February 20th, 2024
6 minute read
There are lots of amazing free things to do on Magnetic Island that suit all types of travellers! If you're a backpacker, a solo traveller, a family, or anyone trying to save money, you can easily explore the breathtaking landscapes of Magnetic Island for free.
Many East Coast Australia itineraries leave you with a free day or two on Magnetic Island. Aside from the various guided hikes or group dinners, chances are you will be able to fill your days on Maggie however you choose! And Australia is not always cheap, so it's only natural that you'd be looking to save money throughout your trip. So once you've taken the ferry over and checked into your accommodation, try some of these free things to do on Magnetic Island!
From the hiking trails that wind through the national parklands, to the vibrant coral reefs that fill the ocean offshore, Magnetic Island is full of budget-friendly and free attractions. If you have a few days or more, you can rent a 4WD or a cute little minicar to really adventure to every corner of the island. Renting a car does cost money, but it allows you to see more and travel further. However, renting a vehicle is not necessary and you can still wander around the island on foot or take public buses. If you're renting a car or not, you can still save some money with these free things to do on Magnetic Island!
Many would argue that this is the top activity on Magnetic Island! The iconic Magnetic Island Forts Walk lets you explore the lush wilderness, get some exercise, learn about the island's history, and enjoy some panoramic views. It doesn't get much better than that!
The walk begins at the Forts Walk car park on Horseshoe Bay Road and it's about 4km return. Stretch your legs while you hike through the forest, and take some time to check out all the WWII fortifications and bunkers at the top. Then grab your camera and snap some photos of the gorgeous views before you head back down.
Arthur Bay in the northeast of the island offers some of the best free things to do on Magnetic Island. Swimming, snorkelling, and bushwalking are all possible here! A steep, 30-minute hike up to Arthur Bay Lookout provides gorgeous views of the coastline. Or opt for a refreshing swim in the calm, turquoise waters as this is one of the best beaches and swimming spots on the island!
Magnetic Island is one of the best places in Australia for spotting wildlife! Because the island is small and it's composed of mainly national park, native animals can thrive here and it's quite common for humans to see them in their natural habitat. Head to Geoffrey Bay, the best place on the island for seeing wallabies! These precious little marsupials are often hopping around on the rocks near the water.
Horseshoe Bay is one of the most beautiful places to visit on Magnetic Island. Not only do many bushwalks begin here, but the water makes an excellent place for a swim or snorkel (make sure you have a stinger suit during stinger season!). If you head to Horseshoe Bay on a Sunday morning, you can even catch the local markets! Hosted every Sunday from 9am - 2pm, this is a great place to browse for souvenirs and chat with local vendors.
Another one of the best free things to do on Magnetic Island is watch the sunrise. It's definitely worth getting up early to watch the sun peek up over the ocean and illuminate the landscape in natural colours. Any eastern-facing beach or bay will offer amazing views, but Alma Bay is a particularly beautiful spot for watching the sunrise on Magnetic Island. Many would consider Alma Bay to be one of the best beaches on the island and one of the best beaches in Australia!
Magnetic Island is home to the largest known colony of koalas in Australia's tropical north! These cuddly creatures thrive in the treetops here, making koala spotting one of the best free things to do on Magnetic Island. The Forts Walk is a great place to spot koalas in the trees, though they can be found all over the island.
Just remember, koalas are notoriously hard to spot and wildlife sightings are never guaranteed! They do sleep often and are easily concealed up in the trees, so have patience while trying to see them in the wild. If you do want to spend a bit of money, you can see koalas and other wildlife at Bungalow Bay Koala Village. This local wildlife park allows you to get up close to koalas and even hold them!
Magnetic Island is lined with picturesque bays and beaches, so there is no shortage of scenic places to hang out for free. Picnic Bay is another great spot to visit! Known for its long, iconic jetty that juts out into the sapphire sea, Picnic Bay is popular for fishing, swimming, and sunbathing. If you're looking for free things to do in Magnetic Island with kids, young kids can often be seen jumping off the jetty into the ocean at high tide!
Another one of the best free things to do on Magnetic Island is snorkelling. Located in the midst of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Magnetic Island is home to flourishing coral reefs and a diverse range of marine life. You can book guided snorkelling tours on the island, but if you're trying to save money you can also just go snorkelling on your own.
Geoffrey Bay, Arthur Bay, and Florence Bay are some of the best snorkelling spots on the island. If your accommodation doesn't provide any gear, you can rent gear at any of the dive shops on the island. Though renting snorkel gear does cost money, it's usually pretty cheap and it's so worth it!
Here is another gorgeous bay to check out on Magnetic Island! Nelly Bay is a quaint area on the island's eastern shores where you can go window shopping and sightseeing. There is a playground for kids, a tranquil Esplanade walk, and a tiny little Memorial Garden to stroll through. Nelly Bay is home to plenty of shops, restaurants, and amenities, as well as a beach with golden sands and some lovely swimming spots. If you are willing to splurge on a nice meal, Nelly Bay is home to some of the best restaurants in Magnetic Island!
Bushwalking is another excellent way to sightsee on Magnetic Island for free. Almost 80% of Magnetic Island is a protected national park, meaning the island is full of lush, untouched wilderness. Two of the most popular hiking trails are the Nelly Bay To Arcadia Trail and the Horseshoe Bay to Radical Bay. But the island is crisscrossed with bushwalking trails that are suitable for travellers of all ages. Ask the staff at your accommodation or your tour leader what trails they recommend!