Magnetic Island is the perfect destination for a day trip, a weekend, or a week-long holiday. This small island with over 23 stunning bays and beaches is something special. It’s a short 20-minute ferry from the mainland city of Townsville and ferries run regularly each day. If you’re after rugged nature, wildlife, beaches, snorkelling, and chilled vibes, you’ve come to the right place.
There is around 26 km of walking trails on Magnetic Island, which take you through Magnetic Island National Park and across beaches and bays. So plenty of options for fantastic walks and they’re well sign-posted too.
If you’re starting in Picnic Bay, a short but scenic hike to Rocky Bay is one of the best things to do on Magnetic Island. The views at the end are spectacular.
Another option is to take the Nelly Bay to Arcadia walk. This is a 5 km walking track that will take you around 2 hours.
2. Brunch at Nourish – One of the top things to do on Magnetic Island
A bright, airy cafe is situated right across the beach at Horseshoe Bay. Make sure you stop by Nourish for a breakfast or brunch to set you up for a day of hiking, swimming and beach time on the island. This place has a great menu and the coffee is top-notch.
Be it a gimmick or not, these cars look like lots of fun to explore the island. Known as topless or Barbie cars due to the striking similarities to the toy Barbie’s convertible, you can hire one and drive topless around Maggie Island.
The Barbie car can fit up to four people, so grab some friends and get out there! More information can be found at tropical topless car rentals. This is one of the things to do on Magnetic Island that is good for a laugh.
4. Hawkings Point Lookout
Hawkings Point is a picturesque spot in Picnic Bay to watch the sunset over the island. The 30 min walk up there isn’t difficult and will reward you with beautiful views over Nelly and Picnic bay. This is the perfect place to bring a few cold drinks and watch the sunset after another blissful day on the island.
5. Visit Radical Bay & Florence Bay
These were two of our favourite beaches on the island (along with Arthur’s Bay). You’ve got to be prepared to walk there to get to them, but they’re totally worth it. The best thing about them was how empty they seemed to be, we almost had them all to ourselves.
I recommend this as one of the things to do on Magnetic Island to provide you with lasting memories.
Alternatively, if you’ve got a 4WD, you can tackle the huge potholes and drive here too.
We hiked to these beaches from our accommodation in Horseshoe Bay and didn’t find it difficult at all.
6. Go koala spotting
Did you know that Magnetic Island is home to the most koalas in northern Australia? Yes, so chances are high that you can spot them easily while you’re here. The best place to spot koalas is on the Forts Walk, more about this recommended walk below.
The best time to see a koala is in the early morning or late afternoon. This is definitely one of the best things to do on Magnetic Island, I mean who doesn’t love koalas?
7. Arthur Bay Lookout
Hands down, this was our favourite lookout on Magnetic Island. It’s a 5 min walk away from Florence Bay, so make sure you come here to see these views.
Oh, and the turquoise colour of that water is something else! some great snorkelling opportunities here too.
8. Picnic at Rocky Bay
You can follow a trail from Picnic Bay, or make your way over the rocks from Nelly Bay. Pack a picnic or a cooler with some snacks and drinks and aim to spend at least half a day here. Sure, this beach is a little difficult to get to, but highly worth it once you arrive.
9. Coffee at the Early Bird Cafe
If you’re anything like me, you need a good coffee to start the day. One of my favourite things to do on Magnetic Island is enjoy a good coffee at Early Bird Cafe. This place is super popular in the bustling area of Horseshoe Bay.
If you’re also craving some great food, then stop by here – you won’t be disappointed.
10. Snorkel the reef
While you’re here in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, you must explore the underwater world at least once.
Some options are to snorkel the Nelly Bay and Geoffrey Bay self-guided Snorkel Trails (easy access). Alternatively, snorkel the island’s fringing reefs in Arthur or Florence Bays (more remote access)
11. Cuddle a koala
One of the best things to do on Magnetic Island! Get up close and personal and hug a koala at Bungalow Bay Koala Village. Or better yet, try a bush tucker breakfast!
The ranger cooked breakfast is set within an outdoor area amongst native trees and a scene typical to outback Australia. CLICK HERE to learn more.
12. The Forts Walk
The most popular bushwalking track is the Forts Walk, which takes approximately 1.5 hours to complete. The walking trail begins at the Forts Car Park and is roughly 2.8km and moderate in difficulty.
It’s home to intact WWII forts, gun emplacements, and 360-degree panoramic views of the Coral Sea. Look forward to some awesome views along the way, especially once you reach the top. Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for koalas!
13. Enjoy an epic sunset
There are many places to catch a gorgeous sunset on the island, but our favourite spots are at Horseshoe Bay, West Point, or the end of Picnic Bay Jetty.
It’s one of the free things to do on Magnetic Island every day.
14. Join a sailing trip around the island
Sail around the island to discover its 23 hidden bays and beaches on this Half Day Discovery Tour. See some of the best parts of Magnetic Island as well as a chance to view the underwater world too. Snorkelling gear, drinks, and snacks are included in this fantastic day of fun.
We hope you enjoy exploring this gorgeous place. Let us what you’d add to our list of best things to do on Magnetic Island.
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Rach is a self-confessed travelling foodie. Her passion for food and culture has seen her eat her way through 190 countries. She's currently on a big food adventure to visit EVERY country in the world!
When Rach isn't travelling, you can find her at the beach, drinking coffee or wine with friends or chowing down on the best eats around her home city of Melbourne, Australia.