An east coast backpacking trip isn’t complete without a stop in Magnetic Island. From exploring the different bays and numerous walking trails to scouting for koalas and kangaroos, this is a haven for beach and nature lovers alike. After 4 days on this beautiful island, here’s my take on the best of Maggie.
BEST MAGNETIC ISLAND ADVENTURES
EXPLORE THE DIFFERENT BAYS IN STYLE
There are so many bays to discover on the Island and transport is scarce with a bus that has a limited time table. If you only have a couple days in Maggie, then you should consider hiring a Barbie car for a day. These topless cars are super fun to drive around the island for exploring and sightseeing.
Note that the Barbie/topless cars are limited on which roads they can drive down. The rental company will give you a map to show you which areas you can explore.
If your goal is to visit some of the more remote bays (like over in West Point), you have the option to hire a 4WD, which isn’t as limited on road access. We decided against adventuring west and stuck to the east side of the island, which had more than enough places to explore. Whichever option you choose, it’s a must do in my opinion!
TAKE A PLUNGE AT PICNIC BAY
Picnic bay is one of two bays that provides a netted section for people to enjoy swimming without the concern of jelly fish. Stinger season is November to April (may vary slightly depending on weather conditions) and people are advised to wear stinger suits if swimming outside the nets during this time.
While swimming without a suit at any of the bays is possible, it's at your own risk as many of the bays don’t have lifeguards or strong mobile phone reception. While horseshoe bay also provides a net, picnic was far prettier in my opinion with the added bonus of being much less crowded.
HAVE A KOALA CUDDLE AT BUNGALOW BAY
The Bungalow Bay Koala Village doubles as a hostel and wildlife conservation park. It’s located just outside of Horseshoe Bay and is worth a visit for those animal lovers. Tours are held three times a day at 10 am, noon and 2:30 pm with an on-site ranger who offers ample information about Australian wildlife. The tour lasts about an hour and a half including meeting the koalas and being introduced to other Australian natives such as wombats, saltwater crocodiles and more. You are also able to hold a Koala for an extra cost, proceeds of which go to charitable organizations for the care and conservation of Koalas. All bookings are done online.
Don't worry! If you aren’t sure about holding the koala you can decide once you’re at the park. Several people changed their minds and decided they wanted a koala cuddle on our tour and the staff allowed them to pay onsite.
On our visit, I was lucky enough to hold Pebbles, who was the sweetest Koala but they’re not nearly as soft as you think! If you manage a visit to bungalow bay be sure to give Pebbles an extra cuddle for me!
SUNSET PICNIC AT HAWKING'S POINT
After a decent trek up to the top, this lookout provides the perfect spot to watch the sunset. Carrying our take away and bottle of wine, we walked to the top to enjoy our dinner while watching the sun set on one side and the moon rise on the other. This had to be my all time favorite sunset spot on the Island. (Little tricky to locate)
SPOT KOALAS ON THE FORTS WALK
We were told by a Maggie local that the best time to spot Koalas in the wild is at dawn and dusk. As I’m not really an early-to-rise kind of girl, we went in the evening. At the end of the Forts walk is a viewing tower that gives you a picturesque view of the sunset, which makes the walk that much more rewarding! And if you’re really lucky, you may spot a koala or two!
EXPERIENCE THE TOAD RACING AT THE ARCADIA HOTEL
This was one of the most bizarre yet hilariously fun experiences I’ve ever had. It’s held every week by the local surf life saving club as a fund raising event. Toads are bid on at the beginning of the event for all the races held that evening. The highest bidder then owns the toad for the race. The winner of each race kisses their toad and collects their winnings!
STAY AT SERENITY
While we definitely do our fair share of partying, we are not always inclined to having the party at our doorstep. So we chose Serenity on Magnetic for our accommodation and I can’t say enough good things about our stay here. It was spacious and clean with thoughtful touches throughout the rooms. We had a kitchen, living room and a separate bedroom space. There was also a pool and barbecue area on the premises. Four thumbs up from us!
PARTY AT BASE
If you’re looking to have a few drinks, play a couple of bar games and make new friends, Base Backpackers is the place to be. We spent several evenings hanging out and meeting lots of fellow travelers here. This lively hostel is definitely where all the happenings are. And maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get a go at picking up a box off the ground with only your teeth. If you win, a bottle of wine can be yours!
SNORKEL AT ALMA BAY
Alma Bay is just one of the countless spots that’s perfect for snorkeling on Maggie. I thought this was the best bay to relish the underwater views and sea life. It's definitely one of the more crowded bays, in part because of the picnic tables and life guards on duty, but this gorgeous bay is still worth a visit if you ask me.
SUNBATHE AT BALDING BAY
One of the quietest and most scenic bays in Maggie, this nudist beach won’t disappoint. While I didn’t partake in this particular activity, it was the perfect spot for a soak in the sun and a good book.
TAKE A CIMB UP THE ROCKS AT ARTHUR BAY
Arthur Bay, located near the beginning of the Forts walk, was one of my favorites. In our time at Arthur, the majority of it was spent climbing the rocks you see to the right when walking down to the bay. The bay itself was pretty but the views from atop the rocks were better. Note: there are no safety nets or ropes so climbing is at your own risk.
If you end up making it over to Magnetic Island on your explorations, drop us a line and let us know what your favorite experiences are on this gorgeous Island.