Australia might be one big island, but it also has spectacular smaller islands dotted around its coastline - 8,000 of them in fact.
Whether you're into nature and nurturing your wild, adventurous streak, there is an island for you. Best of all, you won't need a passport to get there.
Why Indulge in an Australian Island Holiday?
There are plenty of cheap overseas holidays, but a slice of paradise is a short ferry or plane ride away without leaving Australian waters.
There’s no need to worry about food poisoning, different currency, unfamiliar laws or language difficulties. You are also supporting Australia's tourism industry and these island economies that rely on tourist dollars to survive.
Australia’s Island Resorts are World Class
There is no doubt that luxury holidays are about the accommodation. Some of Australia’s favourite island destinations offer world-class resorts with impressive amenities for couples and families. From infinity pools to fine dining, some of Australia's island resorts have to be seen to be believed.
7 of the Best Island Destinations in Australia
It is a hard choice to narrow the list down to just seven but here are some of the best Australian island locations. The different islands offer a broad range of activities and a mix of five-star resort and budget camping accommodation. Here are 7 island locations that will suit a variety of budgets and interests:
Lord Howe Island, NSW
A World Heritage-listed paradise, the sandy beaches and crystal clear waters make Lord Howe Island a perfect holiday destination. Take a short two-hour plane ride from Sydney or Brisbane to start your nature-filled holiday on the extinct volcano.
With 500 species of fish and 90 types of coral, stingrays and turtles, it is a snorkeler's paradise. On the north-east end of the island, Ned’s Beach has shallow snorkeling and fish feeding opportunities. Create a feeding frenzy around you of mullet, spangled emperor and kingfish. The 1965 wreck of the Favourite is also within reach of snorkelling tourists. If you prefer not to get wet, take a glass-bottomed boat tour.
Surfers and bodyboarders aren’t left out. Blinky Beach on the eastern side of the island has the perfect waves.
Birdwatchers are spoilt for choice with 207 different bird species recorded on Lord Howe. Red-tailed Tropicbirds perform their mid-air courting displays between September and May.
Walkers and hikers have plenty of opportunities with the Mt Gower hike rated as one of Australia’s best. The eight-hour trek covers 14 kilometres of rugged terrain complete with rope-assisted climbs and 360-degree views of the 875-metre mountain.
The island is never overrun by tourists with only 400 beds available across a range of guest houses, lodges and self-contained apartments. Be sure to book flights and accommodation at the same time or purchase a flight and accommodation package.
Kangaroo Island, SA
A wildlife wonderland awaits a 45-minute ferry ride or 30-minute flight from the mainland and Adelaide airport at Kangaroo Island.
At 155 kilometres long and 55 kilometres wide, Kangaroo Island is the third largest island in Australia.
Daytime and nocturnal self-guided and guided tours reveal kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, goanna, geese, sea lions, penguins and 40 species of birds. The wildlife is protected by 19 national and conservation parks and five wilderness protection areas.
Most of the 4,600 residents are primary producers farming and fishing to make available the freshest King George whiting, marron, cheese and wines.
The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail offers 8 hour or days-long hikes, but beginners are also catered with short 30 minute walks. If you're more adrenaline junkie than a walker, there is plenty to choose from. Quad bike and fat bike tours, sandboarding, tobogganing and kayaking tours. If history is more your thing, there are museums explaining settlement, maritime and folk history. Follow the Shipwreck Trail to read the story panels of seven shipwrecks.
The accommodation options include camping, lighthouse keeper’s cottages, farm stays, motels, backpackers, holiday houses and rooms at resorts.
Hamilton Island, Qld
One of Australia’s best known and most-loved islands is Hamilton Island with its turquoise waters and famous white beaches. Situated on the Great Barrier Reef, Hamilton Island has the fantastic water-based activities as well as plenty on land. Cruise or sail your way over the reef to check out the coral and marine life or take a helicopter or seaplane flight if you prefer to see the bigger picture from the air. Taking a flight also allows you to view the magnificent Whitsundays islands and enjoy secluded beaches.
Enjoy snorkelling, kayaking, stand up paddling, jet boating, parasailing, fishing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, diving, catamaraning and swimming in the pristine waters.
Back on land, you are spoilt for choices regarding sports. Golf, mini golf, tennis, bushwalking, bowling, go-kart racing, off-road bikes will keep you busy.
While Hamilton Island is popular with the honeymooners, it’s also suitable for families. Kids can get up close and personal with a range of Australian wildlife including koalas, kangaroos, and a croc at a wildlife park. But if mum and dad want to enjoy some time alone, there are kids’ clubs and school holiday activities.
The accommodation is as diverse as the daily activities. World-class resorts with incredible views, pools and dining options are available on Hamilton as well as hotel, bungalow and holiday homes.
