The best way to do them and are they worth it?
Narrowing down which island to head to in Queensland can be a daunting task with so many beautiful islands off the coast from the Great Barrier Reef - to just out of Brisbane the coast is scattered to them, and while I haven’t been to anywhere near all of them we did manage to visit 5 so I’ll give you the low down. How to visit, what there is to do on the islands and if it’s worth your money to get there
Let’s start up in the tropics, Fitzroy is a beautiful island on the Great Barrier Reef just 45 minutes from cairns, Cairns itself has a few islands to choose from but we decided to go with Fitzroy as we were travelling on a budget and they had an option to camp here. It’s possible to see Fitzroy on a day trip and if you’re short on time I definitely recommend that! It’s about 82 dollars per person return and - as it’s only a small island it’s possible to see the main spots in one day. However if you want a bit of extra time to lounge around on the beach there is a campsite which costs 37 dollars per tent - the camping location is just metres from the beach so it’s perfect to watch sunset and then wander back to your tent. Other than the campsite the only accommodation on the island is the resort so if you’re willing to splurge you could give that a try.
So what is there to do on Fitzroy?
Well other than it being stunningly beautiful with crystal clear water (if you’re there in the right conditions- make sure you check the weather) there’s also quite a few activities, you can rent snorkels and kayaks to go out and spot turtles. Head over to the beautiful nudey beach for a sunbathe or if your up for a bit of an adventure there’s also a few hikes- we did the one to the summit which had beautiful views over the island.
So is it worth the money?
Definitely! As one of the cheapest islands to get to on the Great Barrier Reef it’s a great addition to any far North Queensland trip, however I would say it’s possible to do in a day and camping isn’t essential.
Moving down the coast but still keeping it in the tropics is the gem that is maggie, 20 minutes of the coast of Townsville you’ll find this little island which is packed with fun activities and beautiful beaches. The ferry over is only 30 dollars return per person. It’s possible to bring your car ( or camper van ) over on the ferry if you want your own transport ($216- $252 depending on the size) and there is one campsite on the island on for budget travelers($25 per person per night) however despite its small size there is quite a few accommodation options on the island so we decided to treat ourselves and stay in a little Airbnb here - it was only around 75 dollars a night so no too pricey, we also decided to leave our van on the main land and rent a little 4x4 to explore the island- Barbie cars are super popular here, super adorable and super Instagramable but there are a few roads that you can’t take them down so we decided to opt for a 4x4 instead. There are plenty of rentals so shop around and see who’s offering the best price at the time.
So, what is there to do on magnetic island?
For such a small island there is actually a lot to do- obvious options being check out all the beautiful beaches, rent a snorkel to see the marine life. Maggie is also a great place to spot koalas, the forts hike is a good spot for this. You can feed the birds at bungalow bay, go and see the rock wallabies at Geoffrey bay and check out the beautiful view point over Arthur bay, catch the sunset over Hawkings point or just cruise around and explore- the possibilities are endless.
So is it worth it?
By now you’ve probably figured the answer is yes! I suggest to stay at least two nights, we actually wish we’d stayed longer as there was a few things we still wanted to do- there lots of lovely places to eat in the evenings too so your nights won’t be boring either!
3. Whitehaven Island
Let’s be real, Whitehaven beach is on everyone’s bucket list for Australia and it’s no surprise with it’s beautiful with white silica sand and beautiful blue water.
The whitsundays isn’t just Whitehaven beach there are so many islands to choose from, some with resorts on, some that are seemingly untouched and some you can camp on. There’s also many ways to visit- on a day trip, on a sailing trip, by seaplane or helicopter but being the budget travellers we are we wanted to do something on the cheaper side but not miss out on spending a bit of extra time and really appreciating Whitehaven island- so we decided to camp on Whitehaven beach. We took a transfer boat over. We used scamper which at the time cost $155 per person and they supply you with enough water to last your trip and a tub to keep your food safe from the hungry Goannas. You can also rent camping equipment and kayaks through the same company.
The camping itself only cost $7.50 per person per night. If you can, get into the camping spots early as there are two which are beachfront. We only stayed one night but I think two would be a perfect amount as there are a couple things to do on the island
So what is there to do on whitehaven island?
Walking to the viewpoints, walking across the island to the beach on the other side and walking to hill inlet. The walk to hill inlet is quite a long one but so worth it to see the swirling sands- I would suggest to rent a kayak if you’re short on time.
Is it worth it?
Definitely Whitehaven is iconic for a reason! It’s one of the best beaches in the world.
Fraser Island is another iconic Queensland island and the biggest sand island in the world. Unfortunately at this point in our trip we were running a little low on time and weren’t convinced with our 4x4 vans sand driving capabilities so we decided to book onto a day trip but as soon as I was there and seeing the sights I regretted it and wished that i’d booked at least two nights
So what is there to do on fraser island?
So much! Even though we only had a short time we still saw the iconic lake Mckenzie, floated down Eli creek, spotted dingoes and explored the shipwreck but I would have loved to check out some of the other lakes such as lake wabby, went for a swim in champagne pools and maybe checked out one of the boat trips you can take to some more secluded beaches.
If I could do it again I would stay at least two nights to really have time to take in the island but you could stay for weeks and not get bored! You will need a good 4x4 to visit the island but there are plenty of rentals at rainbow beach if you don’t have your own and also tag along tours you can join if you’re not 100% sure about you’re off-roading skills.
Is it worth it?
From what I saw I was blown away, Fraser Island is so beautiful and unique it’s hard to believe a whole rainforest has grown out of sand, truly magical.
5. North stradbroke island
North straddie is only a quick ferry ride from Brisbane so it makes a great day trip and the ferry over is only $17 return per person so even if you’re on budget it’s worth a look.
Even though it’s so close to the city as soon as you arrive on north stradbroke you feel a million miles away. It’s surrounded by beautiful blue ocean filled with life!
So what is there to do on north stradbroke?
Do the north gorge walk for a chance to see whales, dolphins, turtles, manta rays and more! After you’ve finished the gorge walk there is plenty of beautiful beaches to explore with rock pools and caves!
If you want to stay longer on the island there is plenty of accommodation ranging from camping to airbnbs and lots more places to explore such as freshwater springs and lakes.
So is it worth it?
Did you really think I was going to say no for any of these islands? They’re all so beautiful and north stradbroke is no exception- it’s a perfect budget day trip or even long weekend trip.