Magnetic Island is located only 8km from Townsville, but so much different. The perfect place to escape Townsville’s City life and spend relaxing time with family or friends on this laid-back hippie feel Island. The weather was perfect, our friends from Mackay joined us, and we were excited to discover Magnetic Island’s highlights.
Ferry from Townsville to Magnetic Island ( and back )
In collaboration with FantaSea Ferry, we went on a day trip to Magnetic Island. We decided to take the earliest boat at 07.10 and the ferry from Magnetic Island back to Townsville at 17.15 so we had the complete day to explore.
FantaSea Ferry has a free, secured parking area in front of their little terminal. This was perfect for us as most of our stuff was still in the car. ( Basically everything we own at the moment 😉 )
The check-in was nice and smooth and after the boys discovered the big aquarium in the FantaSea Terminal, it was time to go on board. We didn’t take the car with us, as we decided to explore Magnetic Island by bus. If you want to take your car, FantaSea Ferry is the only ferry from Townsville to Magnetic Island and back, which transport cars as well.
We found ourselves a great place at the front of the boat, the sun was shining in our face, the sky was blue. What else could you wish for when going to spend the day on an Island?
For prices and timetable of FantaSea Ferry from Townsville to Magnetic Island and return, check out their website here
Arriving at Magnetic Island
When we arrived at Magnetic Islands we had the feeling we arrived at one the stunning Islands in Greece. Blue water, hills, Pine trees, rocks, little beaches. It looks all really cozy. The ferry terminal is in Nelly Bay, which is a small island town with a few shops, car hire offices, lots of resorts and an amazing little café named Maggie Lee’s café. We had fresh home-made pies for brekky and coffee, which was delicious! They had coloring books, pencils, and stickers for the boys and the staff was really friendly and fun.
Rock Wallabies at Nelly Bay, Magnetic Island
After our brekky, we had a little walk along the boardwalk on the right side of the ferry terminal and we unexpectedly found a few rock wallabies hanging out on the rocks!
Exploring Magnetic Island
When we arrived at Magnetic Island we had no idea what we exactly wanted to see, do and if we would walk some part or just do everything by bus. The bus is convenient and is only $14 dollar for a day pass all over the Island and the kids are free! So we hopped in and decided to go to Picnic Bay first. The route from Nelly Bay to Picnic Bay is only 4 km, but the bus goes via a little detour to pick up locals from some other areas. All in all, it took like 10 minutes to go from point a to b.
The route from Nelly Bay to Picnic Bay is only 4 km, but the bus goes via a little detour to pick up locals from some other areas. All in all, it took like 10 minutes to go from point a to b.
If you are keen on walking and don’t have a pram with you, but a carrier, you can walk from Nelly Bay to Picnic Bay as well. There is a boardwalk, which is very hilly and goes down via steps. You have some great views along the way, that is for sure.
Picnic Bay, Magnetic Island
Picnic Bay is really small. There is a long jetty, a little playground for kids, a few restaurants and cafe’s, a nice beach and a swimming net. Not much going on here, but great for hikers, rest seekers and little families who don’t want the hustle and bustle.
Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island
The route from Picnic Bay to Horseshoe Bay ( around 14 km ) takes around 20 minutes, with a few stops along the way. Horseshoe Bay is the total opposite of Picnic Bay. Literally and figuratively. Here you find this relaxed, hippie island vibe. There are a few nice bars and restaurants, a long stretched beach, water sports, boats, backpackers and a nice market ( second and last Sunday of the month ) At the markets they also sold Poffertjes! This
There are a few nice bars and restaurants, a long stretched beach, water sports, boats, backpackers and a nice market ( second and last Sunday of the month ) At the markets they also sold Poffertjes! This are typical Dutch little pancakes, which were of course sold and made by a Dutch lady who lived at Magnetic Island for many years.
We had a great lunch here at the Marlin Bar Horseshoe Bay and were lucky to have the last table, as Magnetic Island was jam-packed because it was Easter Weekend. The busses were also loaded with people, and the bus driver said it was busier than it was during Christmas.
Alma Bay / Arcadia, Magnetic Island
This was definitely our favorite spot at Magnetic Island. Located in a small bay, surrounded by rocks and trees, you will find the ideal place for families with children. There is a large grassy and shady area with barbecues, picnic tables, a playground, the lifesaving club and a beautiful beach.
There is so much to do at Magnetic Island
The tree places above are the main places, but there is much more to do at Magnetic Island. You can rent a topless car or a colorful make and go off-road and discover one of Magnetic Island’s secluded beaches and bays.
You can hire a scooter or hike around the island and camp along the way. If you are not keen on exploring yourself, you can go with one of the Magnetic Island tours or hire a taxi and tell the driver where to go.
In Horseshoe Bay, you will also find the Koala Village, where you can interact with koala’s, pythons and crocodiles. Or if you are boat savvy, you can book a cruise around the Island, where you will visit remote beaches, you can’t reach by road.
If you love snorkeling and /or diving, Magnetic Island is also the place to be. Some of the best places to dive at Magnetic Island are in Geoffrey, Arthur, Alma and Florence Bays and also of Bright Point and the reef in Nelly Bay. For the keen divers, there are also a few shipwrecks to explore.
The best places to snorkel at Magnetic Island are Florence Bay, the reef at Nelly Bay, Arthur Bay at the left side towards the point, Alma Bay ( also on the left side where you find coral ) and in Geoffrey Bay.
Magical Sunset at Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island Insider Tip: Take the ferry back to Townsville at 17.15. When the weather is good, you will experience a stunning sunset if you are lucky ( sit on the right side of the ferry )
We only spend 1 full day here, but if you want to discover every single corner of Magnetic Island and visit some other hidden secrets, you should stay at least a weekend.