Seas the day and plan your next coastal getaway with this killer list of the best islands in Queensland. From the iconic group of islands in the Whitsundays to some lesser-known gems, it’s all good times and tan lines from here.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Countries on which these adventures take place, who have occupied and cared for these lands and waters for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

I’m beyond stoked to be showing off the inexplicably beautiful and often unknown islands in Queensland. The best of the best our country – the world, in fact – has to offer.

From sand islands and continental islands to coral cay islands, we’ve rounded 12 of the best islands in Queensland (and broken them down into handy activity headings to help you find the best island for your style of adventure).

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

Dreamy Queensland Islands

When we talk about the beauty and diversity of Australia, we may as well make the coast of Queensland the poster child. 

Queensland is blessed with one of the most diverse and spectacular arrays of islands anywhere else in the world. What a feat.

Did ya know there are close to 2,000 islands in Queensland? Of course, not all these islands are inhabited or frequented by tourists, but the sheer number of islands in Queensland alone is enough to make you see how the sunshine state’s coast might just take the sandy cake.

There’s of course K’gari (formerly Fraser Island), Hayman Island, Hamilton Island, Moreton Island, and Magnetic Island that most of us have heard of, right? But listen to me when I tell you it’s the less-frequently trafficked islands that you want – no, need – to add to your list.

Life’s a beach guys, so come with me and let’s ride the waves together. 

Islands for Adventure

1. K’gari (formerly Fraser Island)

K’gari Island is pretty much the home of adventure. It’s the world’s largest sand island – yes, the world – being over 120km long and 30km wide. Lots of sand. Lots of room for adventure and fun in the sun. It’s also an incredibly unique natural environment where rainforests can grow in the sand.


Fraser Island: Hiking To Lake McKenzie (No 4WD Required), Scott Pass, lake, blue water, sand, rainforest


With an abundance of pristine creeks and lakes like Lake McKenzie, Birrabeen, Wabby, Allom, and Elli Creek, and over 200 species of wildlife, K’gari Island truly is an adventurer’s playground. Whether you like water sports, sand sports or taking your 4WD out for a spin, there’s plenty to do on K’gari (just be mindful of the March flies – if you know, you know!)

Read more: 3 Days on The Great Southern Lakes Hike of K’gari / Fraser Island


2. Great Keppel Island

Guess how many white-sand beaches there are on Great Keppel Island … go on, guess. Did you say five? Because you’d be wrong. There are 17 stunning beaches to play in and around, so if you’re a water baby, Great Keppel Island is the one for you. From Long Beach to Wreck Beach, Butterfish Bay and Monkey Beach, whether you’re a surfer, swimmer or simply a sun-worshipper, you’re gonna have a banging good time here.


Queensland's Capricorn Coast is a Beach Adventure Playground, Eva Davis-Boermans, Great Keppel Island, beach


Snorkel fan? Great Keppel Island just so happens to sit on the Southern Barrier Reef, so if you love to get geared up and explore under the sea and enjoy playtime with turtles, dugongs, and dolphins, you really can’t miss this island.

Need a fun way to dry off? Why not hike 3.5 hours up Mount Wyndham or do a decent 15km Lighthouse Walk? There’s an abundance of Aboriginal heritage on this island which you can discover on these walks (plus plenty of native wildlife and over 90 species of birds).


Great Keppel Island // A Forgotten Paradise (QLD), Marina Alonso Mantolan, headland, lookou, distance, footpath, ocean


And, just a 30-minute ferry ride from mainland Rosslyn (near Yeppoon), Great Keppel Island is pretty easy to reach – so get on it!


3. Fitzroy Island

If you like the tropics like it’s hot (sorry, had to), Fitzroy Island is a stunning island in Tropical North Queensland, only an hour on the ferry from Cairns. The majority of it’s a national park with tropical rainforest and two main beaches.


Find Your Paradise On Fitzroy Island (QLD), Scott Pass, Nudey Beach, sand, sea, water, blue, rocks


You can visit on a day trip, or stay at the lush Fitzroy Island Resort. Or, if getting back to nature is more your thing (probably, since you’re on We Are Explorers), then there’s also a campground right next to the beach.

Wake up in your tent, grab your mask and snorkel and have instant access to the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef, straight from the beach? Bloody yes, please!

After your morning snorkel, spend the day kayaking, hiking, stand-up paddle boarding or visiting the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. Or, bounce around on the giant ocean trampoline!

