Sleeping with koalas at Bungalow Bay YHA on Magnetic Island

So we’re naming the Bungalow Bay YHA on Magnetic Island as one of the coolest hostels in Australia.

Whether you’re a budget traveler or a family like us, there’s no competition really when you get to sleep next to a wildlife sanctuary with cuddly koalas and have a bush breakfast with crocs, lizards and snakes.

The YHA on Magnetic Island stole Kalyra’s heart. Everyday, she’d ask if she could do the wildlife tour and have breakfast with the animals again.

It’s going to be hard to please her now with the places we stay at.

Bungalow Bay YHA is perfectly located on the island, just a four-minute walk from Horseshoe Bay, the biggest bay on Magnetic Island with the pretty sunsets and the most cafes and bars.

sunset at Horseshoe Bay
sunset at Horseshoe Bay

Maggie island is not a throbbing nightlife scene. But, that’s not what you come here for.

There’s a bus stop outside the YHA, 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, there is plenty to do and see along the way.

The staff at the YHA are super friendly and went out of their way to research the best tours for us and cars to hire and helped book it all for us, with the highlight being our full-day snorkeling and fishing tour around the island.

Oh, and cruising around in a mini-convertible was cool.

Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia
A car parked in front of a lake

Of an evening, you can order $12 pizzas from the bar, or there is a Thai restaurant with very authentic Thai dishes. The menu choices are limited, but it’s delicious, and for Maggie Island, decently priced – $15 for  a curry. We ate there most nights!

bowls of food on a table
pizza on a plate

There’s a camp kitchen, which needs 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.

Shared kitchens are bugging me because I have to share that cooking 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.

people sitting on tables outside
camp kitchen

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

This hostel is also different as there is a campground here. I like how this caters to a wider market of travellers. 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.

people camping on a grass field

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.

bean bags on the floor next to a tree

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

hammocks in trees
outside pool

We were lucky to get an 8-bed A-frame bungalow to ourselves which consisted of 4 double bunks and suited our family of 4 nicely. And I loved how it came with its own 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.

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

The REAL attraction at the Bungalow Bay YHA 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 with the koalas

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

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

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.

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

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 YHA Bungalow Bay 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.

A close up of a koala

Lorikeet feeding

Every afternoon at 4:30pm the YHA 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.

bird standing on a girls head

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.

people feeding birds

The Facts

LocationBungalow Bay YHA is located on Magnetic Island, just a 20 minute ferry ride from Townsville in North Queensland.


Room Types – Single, twin, doubles + 6 and 8 bed A-frame bungalows.

Trip Advisor – Read what others have to say

Disclaimer – We stayed at Bungalow Bay in partnership with YHA Australia

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