Whether it’s wildlife or wind-down time you desire, Queensland has an island to fit.
Live like Robinson Crusoe
Serious about getting away from it all? You can be dropped by boat with everything you need for a couple of nights under the stars on the pristine Whitsunday Island.
Nari’s Beach camping ground, tucked beneath the rainforest canopy and limited to just six people is pick of the spots, with the reef just a couple of metres off shore and with spectacular views over nearby Cid Island.
Swim with manta rays
A coral cay in a protected marine park, with more than 1200 species of marine life, Lady Elliot Island has unparalleled snorkelling right off the beach.
Swim with resident manta rays, watch the migratory nesting birds and witness green and loggerhead turtles hauling themselves up the beach to lay their eggs. Accommodation is in an unpretentious 41-room eco resort or new “glamping” tents.
Take a (surf) break
With water temps never dropping below 19 degrees Celsius in winter, it’s not surprising Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) has been a talent incubator for world-class surfers, including Bede Durbidge and upcoming junior Ethan Ewing.
For experienced surfers, the breaks around the glassy water of Main Beach headland rarely fail to deliver. But there’s plenty to attract L-platers too, including a surf school and protected beaches with waves perfect for beginners.
Relight your fire
A rockstar arrival by helicopter is part of a romantic stay on the secluded, all-inclusive Orpheus Island where guest numbers are capped at just 28.
Ask staff to pack you a picnic, then take a dinghy and motor to a secluded bay for some snorkelling and lunch. Have a massage at the spa, toast sunset with champagne in the pavilion bar and dine a deux under the stars on Orpheus’ jetty.
Beach and bush
World heritage-listed Fraser Island has 123 kilometres of silica sand and crystalline water fringed by rainforest and wallum scrub-covered dunes.
You’ll need a four-wheel-drive to explore the island’s treasures, including freshwater lakes such as the azure Lake McKenzie, bush tracks and bubbling rock pools. Wildlife includes dingoes, swamp wallabies, sand, giant lace monitors and sugar gliders. Camp or stay in one of a handful of low-key resorts.
Blow the budget
Packages at the opulent Qualia resort on Hamilton island include pavilion accommodation (some with private plunge pools) with uninterrupted Coral Sea views, epicurean masterclasses and a private chauffeur.
Staff can drop you at an uninhabited bay or you can even take a helicopter to nearby Dent Island for 18 holes on the world championship golf course.
The hard bit is picking where to go, with more than 20 sites – including the famous Heron Bommie, named by Jacques Cousteau as one of his top 10 dives worldwide.
Explore coral gardens and drop-offs, home to batfish, white-tipped reef and shovel-nosed sharks and watch the manta rays and turtles at the “cleaning station” at North Bommie. For snorkellers, Heron Island’s reef starts right off the beach.
Kids will love exploring the two self-guided snorkel trails, including the opportunity to see the remains of a shipwreck and part of a World War II bomber.
Magnetic Island also has 25 kilometres of walking trails and plenty of wildlife, including koalas and tame rock wallabies.
The relaxed vibe, lack of development, easy access and 23 protected and pretty bays and patrolled beaches make for a sweetly, old-school family-friendly holiday.