Islands for 4WDing

4. Moreton Island

Moreton Bay Islands consists of three islands: Moreton Island, Russell Island, and Minjerribah / Stradbroke Island. The best part? They’re all a hop skip and a jump from Brisbane.

If you’ve got a 4WD that needs a beach run, you can’t go past Moreton Island, which doesn’t have 4WD tracks but rather a whole 4WD island! Over 420kms of unsealed roads only accessible by 4WD. Ditch the Sunday drivers and say ta ta to queues, Moreton Island is one of the most rugged and fun sand-driving islands in Australia (or the world). It’s good for beginners and advanced drivers alike.


A Long Weekend Guide to Morton Island, Lisa Owen, car, 4WDing, driving, road


And, there are plenty of accommodation options from camping to cabins or holiday resort units.

Read more: How to 4WD for Beginners


5. Bribie Island

Bribie Island is a well-known island in the Moreton Bay region and is a truly epic spot for 4WD beach driving. The Ocean Beach Drive is the one to take, and runs from south to north on the east side of Bribie Island. Hop in your 4WD and hit the sand, but don’t forget to stop along the way at some of the island’s pristine creeks and freshwater lagoons.

Explore heath and eucalypt forests and Melaleuca woodlands along the track before enjoying a picnic at Lighthouse Reach or Fort Bribie and visiting heritage-listed WWII remnants. At the end of your run, set up shop in the Ocean Beach camping area and enjoy a night under the stars. Pure bliss.

Islands for Wildlife

6. Lady Elliot Island

Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay situated at the southern tip of the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, and it’s an animal lover’s paradise.


Jules Ingall Lady Elliot Island Eco Adventure (QLD) scuba diving great barrier reef hero


Located in a highly protected ‘Green Zone’ the coral cay is a sanctuary for over 1,200 species of marine life including manta rays and turtles going about their days in an unspoilt coral reef. Lady Elliot Island is making waves in its commitment to sustainability through its use of renewable energy, invasive species eradication, and other amazing eco-initiatives.


Jules Ingall Lady Elliot Island Eco Adventure (QLD) scuba diving great barrier reef hero turtle tortoise


Take a turtle tour, explore the reefs on foot, take a hike and marvel at the flora and fauna or swim with the manta rays… there’s plenty to do for animal enthusiasts.


Jules Ingall Lady Elliot Island Eco Adventure (QLD) scuba diving great barrier reef hero stingray manta ray


Lady Elliot Island can only be reached by a short scenic flight from Hervey Bay and Bundaberg, so you know it’s not going to be overrun with tourists.


7. Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island was made for nature and animal lovers. With an abundance of wildlife, secluded beaches, kilometres of bushland and easy access to the Great Barrier Reef, Maggie is truly magical.

From snorkelling with marine life to taking a koala tour (or spotting them along the Forts walk and the Nelly-Arcadia-Junction track), to sea turtles and dugongs just doing their thing in the wild, there’s more wildlife here than you’ll know what to do with (just keep clear of the venomous Death adder snake and stingers, mmkay?).

Islands on a Budget

8. North Stradbroke Island

Visiting Queensland’s islands can be a little costly, especially if a flight is involved to reach the island. The good news is there are several islands for the budget-conscious, including fan-favourite North Stradbroke Island – or Minjerribah to the Traditional Owners. A massive 275km sand bar, this island is a local Brisbane hot spot – so you know it’s gotta be cool.


North Stradbroke Island is the Ultimate Brisbane Bikepacking Trip, Myrthe Braam, North Gorge, Gorge Walk, cliffs, headland, ocean, waves


Only a 45-minute ferry from Brisbane city, you can explore this beautiful island in a day, and all it will cost you is a ferry trip (car fare is $37.50 return trip). There’s also South Stradbroke Island although it’s less developed (but has the added benefit of fewer tourists and locals roaming around).


North Stradbroke Island is the Ultimate Brisbane Bikepacking Trip, Myrthe Braam, ferry, Dunwich, ocean, boat


A cheap as chips adventure, all you need is your buddies, some beers and your4WD and you’ve got yourself a fun-filled day out. Drive down the off-road highways, sandboard the massive dune peaks, and SUP in the ocean!

