Australia has some beautiful hidden gems, and Magnetic Island is definitely one of them. With it’s top diving spots, cute roaming wildlife and awesome hiking trails, it’s a must-see destination on any road trip! Have a look at our top Magnetic Island accommodation picks and get your trip started!
Taking a short visit to Magnetic (or Maggie) Island, is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s easy to get to, there’s plenty to see and do, plus there are some great places to stay without compromising on your budget or comfort style. Just 20 minutes away from Townsville, it’s the perfect weekend getaway for every type of traveller.
The island is popular with divers and hikers, so if those kind of activities are up your street then you’re headed in the right direction.
You can get your diving certificate here if you are a complete beginner, or you can top up your completed dives by exploring some cool new shipwrecks and reefs.
There’s also a high chance that you’ll spot a wild koala, nestled in the trees lazing away the warm days. That’s surely something to persuade you to come!
Working out where to stay can be difficult whether you’re trying to stick to a budget, find solo-traveller friendly digs or look for a luxury weekend getaway.
As a backpacker, you might be used to slumming it, but luckily, the accommodation options on Magnetic Island are high standard and traveller friendly.
You’ll find a variety of places to stay on the island: camping, hotels, apartments and hostels all make up the Magnetic Island accommodation options that you can stay at.
There are 4 main areas of the island that people visit, so click here if you want to read about them first before you decide on where to book.
The Best Magnetic Island Accommodation Options
The best things to consider when looking at where to stay are the actual hotel amenities, and the type of room that you need. The island is so small that you don’t need to worry about missing out on activities because you couldn’t get there!
Here are our top nine accommodation choices for Maggie Island – which one is your favourite?
This is the place to be if you want a party atmosphere, you are on a budget and you don’t need a private room! Base Backpackers is located on the beachfront at Nelly Bay, so you don’t have to travel too far from the ferry port once you’ve arrived.
There’s a great bar, and lively atmosphere so if you’re looking for a chilled out few days, this might not be the place for you. Each night there are activities going on in the bar, from beer pong to bingo, and drinking challenges are a given.
You can camp, but only in a tent so leave your van on the mainland if you’re looking for the cheaper accommodation option. There are private rooms if you’d prefer a better night’s sleep but if you’re a solo traveller then sharing a dorm is the best way to meet people.
You can hire bikes and snorkel gear if you want to get out and about on the island too.
- On-site restaurant + bar
- Swimming Pool
- Shared kitchen
- WiFi (in public areas) for extra fee
- No children allowed
- Laundry service (extra charge)
Best For: Party-goers
Arcadia Beach Guest House
This quiet beachfront guest house is the perfect place to relax after a hard day’s exploring!
Take a swim in the year-round pool, wind down in the lounge area or enjoy the tropical garden and see if you can spot any exotic bird life!
It’s also in Nelly Bay, only a 15 minute walk away from the ferry port, so you can save a bit of cash on transport as soon as you arrive!
Hire a 4WD and really get to know the island – take a drive and discover all of the beautiful bays, top trails and wonderful waters that Maggie has to brag about.
There are plenty of room choices so you can stay in somewhere that’s ideal for your holiday style. From rustic safari tents and small dormitories (but no bunk beds thankfully!) to king suites multi-room cottages, there’s bound to be somewhere you’d love to spend a few nights.
You also have the option for a room with a small kitchenette so you can make small easy meals with the toaster, microwave and kettle.
- Wood fired pizza oven
- Car hire
- Air conditioning (or electric fan)
- Games room
- WiFi in public areas for (extra charge)
- Laundry services (extra charge)
Best For: Chilled Budget Backpackers
CStay offers clean, modern rooms, a peaceful vibe and excellent value for money.
Choose from a private twin or double room at an affordable price, and share the newly refurbished bathrooms with your fellow travellers.
The shared kitchen is fully stocked with the utensils you need to make a decent meal after a day full of adventures, but there are also a couple of fantastic restaurants in the nearby Picnic Bay area.
CStay’s friendly staff will make you feel right at home – you can ask them anything and they’ll really try their best to accommodate you! You can even keep some food items in the freezer if you need to.
- Free WiFi in public areas
- Shared bathroom
- BBQ facilities
- No smoking
- Air conditioning
- Towels (for extra charge)
- Espresso machine
- Recently renovated bathrooms
Best For: Internet Addicts
Arcadia Village Motel
This motel is in a beautiful spot with Geoffrey Bay on one side and Alma Bay on the other.
The family friendly accommodation is ideal for those wanting decent quality rooms for fair prices.
