Camping on Magnetic Island is very convenient. In this article, we will show you why you should camp, how our experience was and many other useful tips.
But firstly, as you might know, Australia is rather expensive. That is why you should be camping on Magnetic Island. Save money on accommodation but still enjoy this island without going broke.
We really loved Magnetic Island and we will explain why you should visit and elaborate on all the interesting things you can do. That includes beaches and seeing wild Koalas!
CAMPING ON MAGNETIC ISLAND
To make your life super easy, there is only 1 camping spot on Magnetic Island. It is called Bungalow Bay Koala Village which is Australias only hostel that has a wildlife sanctuary on site.
Bungalow Bay Koala Village is so far the only campsite on Magnetic Island which allows you to bring your own car/camper-van or (small) trailer. However, you can also just bring a tent or choose to sleep in a bungalow or a dorm bed.
Disclaimer: This post is in no way sponsored by Bungalow Bay Koala Village, we just genuinely loved the experience!
HOW TO GET TO THE CAMPSITE ON MAGNETIC ISLAND
First, you need to get Townsville and then take a ferry to Magnetic Island.
It’s only a 20-minute ride. There are two operators: Sealink which sells passenger tickets and Magnetic Island Ferries which allows you to transfer a car as well. Make sure you come to the harbor for check-in at least 20 mins before departure. For safety reasons you are allowed to bring only one jerry can onboard.
From the ferry terminal, you can either take a bus that will drop you off in front of Bungalow Bay or just drive there yourself.
If you take your car, make sure to call Bungalow Bay beforehand to reserve and pay for a camping spot and the ferry ticket at once. This way your first night of camping will be basically free of charge. If you book the ferry via the ferry operator you will pay more. For 2 adults and 1 normal car, the ferry tickets are $208 return. However, we only paid $190 because we booked with Bungalow Bay. If you want to stay longer you can easily change the return date by phone directly with Magnetic Island Ferries. This deal is only for campers.
- Car ferry return ticket, including one vehicle up to 5.5m long and 2 people (additional person $16 extra, maximum 4 people per vehicle)
- 1-night camping at Bungalow Bay Koala Village at unpowered site
OTHER ACCOMMODATION ON MAGNETIC ISLAND
There are of course more options for you to stay at Magnetic Island. Have a look at a few places around Horseshoe Bay.
Sails on Horseshoe is located directly opposite the beach at Horseshoe Bay and offers self-catering accommodation with kitchen amenities and amazing ocean views.
True North B&B is a good budget option and just a 1-minute walk from Horseshoe Bay Beach. It offers free Wi-Fi and free breakfast.
HOW DOES THE CAMPING ON MAGNETIC ISLAND WORK?
We definitely recommend booking your camping spot beforehand. We called Bungalow Bay and easily reserved a spot. Once you get to the camping place, you’ll need to go to the reception to check-in. Check out is at 10. They will ask for a $10 deposit so don’t forget to get it back at check-out!
HOW MUCH DOES A CAMPSITE COST?
That depends on your budget of course. The camping site is relatively large and you can freely choose where you want to pitch your tent or park your car. You can go for an unpowered or a powered site. But there are also private bungalows and a dorm.
TYPES OF ACCOMMODATION
UNPOWERED CAMPING SITE
If you would like to go for the cheapest option (with a car) then an unpowered site is the answer. We used the unpowered site as we charge our gear easily in the car while driving. It costs $16 per person per night. Make sure to look for a spot that is flat.
If you like to have access to electricity and water it will set you back $20 per person a night.
If you don’t like to sleep in a car or in a tent, you can make your stay on Magnetic Island a bit more luxurious and book one of the wooden bungalows. It costs $24 per person a night. The bungalows are small. But they have a real bed and also air conditioning. The dream of every tired backpacker.
However, they don’t have private bathrooms so you need to use the common areas.
There are also dormitory rooms where you will pay $20 per bed which is quite good for all solo travelers.
AMENITIES ON THE CAMPSITE
We really liked this camping place and it was one of the best spots we had in Queensland. It really had all the things you need and get really great value for what you pay.
The ultimate dream for every traveler, camper and backpacker. The hot showers really work and you can stay as long as you want. No, just joking DO NOT waste water.
Both the male and female bathrooms were clean and in good condition.
Another cool thing every digital nomad and most other people appreciate is functioning Wifi. It works very well in the restaurant area, especially near the reception.
