Magnetic Island Australia

Magnetic Island Australia is in north Queensland. 

Magnetic Island is an old travel destination just outside Townsville in north Queensland.

It is so close to the coast that it's an official suburb of Townsville and many people who live here shuttle daily between the two. It is a large continental island (i.e. not coral cay), and the most popular place on the island is Horseshoe Bay. But there are other places like Balding Bay, Radical Bay, Alma Bay, Arthur Bay and Geoffrey Bay. In the southern end of the Island is Picnic Bay, the oldest township on the island.
magnetic island townsville
Picnic Bay jetty with Townsville in the background.

Magnetic Island Australia: Picnic Bay
The southernmost settlement on the Magnetic Island is Picnic Bay. Closest to the mainland, it was here as the first tourists started to arrive. It is also the oldest permanent settlement on the island and today it is a somewhat old-fashioned township with a mall with some shops and restaurants, a quiet beach, an old jetty nice to fish from, and beach barbeques for everyone to use.

Beach at Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia
Picnic Bay. Poster by AllPosters
. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Magnetic Island Australia - Rocky Bay

There is a short walk from Picnic Bay down to Rocky Bay; and an 8km-long walk along the south-eastern coast of the island to West Point. There are not many coastal views along that track as the coast is covered in mangroves, but once in the West Point, there are lovely views over the water, and not many people come here so you can have the beach all for yourself.

Beach at Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia
West Point. 
Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Magnetic Island Australia - Geoffrey Bay and Alma Bay

North of Picnic Bay is the township of Nelly Bay, still smaller than Picnic Bay but with all the development happening, Nelly Bay will soon be the largest settlement on the island. The ferries from Townsville used to arrive in Picnic Bay, now they come to Nelly Bay. North of Nelly Bay is Arcadia, with some lovely beaches in Geoffrey Bay and Alma Bay, some shops and backpacker hostels near the beach, and the start to a bushwalk to Horseshoe Bay Lookout.

Father and Daughters Enjoying Waters of Radical Bay, Magnetic Island, Australia
Radical Bay. 
Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Magnetic Island Australia - Horseshoe Bay Beach

North of Arcadia is Horseshoe Bay – the most popular township on the Magnetic island and the centre of tourist activities. Horseshoe Bay beach is the longest beach on the island, and the township’s main street, full of shops, pubs, hotels and restaurants, runs parallel to the beach. The beach park between the main street and the beach is always full of sunbathers, people having picnics, and it used to be a popular place for Christmas picnics and New Years parties but drinking is banned in the park now so things have got quieter. You can have a drink in the outdoor bars and restaurants across the street.

Koala (Phascolartos Cinereus), Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia
Wild koala. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

Horseshoe Bay Beach Activities

A wide variety of water sports are offered on the Horseshoe Bay beach. You can go on diving courses with Ocean Dive Australia, Pleasure Divers and sea kayaking or Magnetic Island Dive Centre. Jet skiing is offered by Adrenalin Jet Ski Tours, sailing by Jazza Sailing Tours by Magnetic Island Sea Kayaks.

Black-Footed Rock Wallaby (Petrogale Lateralis), Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia
Rock wallaby. 
Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

More Horseshoe Bay Beach Activities

You can also hire other gear such as canoes, aquabikes, catamarans and jet skis, and go water-skiing, weigh boarding and tube riding. In the early mornings or late afternoons (when it’s not too hot), it’s nice to go horse riding along the Horseshoe Bay beach. Horseshoe Bay Ranch takes you for a two-hours ride through the bush to the beach. Swimming is always excellent but beware the marine stingers between October and April – always swim between the flags and during the stinger season only inside the stinger enclosures, although it’s safest to wear a stinger suit.

horseshoe bay
Horseshoe Bay beach. ©

Balding Bay, Radical Bay and Arthur Bay

East of Horseshoe Bay are the lovely small bays Balding Bay, Radical Bay, Cowrie Bay, Florence Bay and Arthur Bay. You can reach them all by short but steep bushwalks with some great views over the blue ocean. Up here are also the interesting old Forts from the WWII when Magnetic Island was used as a military outpost. Watch up the trees on the tracks around the Forts – there is a population of wild koalas living here and you are guaranteed to see them – I have done the walks many times and there was not a time when I didn’t see them sleeping in trees.