Islands for Luxury

9. Hayman Island

For those adventurers who prefer their escapades with a touch of luxury, you’ll froth over Hayman Island. Part of a string of islands in the Whitsundays, Hayman Island is pretty famous for its wedding and honeymoon facilities as well, so it’s the perfect place to say ‘I do’.


Australia's Top 10 Beaches of 2022 Have Been Revealed, Tourism & Events QLD, Blue Pearly Bay, Hayman Island, drone shot, cliffs, ocean


Hayman Island by InterContinental is definitely one on the bucket list for many travellers, and that’s because it’s one of Whitsundays most accessible luxury island escapes. With opulent refurbished suites, rooms and private residences, if all you wanna do is lounge by the pool with a spicy marg in hand, you can do it here.

Islands for Solitude

10. Haggerstone Island

If off-grid makes your heart sing, check out Haggerstone Island – a lesser-known paradise pocket off the Cape York Peninsula on the tip of Queensland. It’s a private island, and only a small number of guests can stay at any given time.

From snorkelling to spearfishing, waterfall treks and even kiteboarding, adventure perfectly blends with solitude on this small but bountiful Queensland island.


11. Lady Musgrave Island

If the idea of a swim-up bar or room service makes you roll your eyes, you’re gonna love Lady Musgrave Island with not a single cocktail in sight. Instead, you’ll find seclusion and privacy, and a whole island to explore without pesky people around.

Camping is the only way to stay on Lady Musgrave Island. Remote and untouched, it’s a true adventure -so make sure you come prepared.

Lady Musgrave is the southernmost island in Capricorn Cay and the region’s only coral sea island surrounded by a huge turquoise lagoon. Situated on 3,000 acres of living reef, the protected lagoon stretches 8km around the island, which is built entirely of coral polyps and covered in thick Pisonia forest, She-Oaks, and Pandanus trees.

Remember to pack your tents, snorkelling gear, water and food and you’ll be in your own secluded luxury in no time.

Islands for Romance

12. Hamilton Island

And finally, if you’re in the market for a holiday romance with your long-term sweetie or even the Hinge date you met last week, definitely check out Hamilton Island. Hamilton Island provides more attractions and activities than any island resort and enjoys an incredible climate year-round. It’s definitely the ideal holiday destination to beef up the romance in your life.


Hamilton Island – Posh Resorts or The Ultimate Adventure Destination?, Anna-Sophie Herinckx, QLD, Coral Cove, beach


Located in the Whitsundays region, spend days with your boo swimming in the turquoise seas or lazing on sun lounges on sandy beaches, book a session at Spa Wumurdaylin, take a heli ride over Heart Reef or sail and snorkel Whitehaven Beach and Chalkies Beach. So much romance in the air!


Hamilton Island – Posh Resorts or The Ultimate Adventure Destination?, Anna-Sophie Herinckx, QLD, Coral Cove, swing, ocean, beach, happy

Other Amazing Queensland Islands to Visit

I’ve never been good at playing favourites so there are a few more Queensland islands I have to mention…

  • Heron Island: The best way to experience a Great Barrier Reef holiday
  • Daydream Island: The best island for families!
  • Bedarra Island: A natural paradise and a beautiful island for couples, honeymooners, and lovers
  • Hinchinbrook Island: Where you’ll find Australia’s largest island national park and the Thorsborne Trail
  • Wilson Island: Best for a private hideaway
  • Lizard Island: Luxury on the Great Barrier Reef

Queensland Islands FAQs

What are the best islands for families?

Bringing the partner and rugrats with ya on your epic sojourn? We love a fam bam holiday and the good news is there are plenty of family-friend islands in Queensland. Daydream Island, Lady Elliot Island, Heron Island, Moreton Island and Hamilton Island would be our top picks.


What’s the best island near Brisbane?

You don’t have to go far to have an epic island getaway. Moreton Island, Bribie Island, and K’gari are closest to Brissy!


Are Queensland islands for sale?

No seriously, this is a frequently asked question… while we wish we had the dosh to be dreaming of such a thing, we can confirm that if it’s in your budget, there are several Queensland islands for sale. Some islands will set you back a few million, while some smaller islands actually come in at less than the average house (under a million!) So maybe the dream isn’t dead after all, huh?


What’s the most affordable Queensland island?

Straddie tops the list as the most budget-friendly Queensland island to visit, but we also rate Russell Island, Peel Island, and Bribie Island as friendly to your wallet. 


Feature photo by Marina Alonso Mantolan