Islands with breathtaking beaches, wildlife and outdoors to explore
By Louis Fredheim
Australia is home to over 25 million people and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
In addition to welcoming locals, warm temperatures, beautiful beaches and exotic flora and fauna (such as kangaroos and koalas), Australia also has over 8,200 islands. Here are 7 of the best islands in Australia that can truly take your breath away.
The Whitsunday Islands are located on the northeast coast of Queensland, near the famous World Heritage Site, The Great Barrier Reef.
By far the most popular of all islands in Australia, the 74 Whitsunday Islands are known for their white sand beaches, clean turquoise, blue, and green water, as well as hiking trails, and dense rainforest.
The largest of the group of Whitsunday Islands, Whitsunday Island, is the home to the iconic Whitehaven Beach, where the sand is so white and pure that you can literally use it to brush your teeth.
Things to do in Whitsunday islands
What’s best about the Whitsunday islands is that they can be experienced in a number of different ways, whether it’s ocean rafting, day/night sailing trips, or even scenic flights. They are well set up for tourists, with plenty of activities on offer. Fishing, golfing, surfing, and swimming are just some of the activities on offer.
If that’s not your cup of tea, why not check out the several national parks in the Whitsunday Islands that you can visit. You can go hiking and explore deep into the national parks. The best trails in the area are The Whitsundays Great Walk, Honeyeater Lookout, Coral Beach Track, and Airlie Creek Walk.
If you want to really get in touch with nature, why not try camping in some of these amazing national parks?
Being 1,840 square kilometers in area, Fraser Island is considered the largest sand island in the whole world. It’s located on the southeastern coast of the Wide Bay-Burnett region in Queensland.
Things to do in Fraser Island
Among the things that tourists can expect to find in this part of Australia are coloured sands, panoramic viewpoints (including the Cathedrals and Indian Head), freshwater pools, and swimming sites (such as Lake Wabby and Lake McKenzie).
Although Fraser Island is also surrounded by beaches not all of them are safe enough for swimming due to the rough waters. Instead, you can wander around and search for lakes where you can sunbathe or swim. One of the most commonly visited lakes is Champagne Pools.
Apart from swimming and exploring, the island also offers incredible sunset and sunrise views at Eurong Beach and Kingfisher Bay. You can also drive around the National Highway called “75 Mile Beach”, encounter wild dingos, and take a scenic flight over the entire island.
One of the best islands Australia has to offer is Rottnest. It’s rich with history and was even used as a military base during the war. Located on Australia’s west coast, just off Perth, this island is famous for its stunning scenery and 63 white-sand beaches.
What is quokka?
As if that’s not good enough, Rottnest is also the home to one of the cutest animals in the world – the quokka. The small wallaby-like marsupial (which is best known for being the world’s happiest animal) can be found almost everywhere on the island.
Other fascinating animals that can be seen around are the Australian sea lions, southern fur seals, ospreys, and rock parrots.
Another popular activity on Rottnest Island is snorkeling. The best places for snorkeling are The Basin, Salmon Bay, and Geordie Bay. Other bays where you can wander around and witness some breathtaking views on the island are West End, Parakeet Bay, Thomson Bay, and Fish Hook Bay.
Known by the Aboriginal locals as Yunbenun, the mountainous Magnetic Island is 8 kilometers offshore from Townsville, Queensland, and is part of Cleveland Bay. Magnetic Island is perfect for a relaxing getaway, as it has so much to offer to all of its visitors.
Gorgeous hidden beaches, palm trees, national park reserves, and clean, turquoise water are just some of the many things that you can expect to find here. Also, because it’s a holiday destination that welcomes thousands of visitors each year, the island has many resorts, hotels, and restaurants in operation.
A unique aspect of Magnetic Island is that it has its own car ferry service – Fantasea Ferry. This means that you can take your own personal car over and use it to explore the island if you wish.
Things to do in the Magnetic Island
Being close to the Great Barrier Reef, snorkeling and swimming is also a popular activity. You can also go for a horse ride, go looking for koalas and other animals, plus enjoy all sorts of water sports (including jet skis) at Horseshoe Bay. You can even play golf, do a boat tour, or get something to eat at one of the restaurants on the island.
North Stradbroke Island
Known by the locals as Straddie, North Stradbroke Island lies within Moreton Bay in Queensland and is 30 kilometers southeast of Brisbane. This is one of the most stunning islands in the entire world, where you can truly relax and enjoy nature’s beauty.
Things to do in North Stradbroke Island
Like almost every other Australian island, there’s plenty of local wildlife to check out. If you’re a fan of kangaroos and koalas, then this is definitely the place for you. Other animals that you can see here are dolphins, whales, and a wide variety of birds.
You can swim, sunbathe, snorkel, surf, fish, and of course have a picnic on the beach.
My number 1 recommendation, however, is the North Gorge Walk. It’s a short, 1.2 kilometre walk from which you get stunning views over the ocean. You can often spot some fascinating sea animals – turtles, dolphins, whales, manta rays and even sharks
Another continental island located near Cairns, Queensland, Fitzroy Island is a popular spot for couples, families, and groups of friends. This tropical island is a great base from which to do diving and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.
Things to do in Fitzroy Island
Fitzroy Island is also known for the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. This non-profit organization attracts volunteers from all over the world that are dedicated to help rehabilitate sick and injured turtles. This is a great place from which to see some of the biggest turtles in all of Australia.
If you’re also a fan of hiking or walking, you’ll appreciate the fact that 97% of the island is tropical rainforest. This rainforest contains a number of hiking trails such as The Secret Garden Track, Nudey Beach Track, Boulder Lookout, and Lighthouse Road Track.
Another one of the best islands Australia offers to its international visitors is Bruny Island. Dubbed Tasmania’s premier island destination, this is the perfect place for adventurers. Bruny is 362 square kilometers in area and is situated just off the southeastern coast of Tasmania.
Things to do in Bruny Island
Bruny Island is known for its national parks, surfing beaches, historical sites, rolling hills, and windswept coastlines. A unique part of the island is “The Neck”, a thin strip of land that connects the island’s two halves and serves as an important breeding site for both the fairy penguins and short-tailed sheerwater birds.
Besides the fairy penguins, the island is the home to many other one-of-a-kind animals such as the white wallaby, echidna, dusky antechinus, and elephant seals to name a few.
Known as the “Land Down Under”, Australia is one of the most exotic places on the planet. If you are looking for a place where you can surf, swim, snorkel, sunbathe, and meet some of the most peculiar animals, then you should definitely check out some of Australia’s incredible islands. Whether you’re visiting Whitsunday, Magnetic, Rottnest, or Fraser, or any other region, like New South Wales, one thing is certain – you will have the time of your life.
About the author: Louis Fredheim is a lover of the great outdoors and writes all about camping and exploring Australia’s wilderness over at his website, Outdoor Explorer.