Magnetic Island is as magical as it’s reputation makes you believe. During the 2 nights we spent there we seemingly travelled back in time to an old Navy Base and soaked up the sun on the breathtaking beaches.
But getting there wasn’t all sunshine’s and daisy’s.
My brother and I made the unfortunate decision to stay at a top rated hostel which also had a bar right outside the rooms in Townsville. This was one of my biggest mistakes during my travels in Australia. We got in late the night before and were booked on an early ferry to magnetic island the next day.
I walked into a room covered in dirt, pool water and smelt of dirty socks. The hostel was full and we didn’t have the energy to find/pay for another hostel. So I curled up in my sheets after wandering the town and hoped to get some sleep. I’ve only packed my stuff back up faster once before this experience, and that was when we had bedbugs in Budapest. But that’s a different story.
Getting to Magnetic Island
The easiest way to get to Magnetic Island is via ferry which goes from Townsville to Nelly Bay. It is a short ride and is operated by Sealink, it is cheap at $33 AUD return.
We boarded the ferry in the early morning, hauling our backpacks through the streets of Townsville in the early morning light. It was windy and drizzling and the streetlights gleamed in the morning puddles.
The ferry ride was wavy and windy but shortly after our arrival on Maggie the weather cleared for the rest of the day.
Where to Stay
Now there is a huge selection of various prices hostels to hotels. I’d been staying in multi-bed hostel rooms for what seemed like ages and needed to get away from the people. So we stayed at Arcadia Beach House in a two bed tent! It was freakin’ awesome.
Arcadia is situated about 15 minutes walk from the ferry terminal and is also the first stop of the round island bus. The bus is super cheap and gets you to all the major stops in no time.
You can get around the island by rented car and bike as well. It is actually quite small and if your fitness is good then you can easily walk.
Things you must do:
Hiking Arcadia to Horseshoe Bay
This hike basically lets you hike through the middle of Magnetic Island!
It was hot and humid and the sun was shining the day we did it. Since we still had our energy up we packed our day packs and decided to hike across Magnetic Island! Yep the whole way!
To do this you have to head into the little town (can you call it that) and find the road signs onto the trail. It starts with a pretty steep incline as you get higher and higher into the hills of Maggie. As you get higher you move away from the tropical beach, the eucalyptus forest and into a harsher less fertile granite boulder terrain.
Definitely pack a lot of water for this hike since the sun shining down make it hot hot hot.
Hike to the Forts
In WW2 Magnetic Island served as a military base as did nearby Townsville. This 4km walk gives you a great view of Koalas! But you also get to see the remnants of the WW2 base.
This base was built high up in the hills and they had to roll everything (including fresh water) up to it. I loved that women were a huge part in this base, including lookout duties!
Fun fact: They lost two huge guns as the base was being shut down, and no one knows what happened to them! (This was curtesy of one of the fun infographics)
Um, Cuddle and Spot Koalas! Obviously!
Magnetic Island actually has one of the highest concentrations of koalas on earth. They have huge eucalyptus forests which act as their food source!
Since the island is a protected environment they are able to live happily in the wild and flourish there.
Visit the Wildlife Park and Hold a Snake
If you want to cuddle koalas on Maggie, then you have to go to Bungalow Bay and go on the tour. It’s kind of expensive but you get to hold lots of cool animals including a snake and lizard and get a photo with a koala!
Make sure you handle them gently!
Eat Fish and Chips on the beach at Horseshoe Bay
There is a little fish and chips joint just off the beach in Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island. Funny enough it is called Horseshoe Bay Fish and Chips. It serves your typical, newspaper wrapped deep fried fish and chips. You can choose from a few different kinds of local fish. I definitely recommend this if you want a great easy place to eat. It’s the perfect meal to watch the sunset.
Have a Cup of Tea at The Early Bird
The early bird is an amazing little restaurant that serves great tea, iced tea, coffee and food. Definitely a must eat at. They have speciality tea and home make everything!
Otherwise- Suntan, bushwalk, kayak, snorkel, canoe! Do whatever your heart desires.
There are a million things to see and do on Magnetic Island. So grab a map and EXPLORE!