Our Experience Staying at Bungalow Bay Koala Village, Magnetic Island

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So we’re naming the Bungalow Bay Koala Village on Magnetic Island as one of the coolest hostels in Australia. And there’s a good reason for this – it’s the only place on the island where you can sleep inside a wildlife sanctuary with cuddly koalas. How many places in the world allow this experience?

A close up of a koala

Whether you’re a budget traveler, or a family like us, there’s no competition when it comes to finding a place to stay on Magnetic Island, especially if you love animals like us.

It stole Kalyra’s heart. Everyday, she’d ask if she could do the wildlife tour and have breakfast with with crocs, lizards and snakes again.

She’s now got high expectations of places to stay, and it’s going to be hard work finding places to please her now!

But if you’re wondering what it’s like staying at Bungalow Bay Koala Village on Magnetic Island and need a bit more insight into the experience on offer, then this guide is for you. We’ve shared our personal experience staying here so you can decide if it’s an experience you’d like to have.

Disclaimer: We stayed at Bungalow Bay Koala Village in partnership with YHA Australia, but all thoughts, ideas and opinions in this guide are our own. We were in no obligation to write this guide, but did so because we felt it was an experience worth sharing.

This hostel was also previously owned by YHA, but is now owned and operated by the global luxury hostel brand, Selina, and has had some upgrades since we visited (which we have shared below).

Where Is Bungalow Bay Koala Village?

sunset at Horseshoe Bay
Sunset at Horseshoe Bay

Bungalow Bay Koala Village is perfectly located on Magnetic Island, just a five-minute walk from Horseshoe Bay, the biggest bay on Magnetic Island.

It’s known for the pretty sunsets and is the place where you’ll find the most cafes and bars.

Maggie island, as Magnetic Island is affectionately known, is not known for having a throbbing nightlife scene; that’s not what you come here for.

There’s a bus stop outside the hostel, which takes you all over the island. Well, up and down the one main road to most of the bays. You need a 4×4 to access some of the remote spots, but you can easily hire one from the front desk.

A car parked in front of a lake

Our Experience Staying at Bungalow Bay Koala Village

The first thing we loved about Bungalow Bay Koala Village was that the staff are super friendly and went out of their way to research the best tours for us and organize cars to hire.

They helped book it all for us and eliminated a lot of the stress of planning our itinerary on the island.

The highlight of our trip being our full-day snorkeling and fishing tour around the island. Oh, and cruising around in a mini-convertible was cool.

mother and daughter on boat in Huntingfield Bay, Magnetic Island

In the evening, we ordered some delicious food from the onsite restaurant, HOWM.

The restaurant is open all day, from breakfast to dinner, and even has snacks if you prefer something light.

They serve up fresh mediterranean meals using Aussie produce, and also have cold beers on tap.

The menu choices are limited, but it’s delicious. We also felt that for Maggie Island, the onsite restaurants were decently priced so we ate there most nights!

pizza on a plate
bowls of curry mussels on a table

There’s a camp kitchen, which in my opinion needed its facilities updating, so I just chose not to cook there.

I realized while I was there why I was such a grumble bum about it.

Since having children, mostly since having two children, cooking is the only time of the day I get to myself.

It’s when I can completely zone out and just appreciate being in the moment enjoying the cooking creation, listening to music and loving my own space.

people sitting on tables outside
The camp kitchen

Shared kitchens are bugging me because I have to share that “me time” with other people, and I get irritated with them in my space.

Vastly different to my backpacking days where the kitchen was where all the fun conversations happened.

That’s just my thing though! For anyone else, the kitchen works fine. The Bungalow Bay Koala Village kitchen is more like an outdoor camp kitchen, which does blend in with the rest of the property.

Facilities at Bungalow Bay Koala Village

people camping on a grass field

Bungalow Bay Koala Village is also different as there is a campground here. In fact, it’s the only campground on the island.

I like how this caters to a wider market of travellers and allows you to pitch your own tent, which saves you a lot of money when traveling in Australia.

It’s also set in a really pretty location in the forest and has a true island vibe with A-frame bungalows as hostel rooms, rather than one big building.

bean bags on the floor next to a tree

There’s a lovely chill-out corner with bean bags underneath a gorgeous tree the girls loved climbing all over. It’s a hit with the kids AND the adults as a place to read or chat.

The other place you can chill out is in a hammock by the outdoor swimming pool. How’s that for serenity?

outside pool
hammocks in trees

We were lucky to get an 8-bed A-frame bungalow to ourselves which consisted of 4 double bunks. It suited our family of four nicely.

