Queensland islands

Islands are dotted along Queensland’s 7,000km coastline and are scattered up to and along the Great Barrier Reef. From the world’s largest sand islands in the south east to the unspoiled paradise of the Torres Strait, you’ll find an island to fit your next family escape, couple retreat or solo adventure.

Whether you’re after soft silica sand or isolated coral cays with easy access to the reef, our islands have footprint-ready beaches that’ll entice you to throw down a towel, prep your beach umbrella or set up camp and relax.

Venture beyond the beach on most islands and you’ll find freshwater creeks, hiking trails and lush rainforests to explore. Intrepid travellers or budding photographers hungry for their next shoot location will find look outs and peaks to capture sunrises, sunsets and ocean views any time in between. 

And when you’re exhausted, retreat to your luxury resort or budget accommodation. Either way, you’ll make island memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Islands off Queensland

Take your pick of the 900 islands off Queensland’s coast, starting in the Whitsundays. Visit one of its 74 tropical islands, and be sure to stick your feet in the sand of the famous Whitehaven Beach. From Townsville, you’ll be within reach of koalas along historical hikes on Magnetic Island, pick your own private beach on Orpheus Island (after you arrive by helicopter) and make your way around the Thorsborne Trail on Jurassic-esque Hinchinbrook Island

Tropical North Queensland is where you’ll find Fitzroy Island, a balmy paradise with its own fringe coral reef system and the best beach in Australia, Nudey Beach. From Cairns you’ll also be able to heli, fly or ferry into family-friendly Green Island, and luxe couple hot spots Lizard Island and Bedarra Island.

Towards the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll find the snorkel and dive trifecta, aka Lady Elliot, Heron and Lady Musgrave Islands. Walk off the beach at these eco-islands and be surrounded by gentle manta rays, friendly turtles and the rest of the Great Eight. So, grab your fins and mask, and snorkel straight into lagoons and bays teeming with new underwater friends.

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Island experiences and adventures

Sailing

The Whitsundays is Queensland’s ultimate home of sailing. Captain your own private bareboat and charter your course around the 74 islands to explore hidden cays, hike through Whitsunday Island and then watch the sun set from your deck. If you’d prefer to sit back and let someone else do the hard work, hire a skipper (and even a chef!) for your own private sailing adventure.

Diving and snorkelling

Kitted-out with your fins and mask, snorkel next to Nemo and the whole cast within metres of the beach on Heron Island, Lady Elliot and Green Island. Lady Musgrave’s 1,200-hectare lagoon is also teeming with turtles, manta rays, white and black-tipped sharks to grab a snorkelling selfie with as well. Follow the snorkel trails around Nelly Bay on Magnetic Island or snorkel the Tangalooma wrecks surrounded by turquoise waters and wildlife of the underwater kind.

Add in a day of scuba diving into your island itinerary or theme your whole holiday around meeting your scuba goals on Heron Island (one of Jacques Cousteau’s top ten dive sites in the world), Lady Elliot Island, Hamilton Island, Magnetic Island or Lizard Island.

Scenic flights

Flying over the Great Barrier Reef is an unforgettable experience; the blue and green hues will be etched in your memory forever. The best time for scenic flights is at low tide, so you’ll see more of the reef. Charter a heli-flight from Cairns to Green Island to see the reef from above or book a seaplane in the Whitsundays to fly over the iconic heart reef.

4WD tours

Lower your tyre pressure and get your 4WD sandy on one of the largest sand islands in the world. While Fraser Island is the ultimate beach driving island in Queensland, North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island are also popular spots to test your 4WD skills. If you’d rather play passenger, you can book tours with experienced guides that will do all the hard work for you.

Cruises

Take a leisure or adventure cruise along the Great Barrier Reef and admire our islands from a distance, or get up close and personal with a day tour. Cruise past the tip of Cape York and into the Torres Strait, a cluster of over 133 islands where summer lasts 9 months of the year. While you’re there, learn about the Torres Strait culture, visit art galleries and museums or reel in a trophy-worthy fish.

Queensland island accommodation

Turn your island day trip into an overnight escape (or stay even longer to get the full island treatment).  Take in an island sunset or a sunrise from your swaying hammock on the beach… Ahhh.

Whitsundays accommodation

There’s a variety of accommodation options in the Whitsundays. Choose from budget stays, family-friendly and self-catered apartments, bungalows and villas on Hamilton Island. Adventurers will love camping on Whitsunday Island or Hook Island, and couples will love the luxury resort on Hamilton.

Luxury accommodation

If five-star resorts, secluded beaches, private beach picnics and full body massages are what you’re after, there’s a Queensland island waiting with pillow menus, robes and slippers. Luxury island resorts are aplenty in the Great Barrier Reef from Bedarra, and Lizard Islands in the tropical north to Hamilton, Hayman and Daydream Islands in the Whitsundays.

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Best Queensland islands for couples

Romantic getaways, honeymoons and extravagant Valentine’s Day escapes are simple on a Queensland island.

Newly-weds and love birds will appreciate the romantic packages at Queensland luxury islands like Orpheus Island, Bedarra Island and Hamilton Island.

Adventurous couples may opt for hiking, camping and kayaking on Hinchinbrook Island, driving around in a topless car on Magnetic Island or 4WDing on Fraser Island, North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island.

Culture vulture couples will enjoy a round trip to the Torres Strait, where they can engulf themselves in the Indigenous Torres Strait culture and history.

