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A Weekend on Magnetic Island

About 30 minutes off the coast of Townsville, QLD sits Magnetic Island, home to amazing wildlife, snorkeling and sunsets. I visited in September 2023 while exploring the east coast of Australia in a van, stayed for two nights and had the most wonderful time!

How to get there:

We took the ferry from Townsville and it was about 30 minutes and A$232.80 return for a 4m van and 2 people. We booked a few weeks in advance just to make sure we could get the date and time that we wanted.


You have a couple options for transportation on the island!

  • Bring your own car! We had already rented the van and knew we would need a way to get around the island so we decided to take our car on the ferry and it worked out perfectly.
  • Rent a car on the island. It’s very popular to rent a 4×4 for a day and drive around and see the sights. There is also a car rental place at the ferry port. If you’re going during school holidays or during high season book in advance because one of the rental car places was completely sold out for the time we were there.
  • Use public transit. There is a bus that runs from Picnic Bay to Horseshoe Bay so even if you don’t want to drive you can still get around easily!

Where to stay:

Because we had the van we wanted to camp but because of school holidays all the campsites were full! Magnetic Island has a lot of options for accommodation but we still had a budget to stick to so we stayed at Nomads Hostel and had a great time. They had a kitchen to cook your own food, plenty of space to hang out and access to the beach. For two nights we paid A$98 per person and stayed in an air-conditioned and spacious 8 bed dorm. If you want to camp I would look into staying at Selina. It’s on the other side of the island but has camping as an option!

Things to do:

  • Go snorkeling. We rented snorkel equipment from our hostel and went snorkeling in Florence Bay and Nelly Bay. Both snorkel spots have buoys to indicate where to snorkel. Geoffrey Bay is also an option for snorkeling just check the tide before you go because it was low tide when we went.
Snorkeling in Nelly Bay
  • Feed the rock wallabies near Geoffrey Bay. Along the rocks of Geoffrey Bay there are rock wallabies that come out to play at sunset and you can leave chunks of carrot for them to snack on. We had to hang around a bit before a few of them came out so I recommend being quiet and patient to have success seeing them. If you bring carrots for them to eat, bring a small amount and make sure you cut them up first!
Rock wallabies in Geoffrey Bay
  • Explore the Forts and see the koalas. When it cools off at sunset the koalas that live in the trees near the Forts start to come down and you can get a very nice view of them.
  • Go on a hike to Hawkings Point Lookout. The hike starts near Picnic Bay and takes about 15 to 20 minutes and then you’ll have a view of the whole island. I recommend wearing sneakers because parts of the hike are pretty rocky and it was not very fun to do in flip-flops.
Hawkings Point Lookout
  • Enjoy dinner with a beautiful sunset view in Picnic Bay. We watched sunset and then we wandered over to Mamma Roma to have some Italian food; the food was so good we didn’t say anything to each other until we stopped eating! We got pretty lucky with getting an open table because most of them were booked, so if you’re going at sunset I would recommend making a booking. Mamma Roma doesn’t serve alcohol but Maggie Island Brewery is next door so grab a beer on your way by!
Sunset at Picnic Bay

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