Who doesn’t love an island getaway?
Of course, Australia is one big island in itself so I guess we’re permanently on an island here, but today I’m sharing some of the best islands in Australia off the mainland you should consider for your next getaway.
There are over 8,000 Australian islands within its maritime borders so you’re not short on options, and we have islands that cater to every type of travel experience, for every budget.
Whether you’re looking for a tropical island holiday to relax and unwind and maybe a bit of romance with your partner, an island that’s full of adventure and activities, or a family-friendly getaway in paradise that’s fun for everyone – Australia’s got you covered.
Through our extensive travels around the country, we’ve been fortunate to visit several of the best islands around Australia and my suggestions below are only those islands we have personally visited. If you can recommend other islands in Australia worthy of a getaway, please do so in the comments at the bottom.
Here is my list of top island escapes in Australia that you can experience on just a day trip, or an extended holiday.
12 Islands in Australia to visit
1. Rottnest Island, WA
“Rotto”, as the locals call it, is spectacular and would rank as one of our top 3 favourite islands in Australia. Located 18 kilometres off the coast of Perth, it has over 60 picturesque beaches and bays and top spots for snorkeling, diving, kayaking, swimming and fishing – a true island paradise.
The best way to explore is by hiring a bicycle – there are no cars on the island – and don’t forget your snorkelling gear. You can do a day trip or stay over longer in a selection of accommodation. And you’ll be sure to meet lots of the true locals getting around – the QUOKKA – a small macropod about the size of a domestic cat.
2. Fraser Island, Queensland
As the world’s largest sand island – stretching 123 km long and 23 km wide – Fraser Island is a mecca for 4wdriving enthusiasts, in particular, 75 Mile Beach on the eastern side of the island offers coastal four-wheel-driving at it’s best.
But it offers so much more. Besides 75 Mile beach, drive along the sand tracks through towering rainforest, swim in one of the many freshwater lakes like Lake Mackenzie, or take a dip at Champagne Pools or float down Eli Creek.
Visit the shipwreck, spot whales migrating, and wake up to sunrise at Eurong Beach.
Read more – 12 things to do on Fraser Island
3. Phillip Island, Victoria
We thought Phillip Island was all about the penguins and the Grand Prix Motor Cycle race. But after spending a relaxing eight days on the island we can assure you it offers much more and is one of the best getaways from Melbourne.
The main town of Cowes Beach is a good place to base yourself and has a decent cafe and restaurant scene. The beach here is family friendly as is scenic Smiths Beach.
When you take in the penguin parade experience get there early and explore The Nobbies which has spectacular views over Bass Straight – it will be windy though!
Other things to do on Phillip Island:
- The koala Conservation Centre
- Chocolate Factory
- Amaz’N Things
- and the Grand Prix circuit.
Phillip Island is a 90-minute drive from Melbourne, and Booking.com has a list of 54 properties to choose from!
4. Daydream Island, Queensland
Looking for a family-friendly island getaway in the Whitsundays? Daydream Island has got you covered and is easily accessed from Airlie Beach.
There’s plenty of water activities for all members of the family including snorkeling, wind surfing and stand up paddle boarding, or you can laze around one of the pools with a cocktail in hand or watch the sunset with a sundowner.
Read more – 24 hours on Daydream Island
5. Moreton Island, Queensland
Moreton Island has been one of our biggest surprises from travelling around Australia, and after spending a fun filled three days exploring Moreton I’m happy to say it’s a mini Fraser Island but with easier to access from Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
You’ve got the four-wheel driving action, camping, fishing, sand boarding, freshwater lakes, a lighthouse, dolphin feeding at Tangalooma and snorkelling or kayaking around the Tangalooma wrecks.
Read more – 3 days on Moreton Island
6. Bruny Island, Tasmania
We only spent a few hours on Bruny Island but it left a lasting impression and was a highlight of our month long trip around Tasmania. Bruny is an easy day trip from Hobart, from where you can jump on a tour or self-drive like we did and catch the vehicle ferry over from Kettering.
