Magnetic Island Day Trip from Townsville

By Josh Edwards

April 4, 2024

Located in the heart of North Queensland, Townsville is an underrated city perfect for a base from which to explore the wonders surrounding it. 

Known for its laid-back vibe, beautiful esplanade and fantastic array of restaurants and cafes, there is one other major attraction Townsville is known for: Magnetic Island.

Located off the shores of the city, Magnetic Island is one of the best Townsville day trips because even though it’s only a short ferry ride, it feels a world away.

Are you excited to see what you can get up to on Magnetic Island in a day? Let’s dive in!

How to Get to Magnetic Island

The easiest way to get to and explore Magnetic Island is by car. When you arrive at Townsville airport, pick up your cheap car rental and make the 13-minute drive from the depot to the Sealink ferry terminal, where you’ll load your car and be on your way across to Magnetic Island.

With Magnetic Island Ferries, the journey to the island is only 40 minutes. Along the way, you can soak up the views of Townsville and the island coming into view.

The last ferry departing Magnetic Island back to Townsville is at 6 pm, allowing you to make the most of your day on the island!

You can view the timetable and book yourself a ticket for the Magnetic Island Ferry through Sealink.

What to do on Magnetic Island

When you arrive on Magnetic Island, the entire island is your oyster (for the day!). There are so many amazing things to see and do on the island, and your hire car makes seeing them all in one day easy! 

Swim and snorkel at Alma Bay 

With 23 beautiful beaches and bays on the island, choosing which ones to visit on a day trip can be tricky. Luckily, we’ve made it easy for you!

Located in Arcadia, Alma Bay is one of the more sheltered beaches on the island, perfect for swimming and snorkelling. 

If you have some gear, be sure to snorkel at Alma Bay, one of the best places on the island! There, you’ll see a colourful array of fish and potentially some turtles.

Have lunch at Stuffed on Seafood

Your day on the island wouldn’t be complete without indulging in fresh seafood! 

Located in Nelly Bay near the ferry terminal, Stuffed on Seafood is the best place to grab lunch.

From the classic fish and chips to oysters, fish tacos and delicious bug sliders, the options are endless at this popular seafood joint. 

Walk to the Arthur Bay Lookout 

Another stunning beach on the island is Arthur Bay. However, the best way to see it is from the Arthur Bay lookout.

Park your car in the Forts Walk car park, and instead of heading up the left trail, go down the road on the right (with the barriers closing it off to cars). After 15 minutes of walking, you’ll reach the Arthur Bay beach sign. When you see that, continue walking uphill for another five minutes to get to the Arthur Bay lookout sign. Once there, you’re greeted with breathtaking bay and ocean views. 

As one of the best Townsville day trips, heading to the Arthur Bay lookout on Magnetic Island is an absolute must!

Do the Forts Walk 

The Forts Walk is arguably the most popular hike on the island. It boasts some of the most breathtaking views, takes you through the eucalypt forest, and offers the chance to see wild koalas.

The Forts Walk begins at the same spot you start the walk to the Arthur Bay lookout. However, this time, you follow the trail to the left. 

The hike is an easy 2km return that takes you to World War II relics. You’ll be rewarded with stunning island views and beaches along the way. If you’re lucky, you may also glimpse a koala or two!

Note that due to the warm temperatures on the island throughout the day, it’s best to do this hike in the morning or late afternoon.

Meet koalas at The Koala Park 

If you don’t have any luck seeing koalas on the Forts Walk, you still have the chance to meet them up close! 

Located in Horseshoe Bay, The Koala Park offers the opportunity to see and learn about koalas, turtles, wombats, lizards, crocodiles, and pythons! 

Two daily tours are available at 10:30 am and 12:30 pm.

Try some watersports at Horseshoe Bay 

What better way to see the island than from the water?

As the largest bay on the island, Horseshoe Bay boasts several water activities, the most popular of which is jet skiing. 

Jet Ski Hire Magnetic Island boasts many skis to hire in Horseshoe Bay, allowing you to explore the bay and surrounding areas at your own pace. 

From seeing cuddly koalas to hiking to World War II relics, Magnetic Island offers so many amazing things to do. Being a short ferry ride from the city makes it one of the best Townsville day trips! Which of these activities would you tick off first?

All images courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland

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