Top 10 Things To Do On Magnetic Island

magnetic island

Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island is located a short 8 kilometres offshore from the city of Townsville, Queensland. The island is 52 kilometres squared and has over 2500 permanent locals. This dreamy island is surrounded by luscious blue water and has everything you need to live and be a full time resident. The island has a school, IGA food shop, accommodation, restaurants, tourist attractions and even has health care providers who live on the island.

Are you having thoughts of moving to this tropical Queensland island????

If you are keen for an island getaway but don't want to break the budget then Magnetic Island is for you. The 20 minute ferry is very reasonably priced. For our family of five it cost us $98 (buy online it's cheaper) plus another $100 to take our car over on the barge. The car is optional. We did our first trip with no car and used the bus services on the island to get around. The second trip we wanted to explore the island in more depth so we paid the extra to take the car.


On Magnetic Island you can purchase an all day bus ticket for under $10 (usually you can get this upon booking your ticket online). This will give you the option for hop on/off services along the bus route. There are four buses and will stop at every place every 15 minutes. Keeping in mind that only half island is open for exploration. Whether you take the bus or your own car.

What To On Magnetic Island

  1. Horseshoe Bay

Here is where you can grab a bite to eat from the local cafes. The cafes are directly across from the beach front. This is the same beach where all the water sports take place, here you can hire out kayaks, SUPS, jetskis and even cars!

The beach really is a picturesque setting for sitting here and watching the sail boats on the ever so calm waters of the bay. We enjoyed eating morning tea on the picnic benches and watching the beginners learn to use the jet-skis.

magnet island

2. Arcadia

The next stop on your bus trip is Arcadia. This  beach lagoon is perfect for families or for anyone that enjoys some scenery while they swim. The lagoon is surrounded by boulders and is a great place for snorkelling. Keep your eye out for 'locky' the local manta ray that will happily swim beneath you while you are swimming. (This ray has no fear).

If you aren't ready for a swim then you can climb the big rocks that surround the beach. The warmth from the rocks will warm your soul and you will sit back in awe and relax.

Arcadia also has toilets and showers, with a playground for the kids. This seems to be the family friendly beach of Magnetic Island.

magnetic island

3. Nelly Bay

Here is where you will find the marina. This is also the docking point for the ferries. Before getting on the ferry we called into IGA which is situated a short 20 metre walk from the ferry terminal, we then headed to the local restaurant for a cheeky drink before we left. The kids enjoyed having a chat to the locals who live in the boats on the marina. They feed the big gropers that call the marina their home.

4. Picnic Bay- The Jetty

At the end of the bus route you will find Picnic Bay. This beautiful location is best to visit in the morning for high tide (ends at about midday-1.00pm). We went for a walk to the end of the jetty and did some fishing but came home with nothing. The next time we came we visited at low tide to see all the exposed coral. Both times of the day offer beautiful ocean views and swimming.

magnetic island

5. Go For A Nature Walk

The beauty of Magnetic Island is that there are many trail walks. These are brilliant to find the hidden lookouts that transport doesn't allow. Plus you get to see all the local wildlife on your walk.

These are some trails on the island-

  • Forts Walkway- The walk is a 90 minute round trip. This walk is a must do and is finished with a 360 degree view of the ocean. You can find snakes, koalas, bush turkeys and many different species of birds. This walk is the most popular walk on Magnetic Island.
  • Butterfly Walk- Have you noticed that Queensland has an abundance of butterflies always flying around. Well here is a place where you can have a butterfly land on your hand (honey helps for the Instagram photo). We enticed the butterflies with some sweetener and it worked a treat.
  • Spinx Lookout- This is another great lookout leaving from Arcadia area. The end of the walk gives you a great view over a view of the easy island.


6. 4 x 4 tracks and Off The Beaten Track

These are only available if you take you car and it will need to be a four wheeled drive. We enjoyed taking our car over, it gave us freedom to stop and stay for as long as we wanted. It gave us freedom.

  • Radical Bay Road- Follow this road and it will take you to Florence Bay BUT beware!!!!! We tackled this road for about one kilometre. We were hoping it took us to Florence Bay on an easy road but this track was a very hard road to drive on. We went alone and did not have the extreme four wheel drive set up required to tackle this road. The road is bitumen BUT it has many many holes, some are half a metre deep. Basically half or three quarters of the road is missing. We and many other cars turned around.
  • West Point- West point is a place which is inaccessible from the bus route which gives you an edge over everyone else. We took the road to the very end of the island. Here you will find a private beach to yourself. We fished, we swam, we chilled. It was a great! Oh yeah and don't forget the photo with the 'thong croc'....

7. Horse Riding-

As much as I would love to say we went horse riding...we couldn't. Due to COVID it was closed. We did speak to the owner and they were lovely. The horses are well looked after and the tour looked amazing. We cannot wait till we can return to Magnetic Island and take the horse riding tour.

8. Where To Grab A Feed

You can bring your own lunch or you can call into the many restaurants, pubs or cafes that are on the island. Both of our visits we took snacks but we had morning tea and a late lunch on the island. We loved Picnic Bay Hotel for lunch. This was great for the kids, it gave a kids menu and they were able to play out the front on the vines from the trees out the front of the pub.

magnetic island

9. Hire A Car

Hiring a car is the coolest thing to do on Magnetic Island. You can cruise down nearly any road and explore most of the island in a hired car for less than $80 a day. We do recommend this if you want freedom to be able to explore on your own terms. There are not many places you cant get to with your hired car compared to your normal car. We tried to explore in a Toyota Landcruiser and still couldn't explore the whole island.

photo credit @ytravel

10. Cuddle a Koala at Bungalow Bay Koala Village

Bungalow Bay...aka Magnetic Island Koala Hospital. This rescue centre is doing amazing things for both animals and the environment. Husband and wife Ali and Tim established and continue to sponsor the wildlife rescue on Magnetic Island involving both the locals and the tourists on the island. Izzy the daughter of Ali and Tim is known a well known as The Koala Whisperer and is now hosting her very own Netflix TV show about the rescue animals at Bungalow Bay. So be sure to drop in and see the rescue animals that this great place has provided.

We would love to hear your feedback. Please comment below your thoughts of Magnetic Island and drop some extra must see things to do when on the island.


From Kylie and Dan

Fearless and Free Range