With 900 islands along the Great Barrier Reef stretching over 1400 miles, there sure are just a few to choose from for your next visit. Ultimately there are islands everywhere you look, I was really in awe when we spent just over a week on the Eastern coast of Australia.
Some of the islands are private very expensive islands that they cater to you the entire time. Others are great places for families to spend their holiday, rather budget friendly, and there are so many things to do you will stay busy as much as you want. No matter where you choose to stay you will be sure to make some really amazing memories.
All of these islands have beautiful reef systems around the island and are filled with amazing beauty and tons of fun adventures. Who wouldn’t want to spend their vacation on a beautiful tropical island and snorkel at their own leisure? Sound like a perfect vacation to me! That would be exactly why many Australians choose to spend their holidays on one of the beautiful islands dotting the eastern coat of the country.
While I have listed some information on a bunch of the islands, Experience Oz has an in-depth listing of some of the islands as well as what you can find on the islands, the lists of resorts, and cost. It is very helpful for anyone who is interested in staying on or visiting one of the islands along the Great Barrier Reef.
Islands Along The Great Barrier Reef
NOTE: Cyclone Debbie caused extensive damage to many of the Whitsunday islands. Some islands were damaged worse than others. Due to this, there are some islands that are still in the process of rebuilding and others have already rebuilt and have reopened. While we were visiting Whitsunday islands shortly after the cyclone the damage to different islands was very apparent.
- Haggerstone – A small private island resort in Queensland. It is explained like a Robinson Crusoe type of an island. A family that runs it and they only take a small number o guests per night, they personally cater to each of their guests staying a minimum of 4 nights. On your way to the island you will fish for dinner. The reefs around the island are on the outer reefs which offer an exquisite look at the Great Barrier Reef. It looks like a truly amazing and one of a kind place, but it shows in the pricing where just to get to the island you will pay at least $900 per person.
- Heron – This island offers one of the best places to snorkel on the planet, which offers such an amazing and unique experience. It offers one of the few breeding grounds of sea turtles and and abundant amount of birds. It is slightly more remote as you will need to pay for a special 2 hour boat ride over to the island or pay for a seaplane to get there.
- Langford – This island is located in the northern Whitsunday’s and one of the most picturesque islands in the beautiful chains of islands due to it’s long sand cay at one end of the island perfect for sunbathing or picnics, and the green bluff at the other. Many of the bare boats and crewed sailboats like to anchor near this island.The only way to reach this island is by boat.
- Brampton – A considerable amount of this island is part of Brampton Island National Park. Other parts of this island consist of walking tracks and camping sites (require a permit to use.) The island also has a resort that is popular with couples that can host 220 people.
- Bedarra – This is another private luxury island. They have 10 different accommodations you can stay at that are nestled away in the rain forest with some stunning ocean views. They offer many different private services that can be added for an up charge. At just over $1200 a night it is a tad bit out of most people’s budget, but perfect for those who have some extra money to spend.
- Hinchinbrook (Island is a National Park) – The biggest island and completely uninhabited. If you are looking for a great way to view and explore the wildlife found in the Great Barrier Reef Islands, this is the island to do it on. There are hikes that vary from a few hours to 4 days, with varying landscapes, tons of birds, and one of a kind wildlife. To protect the island, only 40 people at a time are allowed on the island. You will find world renound top 10 walks on the planet here on this island. There is also some camp sites that are found here.
- Fitzroy – Where the reef and rain forest meet. 45 Minutes from Tropical Cairns, this is a family friendly destinations, great for couples, or just a place for friends to relax. With budget rates for a nights stay that even includes camping at a very inexpensive rate. They offer tons of things to do around the island. Includes turtle restoration area, kids play area, snorkeling, and much more. It has one of the best vantage points on the reef, in a lookout tower that was used during WWII. Now offering absolutely amazing views.
- Great Palm – This island has about 2,000 regular residents that reside on the island. Despite that they do have a smaller motel so that guests can spend some time on this wonderful island.
