This island has it all – beautiful beaches , lush forest , hiking trails, great beach parties and a wide variety of wild animals including one of Australia’s favorites, the cuddly little Koala!
I would recommend spending 2 nights/3 days on the island so your not rushed and can really enjoy the beauty that the island has to offer.
Accommodation wise, you have two options. The Bungalow Bay Koala Village on Horseshoe Bay is ideal those who want a more relaxed pace resort style accommodation . You can go for a 3 bed dorm, 8 bed dorm or even treat yourself to a private bungalow for two. On premises there is is a bar/cafe, resort style pool , wildlife sanctuary, bicycle hire and daily wild bird feeding(you’ve got to do this!) plus the beach is only a 5 minute walk away.
Your second accommodation option is X Base at Picnic Bay. This hostel is known for its wild parties and incredible bungalows right on the beach. It’s also home to one of Australia’s most popular beach parties, the Full Moon Party! If your heading to Magnetic Island around Halloween or New Years Eve, you’ve got to go to the Full Moon! This hostel is loved by all who visit, especially if you’re up for a party. Its up there with some of the best hostels in Australia.
Okay, so you’ve got your accommodation sorted. Now what should you do? Here are some of my favorite things to do on the island:
The Forts Walk. This is the most popular track on the island and for good reason. Not only do you get incredible panoramic views of the coast , you’ll also be able to see some of the islands 1000 wild koalas. It’s not guaranteed to see Koalas as they are wild animals and you know, can move around, but I’ve done this walk around 20 times now and have seen koalas each time. If your having trouble spotting the koalas, just keep a lookout for the stick made arrows on the ground pointing to the trees. It’s koala spotting etiquette to let fellow walkers know of any koala sightings. The walk is only 4 km return and usually takes 1.5 – 2 hours depending on how long you gaze into the koalas eyes for. If you’re staying at Bungalow Bay Koala Village, you can walk to the start of the track in 20 minutes, otherwise a bus can be taken from most places on the island.
Rent a 4×4 from Arcadia Beach House. This is by far the best and easiest way to see the island. a 4 seater 4×4 jeep will cost you only $120 for 24 hours, including insurance and petrol. Split between 4 people is only $30 each.. what a bargain! An International drivers license is accepted as long as you’re 18 or over. The island also has little Barbie cars available which seeeeeem pretty cool but there are some downfalls to renting a barbie car and not a 4×4. A lot of the islands best beaches can only be accessed via dirt roads ridden with pot holes and barbie cars are prohibited from entering these roads. If you want to see the best of the island, rent the 4×4 and you can explore as much as your heart’s desire(just don’t drive on the beach!) and follow standard road rules.
NOTE: these cars are not in the greatest condition, they are old and have been bashed around a bit by the island. The stereo may not work, a door might not open, the engine might be loud . They aren’t luxury cars but for the purpose of your 24 hour adventure, they’re great!
An alternative option for those who don’t have a drivers licence is to take the public bus. A day pass can be bought for $7 or a way one way ticket can be up to $2.90.
Visit the family of koalas who live at 7 & 8 Wallaby Way, Horseshoe Bay. There’s is around 6 that are always there including several young ones who are probably the cutest things you’ll ever see. Look for the property that has the FOR SALE sign out the front, in the trees on this property and the property across the road is where you’ll find them.
Swim at Radical Bay. This is my favorite beach on the island due to its crystal blue water, tropical palm trees & total serenity. It’s also the perfect spot to get that perfect insta photo with your cars under the palm trees.
Walk from Radical bay to Balding Bay – Approx a 30 minute walk each way. Balding Bay can only be accessed via a walking track either from Horseshoe Bay or Radical Bay. It’s also the nude beach of the island, so be prepared to get nude or see some naked people.
Snorkel at Florence Bay, Arthur Bay & Alma Bay . These are the best beaches for snorkeling as there is reef right on the shore. Reef sharks and turtles are often sighted on these reefs. Snorkel gear can be rented from several places on the island including Arcadia Beach House, Bungalow Bay & X Base Hostel. Arcadia Bay has the best rates. If your visiting the island in the warmer months(Dec-March) a stinger suit will also be required to protect you from jelly fish who may be floating around in the waters.
