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 IslandMoreton Island and Bribie 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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Whale Watching on Keswick Island

Keswick Island, Mackay Area
Free Entry
Humpback Whales can be frequently seen around Keswick Island during their annual migration through the Whitsundays between the months of July to September. Seeing the whales frolicking nearby, or guiding a newborn calf through the protected waters of Egremont Passage, is a truly magical experience.

Horn Island

Horn Island, Torres Area
Horn Island is part of the Torres Strait Islands group at the tip of Cape York Peninsula, Australia's northernmost point. Located approximately 17 kilometres off Queensland's coast and just south of Papua New Guinea, Horn Island offers a truly remarkable island experience.

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.

Long Island

Long Island, Whitsunday Area
With 13 kilometres of extensive walking tracks, stunning lookouts, protected bays and beautiful secluded beaches, Long Island is well worth a visit. Much of the island is national park and you can enjoy bush walks, exploring the fringing coral reef, snorkelling off the beaches or relaxing under the coconut palms.

Great Keppel Island

Great Keppel Island,
Experience Oz and NZ ranked Great Keppel Island number six in Australia's Top 10 Islands to Experience 2017! The beaches on Great Keppel are really what set it apart from other islands. There are 17 pristine beaches on the island - many fringed with coral reefs, making this destination a dream holiday for those who love snorkelling or scuba diving.

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.

Child Island Dive Site

The Keppels,
Child Island is one of the most exciting dive sites at the Keppel Islands off Yeppoon. Being a fair distance offshore, Child Island is best dived when conditions are calm, but this site nearly always has the best visibility in the area.

Connie Bay on Keswick Island

Keswick Island, Mackay Area
Free Entry
At the far north end of Keswick Island, Connie Bay is a secluded beach of sweeping white sand, turquoise water and fringing coral. Connie Bay boasts uninterrupted views towards the northern Whitsunday islands.

Snorkelling on Keswick Island

Keswick Island, Mackay Area
Free Entry
The Great Barrier Reef coral fringes Keswick and provides magnificent snorkelling, especially at Connie Bay and Coral Gardens. Keswick's coral reef offers something for everyone, from swim-through caves and deep canyons to wide shallows, teeming with marine life.

Daydream Island

Daydream Island, Whitsunday Area
Daydream Island has been impacted by recent weather events in Queensland. Please make contact with Daydream Island Resort and Spa information regarding bookings and travel plans. Daydream Island is the closest of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays to the mainland shore at Airlie Beach.
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