A jewel of North Queensland located within the Great Barrier Reef, Magnetic Island is situated a mere 8 kilometers’, 40 minutes from Townsville by ferry. With a population of only 2,500 people and a year round pleasant tropical climate, the island offers up a bounty of natural beauty and a plethora of activities sure to make for a perfect holiday. Watersports are always popular on Magnetic Island, as is simply relaxing on one of the island’s 23 secluded beaches. The waters here are a stunning turquoise blue, and the island is home to a unique interactive koala sanctuary. There are 25 km of bushwalking trails and vibrant weekly markets. Rent a moke, dine al fresco, hike to Fort Point, snorkel or dive the reef, experience a ‘Full Moon Party’, and so much more here on Magnetic Island.

Magnetic Island owes its name to Captain James Cook who, when passing by in 1770, believed the island to be affecting his compass. The island’s history includes hoop pine logging and pineapple farming, a quarantine station for the nearby port of Townsville on the mainland, and a coastal defense station during World War II.

Magnetic Island Fast Facts:

  • Average days of sunshine per year: 320
 (Although it is near the Wet Tropics, the Townsville/Magnetic Island area is in a rain shadow which makes it the sunniest area on the Queensland coast.)
  • Temperature: Average maximum temperature: 28.7C
  • Average minimum temperature: 19.5C
  • Dry Season: March to November
  • Wet Season: November to March
  • Heritage Listings: Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Marine Park
  • Number of beaches: 23
  • Walking tracks: 25km


