Things to do
Camping and accommodation
There is no camping in Magnetic Island National Park.
There is a wide range of holiday accommodation on Magnetic Island and in around Townsville. For more information see the tourism information links.
One of the best ways to explore Magnetic Island is on foot. A network of walking tracks and trails allows you to appreciate the island's natural environment through leisurely coastal walks or more or more physically challenging hikes in the hills.
Key destinations around the island are linked by different walking trail routes, allowing visitors to choose their own adventure when exploring the island. Key destinations provide a cool place to prepare for a walk or rest during the walking adventure. Toilets, water, shelter and busses as well as commercial centres can be found at these locations.
Walking tracks within Magnetic Island National Park range from short walks to longer tracks, all with a moderate level of difficulty due to the hilly terrain. Know your limits—choose tracks that suit your level of fitness or that of the slowest member of your group.
It's hot out there! Magnetic Island’s climate can be extremely hot and humid. Make your walking experience a pleasant one by following these walking safely tips.
View the Journeys information for walking track details.
Guided tours and talks
Commercially operated guided tours are available on the island. See tourism information links for further information.
Picnic and day use areas
Many picnic and day-use areas are provided on Magnetic Island but not within the national park. See tourism information links for further information.
There are public moorings in the waters around Magnetic Island National Park. Moorings reduce coral damage from anchors and provide safe and sustainable access to popular reefs and islands. They suit a variety of vessel sizes and are accessed on a first-come-first-served basis. Time limits may apply during the day, but all mooring are available overnight between 3pm and 9am. Learn more about moorings and responsible anchoring and see maps and mooring locations.
Anchor with care outside reef protection markers
Please ensure you follow best environmental practices when anchoring:
- Carry enough chain, or chain and line, for the water depth.
- Anchor in sand or mud away from corals and seagrass beds.
- Motor towards the anchor while retrieving it. If the anchor is stuck, motor the vessel above and slightly ahead of the anchor before retrieval.
- Anchor far enough outside the line of reef protection markers to ensure that all parts of the anchor chain and rope remain outside the line of markers, should the vessel swing.
Dugong Protection Area
The waters surrounding Magnetic Island have extensive seagrass meadows that attract dugongs. Because of this, Cleveland Bay and all the waters around Magnetic Island are a declared Dugong Protection Area. Look out for dugongs especially in shallow areas and reduce your boat speed if you see a dugong, turtle or other large marine animal.
Magnetic Island and the surrounding marine waters are internationally significant and are protected in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Zones in the two marine parks—the Great Barrier Reef Coast and Great Barrier Reef—provide a balanced approach to protecting the marine and intertidal environments while allowing recreational and commercial use. Check zoning maps and information before entering or conducting any activities in the marine parks.
Fishing is popular with boaters and beach fishers but restrictions apply to certain areas of the marine parks surrounding the island. Fishing is not allowed in the Marine National Park (Green) zones in Geoffrey, Alma, Florence, Gowrie, Radical, Balding and Five Beach bays. Limited fishing is allowed in the Conservation Park (Yellow) zones in Arthur Bay and on the western side of Hawkings Point to West Point.
For more detailed zoning maps and information for State waters see Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park and for Commonwealth waters see Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
For details of fishing bag and size limits see Fisheries Queensland.
Over 180 species of birds have been recorded on Magnetic Island. Some of the more common birds visitors may hear and see include rainbow lorikeets, pied currawongs, helmeted friarbirds, blue-winged kookaburras, orange-footed scrubfowl, sulphur-crested cockatoos, olive-backed sunbirds, figbirds and spangled drongos. At night the haunting wail of bush stone-curlews can be heard as well as calls of southern boobook owls (or mopoke). On the beaches see silver gulls, pied-oyster catches, sandpipers, plovers, dotterels and, soaring over the rocky headlands, magnificent white-bellied sea-eagles, brahminy kites and ospreys. Near fresh water, visitors can encounter Pacific black ducks, Australasian grebes and purple swamphens.
Look for allied rock-wallabies in the early morning or late afternoon on rocks near the edge of settlements such as the Geoffrey Bay jetty and Nelly Bay harbour. Short-beaked echidnas are most active during the early cooler parts of the day, digging into the decomposed granite soils searching for insects. Death adders, venomous snakes common on the island, are masters of camouflage patiently waiting to ambush its prey. The harmless green tree snakes are commonly encountered on the walking tracks. A large diversity of skink lizards thrive on Magnetic Island living amongst the vegetation litter and keeping warm on the granite boulders.
Koalas can be seen in trees around the island, particularly along the Forts walk and the Nelly-Arcadia-Junction track. Keep koalas wild! Never touch or disturb koalas. It’s normal for koalas to be low in the trees and sometimes on the ground especially in hot weather. Never give koalas water.
From the beach or your boat, look for sea turtles and dugongs as they feed in the extensive seagrass meadows surrounding the island. Flatback and green sea turtles also nest on the island's beaches during the summer months.
Please remember that all animals in the national park are protected. Feeding animals in a national park is not allowed. Fed animals can become dependent, losing their ability to find and capture their own food. This can cause population explosions beyond what their environment can sustain reducing the animal's chances of survival if the artificial food source is removed. Human foods can often be harmful and deprive animals of much-needed nutrients that only natural foods provide.
Keep wildlife wild—for your sake and theirs, don't feed native animals.
Keep to the walking tracks so you can see and avoid snakes, in particular the venomous death adder. With its distinctive broad triangular head and short, fat body with reddish brown to grey bands, it hides under leaf litter or sand.
- See the description of the park's natural environment for more details about Magnetic Island's diverse wildlife.
Swimming and snorkelling
Dangerous stinging jellyfish (‘stingers’) may be present in the waters around Magnetic Island at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. A full body Lycra suit, or similar, provides a good measure of protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. See swimming safely and marine stingers for more information.
Stinger resistant enclosures at Picnic and Horseshoe bays provide a high degree of protection but they are not stinger-proof. On the day, check with the lifeguard and wear protective clothing.
Lifeguards patrol Horseshoe Bay every day. Alma and Picnic bays are patrolled at weekends and during school holidays from September to May. It is advisable to swim at the patrolled beaches, between the red and yellow flags. Look for and observe warning signs and don't swim when beaches are closed.
The fringing reefs in several areas are good for snorkelling, particularly the northern sides of Florence and Arthur bays. The reefs in Nelly, Geoffrey and Picnic bays are also suitable, especially in calm weather when visibility is best. When snorkelling always:
- check tides, currents and wind conditions on the day
- snorkel with a buddy—ensure help is always at hand
- avoid low tide as exposed corals make snorkelling difficult
- cover up to avoid sunburn
- practise in shallow, sandy areas, sheltered from the wind, if you are inexperienced
- avoid kicking, standing on or touching corals as they are easily damaged.
- Forts Circuit Upgrade 3 February to 30 June 2023
- Unsafe water holes on Magnetic Island 16 January to 31 March 2023