Walk to the lookout between Florence Bay & Arthur bay – approx 1 hour. Otherwise you can just do the short walk to the Arthur Bay lookout.
Feed the rock Wallabys down at Geoffrey Bay. Take the small dirt road on the left of Geoffrey bay and follow to the end. Bring carrots, bananas, grapes, apple or nectarine to feed them with. They are most active in the afternoon 3-6 although you can see still them all day. Only give them a small portion at a time. Don’t try to lure them too far out from their rock caves as there may be eagles waiting above.
Geoffrey bay is also a great place to feed the fish in the water. Bring bread for the fishies.
There’s also a shipwreck and snorkeling train just off Geoffrey bay that can be seen on low tide.
Climb the boulders of Alma Bay or Radical Bay. If your like me and love exploring , you’ll love this! These massive rocks are pretty easy to walk on due to their rough surface, I find walking on them barefoot is easiest as your feet grip to the rocks pretty easy. Alma Bay is the perfect place to go on a little rock climbing adventure, the rocks to the right side of the beach lead up to an epic lookout. Note, this may not be the safest thing to do so please assess your own fitness level before doing this.
Visit the Shipwreck of Cockle Bay , on low tide you can walk right out to it (approx a 20 minute walk through muddy sand but it’s super cool to see out once your there!) Wear shoes because rays and stonefish may be in the sand.
Wildlife Sanctuary show at Bungalow Bay at 10am, 12pm or 2:30pm . They have snakes, baby crocodiles, lots of different lizards and koalas! It’s only $28 for the show and $18 for a photo holding a koala. This is one of the cheapest places on the East coast of Australia to hold a Koala.
Breakfast with the Koalas. On Wednesday, Friday, & Sunday they have ‘Breakfast with the Koalas’ which includes the wildlife viewing stated above alongside a buffet breakfast . It’s just $32 for the breakfast and show with the option to hold the koala for an extra $18. This show and breakfast is great value especially if you were already thinking of going to the wildlife show on its own. For only an extra $4 you’ll leave with a full belly to.
Wild Bird feeding at 4pm at Bungalow Bay. It’s a bunch of fun to see the lorikeets go wild over the bread. If you’ve never fed wild birds before then this will blow your mind, they are ‘wild’.
West Point sunsets – one of the best sunsets on the East coast of Aus. There’s nothing I love more than watching a sunset over the ocean but unfortunately it’s not easy to get over here on the east coast of Aus due to the sun setting over the mountains. West Point sunsets are simply incredible. It takes around 30 minutes to drive from Nelly Bay and you have to go super slow along the dirt road.
Enjoy a pineapple cocktail on the beach or around the pool down at the Island Bar at X Base Hostel. You’re on holiday, you’ve got to drink a cocktail from the shell of a fruit on a tropical island!
Sunset BBQ at Horseshoe Bay. It’s no secret that Aussie’s love BBQ’s on the beach and it’s easy enough to do when the local parks have public BBQ’s ready to use. The Horseshoe Bay park is the perfect spot to wind down after a day of island adventures, cook up some steak and have a cold beer. There’s even a bar and Bottle-o there for you. Although the IGA for grocery shopping is down at Nelly Bay, it’ll be best to do the shopping here first.
Eating out? Early Bird Cafe at Horseshoe Bay has the best coffee and breakfasts in town, Arcadia Tavern has awesome aussie pub meals + X Base Hostel has cheap backpacker meal options.
Want to party? The X Base Island Bar has the most epic parties on the island! They throw heeps of fun themed nights including Boozy Bingo, Trivia, Bar Games, Tropical Shirt nights and Ladies night.
Bar games and Boozy bingo are my favorite night, they are so much fun! These isn’t your normal bingo or trivia night, be prepared to drink a lot, dance on dances and you can even win crash prizes!
Have more time on the island? There’s a bunch of other fun activities you can do including the following:
- Horseback riding on the beach of Horseshoe bay
- Jet ski hire at Horseshoe Bay
- Stand up Paddle Board or Kayak at Horseshoe Bay or Geoffrey Bay
- Hiking through the national park of the island. The island is 55% national park and has over 20km of walking tracks available.
There we go! Here’s my tips on how to spend your time on Magnetic Island. If you have any questions or feedback, leave me a comment in the comment section below.