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The ultimate guide to camping on Dunk Island

A nature-lover’s paradise, Dunk Island covers an area of 1,000 hectares, three-quarters of which is National Park. Just four kilometres off the coast of Mission Beach, this hidden gem offers a unique landscape of tropical rainforest, rocky shores, hilly terrain and secluded beaches.

Currently, the only way to stay on Dunk Island is by camping, and with just eight camping sites, you’ll practically have the whole island to yourself.

It’s the perfect place to pitch a tent if you’re into a rustic camping experience with a picture-perfect view and the beach at your doorstep. Here’s everything you need to know about Dunk Island camping.

GETTING TO THE ISLAND

Dunk Island

Photo by @matt.lambley

Easily accessible and within short reach of the mainland, Dunk Island is an affordable weekend getaway. A picturesque 10-minute water taxi ride from Mission Beach will have you at Dunk Island in no time. Mission Beach Water Taxi will take you to the island for $50 return per person; or $25 for children under 13-years-old. Or, make your own way to Dunk Island on a private boat.

You’ll need to book your camping permit before you go (just $6.15 per person per night). Permits and boat transfers can both be arranged through Mission Beach Water Taxi.

THE CAMPSITE

True campers will love the untouched feel you get on Dunk Island. With the bare essentials covered – flushing toilets, hot showers and drinking water – plus a few luxuries (gas barbecues and mobile reception), there’s little more than you, a few fellow campers and Mother Nature. You’ll have to bring your own food, drinks and BBQ lighter, as there are no restaurants or shops on the island.

The camping ground is located on either side of The Spit. The eight areas are approximately 10 metres by six metres and accommodate up to eight people. Each site has its own picnic table, easy access to the public bathroom and is right off the beach.

THE ISLAND

Mt Kootaloo Dunk Island

It won’t take you long to see why the Indigenous people call this tropical island Coonanglebah, “the island of peace and plenty”.

The best way to take in the full beauty of Dunk Island is along the three-hour Island Circuit trail. Starting at your beach-side accommodation, hike up to the Mount Kootaloo summit (the top of the island) for panoramic views over the Family Islands. Continue on through Palm Valley and walk along Coconut Beach before putting your feet up back at the campsite for a well-deserved rest.

For a less strenuous stroll, pack a picnic and your snorkelling gear and take the winding track through the rainforest, coastal woodland and mangroves to Muggy Muggy Beach.

The jetty near the campgrounds is another great place to snorkel. Or just step off the beach to see the flourishing fish life going about their day in the surrounding reef. The calm, crystal clear water is the ideal setting for families and first-time snorkellers.

Fish aren’t the only wildlife you can expect to see. Dunk Island is best-known for its vibrant blue Ulysses butterflies. It’s also home to over 100 species of birds, and dugongs and turtles come close to the beach to feed on seagrass in the shallow water.

If you have your own boat and want to explore the nearby islands, read this guide.

NEED TO KNOW

Dunk Island

Photo by @philipvids

In 2011, Dunk Island was devastated by Cyclone Yasi. It’s hard to imagine looking at the luscious flora, but the extensive damage to Dunk Island Resort means the property remains closed. The air strip and former resort are private property and strictly off limits to all visitors.

Here a few more important housekeeping rules while on Dunk Island:

  • Lighting of fires is prohibited. You’ll need to bring a fuel or gas stove for cooking
  • No domestic pets are allowed
  • Stay on the walking tracks at all times; it’s not just for your safety, it prevents vegetation damage and erosion
  • Beware of stingers, especially during the warmer months
  • Cyclone season is typically during the wet season between November and April

If you want to pair your rugged camping experience on Dunk Island (although this practically-deserted island is hardly roughing it!), then add a few nights in Mission Beach onto the end of your holiday. Castaways Resort and Spa offers that pampered, resort-life feel with a pool, beach and spa at your fingertips. If you’re after something more secluded, check into Sealords.

For more great island camping sites in Queensland, work your way through this list.