Believe it or not, Australia has about 8,222 islands within its maritime borders. The largest of these is, of course, Tasmania (68,332 kmÂ²) followed by Melville Island, Kangaroo Island, Groote Eylandt, Bathurst Island, Fraser Island, Flinders Island, Kling Island and Mornington Island which is a mere 1,002 kmÂ² in size.
Montague Island is one of the smallest islands off the Australian coast, and one that isn’t well known to tourists. It’s one of the islands of choice if you want to see penguins and seals — and, in June, July, September and August, whales as well.
Most of Australia’s islands offer amazing scenery and many offer the chance to get away from it all. These are some of the best:
#1: Tropical Getaways with Incredible Beaches
The Whitsundays off the Queensland mainland undoubtedly top the list of true tropical getaways. There are 74 palm-fringed islands in all, most of which are uninhabited; all of which are breathtakingly beautiful. They nestle around the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea where you will see marine life most people only dream of.
Eight of the Islands are inhabited and offer various types of accommodation, at a variety of prices. Amongst the most expensive are the tiny, pristine Wilson Island and Lizard Island, which boasts 24 white beaches and unforgettable snorkelling in colourful coral reefs.
Probably the cheapest island option is Hamilton Island, the largest (7 km-long) inhabited island in the group. If you want to do more than swim and snorkel and simply chill on a tropical beach, Hamilton Island is an excellent choice since it offers the opportunity to go on a variety of trips and tours, fishing charters, sea kayaking, diving lessons, golf … and more.
The biggest uninhabited island is Whitsunday Island which boasts one of the best beaches in Australia — the 7 km-long Whitehaven Beach. Because it is easily accessible from mainland tourists ports (Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour), it’s not as secluded as most of the other uninhabited islands. Whitehaven Beach, however, is pristine with snow white 98% silica sand lining the transparent aquamarine ocean that laps the island. Perhaps the best way to see the Whitsundays is by boat, which can be expensive, but truly a trip of a lifetime.
Another tropical island getaway with amazing beaches is Magnetic Island, off the northern coast of Queensland. Although not cheap, it is a considerably cheaper option than Whitsundays and some of the other more exclusive Australian islands. Unlike many others, Magnetic Island has a bus service and you can hire a Moke (a topless Mini). There’s plenty to do, but it’s a protected national park so is not over-commercialized.
#2: Something Completely Different
What could be more different than an island that is made entirely from sand? The 123 km-long, 22 km-wide Fraser Island off the coast of Queensland is the world’s largest sand island and, as such, is described as a miracle of nature. Not surprisingly it boasts long sandy beaches as well as mighty sand dunes.
Amazingly, there are also rainforests rooted right into the sand. Apart from the ocean surrounding it, Fraser Island also offers amazingly beautiful fresh water lakes, rivers and streams. Lake McKenzie straddles the rainforest and is absolutely stunning.
There are designated camping sites on the beach and in the rainforest. There are also several eco-friendly resorts where you’re treated to all the home comforts you may be craving on holiday.
#3: Exclusive Island with Gorgeous Scenery
If you want exclusivity, you’ll find it on Lord Howe Island, which is in the Pacific Ocean to the south of, and in between, Sydney (NSW) and Melbourne (Victoria). This island is a protected national park and like the Great Barrier Reef, it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage list. For this reason no more than 400 people are permitted to be on the island at any one time.
The scenery is absolutely stunning and the beaches pristine and perfect. There are some great bush walks on the island and the opportunity to snorkel and experience marine life firsthand. There are also some incredible dive sites.
There is excellent accommodation on Lord Howe Island, but it doesn’t come cheap.
Once you’ve chosen an island for your Australian island adventure, you’ll have to plan your trip. One thing you should not forget is that in addition to tickets, passports, visas, converting your currency to Australian dollars and so on, you should also consider Australian travel insurance … just in case. Also be sure you understand the Australian immigration and customs control regulations. Be warned, they are strict.