Often labeled as the sunniest island on the Northern coast, Magnetic Island offers up a whopping 320 days of sunshine per year. And at 28°C average year round, the climate is always perfectly pleasant for holidaymaking of all kinds. Summers on the island are Mediterranean-like with balmy days, warm tropical nights, and only an occasional short tropical shower, making water activities and outdoor dining popular activities. Winter months are marked by clear blue skies, cooler evenings, and comfortable daytime temperatures for watersports and other land-based activities. Yes, you can lounge on the beach in a bikini in the winter here on Magnetic Island! Magnetic Island weather is predictably warm year around, as are the waters. There is no bad time to come to Magnetic Island as the weather will always be sensational!
The western portion of Magnetic Island is dominated by Magnetic Island National Park which covers over half of the island’s land area. The Aboriginal Wulgurukaba people, ‘canoe people’, have lived here for thousands of years, naming the island ‘Yunbenun’. Evidence of their presence can be found in the form of shell middens, stone tools, and art sites. Magnetic Island was connected to the mainland until 7,500 years ago when ocean levels rose to separate the island, which lies only 8km offshore from Townsville in Northern Queensland. Granite is the predominate rock found here, with headlands forming 23 beaches and bays, some of which can only be reached by boat or on foot. The park contains extensive and varied forests of hoop pines and eucalypt woodlands and is home to rock-wallabies, koalas, and many species of birdlife. Turtles nest on sandy beaches and dugongs make use of the park’s seagrass beds. Other natural features of the park include mangrove communities and a fringing coral reef.
Magnetic Island has several public BBQ locations available for your use. Many hotels and hostels also have BBQ facilities for their guests. Public BBQ areas can be found at:
  • Picnic Bay Jetty Park
  • Nelly Bay Esplanade, Sooning St at the end of Mandalay Ave
  • Alma Bay
  • Horseshoe Bay
Magnetic Island is known for its collection of picture-perfect sandy beaches nestled alongside gentle bays formed by rocky headlands. The beaches near the residential areas (Nelly Bay, Picnic Bay, Arcadia, and Horseshoe Bay) are easily accessible while other locations can only be reached by steep trails or boat. With 23 beaches to choose from, an uncrowded spot on the sands can readily be found on Magnetic Island. The 22 bays of Magnetic Island are as follows:
  • Horseshoe Bay
  • Balding Bay
  • Radical Bay
  • Gowrie Bay
  • Florence Bay
  • Arthur Bay
  • Whitfield Cove
  • Alma Bay
  • Geoffrey Bay
  • Nelly Bay
  • Rocky Bay
  • Picnic Bay
  • Cockle Bay
  • Bolger Bay
  • Young Bay and West Point Beach
  • Rollingstone Bay
  • Huntingfield Bay – Five Beach Bay
  • Wilson Bay
  • Joyce Bay
  • Norris Bay
  • Maud Bay
  • Lovers Bay
Note: Please be cautious of box jellyfish and stingers during the summer months The summer months of November through May along the Northern Australian coastline are peak time for certain varieties of jellyfish such as the box jellyfish. The sting from these jellyfish can cause a very serious reaction. Some beaches on the island provide swimming areas protected by nets. It is strongly advised that you only swim at patrolled beaches and in areas with stinger nets where possible.
All the conveniences of the mainland can be found on the Magnetic Island while community retains its small island character. Island facilities include:
  • Banking Services
  • Supermarkets
  • Newsagent
  • Bakery
  • Chemist
  • Video Hire
  • Bottle Shops
  • Massage Therapists
  • Doctors Surgery & Health Clinic
  • Ambulance Service
  • School and Daycare
  • Churches
  • Hair Dressers
  • Petrol Station
  • Post Office
  • Bus Service
  • Taxi Service
Ambulance Call 000 for an emergency ambulance to be sent. ATM ATM’s may be found at: Picnic Bay Hotel, Arcadia Hotel, and Foodworks in Nelly Bay and Horseshoe Bay. EFTPOS may also be available at many island businesses. Banking Queensland Country Credit Union: At Nelly Bay Harbour shops (near the bakery). Bakery The bakery in Nelly Bay is currently closed, however baked treats may be purchased at Arcadia Store, Foodworks Nelly Bay, IGA and many island cafes. BBQ Areas Public BBQ areas are located at Picnic Bay Jetty Park, Nelly Bay Esplanade, Alma Bay, and Horseshoe Bay. Boat Ramps Boat ramps may be found at:
  • Picnic Bay
  • Nelly Bay Harbour
  • Horseshoe Bay
Bottle Shops Bottle shops are located at:
  • Picnic Bay Hotel
  • Nelly Bay Bottle Shop (Next to Foodworks)
  • Arcadia Hotel
  • Marlin Bar (Horseshoe Bay)
Note: Opening times vary. Chemist Located in the Nelly Bay Foodworks shopping centre. Churches Magnetic Island is home to five churches:
  1. Anglican Church of Australia Saint Margaret’s, Endeavour Rd, Arcadia – call 4772 1022
  2. Baptist Church 25 Wansfell St, Picnic Bay – call 4778 5464
  3. Catholic Church Saint Joan Of Arc, Cook Rd, Arcadia – call 4771 4461
  4. Magnetic Island Community Church Shop 10 Picnic Bay Mall, Picnic Bay (opp. Cafe Sunbirdz) Service 3pm each Sunday – call Alan on 0458 158 185
  5. Uniting Church Tunbridge St, Nelly Bay – call 4758 1205
  Doctors and Medical Centres There are three medical centres on Magnetic Island:
  1. Horseshoe Bay Medical Centre Pacific Drive, Horseshoe Bay – Call 4758 1888
  2. Magnetic Island Medical Centre 68 Sooning St, Nelly Bay – Call 4778 5614
  3. Magnetic Island Health Service Centre 76 Sooning St, Nelly Bay – Call 4778 5107
  Fire Emergency Call 000 for a fire or other emergency.   Health & Beauty Magnetic Island has a large variety of health and beauty related businesses including beauticians and hairdressers, massage therapists, yoga practitioners, and holistic remedies.   Hospital (See Doctors and Medical Centres above) Magnetic Island does not have its own hospital. The nearest is in Townsville, 8km across the water. In the case of dire situation, helicopter transport may be used.   Internet and Online Services Magnetic Island has wide-ranging WiFi and internet coverage. Wireless Hotspots can be found at:
  • All Seasons Magnetic Island, Nelly Bay
  • Arcadia Beach Guest House, Arcadia
  • Arcadia Store, Arcadia
  • Noodies On The Beach, Horseshoe Bay
  • Sails On Horseshoe, Horseshoe Bay
  • Shaws On The Shore, Horseshoe Bay
  • Sunbirdz Café, Picnic Bay
Internet Cafes:
  • All Seasons Magnetic Island, Nelly Bay
  • Psst Hi Cafe, Nelly Bay
  • Hotel Arcadia, Arcadia
  • Noodies On The Beach, Horseshoe Bay
  • Sails On Horseshoe, Horseshoe Bay
  • Sunbirds Café, Picnic Bay
  Mobile Library The mobile library visits Magnetic Island every Tuesday as follows:
  • 10 am – 11.45 am Picnic Bay Mall
  • 12.45 pm – 3.15 pm Magnetic Island Primary School, Nelly Bay
  • 3.30 pm – 6.30 pm The Esplanade, Arcadia
  Newsagent Arcadia News is the main newsagency on the island and is located opposite Alma Bay Park in Arcadia.   Petrol/Fuel Stations
  • Fish’n N Fuel’n, Mandalay Ave, Nelly Bay
  • Arcadia Store, Bright Ave, Arcadia
  Poisons Information Freecall 13 11 26   Police The island’s police station is located in Picnic Bay, although when unattended it diverts to Townsville. For non-emergencies call 4778 5270 Mon-Wed 9am to 12pm (call 000 all hours for an emergency).   Post Office Located in the Nelly Bay Harbourside shopping centre, at the corner of Sooning Street and Mandalay Ave.   Primary School & Daycare In Nelly Bay: Magnetic Island State School (primary level) is located on Mandalay Avenue. Magnetic Island Creche and Kindergarten is located on Sooning Street. Secondary and tertiary education is nearby in Townsville.   Supermarkets, Markets, and Fresh Produce Magnetic Island has four full service supermarkets:
  • IGA, Nelly Bay
  • Foodworks, Nelly Bay
  • Arcadia Store, Arcadia
  • Foodworks Horseshoe Bay
There are also weekly open air markets around the island on Friday night and Sundays. Fresh produce is often sold by local growers in the park in Alma Bay on Saturday mornings.   Veterinary Surgery Alison Bee is the island veterinary service provider and can be found at 3/36 Mandalay Ave in Nelly Bay. Please phone 4778 5977 for an appointment. For additional information on retail outlets, services, and trades on the island, a copy of the Magnetic Island Telephone Directory is available at most retail outlets.