And, for couples wanting complete seclusion, rent your own private island in Southern Great Barrier Reef (including a private chef). This is how you can do it.

Top things for couples to do

  • Snorkel fringing reef right off the beach
  • Take your dive buddy and learn to scuba dive
  • Stay dry and see the reef from a glass-bottom boat 
  • Laze by the resort pool
  • Book into the island day spa or arrange a couple’s massage in your room
  • Arrange a private jet ski tour 
  • Spend the day under palm trees at your own private beach 
  • Pre-arrange a sunset dinner on the beach

Best Queensland islands for families

Island escapes offer the perfect family break from your hectic life. They’re a chance for your family to reconnect, have fun and make memories together.

Families with babies, toddlers and tots should head for Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays. When you’re on the island, Guest Services can take care of all your needs from organising spots at the day care centre, to providing prams and baby seats for your mini golf cart (available for hire on the island).

Adventurous families will love Green Island, 35 minutes by ferry from Cairns. The resort is family-friendly and there’s a lot for kids to learn and do on the island. From snorkelling to glass-bottom boat tours, your kids will be entertained, and you will be relaxed. 

Outdoorsy families, pack the 4WD and head straight for Fraser Island on the Fraser Coast. With freshwater creeks, abundant wildlife and a whopping 45 national park camping grounds to choose from, your family will be setting up camp and roasting marshmallows in no time.

Best family resorts

Treat the kids (and yourselves) to either Heron Island or Lady Elliot Island, the ultimate family-friendly resorts. Both are natural playgrounds with over 1,200 species of marine life and have a Junior Reef Rangers program where kids from five to 12 can learn about the reef and conservation. Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island also offers a wildlife warriors program. Here your kids will learn all about mangroves, tidal zones and even go stargazing.

If your kids want to hand feed wild dolphins or slide down huge sand dunes, Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island is your next family holiday destination. Your kids will love swimming, kayaking and snorkelling around the Tangalooma wrecks, too.

Top things to do for families

  • Meet marine life and see the Great Barrier Reef first-hand with education and conservation classes
  • Hand feed dolphins at Tangalooma Island Resort
  • Snorkel straight off the island or on a day tour
  • Stay dry and see the reef from a glass-bottom boat 
  • Sand toboggan down mega sand dunes on Moreton Island
  • Kayak, swim and have fun with the water sports on offer

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Basil Bay on Keswick Island

Keswick Island, Mackay Area
Free Entry
The beautiful Basil Bay is Keswick Island's prime swimming beach. Located on the western side of the island, Basil Bay boasts crystal clear water at high tide, crisp white sand and gentle shade trees - making it an idyllic spot to enjoy your quintessential island adventure.

Langford Island

Whitsundays, Whitsunday Area
Free Entry
Langford Island, near Hayman Island in the northern Whitsundays is a popular spot with sailors, divers and snorkellers. Many of the bareboats and crewed sailing boats will anchor near Langford Island. Langford Island is relatively small, but features a long sand spit that all but disappears at high tide.

Lamb Island

Lamb Island, Redland City Area
Get away from it all and rest in the peaceful and tranquil waters of Moreton Bay. Lamb Island was known by the Aboriginal people of Moreton Bay as Nguderoo, or paperbark trees. It is the second smallest of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, is easily navigable, has a general store, recreation club and a swimming enclosure for cooling off in the bay waters.

Moreton Island National Park

Moreton Island,
Free Entry
Just a short ferry ride from Brisbane, Moreton Island lies a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Discover crystal-clear creeks and lagoons, coastal heath, rocky headlands, stunning wildflowers and miles of sandy beaches at Moreton Island National Park and Recreation Area.

Keswick Island Dive Site

Keswick Island, Mackay Area
Mackay is not generally well known as a dive destination, but with offshore islands and reefs it certainly has the potential for some great diving. However, there is one location off Mackay that is regularly dived, the wonderful Keswick Island.

Bribie Island National Park and Recreation Area

Bribie Island, Moreton Bay Area
Free Entry
Bribie Island, about an hour's drive from Brisbane is a treasure trove of plants and animals. The island is fringed by sandy beaches and sand dunes. Heaths, paperbark wetlands and freshwater creeks and lagoons, along with open forests are home to varied birdlife.

Fitzroy Island Dive Site

Fitzroy Island, Cairns Area
Fitzroy Island is a popular day trip from Cairns and has a surprising amount of marine life. This charming continental island is close to the mainland, so doesn’t have great visibility. Around the island are rocky reefs with varying amounts of coral cover.

Bribie Island

Bribie Island, Moreton Bay Area
Naturally beautiful, Bribie Island and its surrounding waters is a true showpiece of the Moreton Bay area. Bribie is the northern-most of the islands in Moreton Bay. It's the only Queensland island connected to the mainland by bridge, allowing easy access.

Brampton Island

Brampton Island, Mackay Area
Sitting at the southern entrance of the Whitsunday Passage, Brampton Island is a tropical island haven. Brampton Island is 32 kilometres north-east of Mackay and 50 kilometres south of Hamilton Island.

Bees on Keswick Island

Keswick Island, Mackay Area
Free Entry
Keswick Island is home to thriving hives of purebred Caucasian bees. Unlike bees on the Australian mainland, these bees are free of many other diseases and are sometimes used as breeding stock for the mainland colonies.
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