paradise. There are around 25km of bush walks, some accessing historic sites, remote swimming spots, and native wildlife including Australia’s largest colony of koalas in the wild.
An easy trail for younger kids on Magnetic Island is the Butterfly Walk; it’s a flat, 15-minute ramble starting in Horseshoe Bay, and is famous for its population of butterflies.
If your kids are older, the Forts Walk is arguably the island’s number one hike. Starting at the Forts car park a moderate walk of around 4km return across undulating terrain encompasses the fascinating World War II forts.
The Wildlife Is Abundant
There are two key wildlife seasons on the island. Whale watching takes place from August to October, when humpback whales migrate north to the Great Barrier Reef. Between November and January turtles come ashore to nest and lay their eggs, and can be spotted at night particularly around Nelly Bay, Radical Bay and Horseshoe Bay.
Magnetic Island is also famous for curlews. They’re everywhere, and depending on where you stay, you’ll either go to sleep at night hearing their mournful cries ringing out nearby, or not sleep at all if they are outside your window!
Another great treat for kids is spotting cute rock wallabies that come out to play at sunset on the granite boulders overlooking the old barge jetty at Arcadia Bay.
You Can Get Up Close With A Koala
Bungalow Bay Koala Village should also be on your Magnetic Island hit list. This fun-packed eco-resort is one of the few places in the world where your kids can pose for a photo cuddling a koala, before tucking into a real bush tucker breakfast cooked over a campfire – three mornings each week.
Plus, you can make friends with a giant wombat, bearded dragons, and turtles. Just don’t try to kiss the python or the baby saltwater crocodile.
There’s incredible snorkelling
Use the two self-guided trails to snorkel the balmy waters around Magnetic Island. The Nelly Bay snorkel trail is ideal for beginners, starting just 100m off the beach, and following the reef closest to the shore. Lettuce, boulder and staghorn corals are in abundance.
The snorkel trail at Geoffrey Bay is more suited to stronger swimmers and older kids and starts 390m off Arcadia Bay, but it takes in relics including a German Moltke wreck which sunk in 1913. Expect to see sweetlip, barramundi, cod, and harmless epaulette sharks.
You Can Go Horse Riding On The Beach
Saddle up for a bush-and-beach trail ride from Horseshoe Bay Ranch, which ends up with everyone in the water – horses included.
The ranch runs morning and afternoon tours which begin with basic instruction and the pairing of animals with riders depending on their skill level.
Channel your inner explorer on a lazy meander through native bushland, spotting grazing wallabies or the occasional sleepy koala. After emerging from the bush, ride bareback into the ocean for a swim to cool off.
It’s all about the water
Another relaxing way for the family to take in the natural beauty of Magnetic Island and its beautiful beaches is on a lunchtime cruise with Pilgrim Sailing. Think 58-feet of luxury sailing yacht complete with beanbags for adults, and two cockpits for kids.
The scenery will captivate you as it slips silently by. The family will be well fed with a barbecue lunch pitstop at one of the many bays.
If your kids are budding sailors, the hosts are more than willing to show them the ropes and get children involved en route.
For more adrenaline-filled fun, head to Horseshoe Bay where you can go jet-skiing, kayaking, kneeboarding, wakeboarding, fishing, or watch the kids enjoy tube rides.
Only have a weekend to explore Magnetic Island? Use this helpful 48-hour itinerary to keep the family on track.