Australia has 8,222 islands - that's a lot! From Fraser Island and the Whitsundays, to the less known but just as amazing islands of Great Keppel and Fitzroy - each island paradise in Australia has its own unique beauty. So here it is, our Top 15 Islands in Australia that will blow your mind!
1. Whitsunday Islands
The Whitsunday Islands are by far the most popular of islands along the East Coast of Australia. The Whitsundays are made up of 74 islands located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The largest of the islands - Whitsunday Island - is home to the iconic Whitehaven Beach, a beach where the sand is so pure that you can actually brush your teeth with it!
See our guide to the Whitsundays.
2. Rottnest Island
Rich with history, Rottnest Island is located on Australia's West Coast just south of Perth. It was once used as a military base during the war. The Quokka, a unique Australia animal, can only be found on this island. Fantastic Reef, plentiful beaches and great for swimming. The best way to explore the island is by bike! Inclusive packages can be booked (and are cheap) that include ferry transfers, Perth city transfers, bike & snorkel hire.
3. Magnetic Island
Located just off the coast of Townsville in Queensland, Magnetic Island is fast becoming one of the most popular backpacking destinations on Australia's East Coast! Why? Reef, Koalas, Walking Trails, Beach Front Bars and Australia's very own IslandLife Beach Festival! Ferry transfers are available from Townsville and the Greyhound bus will drop you off and pick you up right at the ferry terminal.
Check out our Magnetic Island guide.
4. Fitzroy Island
Just a short ferry ride from Cairns, Fitzroy Island is off the beaten track and a little less crowded than neighbouring Green Island. There is a trampoline in the ocean, a nudist beach, beach front bar, kayaks, snorkels and paddle-boards for hire and some fantastic rainforest walks - oh and of course we can't forget to mention - the Great Barrier Reef.
5. Fraser Island
Fraser Island is the LARGEST sand island in the world! The beaches surrounding the island are not great for swimming due to rough waters, but the lakes within the island are what make this paradise unique! Eucalyptus Forest, Dingos, Lookouts and beautiful swimming lakes. The best way to explore the island is by a Tag Along 4WD Tour that will have you driving along the beach made Highway!
See our guide to Fraser Island.
6. Phillip Island
Located around 1.5 hours south of Melbourne and home to the famous Penguin Parade! Phillip island is a favourite summer getaway for Melburnians and a popular surf spot. Day tours depart from Base St Kilda and Melbourne CBD.
See what else you can do in Melbourne
7. Lord Howe Island
This absolute paradise can be found 600km south east of Sydney. A volcanic remnant that boasts tall mountain peaks, coral pools, walking trails and an abundance of wildlife. This island is Australia's 'prestigious' island and the only way to get there is by plane - so it may be a little out of the backpacker budget. You will need to catch a flight from Sydney or Brisbane.
8. Kangaroo Island
Like nowhere else on the planet! The Aussie wildlife here is everywhere: Kangaroos (hence the name), seal colonies, Koalas and Wombats. Sand dunes of Little Sahara, rocky cliff formations, caves and Flinders Chase National Park. How to get there? We recommend 2 or 3 day tours from Adelaide.
9. Cockatoo Island
Ok it may not be a 'paradise' but if you are interested in learning a little bit about Australia's convict history, a day trip from Sydney is worth while! The island has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Listed Site and was once a convict penal settlement. Today, it's a popular place to venture for a picnic, a history lesson and a great place for a BBQ. Ferry transfers from Circular Quay or Darling Harbour, Sydney.
See what else you can do in Sydney.
10. Great Keppel Island
Keen to explore beyond the backpacker trail? Great Keppel Island has 17 white sandy beaches and its clear waters make a great base to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Packages can be booked that include transfers from the Greyhound Bus, Ferry Transfers and accommodation at Emu Beach Backpackers. A great little stop over between Fraser Island and The Whitsundays.
By Stuart Edwards (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons;
11. Lady Musgrave Island
The second most southern island on the Great Barrier Reef and a popular spot for Aussie locals. Walking trails, fantastic snorkelling and glass bottom boat tours. Boat trips depart from the Town of 1770 - where the surf coast meets the reef. Another great spot to chill between Fraser Island and the Whitsundays.
12. Moreton Island
Moreton Island is located south of Fraser Island and takes on a similar shape. Unlike Fraser the beaches here are fantastic for swimming, sandboarding and dolphin spotting! Day ferry tours can be organised from Base Brisbane Uptown.
See what else you can do in Brisbane.
13. Green Island
Home to Cassius - the world's largest crocodile. Green Island sits upon the Great Barrier Reef and truly is absolute paradise! A fantastic place to experience a glass bottom boat tour, sip on a cocktail, snorkel or lounge by the pool. Ferry transfers depart from Cairns Marina.
See what else you can do in Cairns.
14. Bruny Island
Sitting south of Hobart in Tasmania, Bruny Island is way beyond the tourist trail but well worth the visit. The best bit? It is as far south as you can go on land before hitting Antarctica! Spot the fairy penguins and seal colonies, rainforest walks, fantastic beach walks and towering cliffs.
15. Hamilton Island
Hamilton Island is a luxury getaway for Australians far and wide and is a part of the Whitsunday group. However, they have in recent years designed a number of day packages suitable for the backpacker budget. Think infinity pools, cocktails, golf buggies and a day of absolute luxury! Day packages including lunch and transfers from Base Airlie Beach are available for as little as $130.
Feeling like a cheeky trip to Australia may be on the cards? Check out our Backpacking Guide to the East Coast of Australia