Arthur Bay, Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia, Pacific
Arthur Bay. 
Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy.

How to Get Around on Magnetic Island Australia

Magnetic Island Magnetic Island is too large and hilly to walk around, so you will need some sort of transport. You can bring your car along from the mainland with the Fantasea Car Ferry, but it’s fairly expensive compared to the regular ferry ticket. Bus Service is cheap and fairly handy – it shuttles between all the townships and meets all the arriving ferries in Nelly Bay. Various places on the island rent out bicycles but the most popular way of getting around is to rent a moke from the MI Wheels or Moke Magnetic.

magnetic island holiday
Rental mokes. ©

Accommodation Magnetic Island Australia

There is a wide variety of accommodation on Magnetic Island ranging from backpackers hostels to fancy resorts, and none of it is overly expensive. The two best places to stay in Horseshoe Bay are Bungalow Bay and Maggies Beach House.

In Arcadia, the budget places are Arkies, Centaur House and Foresthaven; and would you like to pay a bit more there are Dandaloo Gardens, Marshall’s B&B and Beaches B&B.
magnetic island accommodation
Accommodation, Horseshoe Bay. ©

Accommodation on Maggie Island

All Seasons Hotel

Ascot Cottage

Base Backpackers

Beachside Apartments

Bungalow Bay Koala Village

Island Leisure Resort

Accommodation Magnetic Island Australia

In Nelly Bay, there are Base Backpackers, Coconuts on the Beach, Magnetic Island Tropical Resort, and the mid-range Island Palms Resort, Island Leisure Resort, Palm View Chalets and Mandalay B&B.

In Picnic Bay there are the Travellers Resort (a noisy and run-down backpackers place that was not to recommend when I last stayed in 2003 but things may have changed), and the more expensive Tropical Palms Inn and Dunoon Resort. Camping is not allowed in the national parks but you can set up your tent at two backpackers places: Bungalow Bay in Horseshoe Bay and Coconuts on the Beach in Nelly Bay.

magnetic island hotel
, Horseshoe Bay. ©

Accommodation on Maggie Island Continued

Mantra One Bright Point Hotel

Peppers Blue On Blue Resort

Sails On Horseshoe Apartments

Travellers Hideaway Budget Accommodation

How to Get to Magnetic Island Australia

To get to Magnetic Island from Townsville, you have two options: either you catch the Fantasea Car Ferry from the southern side of Ross Creek in Townsville, or you catch Sunferries from Flinders Street West (which is handiest) or Breakwater Terminal (which has a larger car park). Sunferries also make trips to Great Barrier Reef from Townsville.

magnetic island ferry
Magnetic Island Ferry.

Here's a Magnetic Island map, where I have tagged the places that I mentioned on this web page. You can click on the tags to see what places they are, and double-click anywhere on the map to zoom it in and see the places closer. Drag the map to move around, and if you want to see the satellite image with Google Earth, click on "Sat" in the top right hand corner.

View Larger Map

Been to Magnetic Island?

Been to Magnetic Island?

Share your story!!!

We all love to read about other travellers' experiences - good or bad!

Tell us where you went and what you enjoyed. Or if there was anything you didn't enjoy.

Living there? Enjoying it? Why?

You will create YOUR own page on Gondwananet!

Make it nice - you can also submit up to four photos :-)

[ ? ]

Upload 1-4 Pictures or Graphics (optional)[ ? ]


Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

  •  submission guidelines.

(You can preview and edit on the next page)

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Magnetic Island Not rated yet
We stayed for weeks on Maggie Island over Christmas and New Year in 2003. Had a great time, first camped in Picnic Bay and then in Horseshoe Bay. …

Click here to write your own.

You Are Secure!

Bookmark and Share

[?] Subscribe To This Site

follow us in feedly
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My MSN
Subscribe with Bloglines