Magnetic Island has a pull.
Once you leave the mainland you will feel “Maggie” luring you in. More so, once you have spent a couple days here. You will get so used to relaxing in a hammock all day or wandering among the pristine beaches that you will never want to leave. Maggie is a small paradise but a paradise that has it all.
It wasn’t particularly Maggie’s magnetic charm that made James Cook name it that way. He referred to the island as magnetic because it interfered with his compass. This theory has been disproven but the name remains. And it’s just so fitting.
Now, let me show you why Maggie exerts such a pull of paradise and how it will easily draw you in, too.
Getting there and around
The closest city on the mainland is Townsville. This is where all ferries leave from, usually hourly. You can either go as a passenger or bring your car with you. Now, you are just a quick 30-minute ride away from paradise.
If you don’t have a car you can take the bus to get around on the island but you will be much less flexible. I would rather suggest renting a car or a scooter. We had our own campervan but another fun and fairly cheap way to explore the island is in a topless pink convertible from Tropical Topless. It might mean the fulfillment of childhood dreams for some people to drive around in a Barbie car.
A hammock among koalas and parrots: the best budget accommodation
Imagine you could chill at the pool in a hammock while dozens of brightly colored parrots soar over your head. Imagine you could sip a delicious Pina Colada and hug a koala right after. Now, imagine you could have all of this in just one place.
On Magnetic Island, there is no need for your imagination. You can enjoy all of the above at Bungalow Bay Koala Village, the best accommodation I have had during all my travels here in Australia. And it comes on a budget. If you have your own campervan, you only pay 16 dollars per person and have access to all facilities.
Wildlife spotting: Koalas, rock wallabies and parrots
You will easily get used to the relaxed pace of life here. If you do ever get bored of chilling in your hammock all day, however, there are plenty activities just within the bungalow village that involve wildlife.
Every day at 4.30 pm, you can feed the parrots for free. It’s an exciting, colorful and also slightly disturbing experience. There will be dozens and dozens of parrots rushing towards you once they see the bread in your hand. It’s not unlikely that three parrots will sit on your head while another two will scratch your shoulders.
The bungalow village also has an onsite koala sanctuary and wildlife park. You will have to pay 29 dollars as an entrance fee but the money is really well spent. During the two-hour tour, you will get to hold a multitude of animals. Yesss, there will be a cute, fluffy koala for you to hug in the end but even the animals before are so exciting to engage with. If you want to, you can hold a turtle, a snake, a parrot, a blue-tongued lizard, a baby crocodile and a couple other reptiles.
Apart from the bungalow village, if you are lucky, you can spot koalas in the wild while hiking. Most certainly though, around 5 pm you can watch and feed rock wallabies at Geoffrey Bay. When we made our way over there, we saw plenty of them. Even a mother wallaby carrying her little joey. So cute!
Three great activities: Hiking, Snorkeling, and Stargazing
I doubt you could get tired of wildlife watching. But, there are other amazing activities on the island.
There are a couple great hiking trails you can do. I would say that the “Forts Walk” is the prettiest among them all. It’s a moderate 4-kilometre hike that will lead you through historic World War 2 fortifications and will reward you with some stunning views over Maggie’s beautiful bays and woodland. If you go at dusk or dawn, the chances of seeing koalas are much higher.
Some of the island’s bays, particularly the reefs of Nelly Bay and Geoffrey Bay, offer some great snorkeling opportunities. The snorkel trails at both bays are self-guided and you can buy a snorkeling map for 5 dollars which will guide you along corals and a World War 2 propeller. Since the danger of stinging jellyfish is always imminent here, you need to put on a full body wetsuit. You can rent snorkeling gear along with the suit at the bungalow village or many other stores on the island.
Since we are on an island, after all, and there is less light pollution, the stargazing opportunities are amazing. Head to Horseshoe Bay and watch the milky way and some shooting stars flash by. If you are super lucky, you might even spot some fluorescent phytoplankton in the waters at night.
23 Beautiful Blue Bays
Magnetic Island does not only offer amazing wildlife spotting and hiking opportunities but a plethora of beautiful crystal clear bays. 23 to be exact. Some of the most accessible ones are also the most beautiful.
The Bungalow Bay Koala Village is located right next to Horseshoe Bay, where it is also safe for you to swim since there are lifeguards on duty.
Personally, my favorite bay is Arthur Bay, because it is more secluded and nestled in between stunning granite rocks. Picnic Bay is also really nice and at that time, we were the only people on the beach. This is what’s particularly great about Magnetic Island. There aren’t a lot of tourists around and the beaches here are much more private than on the rest of Australia’s east coast.
If you aren’t into tan lines, there is even a nude beach on the island called Balding Bay.
Already feeling the pull of paradise? Don’t resist. Come to Magnetic Island and convince yourself.