Getting to Hamilton Island, you can use the only Whitsundays commercial airport and take a flight from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Cairns. If you prefer to arrive by sea, there are 60-minute ferry rides available from Airlie Beach which is 12 hours drive north of Brisbane.
Woody Island, WA
Situated off Esperance in the Recherche Archipelago is Woody Island. A 40-minute ferry ride across the bay from Esperance sees you enjoying all the island, and its surrounds have to offer before you even arrive. Keep an eye out from the boat for sea eagles, sea lions, dolphins and seals.
From Shearwater Bay enjoy a swim off the platform or follow the snorkel trail. Try your luck fishing for herring or squid from the main jetty.
Woody Island is popular in spring for its spectacular show of wildflowers. There is an abundance of gecko and skink species enjoying the sun on granite outcrops and mammals. Birdwatching is also a favourite past time.
Accommodation choices include camping in already set up tents and safari huts, or bring your own tents. A fully equipped camp kitchen means you don’t need to bring everything with you including the kitchen sink.
Cocos Keeling Islands, WA
The Cocos Keeling Islands are one of the most remote groups of islands in Australia. On a map, the islands look closer to Indonesia than Western Australia, but we’ll claim the tropical island with its warm days and nights all year round.
With shallow protected beaches, snorkeling is a favourite pastime on the island. And it’s no wonder when you have the chance to spot clams, sea stars, sea urchins, rockcods, basslets, bannerfishes, butterflyfishes, angelfishes and parrotfishes. Due to its remoteness, the island usually rewards everyone, even those fishing from the jetty or beach with a catch. The exhilarating bonefish fly-fishing is available October to February, but there are plenty of other species open year round. Surfing and kitesurfing or a spot of golf are other favourite activities amongst locals and tourists alike.
The crystal clear waters are perfect for a dive to spot some Cocos' marine life or take a motorised canoe tour for seeing and even swimming with turtles.
Flights are available twice a week from Perth to Cocos Islands. Once on Cocos Island, a ferry service is available to take you to some of the other islands in the area.
There is a range of accommodation on offer at Cocos Islands. Enjoy expansive lagoon views in the heritage listed house or choose a bungalow, unit, cottage or villa to call home during your stay.
Tiwi Islands, NT
From way out west on Cocos Islands to the far north of Tiwi Islands. Made up of 11 islands, only two are inhabited. The Tiwi Islands are situated just 80 km north of Darwin which gives you the option of making a day trip or staying awhile at to find out why it is nicknamed the ‘Island of Smiles’.
You can choose to spend a day or a week taking a tour to discover the different landscapes from white sandy beaches to the thick rainforest and falls. With almost 90% of the population of Aboriginal descent, there is plenty of opportunity for a culturally-rich visit that can include the arts centre, cultural museum and mission precinct to meet some of the locals. Talented local artists produce ochre paintings, iron-wood carvings, screen printing, ceramics, bronze and glass sculptures, so there is plenty of opportunities to pick up a souvenir to remember your trip.
Tiwi Islands are renowned for their excellent fishing opportunities. Fish for barramundi or go crocodile spotting, crabbing and bird watching on two to six-day tours. The big AFL grand final is held in March and attracts big crowds every year.
Getting to the Tiwi Islands is easy with 30-minute flights leaving Darwin or a 2.5-hour ferry ride to Bathurst Island. There are limited accommodation options in the Tiwi Islands. Most are fishing lodges and outback style camps. Otherwise, you could choose a catamaran tour over multiple nights to combine your accommodation and sightseeing experiences. Watch turtles lay their eggs on the beach, see mango and tamarind trees, throw a spear, visit Melville and Bathurst Islands and meet the locals. You will need to organise a permit before you leave if you intend to visit outside the main township.
Bruny Island, Tas
To the far south now, Bruny Island is made up of a north and south island which are joined by a thin strip of land known as The Neck. The ferry crossing to the island is a 35-minute drive south of Hobart.
The two islands offer vastly different landscapes with sandy beaches and farmland in the north to tall forests and a wild coastline in the south.
There is plenty to see and do on the 100 km island with plenty of walk trails, wildlife tours, heritage and history tours, visit the Bruny Island lighthouse, a flight over the island or enjoy some of the fresh produce the Island has to offer including whisky, wine, cheese, berries and oysters. Bruny Island’s sheltered channelside is a popular fishing and boating site, and birdwatchers can see most of Tasmania’s endangered birds on the Island.
While many visitors only stay for the day, there is a wide range of holiday options on Bruny Island from retreats to houses, cottages, villas and camping in a caravan park.
Getting to Bruny Island is a 15-minute vehicular ferry ride to the north island.
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