5 Islands To Visit When Exploring The Great Barrier Reef

Do you have an upcoming trip to the Great Barrier Reef or surrounding areas? As one of the seven great natural wonders of the world, it’s an exciting place to visit. There’s nothing like snorkeling in the crystal clear ocean, checking out the Reef and the tropical fish flitting about underwater as you snorkel around. It’s a majestic experience.

Yet a whole ecosystem surrounds the Great Barrier Reef, including several tropical island paradises within a short distance. You will sell yourself short on your trip if you don’t visit some of them.

Yet which islands should you visit? It can be a bit tricky to decide, so that’s why we’ve put together this helpful article. You’ll learn the top five islands to visit when exploring this lush part of the world. Read on to find out more. 

Hamilton Island

This is a popular destination, so I suggest booking comfortable Hamilton Island accommodation as soon as you lock in your visit to the Great Barrier Reef. 

This island is one of the largest of the 74 islands from what is called the Whitsundays. If you want to relax at a resort with a cocktail in hand, this is the place to be. Plenty of family-friendly accommodation is also available, so you can enjoy some special quality time with the kids too. 

Another beauty of note is those pristine landscapes Australia is famous for. With so much to do, why not hire a kayak or take a glass bottom boat tour around the island’s waters? And, for an extra special trip, take a day trip out to the reef to explore the wonders lurking just below the surface. 

It’s definitely worth checking out the lovely and welcoming Hamilton Island Beach Club during your stay. This is the ideal dpot to park yourself after a long day of adventuring, and grab a leisurely bite to eat and a refreshing beverage or three. 

Furthermore, you could charter a yacht and go for a sail or stay on the island and hire a golf buggy to take a leisurely tour of the island. Whatever you decide to do, this is a tropical paradise that is well worth a visit. 

Lady Musgrave Island

Lady Musgrave island is another must-visit island during your Great Barrier Reef experience. It’s perfect for first-time snorkelers as well as more experienced scuba divers. But wait, there’s more! It’s also excellent for camping; in fact, it’s the only way you can stay overnight on the island. Be aware that due to its popularity, it’s capped at 39 people, so you’ll need to book a permit. You’ll also need to ensure that you pack everything you’ll be needing, including water. So this may not be the best for inexperienced campers. But, if you’re one of the groups that decide to go, you’ll be rewarded by its tropical climate, stunningly clear waters and lush flora.

Lady Eliot Island

Continuing our theme of femininely named islands, Lady Eliot Island is the next place you have to check out. Divers are utterly spoiled for choice here, as there are around twenty diving sites, all within a 10-minute boat ride. Snorkelers will have fun, too, especially in the shallow lagoon with picturesque clear water. The water is around 18-20 degrees celsius, almost like a lukewarm bath, an incredibly enticing offer. 

This island is relatively isolated, so you won’t find huge crowds. It’s also a twitchers paradise, with a vast amount of birdlife to spot. If you visit between November and February, you may also see nesting loggerhead and green and hawksbill turtles. Between May and June, you may also catch some massive manta rays in the ocean. There’s no signal however, so it’s perfect for a tech detox if you feel like unplugging for a while. Clean and comfortable cabins are available, so you can have some comfort during your stay, and a place to lounge about and read or snooze. 

Magnetic Island

Magnetic island is a gorgeous spot located just a twenty-minute ferry ride from Townsville. Still, it’s a touch different to the other islands mentioned above. This is due to its predominantly rocky landscape. The island is filled with woodlands and huge granite boulders. This sets it apart from the tropical rainforest that covers the other Great Barrier Reef islands.

You’ll find excellent off-shore snorkelling at the Geoffrey Bay snorkel trail, or you can explore the two historic World War Two military forts at Forts Walk. The kids will love meeting and cuddling koalas at the Bungalow Bay Koala village or taking a horse ride along the beach.

Pumpkin Island

This is the island to visit if you want to avoid the mass tourist crowds. This is because Pumpkin Island is a private eco-retreat that promises peace, quiet, beautiful natural scenery and crystal clear waters. You will experience magazine-quality levels of wildlife experiences no matter when you visit. Depending on the time of year, you can see nesting birds, humpback whales, and a host of gorgeous monarchs and other butterflies. 

Also on offer are off-shore snorkelling, glass bottom kayak hire, or paddle boards. There’s also great fishing if that’s your vibe. You can hook Spanish mackerel, coral trout or even giant trevally. Imagine a fresh catch to take back to cook up for dinner, yum! 

A Cruisy Conclusion

This helpful article shares our top five islands to visit when exploring the Great Barrier Reef. These lush, scenic tropical islands offer a range of experiences, from snorkelling to scuba diving, camping, wildlife and bird spotting and more. Make sure you visit them all on your trip to make the most of being in Australia’s tropical north. 

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