- Magnetic – With 320 days of sunshine and over half the island being national park, you are sure to find something to do here on this island. There are residents on this island as well as accommodation. Despite both residents and tourists it is a quiet island that is abundant with wildlife and easy to access from Townsville. The accommodations vary from budget to luxury and everything in between. On this island it is well known as one of the best islands to learn to dive due to the low prices of classes, high quality, and certified diver classes.
- Lizard – This is the most northern island just an hour flight out of Cairns. It consists of a luxury lodge with 24 private beaches and only 40 suites on the island. Starting at around $2,000 a night it is a bit more pricey and would make a perfect destination for those looking to spend a little more on a holiday. Children need to be 10 years or older to visit the island, so no small children. They offer guided tours, visits to the inner and outer reefs, fresh local produce in their food, and more.
- Long – It is one of the closest islands to the mainland and is truly beautiful. It is a national park that has trails for hiking, pristine beaches, and dramatic headlands. There are 3 resorts on this island 2 of which have recently had refurbishments to them.
- Great Keppel – It is only a 30 minute trip from the mainland to the island. An island located in the southern Great Barrier reef chain far enough south to stay away from the tropical monsoons, but far enough North to enjoy mild winters. Sounds perfect, really. To top if off there are over 100 different types of tropical birds which call this island home. There are 17 different beaches on the island which hosts plenty of great places to snorkel. The main resort on the island offers a whole host of entertainment for the entire family. You’re sure to find plenty of activities to keep you busy no matter how long your holiday is on the island.
- Whitsunday (Whitehaven Beach) this is a world renound island. It has famous silica white sand which never gets hot. There are not any accommodations on this island, but you can stay on nearby Hamilton island, Daydream Island, or in Airlie Beach for a short trip to the beautiful island. While on the island you can sit, sunbathe and swim in the clear turquoise waters or even take the famous hike to the renound Hill Inlet. Either way you will surely enjoy spending the day on this island.
- Daydream – Currently closed due to extensive cyclone damage set to reopen in early 2019. This island was said to be a favorite my many people. The resort situated on the island is one of the few Whitsunday islands that are inhabited. You will find a plethora of activities for couples, kids, families and more. It is one of the closest to the mainland making it a perfect island to spend the day on.
- Lady Elliot – The only way to reach this island is by air, since there is no boat access. This can easily be arranged by Lady Elliot Eco Resort. Looking to view manta Ray’s or sea turtles in their natural environment? This would be the perfect island for you then. The beautiful white beaches are made entirely of crushed coral. You can see Australia’s “great eight” while scuba diving in one of the 20 different dive sites located on this island.
- Lindeman – A resort and national park is what this island consists of. It is one of the first islands to have become developed. Unfortunately, the resort on the island is not operational, however, the island has been purchased by another person who is in the process of turning it into a luxury island resort. It is set to open up in 2022.
- Green – Located just a short 45 minute catamaran ride from Cairns is this amazing old coral cay. Non of the other 300 coral cays contain a rain forest on them, such as this one. Making it a one of a kind island.
- Dunk – Often called the most beautiful tropical rain forest island in all of Australia. Accessing this island is done through Mission beach. This island is open for day trips for people to hike, but the rest of the activities have been closed down for the time being due to cyclone Yasi.
- Hayman – – Being the closest island to the outer Great Barrier Reef, this is a unique and all inclusive island. You can get to the island from taking a 1 hour luxury seaplane trip from Hamilton island. Currently closed due to extensive cyclone damage taking reservations starting in July 2019.
- Hamilton – The largest inhabited island in the Whitsundays. There are holiday homes for rent, multiple apartments, and more. Something fore every size of your party. You are sure to find something. Located o this island are many different activities, restaurants, stores and more! When we were staying in Airlie beach we took a Cruise Whitsunday tour spent half of a say on Whitehaven beach and half of the day on Hamilton island. It was a really great way to spend the day. I would love to spend a few days on the actual island however. It was an amazing island to be able to visit and is really perfect for children.
It doesn’t matter what island you chose to stay on for your next vacation, you’re sure to have amazing and most memorable time. Once you have visited the Great Barrier Reef, you will yearn to visit again, belive me it is really that beautiful.
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