I loved how it came with its own private bathroom with a toilet and shower. So much better than walking through the halls to the communal bathroom and fighting your way through the line of a morning to get to the shower.

You can also find single, twin, and double rooms, plus a-frame bungalows that suit a group of 6-8.

If you’re solo traveling, you can find a shared A-frame bungalow which serves as a dorm room, so even if you travel alone you still get the bungalow experience.

A-frame 6 bed bungalows
A-frame 6 bed bungalows

Since we visited, Selina have modernised this hostel and now also feature a coworking space, which is ideal for those digital nomads who need a space to work.

They have also added more events, which weren’t an offering during out visit. You can find weekly gatherings of drums circles, as well as pool-side djs and live entertainment. They even have fire shows!

They have also added a yoga deck and a movie room, which was not available when we visited.

Breakfast With The Koalas

The REAL attraction at the Bungalow Bay Koala Village is the wildlife.

If you are staying here you must make the experience that more unique by taking part in the breakfast with the koalas and the wildlife walk.

Breakfast that starts with champagne is always a winner. And the kids loved cooking their toast over an open fire.

child standing next to fire wood
buffet on a table with leaves

The Aussie bush breakfast is held in the small wildlife park beside the main hostel area. It’s a cooked buffet breakfast and the koala sits happily munching his brekkie beside you in a small tree.

While you’re having breakfast the rangers bring around lots of wild animals you can hold – snakes, water dragons, lizards, birds and koalas.

A little girl holding a lizard
lizard sitting on a girls head
woman holding a snake

You can pay extra to have a photo taken with a koala. I don’t think you’ll find it as cheap anywhere else in Australia.

I just love cuddling a koala, they cling to you like little babies.

family standing next to a woman holding a koala

The Wildlife Tour

Another experience worth having when you stay at the Selina Bungalow Bay Koala Village is the wildlife tour. It’s especially great if you have kids.

The girls learned so much and had a ball. Kalyra braved up to hold a snake and a crocodile (baby) for the first time. I don’t think she’ll ever forget that experience.

And Craig and I won’t forget kissing a black cockatoo for the first time either – handsome devil he was!

man holding a bird

The wildlife tour is intimate and hands on. We learned a lot about the animals and got to experience holding them, patting them or even cuddling them – yep, another koala cuddle.

Lorikeet Feeding

two lorikeets standing on a girls head

Every afternoon at 4:30pm the Bungalow Bay Koala Village has a free lorikeet feeding.

Bring your laughter and calm nerves for this one. They will fly all over you and happily perch on your head.

people feeding birds

Kalyra panicked after the tenth one landed on her, her squeals rising because I was not helping her – the laughter had weakened my body too much and I really wanted to get a photo first!

Savannah gripped onto my legs in fear.

The Verdict: Would We Recommend Bungalow Bay Koala Village?

girls feeding animals on the sand

Bungalow Bay Koala Village is an enchanting retreat that’s not only surrounded by beautiful nature but offers an experience that no other accommodation on Magnetic Island can offer – a chance to stay in a wildlife sanctuary.

What sets Bungalow Bay Koala Village apart is not only its unique wildlife experience but also the knowledgeable and caring rangers and staff, who go out of their way to provide information and book entertaining tours for you, and strive to make sure you have a memorable trip.

From wildlife encounters to hands-on experiences, paired with the relaxed atmosphere and tranquil jungle surroundings, it’s the perfect place to stay if you need somewhere to relax and recharge.

The bungalows were spacious and the private bathroom was a welcomed touch. The only downside was the kitchen facilities which needed modernizing, but other than that, there really were no issues with our stay.

On the whole, we would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a place to stay on Magnetic Island.

You can find prices, availability, and read more reviews via Booking.com.

10 thoughts on “Our Experience Staying at Bungalow Bay Koala Village, Magnetic Island”

  1. Awesome, I loved this hostel so much. I can only agree with Kalyra 🙂 And everyone out there: pay the extra money for the breakfast with the koalas, it’s worth it!

  2. Caz, you and Kalyra are a braver women than I! I freaked out and froze when the guy put the snake around my neck.
    Did think it was pretty amazing to be able to touch the turtle, lizards and feed the cocky though!

    I do want to go back to check out the YHA with mates though, we stayed elsewhere on the island. It seems like a great location – especially with the girls! – and it had such a great vibe!
    Inside the dorms was it just the basic bunks? Any other facilities?

  3. The place sounds so cool and is definitely going into my wish list, should I make it to Australia. I loved the picture with the parrots and of course the one with your family and you holding the koala.

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