The Best Queensland Islands for Families to Visit in 2021
Are you searching for that perfect family-friendly island destination?
Visitors are spoilt for choice in the sunshine state, with over 2,000 islands scattered along the coast.
Our guest contributor, Sharee of Inspire Family Travel, has narrowed the list down to include some of the best Queensland islands for families, in no particular order.
1. Moreton Island
Moreton Island is a big adventure playground covered with native flora and rolling dunes that meet the surrounding crystal-clear turquoise waters. Located only 75 minutes via ferry from Brisbane, it is the perfect distance for a day trip or an extended stay.
Well known for the fifteen rusty shipwrecks marooned near Tangalooma, they form an impressive feature as you arrive on the mainland. The most popular way to discover the Tangalooma Wrecks is to grab a snorkel to gain a first-hand appreciation of the marine animals, including tropical fish and sea turtles.
There is an abundance of other water activities available on Moreton, including swimming, fishing, and kayaking. The vast landscape has many on-land experiences as well, from sand-tobogganing and bushwalks. A 4WD is required to travel around the island, but many tour operators travel regularly and visit popular landmarks if you don’t have that option.
2. Fraser Island
Thousands of people flock yearly to the Heritage-listed Fraser Island. Only a 40-minute boat ride from Hervey Bay, or a mere 10 minutes from Inskip Point, visitors will be standing on the world’s largest sand island over 120 kilometres in length.
Over the diverse landscape, there are crystal clear lakes (one of the most popular being the striking Lake McKenzie), dune-backed beaches, sandy highways, and various wildlife. Some 354 bird species have been recorded on Fraser Island, while dolphins, stingrays, sharks, sea turtles, and whales are regularly spotted.
Fraser Island is the perfect place to visit for nature-loving families, and with such a vast area to explore, staying overnight is recommended. Float down the freshwater Eli Creek, explore many of the island’s walking paths or hiking trails. Feel the spray of the saltwater when you visit the bubbly Champagne Pools and the wind in your hair as you 4WD down 75 Mile Beach. If you don’t have a 4WD to get around, hire a set of wheels, or join a group tour.
3. Great Keppel Island
If you can’t decide between a slow-paced or action-packed island holiday, Great Keppel Island has the option for visitors to do as much or little as they desire. Seventeen pristine beaches are scattered around this island, and with the Southern Great Barrier Reef on the doorstep, it is a slice of paradise with laid back vibes.
The largest of eighteen islands off the Capricorn Coast, Great Keppel, can be reached from Yeppoon, the halfway point between Townsville and Brisbane, and a famous coastal town in its own right. After a quick 30-minute ferry ride, you will be dipping your toes in the warm salty waters home to turtles, dolphins, and tropical fish. There are many private bays and pockets of fringing reef for those snorkeling and diving enthusiasts that boast healthy, diverse coral. Clam Bay, Monkey Point, and Shelving Beach are the best locations to witness some fantastic marine life.
The only time you will be strapping up the shoes again is on one of the hikes you can take around the island, to spectacular lookouts or striking beaches. With the options of jetski tours, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding, a day trip may not be enough, which is why you can find low-key accommodation from cabins, houses, and glamping tents.
4. Whitsunday Islands
A list of the best Queensland islands for families would not be complete without adding the iconic Whitsundays. The 74 islands scattered around the area create the largest offshore islands group and are often labelled as Australia’s tropical utopia. If you are curious about how you would choose which island would be best suited for a family trip, the choice is narrowed down, with only eight islands being inhabited.
With spectacular beaches and an abundance of wildlife and located in the Great Barrier Reef’s heart, Daydream Island is a highly sought-after holiday destination. In 2018-2019 Daydream Island Resort underwent a multi-million-dollar refurbishment that saw the upgrade of accommodation rooms, food and beverage services, and creating a “living reef” as a centrepiece. A unique coral lagoon wraps around the central building and is home to over 100 species of fish and 80 species of coral. There are various activities on Daydream Island from swimming, kayaking, beach sports, fish feeding, and more.
The fun continues off the island as you can choose from several tours that offer an up-close and personal encounter with the Whitsunday Islands via air or boat.
5. Fitzroy Island
One of Tropical North Queensland’s most popular day trips, Fitzroy Island, is a 45-minute cruise from Cairns and is home to the famous Nudey Beach. Contrary to what the name suggests, it is not a nudist location but has won many accolades for Australia’s best beach. As tempting as the turquoise waters are, take one of the walking trails on the island to picturesque lookouts, or enjoy a short stroll through the rainforest to gain an appreciation of the national park that makes up for 97% of Fitzroy Island.
After a steep walk to the lighthouse to witness picturesque views at 269 metres above sea level, it may be time to hit the water. Surrounded by fringing coral gardens, the best way to experience Fitzroy Island’s underwater haven is by wearing a snorkel and fins, but if that’s not to your liking, you are in luck! Stand up paddle boards, glass-bottom kayaks, and glass-bottom boat tours are available to see the reef from above the water.
If you are searching for an island turtle encounter, Fitzroy is one of the best places with six turtles species found in the Great Barrier Reef. In 2013 Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre was established to care for sick and injured turtles from all around the area, and tours are available to meet the patients and learn about the conservation work.
6. Magnetic Island
One of the closest islands to the mainland Magnetic Island, or Maggie, as locals affectionately call it, is easily reached in under 40-minutes by ferry from Townsville. Located on the Great Barrier Reef, you can expect to find incredible snorkeling (some right off the beach) and on-water activities. Still, with over two-thirds of the island classified as a national park, it is also worth exploring on foot.
There are 24 kilometres of walking trails around the island, including the popular World War II forts track. Many walks lead you through bushland filled with native shrubs and trees and stop at stunning lookout points. One of those lookouts is Hawking Point, which offers one of the best viewpoints for sunrise and sunset.
When walking around the national parks (particularly on the Forts Walk), always look in the treetops for koalas with Magnetic Island, having one of the largest colonies living in the wild.
When the ocean is yet again beckoning you to return, take your pick of 23 beaches around Magnetic Island. With that many beaches, you will have great odds of finding your piece of paradise.
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About the Writer
Sharee is a freelance writer, enjoys outdoor adventures, and will never turn down ice cream. She is always searching for a good travel sale, daydreaming of the next adventure, and loves quality family time. Her website, Inspire Family Travel, aims to inspire and empower fellow travelling families with practical advice for Australian destinations.