Travelling Australia's East Coast? Magnetic Island is fast becoming one of the most popular backpacker destinations on the coast! Located in Tropical North Queensland and within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the island can be reached by a short ferry ride from Townsville - just 4 hours south of Cairns. Magnetic Island is home to an estimated 800 Koalas, Wallabies, many scenic walks, lookouts and of course, beaches. 54% of the island is made up of national park which means you are in for quite the breath-taking Aussie getaway.
Not only is it jaw droppingly beautiful, but the island is also well known for its beach parties at Base Magnetic Island including the Island Life Festival (formerly the Full Moon Party). To put it simply - a visit to Magnetic Island is an absolute must do!
Magnetic Island Things to Do - The Top 10 FREE Activities
1. Florence and Radical Bays
Two of our favourite beaches on the island. They’re a bit of a walk to get out there, but that just makes it all the better when you get to them. There’s hardly ever anyone around so you can just chill out and enjoy the beauty of them.
2. Arthur Bay Lookout
Another of our favourite lookouts on Magnetic Island. Although the trail should only take you around 30 minutes to complete from the Forts Car Park, the trail is steep. But the views are well worth it!
3. The Forts Walk
A must do for anyone visiting the island. They’re old forts built during World War II, and the views along the whole walk are wonderful, especially when you get up to the top. As an added bonus, it’s a pretty easy place to spot wild koalas. The walking trail begins at the Forts Car Park and is roughly 2.8km and moderate in difficulty. You can expect to see 360 degree views of the island.
4. An afternoon at Rocky Bay
This beach is a little difficult to get to, but completely worth it once you're there. You can follow a track from Picnic Bay, or you can make your way there over the rocks from Nelly Bay. Definitely worth taking a little picnic over there and spending the day relaxing.
5. Hawkings Point Lookout
Yep another epic lookout! Hawkings Point is a lovely little spot in Picnic Bay to watch the sunset over the island. It’s a pretty easy walk up there, and has fantastic views over Picnic and Nelly bay. The walk only takes around 30 minutes and will lead you to a strange boulder that serves as a great viewing platform over Nelly Bay and out towards Townsville! TIP: Head up just before dusk and watch the sunset.
6. Wallabies at Arcadia
The old Fantasea ferry harbor in Arcadia is home to a colony of friendly wallabies. They’ll come right up and eat food out of your hand (fresh fruit and veg), and even if you don’t have anything they’ll come up to see you. They’re too cute to miss out on while you’re here!
Should you feed the wallabies on Magnetic Island? Actually you shouldn't, they're wild animals and should be left to forage for themselves. However if you absolutely can't help yourself then please make sure you feed them appropriate food.
- Sweet potatoes
- Rock melon
- Paw paw
- Wallaby pellets which are available from most retail outlets.
No other foods are appropriate and cause all sorts of health problems to the wallabies. Including lettuce as shown in the image below! - source
7. Feeding the fish at Bremner Point
There’s a whole lot of fish activity at the same place as the wallabies in Arcadia and on days with clear water you can see them swimming around the wreck of the Moltke. If you chuck some bread in there for them it’s a feeding frenzy, and it’s cool to see all the fish come up for a snack.
8. Explore Magnetic Island's fringing reef
If you have booked accommodation at Base Magnetic Island then you are right on the beach. Magnetic Island's Reef is at the doorstep of the hostel and is a great place for a swim, snorkel (and a beer).
9. Tom Thumb, Picnic Bay
It’s a bit of a steep climb up to the top of Tom Thumb (or Sails Rock) but totally worth it once you reach the top and are rewarded with beautiful views over the island and out to Townsville.
10. Toad races, Arcadia Hotel
If you fancy something a bit different you should definitely head to Arcadia Hotel to catch a toad race. It’s free to watch, but if you’re feeling lucky you can put your money on a toad to win.