When you need a quirky weekend escape, Australia has plenty of islands to choose from.
Not sure which Australian island to visit? Itching for a new escape? Then you have come to the right place! At Hunter and Bligh, we know and love islands. We regularly feature them in our quarterly giveaways and we talk about them a lot. So, it makes perfect sense to round up the 10 best islands in Australia. We’ve been picky, sourcing islands that showcase some really cool stuff. From quirky animals to cool adventures, and even some unique experiences, here are the best islands in Australia.
It may be a lot smaller than mainland Tasmania, but King Island still packs plenty of punches, including one of Australia’s most picturesque golf courses. Head to Currie, the island’s main town, and book yourself a diving experience to see the underwater shipwrecks that scatter the coastline, then check out the Currie Lighthouse that still stands guard over the surrounding ocean nearby. And while you’re on the island, you must check out the local produce, including their famous cheese and dairy products, as well as the many hiking trails.
Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island brings to mind the ideal ocean oasis, with protruding mountains that touch the clouds to sprawling white beaches that lap up clear blue water. And with just 400 tourist beds to choose from, as well as a 570km distance from mainland Australia, Lord Howe is a wonderful escape from those bustling crowds. There’s plenty to do here, including various water activities like fishing and diving, trails to trek and beaches to bask in the sun. Check out the many tour packages offered by various services on the island, from cruises to summit expeditions.
Cocos Keeling Islands
Cocos Keeling Islands are a circle of 27 tiny islands over 2,000km from Western Australia and are an Australian external territory governed by Western Australia. It is the ultimate island resort escape in Australia. We say “resort” because there are no hotels or motels, just eight self-contained houses for accommodation. Also, the backdrop of palm trees, white beaches and blue water are great for pictures! The current inhabitants are called the Cocos Malay people, with their own language and culture, making up a population of about 600 people. We recommend reading up more on the island and its customs before visiting.
North Stradbroke Island
We’ve already shared our love for this place by suggesting seven of the best things to do on North Stradbroke Island. To reiterate, North “Straddie” Island has plenty of gorgeous walks, balmy beaches and underwater habitats to explore. They even have (arguably) Queensland’s best gelato bar! If you’re not that keen on travelling thousands of kilometres for a tropical escape, then you are in luck because North Stradbroke Island is only 3.75km from the mainland. For a truly unique experience, hire a four-wheel drive and tackle the 34-kilometre strip of beach on Stradbroke’s east side.
Bruny Island may not host the warmest weather, but you don’t need warm weather to enjoy all the great things this island has to offer, like scenic hiking trails, cool hidden beaches and unique local produce. It’s also another place we’ve already written about, with our day trip guide to Bruny Island. On Bruny Island, you can find hidden beaches, unique local produce like honey, cheese and seafood as well as the best outdoor toilet in Tasmania. Most of the sights can be seen in one day, but if you’re up for it, set up camp at one of their many camping sites and sleep among the stars.
There’s no doubt that we love the Whitsunday Islands, especially as they house some of the best island resorts in Australia, including the tourist haven Airlie Beach, on the mainland. Some popular island resorts are Hayman Island, Daydream Island, Palm Bay, and qualia on Hamilton Island. In fact, Hamilton Island, being the place you land in by plane, has plenty of things to do and see and a varied selection of accommodation to match your budget or desires. Oh, we almost forgot the pièce de résistance that is Whitehaven Beach. Hire a yacht and enjoy the pristine waters of this beach, while getting your Instagram pumping.
We adore Rottnest Island, and recently shared our top ten things to do on “Rotto”, as the locals call it. The popular thing to do is take a selfie with a quokka, which are super adorable creatures who inhabit the island. But there’s so much to do on this tiny island. Things like cycling around Rottnest, scuba diving and snorkelling, fishing, beach-spotting, lighthouse climbing, boating, golfing, skydiving and catching a trolley train to Oliver Hill, which features plenty of military remnants from WWII. There is no chance for boredom on Rottnest Island.
Kangaroo Island is literally named, but kangaroos are not what makes this island so amazing. Kangaroo Island is filled with a diversity of flora and fauna and offers plenty of tours for you to see them all. It’s also pretty big for an island, with 4,416 square kilometres to explore. About 4,600 people live on the island, offering a wonderful range of local produce and trinkets, as well as unique accommodation choices. Whether you feel like an adventure in the water or on the land, you’ll find something to perk your senses on Kangaroo Island.
Here is the only island on this list where you don’t need to tackle a body of water to get there. Phillip Island, though geographically split from the mainland of Victoria, is best travelled to by car, over a bridge. The flora and fauna on this island are wonderful, with its very own wildlife park where animals roam freely. During sunset, penguins return from the sea in a particular spot, and for $12 (adult fee) you can watch them at a specialised viewing area. There’s also the popular A Maze N Things Theme Park to lose your mind at and a motor racetrack for racing sports fans.
Fraser Island — or K’gari (“gurri”) according to the traditional owners of the land, the Butchulla people — is a World Heritage Listed oasis off the coast of Queensland. It is steeped in Aboriginal history with a dark colonial past. But what makes this island worthy for our list is its unique environment which includes a rainforest tucked neatly within the island. There is plenty to do here as well, like full island tours, whale watching during the cooler months, four-wheel driving and fishing. There are also two luscious island resorts to stay at, and both can help you plan your trip before you arrive with special tour packages.