7 reasons to plan your Great Keppel Island getaway
Going barefoot on your Great Keppel Island getaway is not just possible… it’s absolutely preferable.
With 14 sandy beaches to choose from, this is an affordable, accessible island escape that’s one of the treasures of the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
Here are seven excellent reasons to make the hop across to Great Keppel Island.
1. Getting there is half the fun
Great Keppel Island (or GKI, as the locals call it) is the largest of the 18 islands in the Keppel Group on the Capricorn Coast.
The mainland jump-off point is Yeppoon, about halfway between Brisbane and Townsville. Ferry transfers depart from Rosslyn Bay Harbour at either Keppel Bay Marina or Pier One, and take around 30 minutes.
Take the late afternoon ferry and you’re likely to be rewarded with a spectacular sunset as you set foot on gorgeous Fisherman’s Beach (bare feet are recommended, you might have to wade a bit!). Check the times with either Keppel Konnections or Freedom Fast Cats.
You can also take a light plane or helicopter flight to the island if you want to see the spectacle of the Southern Great Barrier Reef from the air.
2. You’ll enjoy beaches all to yourself
Getting sand between your toes is easy, with 17 blindingly beautiful beaches to choose from.
The main beaches – closest to the resorts – are Putney Beach and Fisherman’s Beach. For those who want a bit more seclusion, Long Beach on the southern side of the island has recently ranked in the top 20 of Australia’s 101 Best Beaches.
At one end of this wonderful 2km stretch of clean white sand are ancient Aboriginal shell middens.
Oh, and if you should be so inclined, Long Beach is also a popular secluded spot for nude bathing.
3. It’s one of the best places to get your flippers on
Snorkelling the Southern Great Barrier Reef is a must. The water is warm and encounters with turtles and dolphins a strong possibility.
There are plenty of private bays with pockets of fringing reef around the island that are perfect for snorkelling and diving.
4. You can enjoy the best of both worlds: beach + bush
Criss-crossed with walking tracks, Great Keppel offers plenty of ways to get away from it all and commune with nature. Gentle hikes to pretty picnic spots or lookouts offering great views are in the mix.
While hiking keep your eyes peeled to spot the island wildlife, including goannas and blue-tongue lizards. At night, look out for the brush-tail possums along the paths to your cabin.
Great Keppel is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, with more than 90 species of birds. Look up to as sea eagles soar majestically overhead. Your bird book will be overflowing as you add brahminy kites, ospreys, pied oystercatchers, curlews, honeyeaters, rainbow bee-eaters, friarbirds, kookaburras and rainbow lorikeets to your list. However, we won’t count Ernie, the cheeky resident sulphur-crested cockatoo at Great Keppel Island Hideaway.
5. It’s a great place to hide away
Great Keppel Island Hideaway is a comfortable and laid-back resort, set just a few metres back from the beach. To drink in the best views, book a beachfront cabin. It has a licensed restaurant and bar overlooking both Putney and Fisherman’s beaches, and on Friday nights it’s buzzing as everyone turns up for the popular Parilla Argentinian barbecue.
Great Keppel Island Holiday Village offers a more stripped-back island experience with cabins (with ensuites), decked tents, twin rooms, dorms and camping sites with the use of a communal kitchen, as well as larger houses for family groups.
6. The first priority of each day is to hit the water
If water sports are on your agenda, you’ll be spoilt for choice on Great Keppel Island.
Take a jet-ski tour right around the island (28km), join a kayak tour to Leekes Creek, or hire a stand-up paddleboard. Great Keppel Island Adventures offers a wide range of tours – owner Brett Lorraway was born and raised on the island, and there’s nothing he doesn’t know about the place!
Or you might just want to hire a snorkel and fins and do your own thing exploring the fringing reef in the turquoise waters around the island.
7. The fish are bountiful
Keen anglers can fish off the beach or join a day’s charter. Good fishing spots include the headland near Putney’s Beach and near the mouth of Leeke’s Creek. The resort can advise on fishing zones and green zones; remember that minimum size and maximum bag limits apply to popular reef fish species.
From April to November, you might also get the bonus of some whale sightings as the migrating humpbacks pass through Keppel Bay.