Located eight km off the coast of Townsville, Magnetic Island was first named by Captain Cook who thought that the island had some sort of magnetic affect on his compass as he was sailing by. Scientists have studied the island but no such similar affects have been discovered. The island is 52 km2 (20.1 sq miles) in size and over half of it has been declared a national park.
You can catch a ferry from Townsville to Magnetic Island in just 20 minutes. There are a few accommodation options to choose from. A dorm bed is just $25 a night, a double room with shared bathroom starts at $90 up to a top range 5 star resort with sea view from $180. Camping is available at the Koala Village for about $13 a night.
You can choose from many different activities, depending on your interests. Every type of water sport is available such as sailing, fishing, jet skiing, canoe or kayak with an experienced guide, diving and snorkelling. Play a few rounds of tennis or golf, horse ride or take a walking trail through the national park and try spotting a few of the native birds along the way.
There is one dive centre on the island that can arrange a diving or snorkelling trip. There are three sites around the island but trips are also available to the outer reefs and wrecks in the area.
The Moltke Wreck is just off the beach and a nice site for marine fish and corals. Alma Bay is a nice easy dive where you can spot a turtle or sting ray and lots of different nudibranchs. Arthur and Florence Bays are great for snorkelling but a little difficult to get to. It is well worth the effort though as there are many colourful corals and reef fish to discover.
Other trips to the surrounding Townsville dive sites are also available but you might find it’s cheaper to book those trips from the mainland. Take a few days out on Magnetic Island and enjoy the sunshine while relaxing on the beach.
(By Kelly Luckman)