Family trip to Magnetic Island

If you take a short 20 minute boat journey from Townsville, you arrive at a beautiful (and largely untouched) area of Australia, Magentic island. We visited nearly 20 years ago and it still looks the same.

It has the same activities as the last time we visited! It’s quaint, quiet and well – you just have to visit!!!


What is Magnetic Island?

My personal view it is a little piece of paradise off Australia’s East Coast (it’s also the sunniest!). It is home to a number of native animals and has some stunning walks.

How to get there

Simply turn up at the Ferry Terminal and book a ticket for the next available boat and speed your way across the water in only 20 minutes.

I believe it gets very busy in summer – so you would be best to book in advance!

If you have a vehicle then there is a huge car park, which is available for campervans and motorhomes too. We were able to park our motorhome for $8 for the day and hadn’t realised that we could have left it there overnight too! I’d recommend at least one day and night on Magnetic Island if you can stretch.

The boat ride is on a fast craft and the boys were delighted to be invited by the captain into the bridge. He was great for giving them information.

You arrive in Nelly Bay. From here, there are 2 regular buses which take you across the island.

There’s a combination ticket for the ferry and buses  which cost around $88. It takes around 15 minutes to get from Nelly Bay to Horseshoe bay. It’s really only a small island!


Top Things to do

There are plenty of walks and wildlife to see. But these are my favourite things to do on Magnetic Island.

Fort Walk – by far one of the most popular walks. The bus will drop you at the start of this walk. It will take around 1.5 hours and it’s 3.8km roundtrip.

There is a water station along the route and a toilet. As you meander through the eucalyptus forest keep your eyes peeled for Koalas.

It’s a great area to spot them. Soon you reach a path which leads up to the old forts with information about the part Magnetic Island played in WW2. While we were inside the buildings we spotted this gorgeous tree frog too!


Jetski tour – unfortunately due to the weather we didn’t get chance to do the jetski tour this time around. But we did do it 20 years ago with Magnetic Jet ski tours. It was a great few hours out as you zipped your way in and out of the reef and along the coast. It’s great to see the island from a different view.

Feeding Rock Wallabies at Geoffrey bay – just ask the bus driver. But it’s right next to Arcadia. You tend to see them come out more in the late afternoon, but we were there around 2pm and saw them hiding in the rocks. They were quite shy. Take some apples or carrots to feed them and maybe one might come out for a bite.

Cane Toad Racing – if you do get chance to stay over then make sure it’s a Wednesday so that you can stop at Arcadia Village Motel & watch the famous cane toad racing! It’s soooo funny. You’ll be laughing all the way home!

Horseshoe Bay – a visit to Horseshoe bay is a must. It’s beautiful coved beach and sectioned off swimming area makes it a family friendly area. There are a number of lovely restaurants, bars and cafes, lining the seafront. Great place to cool off after all those walks.

Hire a moke – again, this is something we did 20 years ago – but these topless little cars are still going! They are great for zipping around the island and giving you more freedom to get up and go as you please rather than waiting around for the buses.

There is also a Koala Sanctuary situated in Horseshoe bay which was suggested. But we are on a budget and also I think it’s nicer to see them in the wild on the fort walk. But if you want to get close & have a cuddle then it’s another activity for you.

As well as these things, there are also plenty of beaches to enjoy and great snorkelling. So make sure you pack your swim gear.



Magnetic Island is a very popular little stop along the coast and I have to agree it’s one not to be missed. It’s great for a couple of nights to just relax and meander your way around the island.

There is more than enough to keep you and the kids entertained! A perfect family day out.

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