When you are having a lazy day and don’t want to leave the hotel, you can relax in one of two pools or drink at one of three bars located within the complex. There’s a cafe and restaurant on-site too, so you won’t be going hungry!
If you do decide to venture out, you’ll in the perfect location to go on a hike to search for rock wallabies or snorkel the bay trails.
You can also ask the friendly staff to organise a day tour for you.
- Private rooms
- 2 outdoor pools
- Bar + restaurant
- WiFi in public area (extra charge)
- Evening entertainment
- Non-smoking rooms
Best For: Couples or Families
Amaroo On Mandalay
Staying at the Amaroo will make you never want to leave! It’s the perfect place to enjoy the incredible wildlife and scenery that Maggie Island has to offer – you get to feed the friendly tropical birds who visit the garden!
Enjoy a game of afternoon tennis or ask the tour desk to arrange a day tour for you. Or, swim in the saltwater pool to get your appetite up and use the BBQ facilities for free!
You can even organise to have your wedding reception here, so speak to the hotels owners for more information on that.
- Tennis courts
- Saltwater pool
- Free toiletries
- Free ferry terminal shuttle
- On-site restaurant
- Gardens + local wildlife
- Free WiFi
Best For: Outdoorsy Travellers
These gorgeous chalets have everything you need to make your stay comfortable, homely and even a little bit luxurious! Despite all that, the rooms don’t come with a hefty price tag that you’d assume for such charming and welcoming accommodation.
You can stay with your family or a group of friends because the whole unit will be yours. The sofa acts as another double bed so there’s plenty of space for everyone.
In the cosy kitchenette, you’ll not only be able to cook your meals on a proper stove, but get them clean in a dishwasher as well!
However long you decide to stay for, you’ll really feel at home here with the flat screen TV, dining area and garden. It’s the perfect place to stay if you’re going to need some downtime on your holiday (travelling can be really tiring!).
The chalets are in Arcadia, between Geoffrey Bay and Alma Bay. There’s lots to see and do within a short walking distance, but you also won’t be surrounded by late-night parties!
- Free WiFi
- Sofa bed
- Swimming pool
- Air conditioning
- No smoking
- Outdoor dining area
Best For: Groups of Travellers
With it’s stunning marina views, indulgent spa and romantic boardwalk restaurant, Peppers Blue is the epitome of opulence.
As soon as you arrive, you’ll be blown away by both the grand gestures and the small details. Treat yourself to spa massage, an al fresco meal or simply take in the incredible surroundings that you’ll appreciate for the next few days.
There are two swimming pools to choose from, and you can grab a beautifully crafted cocktail from the marina deck whilst you soak up the Queensland sun.
Rooms are available as doubles, a studio and apartments, but there’s even a penthouse suite if you can be flexible with dates because it sells out quickly!
Call ahead once you’ve secured your booking for a cheese or fruit platter to be served when you arrive for the perfect blissful start to your holiday!
- Free breakfast included
- Wellness spa
- Swimming + lagoon pools
- WiFi (up to 500MB complimentary)
- Room service
- Ground floor accessible rooms available
Best For: Pampered Travellers
Island Leisure Resort
If you’re travelling with young kids, their happiness is usually a high priority. Entertained children = relaxed parents. Island Lesiure Resort is a great hotel that accommodates for children especially well.
The hotel itself is only around 1km away from the Nelly Bay terminal, so you could get the bus if you have a lot of bags, but you could also easily enjoy the pretty walk.
- Free WiFi
- Lagoon pool
- No on-site restaurant
- Kids craft room
- Games room
- Completely wheelchair accessible
- Private patios
- Tennis court
The Polynesian themed hotel is peaceful yet family friendly, and the staff are always happy to help. The clean, spacious rooms offer very comfortable beds, a kitchenette and complimentary toiletries.
The reviews on this hotel speak for themselves – you won’t be disappointed in your stay here!
Best For: Entertaining Kids
Sails On Horseshoe
Fancy staying in a picture-perfect hotel with an idyllic beach view? Then book your Sails on Horseshoe as your Magnetic Island accommodation.
The tropical gardens surrounding the self-contained apartments are just one extra attraction. There’s also a poolside BBQ,
Each unit has its own laundry facilities and a dishwasher, so it’s a great place to come if you want to recharge after a while on the road.
- Free WiFi
- Free off-street parking
- Laundry services
- No on-site restaurant
- Beachfront accommodation
- Free use of beach towels
Best For: Beach Bums
Where To Stay On Magnetic Island
The four main areas on Maggie Islands that attract visitors are Nelly Bay, Arcadia Bay, Horseshoe Bay and Picnic Bay. You don’t have to worry too much about your location because each spot has its benefits, plus it’s easy to get around the island.
