Magnetic Island is only 8km offshore from Townsville, and is one of the most popular reef islands for budget travelers. It has a great selection of accommodation, and the predominantly national-park island has good beaches, lots of wildlife, a koala sanctuary and excellent bushwalks. The island is almost a suburb of Townsville, attracting visitors year round, and it has a different atmosphere to the purely resort islands. It is also one of the larger islands, with several small towns including Arcadia, Picnic Bay, Horseshoe Bay and Nelly Bay.
Magnetic Island has a nice mixture of untouched National Park, 16 picturesque beaches and a small residential population, Magnetic Island embodies all that tropical living has to offer and provides the perfect retreat for scuba diving, windsurfing, catamaraning or just laying on the beach.
Horseshoe Bay is the largest bay on the island and is great for all kinds of watersports. There’s almost any kind of watercraft imaginable is available for hire including jet skis, and from here sailing and fishing trips depart. Here too, you can experience swimming on horseback or camel riding, and for thrill seekers (as in the picture) there is parasailing. Normally several fishing boats can be seen anchored at the eastern end of the bay making ready for their trip out to the Great Barrier Reef.
Backpackers’ accommodations are available in the towns, and there are also hotels, resorts and holiday flats. The towns also have a range of eateries, from pub grub to Mexican and Italian fare. You can get to Picnic Bay by high-speed catamaran from Townsville (about 20 minutes). Some services continue on to Arcadia. You can get around the island by bus or taxi, or by hiring a bicycle, scooter or Moke.