Before starting the East Coast backpacker trail, I’d heard very little about Magnetic Island. But after our fantastic waterfalls and rainforests tour introduced us to three awesome girls (including Megan of The Wanderings of a Welsh Girl) heading there next, Rachel and I decided to leave Cairns early to join them for a few days of relaxation. Turns out, it’s the perfect place for a short getaway.There are a few options of places to stay on the island but in the end, we went for Base Backpackers. Packages can be better value here: ours was $99.00 for two nights including snorkelling, one free breakfast, evening meal and drink. And just look at the cute little beach huts! I ended up in the Sanctuary, a female only spacious 6 bed wonderfully close to Nelly Bay beach.If you want to escape, you certainly can here. With restricted phone signal and the closest shop 20 minutes walk away, you’ll feel a million miles away. The hostel makes up for this though with lively evening entertainment like ‘Boozy Bingo’ so prepare for noisy evenings. Not a beach person? There’s also a good size pool (hosting parties on a Friday) and hammocks to lounge in.
The weather didn’t behave too well for our time there so we decided against driving around the island in favour of relaxing. It didn’t take long for us to realise how fast the tropical weather can change though! After laying down on the beach fully clothed, hot sun scorched through the clouds and blue skies reappeared.We also took to the hills for The Forts walk. A 90 minute test that demonstrated exactly how unfit I am these days, the ruins are from forts used in World War II. We enjoyed the stunning views across the island from the many lookouts and kept our eyes peeled for wildlife.It wasn’t long before we came across exactly what we were looking for – koalas! This was the first time I ever saw a koala and it was pretty special to have it happen in the wild. Across the entire walk, we saw about six including a little joey clinging to its mum! Adorable.
How long do I need in Magnetic Island? If you’re planning to hire a 4×4, scooter or famous Barbie car, two nights is more than enough time!
Cook or eat out? Unless you’re staying close to a village or prepared to eat at the hostel, cook. The shops and many cafes have extremely limited opening hours so be careful you don’t get caught out.
Should I take my full backpack? We just filled day packs with the essentials for a couple of days and were extremely glad that we did! Most people stay in Townsville the night before / after so ask your hostel there if they will store your main pack for a few days. We stayed in Rambutans, a fantastic hostel who were happy to keep hold of them for us for free!
All in all, our time in Magnetic Island was really enjoyable. Sadness came when it was time to split off from the others – including Rachel who I’d known since my first full day in Australia. It was time for another adventure and this was one I’d been dreaming of for months…