You’ll be able to take day trips to each different area whether you take the public bus, go on a tour, hire a car or bring your own vehicle. Check out the map to pinpoint the different Bays – you can also see the hotel options I’ve recommended on there too!
Nelly Bay is where your ferry will dock, so this is a great place to stay if you don’t want to do much travelling on your first day!
It’s quite a popular part of the island, so that means of shops, bars and restaurants in the area. Not only that, but there are some cool snorkelling trails here and the beach is great for relaxing on.
Nelly Bay is easily accessible by taxi and bus too so even if your accommodation is a little bit further into the island, then you’ll still be able to find your way there without any trouble.
This tiny little bay area is a great place to stay, but mainly because of the two larger bays it sits in between!
Alma Bay and Geoffrey Bay are popular with locals and tourists alike, and you can easily swim and explore both. See if you can spot a rock wallaby around here!
On the beaches there are picnic benches and barbecues so if you’re cutting costs and have brought your own food to Maggie, these are two lovely places to enjoy a meal.
Arcadia is also home to Pleasure Divers, so if you want to get your certification whilst you’re here, we highly recommend them!
Don’t forget to watch the famous cane toad races here too!
If you’re into water sports, this is the place on the island for you!
Ride jet skis, go kayaking, try your hand at stand up paddle boarding and of course take a relaxing and safe swim in the enclosure.
There are lots of things to keep you entertained on land too. Horseshoe Bay is the largest on Magnetic Island, so many tourists make their way here for their holiday.
The famous Forts Walks is also nearby – see if you can spot a koala hiding in the trees!
Bars and restaurants have taken advantage of the amazing view here, so even if you’re not staying up this way, it’s worth making the trip for dinner at least once!
With an old jetty perfect for evening strolls, and a scenic beach area, Picnic Bay is perfect for those old romantics!
The island’s golf course is situated in Picnic Bay, as is the local mall.
There is a netted swimming area (safe to use in the summer months when the string rays appear!) and plenty of places to chill, eat and drink the balmy evenings away.
What To Bring To Magnetic Island
When staying on Maggie Island, you won’t be completely cut off from civilisation, but it will make buying certain supplies a little more difficult and expensive! If you are camping, or you’re in self-catered accommodation, then you really need to buy as much food as you can before you get on the ferry.
There are shops on the island that sell basic lunch and dinner ingredients, but the prices are high and the options are limited. Stock up as much as you can on dried + tinned goods, like pasta and jars of sauce, lentils, nuts and beans.
It’s a good idea to go meat-free if you can too – it’s cheaper and if you’re sharing fridge space, it’s much easier to avoid get ill because someone else didn’t close the door behind them!
Of course, if you aren’t on a budget and you don’t want or need to cook your own meals, then there are lots of restaurants and cafes all over the island selling great food.
Bring your own snorkelling gear if you can. We rented from our accommodation which was fine, but a snorkel mask that actually fits to your face is much better than one that has been used hundreds of times by other people!
We also had to out down a $40 deposit, which was quite difficult to get back because the staff didn’t write it down so there was no record of them having our money! Eventually we got it back, but if we had our own equipment there would have been a lot less hassle. You can buy your own kit here.
If you are camping for a few nights, then don’t forget the obvious like a tent and sleeping bag! You won’t be able to grab one last minute so be prepared and find a decent setup before you leave for your trip.
Click here to shop the best camping equipment that you can sell at the end of your road trip if you want to keep costs down!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Magnetic Island on the Great Barrier Reef?
Yes, it is! You can dive, snorkel and take boat tours to explore the Marine Park.
Is Magnetic Island a National Park?
The island itself isn’t, but there is 27km² of National Park to explore! There are walking trails full of attractions and wildlife so definitely bring your hiking boots!
How far is Magnetic Island from Townsville?
Townsville is only 20-25 minutes away by ferry.
Can you camp in the National Park?
There are places designated for camping on Maggie Island, but NOT in the actual National Park grounds. Don’t just bring a tent and pitch up wherever you want.. Not only is it illegal, but you could do a lot of harm to the local wildlife.
Where can you park your vehicle when you visit Magnetic Island?
You can leave your car, campervan and even caravan on the mainland whilst you explore the island. Park at the Breakwater Terminal and buy your tickets – it costs from $7.50 for 24 hours so you can just book as many nights as you want.
Are you planning a trip to Magnetic Island? Where will you stay? Let us know in the comments below!
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