LAUNDRY WITH DRYER/TUMBLER
You can do your laundry as well. $5 per load and $5 for drying. Make sure to bring some coins. If it doesn’t rain, you can just hang your clothes on the line outside. Of course, during our stay, it was raining 😀
You can save your gas bottles because you will have access to a kitchen as well. The kitchen is very large, clean and has 4 cookers. You can use their pans and pots but you need to bring your own cutlery and plates. If you don’t have your own cutlery, just go to the reception and you can hire them. You can store your food in the fridge and also leave your stuff in the cupboard. Just make sure to leave a tag on so no hungry backpacker eats it.
BAR AND RESTAURANT WITH POOL
You can enjoy a pool which is next to the bar. The bar has a happy hour deal from 4-7 pm where you can get a jug of beer for $10. We had it every night. The basic spirit with mixer is $5 and a glass of champagne $3. Pretty sweet. You can order pizza for $8 and other snacks as well. For the only camping place on the island, the prices are very affordable. Especially the beer deal is a great value.
Next to the reception, there is an access to a Koala Sanctuary. The entrance is $30 per person and they have tours around the park 3 to 4 times a day.
Additionally, the campsite has a great location. Just 5 minutes walking and you will get to famous Horseshoe Bay where a few restaurants are located. Make sure to check out Early Bird and try one of their tasty meals.
ABOUT MAGNETIC ISLAND
Magnetic Island is located only 8 km from Townsville in the northern part of Queensland. It is a very unique place due to its huge granite boulders spreading across the mountain skyline.
Despite that Magnetic Island is quite small it has many things to offer. More than half of the island is National Park and it is located in the Great Barrier Reef. And because of its unique shape, we could easily rename the island to Island of Beautiful Bays.
Despite the fact that the island is quite popular the atmosphere on the island is still very laid-back. It has a small population of around 2.000 residents.
TRAVELING IN QUEENSLAND? CHECK OUR ARTICLE ON THE FAIRY POOLS IN NOOSA:
Basically you are sleeping in a National Park and that means you will see many unique animals in their natural habitat. We saw wallabies hopping around the campsite and many tropical birds such as cockatoos.
And one our second morning we had a sleeping koala just above our car.
2 mins walking from the camping site there is a secret hidden. You will enter a tropical forest where you can see hundreds of beautiful butterflies. It’s for free and you probably will be there on your own. Check out Google to find it.
With an Average of 320 sunny days per year camping on Magnetic Island is true bliss and you are likely to get some tan.
ISLAND OF BEAUTIFUL BAYS
There are 20 beautiful bays. So don’t be surprised if you are on some of them just by yourselves. You have to visit one of the many bays such as Florence Bay, Geoffrey Bay, Alma Bay, Arthur Bay (our favorite), and Balding Bay.
If you have 4WD it’s fun (it was for Nico) to drive all the way to Radical Bay. The street is really bad and you should only consider going there by car if you have a 4WD.
If you don’t have a car or just a 2WD, you can also walk there. Which brings is to the next activity on Magnetic Island: Walking.
TRAVELING IN QUEENSLAND AND INTO HIKING? CHECK OUR RECENT ARTICLE: 8 Amazing Noosa National Park walks: Enjoy beach views and spot koalas
Magnetic Island is great to explore on foot. With 25 km of walking tracks you can see wildlife, fauna and flora and enjoy many spectacular views. There are around 10 great walking tracks and it depends on you if you would like to do all of them.
But if you want to do only 1 then you should do the walk to the Forts (WW2 military fortifications) which is 2.8 km return and you can do it in 1.5 hours. You will have wonderful views overlooking Arthur and Florence Bays. It is a very beautiful walk with some interesting spots to see on the way to 360 degrees panoramic view. Go during dusk/dawn and keep your eyes open for Wallabies and Koalas.
It’s really amazing to snorkel at Florence Bay, Nelly Bay, Geoffrey Bay and Arthur Bay.
You can follow snorkeling trails at the previously mentioned bays and also around Radical Bay with self guided trails using floats with handles that will help you navigate. With these swim cards you can easily find the Moltke Wreck or the WWII aeroplane propeller. They have interesting information on what coral and fish you can see as well.
SO MUCH TO DO
You can choose to do really nothing and just hang on the beach. But if you are up for some sort of sport, you can do almost everything on Magnetic Island. But, it will most likely involve the ocean in some way: fishing, sailing, kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving. You can also go horse riding on the beach, play golf and even go sky diving.
WHEN TO VISIT MAGNETIC ISLAND
As Magnetic Island is located in the tropical north of Queensland you can come almost all year round. However, in the months of November to April the percentage of rainfall is higher as it is the wet season. Cyclones are likely during wet season. Better not to be on an island during this time of the year. We visited in June which is at least in theory dry season. However, we had a lot of clouds hanging around and a bit of rain, so you never know.
Hope you will have a great time and will enjoy all 20 beautiful bays and wildlife.
PIT IT FOR LATER
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