Which Queensland island suits your next tropical escape?
Not to brag, but Queensland is so bountiful in islands we’ve got a sandy oasis to cater to everyone. Scattered along the Sunshine State’s 7000km-long coastline, from Brisbane to the Great Barrier Reef and beyond, are pockets of paradise accommodating the laziest of leisure seekers to the most adventurous of adrenalin junkies. To determine which Queensland island is best for you, read on…
For a romantic getaway
Gather your sweetheart and make your way north to picturesque Hamilton Island. Luxury haven qualia resides here, but so do a bevy of more budget-friendly accommodation options. Take a look at Palm Bungalows, Reef View Hotel, and Beach Club.
For the adventurer
Ready your sense of adventure, for there’s escapades to be had on heritage-listed Fraser Island. The world’s biggest sand island at 123-kilometres, Fraser is a playground for those who prefer not to sit idle for too long. Armed with a 4WD (you’ll need it for island access), cruise your way through tourist hot-spots Lake McKenzie, Eli Creek and Maheno Shipwreck, or past Indian Head for a challenge.
For the all-inclusive resort
Leisure seekers will find a friend in Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island. While it sits just an hour from Brisbane city, this waterborne pocket feels a world away thanks to its collection of shipwrecks, surf breaks, and seemingly endless sandy stretches begging to be explored.
Let the resort take care of your holiday schedule; they can cater to any cravings for a dive, sand toboggan, or quad bike. Get to know the locals better at the feeding of the wild dolphins which takes place in the shallows every evening.
Peace and quiet is the specialty of luxury escape Bedarra Island, nestled just off the coast from Mission Beach. A haven for the rich and famous, Bedarra is the country’s most exclusive island, with its resort accommodating just 32 guests at a time, making you feel as though you’ve got the place to yourself.
As pretty as it is private, visitors can indulge in the island’s mass of unspoilt rainforest and the crystal clear waters of the neighbouring Coral Sea, traversing the terrain by the resort’s army of private dinghies.
A recent extensive $100 million redevelopment following Cyclone Debbie means the tropical escape offers more than ever: three restaurants and three bars cater to guests staying in the 277 suites in the resort.
More importantly for budding marine biologists is the presence of The Living Reef, a free-form coral lagoon holding 1.5 million litres of water and 100 species of marine fish, rays, coral and invertebrates like starfish and crabs.
For the budget-conscious
Locals flock to North Stradbroke Island, or Straddie as it’s been dubbed. The quaint island, not far from Brisbane, is a 38-kilometre haven of surf and sand, and home to a gaggle of accommodation options to suit every budget. You don’t have to dig deep into your pockets to enjoy your time here; unpowered camp sites are plentiful, but so too are holiday rentals and hotels.
Activities here are plentiful too but conveniently don’t cost a penny; think surfing, 4WDing, fishing, diving and more.
Get back to basics on Magnetic Island on the Great Barrier Reef just a 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville. This is not a place that specialises in all the bells and whistles, but rather offers a chance to get back in touch with nature.
There’s plenty to do here. Swim in one of the 23 beaches and bays littered amongst the rocky granite headlands, and explore the surrounding hoop pine forests. Penchant for animals? You’re in luck. More than two-thirds of the Island is classified as a National Park, meaning Magnetic Island is a haven for native flora and fauna, including rock wallabies, koalas, possums and more than 100 different bird species.
Get lost (quite literally) with a trip to Haggerstone Island. You’ll find the little-known pocket of paradise off the Cape York Peninsula on the tip of Queensland. Its status as a private island means privacy is promised; only a small number of guests are catered to at a time at the cluster of timber buildings which reside within its borders.
Australian fauna are no strangers to these shores. Nearby sits one of the largest Green Turtle rookeries in the world, and the bounty of fish species which call the surrounding corals of the Great Barrier Reef home.
For diving enthusiasts
In the heart of the Great Barrier Reef you’ll greet Orpheus Island and the much-revered Orpheus Island Lodge sitting in a sheltered bay on the Western side. Considered one of the district’s best-kept secrets, the island’s only beachside escape (aside from camp sites) is pure luxury; guest numbers are only 28 at a time.
But its location isn’t just picturesque. Orpheus Island is a must-visit for snorkelling and diving enthusiasts alike; its base on the fringe of the Reef means that you’ll enjoy easy access to the 1500 species of marine life who frequent its crystalline waters.
For fans of luxury
A fellow victim of Cyclone Debbie, Hayman Island has emerged like a lavish phoenix from the ashes following the $120 million revamp of its key resort, the much-anticipated Hayman Island by Intercontinental.
Which is the best way to spend your days here? However you choose. The tropical escape sits at the very north of the Whitsundays, meaning easy access to iconic landmarks like Whitehaven Beach. But staying put is just as nice. Hayman is home to beaches aplenty, spas, bars, and even the chance to picnic on a neighbouring private island.
For animal lovers
Making your way down the Great Barrier Reef you’ll find Lady Elliot Island at the southernmost coral cay. Not far from Bundaberg, the island itself sits within the highly protected ‘Green Zone’ meaning marine creatures are its specialty. Explore the sanctuary snorkel in hand and you’ll greet the 12,000 species which reside here. Think manta rays, turtles, fish, and plenty of vibrantly-hued coral.