There aren’t too many islands in the Great Barrier Reef where you can escape the crowds and stay in your own beach bungalow for a reasonable price.
In fact, getting a bungalow at any kind of price ten steps from the beach is rare.
This is Great Keppel Island, just a short 30 minute ferry ride from the coast of Yeppoon in Queensland.
It’s at the Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef and where you’ll find pristine and healthy coral teaming with brightly coloured fish and marine life like star fish and turtles.
Great Keppel is the largest of 14 islands in the area. Just right next door is the infamous XXXX island reserved for only a few lucky males who win the Golden Getaway ticket for a group of their mates to drink beer all day long on their own private island.
I’ll take Great Keppel instead thanks!
Great Keppel was pretty much our last stop on our road trip around Australia. It was the perfect place for us to unwind and soak in the epicness of our journey with a stunning setting sun and a chilled vibe.
We only had two days on the island, which I don’t think is enough time to unwind fully, but still a wonderful place to visit for a getaway regardless of your available time.
Many people pop over for a day visit, but we recommend extending that and staying in a beach cabin with ocean views at the Great Keppel Island Hideaway.
Great Keppel Island has charm – no cars, no highrise buildings and beach bungalows that look like they belong on a chilled island beach. You know the type you can relax in and walk sand in through the front door – no fear of messing up the shiny, waxy exterior and sculptured interior.
They’re cosy and cute offering you the sound of lapping waves and rain on a tin roof of an evening.
Great Keppel Island Hideaway also offer bunkhouses and an A-Framed house. The village has a fully equipped central kitchen and BBQ area to cook your own meals. You just have to bring your own food and drinks over to the island with you.
Making it an even more affordable Great Barrier Reef island holiday.
Great Keppel feels like something you’d find in the Caribbean – barefoot living, bottles of rum, easy to roam and be who you want.
The place where you feel comfortable lounging around on the chair drinking coffee or beer all day long with your feet up and no one would care.
The managers have done a great job in creating that welcoming atmosphere.
Their restaurant and bar has a large covered outdoor seating area and provides great food and coffee, a pool table and big screen projector – all complemented by beautiful sea views over Putney and Fisherman’s Beach, as well as a popular grassed picnic area.
It’s just a short stumble back to your cabin along a tropical pathway.
You can just spend the day relaxing, or if you want a bit more activity, Great Keppel has 15 beaches to explore and many bush-walking paths if you can pull yourself from the beach.
The two main beaches near the village are safe for swimming and dolphins were swimming past while we were there.
The village has stand up paddle boards, kayaks, boogie boards and snorkels for hire. You can swim right off the beach, or a motorized canoe trip can take you out to snorkeling spots and hidden coves and beaches. The
The best snorkeling spots are Shelving Beach, Monkey Point, and Clam Bay.
The girls loved exploring the underwater world through their snorkeling boogie boards and going for a paddle off the beach on the kayaks. It was a blissful day on the water.
We visited not long after Cyclone Marcia, so there was still a bit of debris in the water. But, don’t let that stop you from visiting. It didn’t impact our visit at all, and the crew were out cleaning it at low tide every day. I’m sure it’s all gone now.
Natural disasters come and go and rarely shut down places, even though many people think that.
You can still come to Keppel and have that dream island getaway!
Glass bottom boat tour
On the day we arrived, we headed out with Freedom Fast Cats (the ferry crew) for a glass bottom boat tour. Our guide was knowledgeable. We didn’t have the best conditions to see the colours, but I enjoyed learning a lot about the reef through his stories and insights.
Sunset Sailing Cruise
While on Keppel you must jump aboard a sailboat with Great Keppel Cruises, owned and run by Terry. It’s a small business only recently started by Terry, who was a great host, especially to the girls, letting them become Skipper for most of the sailing journey.
We swapped travel tales over cheese, olives, and dip and a glass of wine (bring your own!)
We cruised up past Monkey Point and back again to see a magnificent sunset dropping behind the mainland in the distance.
Cheers to that!
Great Keppel Island is a true, laid-back island getaway.
It’s a great place for you to get your Great Barrier Reef experience in a more chilled cheaper way. We will be back!
Have you visited Great Keppel Island?
Share your thoughts in the comments!