Bruny is home to rugged coastline, rock formations and sea caves, to fur seals, fairy penguins, an abundance of bird life and if you time your trip right the opportunity to see migrating whales. The best way to see Bruny Island is on a 3-hour cruise with Rob Pennicott Wilderness Journeys – he’s a legend down there!
Read more –
- Unspoilt wilderness on Bruny Island
- The ultimate guide on things to do on Bruny Island
- Awesome things to do on Bruny Island, Tasmania
7. Great Keppel Island, Queensland
Queensland does island getaways better than most, and 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 – this is Great Keppel Island!
Just a short 30-minute ferry ride from Yeppoon gets you to Keppel and the Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef where you’ll find pristine and healthy coral teeming with brightly coloured fish and marine life like star fish and turtles.
Great Keppel has charm – no cars or highrise buildings, just beach bungalows that look like they belong on a chilled island beach. Perfect for an island getaway that won’t break the bank.
Read more – Getaway to Great Keppel Island
8. Magnetic Island, Queensland
Slip into a hammock between palm trees and you’re experiencing a little “Maggie time” off the coast of Townsville in North Queensland. Magnetic Island is that chilled out island that’s good for a day trip or an extended getaway – we spent a week in Maggie time!
Lay on a beach, take a dip in one of the picturesque bays, go on a hike and see koalas in the wild, take in a snorkeling or fishing trip around the island, feed the rock wallabies, zip around the island in a mini moke and finish off with sunset drinks at Horseshoe Bay.
Read more – Things to do on Magnetic Island
9. Whitsunday Islands, Queensland
Imagine a group of 74 islands surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef – that’s The Whitsundays. Now imagine sipping champagne on your sailing boat, eating the freshest seafood imaginable, dropping anchor in picturesque bays and diving over board to swim in the warm tranquil waters and digging my toes into the white powdery sand on some of the most amazing beaches in Australia.
You can do all that and more. If you’re not going to be sleeping onboard a yacht, two great places to base yourself for exploring the best of The Whitsundays is Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach. And don’t miss our favourite beach in Australia – world famous Whitehaven Beach!
Read more – Exploring Whitehaven Beach
10. Hayman Island, Queensland
Looking for a luxurious island getaway in The Whitsundays? Hayman Island will blow your mind! Only 8 of the 74 islands are inhabited, with the northernmost of those being Hayman, containing Australia’s premier luxury nature resort the Intercontinental Hayman Island Resort
The moment you set foot on Hayman after transferring via private boat or helicopter, you know you’ve landed in paradise. If it’s tranquillity and natural beauty, and a little piece of Aussie paradise you’re after, look no further than Hayman!
Read more – Hayman Island will blow your mind
11. Cockatoo Island, Sydney
Cockatoo Island originated as a place to house convicts and an island covered with red gums and frequented by the sulphur-crested cockatoos which gave the island its name. It’s now a World Heritage Site that is home to historic buildings and an old navy shipbuilding yard, and, the campground right on the edge of the harbour.
Imagine waking up to magnificent views of one of the world’s best harbours, from your tent site, at budget prices! Even if just for a day trip, jump on the short ferry ride from Circular Quay and take in the amazing Sydney skyline along the way.
Read more – Camping on Sydney Harbour
Ok, I know Tasmania is a state and it’s far from being a tropical island getaway, but I love Tasmania as an island destination and it’s small enough to explore in a relative short period of time, so I’m adding it to this list.
Before visiting Tassie, I knew it had the history but I didn’t know the food and wine scene was so incredible – some of the best fresh produce we’ve had anywhere – and well, the scenery, the beaches, and the hiking is something else too!
Do yourself a favour and incorporate a Tassie island getaway into the mix.
Read more: 19 best places to visit in Tasmania
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