There are more than 8,000 islands off the coasts of Australia, and unless you’re planning on staying for a few decades chances are you won’t have time to visit them all. Each one has its own charm and unique characteristics, and some are better known than others (Shag Island, anyone?) but when it comes to the must see islands of Australia, the three listed below sit well and truly at the top of the list.
The largest sand island in the world is also a World Heritage listed site and an absolute must see while in Queensland. Fraser is a wild island of rainforests, lakes, pristine beaches and unique wildlife, including the purest strain of dingo in Australia. Spend your days hiking, swimming and exploring the forests and beaches that make this peaceful place so unique among the islands of Australia. Lake McKenzie is particularly beautiful, with clear blue waters and sandy shores. It’s position high above the water table means its waters are pure rain water, which is about as pure as you can get. To see the island with the best guides in the business (and the top rated on TripAdvisor) check out Drop Bear Adventures, and choose from either of their excellent 2 or 3 day Fraser Island Tours by 4WD. Camp under the stars, spot turtles and sharks from Indian Head, cruise 75 mile beach and swim and hike your way across the island.
Ok, there’s not just one island, but 74 patches of paradise blessed with blindingly white, fine sand beaches and crystal clear turquoise waters, all located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Whitehaven Beach is an award winner and particularly popular; its white silica sand (an extremely soft and fine mineral which feels like baby talc to walk on) lapped by clear blue waters make for a true Robinson Crusoe dreamscape, completely untouched by development. But all the islands are gorgeous and a top draw to visitors travelling through northern Queensland. Most are uninhabited national parks but you can visit them on any number of boat tours operating out of Airlie Beach. Whitsundays Sailing Adventures offers a 2 day 1 night adventure aboard their stunning 17.5m sail boat S.S. Whitehaven. Taking in all the top snorkelling sites around the Whitsundays and with a strong emphasis on teaching travellers about the island’s ecological diversity with onshore island explorations, her big open decks and comfortable seating mean there are plenty of places to sunbathe while on board.
A short 25 minute ferry ride from Townsville, the palm-fringed shores of Magnetic Island make this one of the most beautiful of all the islands of Australia. Named Magnetic Island by Captain Cook back in 1770 when the island appeared to affect the magnetic compass on his ship, today just 2,500 people call the island home making it a serene place ripe for exploration. Hiking trails through forests of eucalyptus, rugged natural landscapes and close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef mean excellent wildlife spotting opportunities both above and below the water. There are a total of 23 beaches here and excellent diving at the SS Yongala wreck, plus the chance to spot koalas (there are more koalas here than anywhere else in Northern Australia) and more from the Hawkings Track, an easy 1.2km hike with fantastic views. And there is no better way of seeing the lot than from behind the wheel of a barbie inspired topless car, which are for rent everywhere on the island.
When to comes to islands of Australia, these gems are absolute must sees!