Australia is fringed by more than 8,000 islands, offering every type of holiday experience. Sail through the Whitsundays, 4WD to Fraser Island’s rainforests and lakes or pick a tropical paradise in the Great Barrier Reef. Uncover the unique culture of the Torres Strait or Tiwi Islands. Explore the wildlife havens of Kangaroo Island in South Australia or French and Phillip Island in Victoria. Day trip to gorgeous Rottnest Island from Perth or cruise the remote, spectacular Buccaneer Archipelago, off the coast of Derby. Island hop around Sydney Harbour or fly to Lord Howe Island, home to the world’s southernmost coral reef. Discover the wild beauty of the islands off Tasmania, itself Australia’s biggest island.
Great Barrier Reef, so take your pick. Luxury lovers and honeymooners will be in heaven on Lizard Island, exclusive Bedarra or privately-owned Double and Haggerstone Islands. For a wilderness experience, bush camp on Fitzroy Island or trek the Thorsborne Trail along mist-cloaked Hinchinbrook Island. Day trip to Green and Fitzroy Islands, snorkel the brilliant coral reefs of the Low Isles or sea kayak around Snapper Island, Hope Islands National Park with an Aboriginal guide. Townsville, Port Douglas and Lucinda are just some of the mainland gateways.
Torres Strait Islands, QLD
Torres Strait Islands, Queensland
Whitsundays - 74 pristine, palm-fringed islands tucked inside the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Accessible from Airlie Beach and Proserpine, these islands cater to every type of holiday-maker. Enjoy five stars of resort luxury on Hayman Island and party on Daydream or Hamilton islands. Visit Whitsunday Island and walk the pure white, silica sands of Whitehaven Beach. Camp or find eco-friendly accommodation on Hook, Lindeman or Brampton Islands, which are mostly national park. Long and South Molle Islands have serene resorts amongst natural splendour. The remaining islands are untouched tropical oases – yours to discover from a sea kayak, sea plane or chartered sailboat.
Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. Take a boat from Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach or jump on a flight from Brisbane. Once here your exploring happens on 4WD and foot. Hike through rainforest supported by sand dunes, past kangaroos, wallabies and possums. Fish from the beach or swim in the freshwater lakes, some rimmed in gold and others clear and blue. See the coloured sand cliffs of The Cathedrals, visit the historic Maheno shipwreck and spot migrating humpback whales from Indian Head. Accommodation here blends into the nature around it, whether you camp or chose a luxurious eco-lodge.
Kangaroo Island, a short flight from Adelaide or ferry ride from Cape Jervis. Watch penguins make their nightly pilgrimage to shore in Penneshaw and hang out with Australian sea lions at Seal Bay. See pink pelicans wheeling through the sky and play ‘spot the koala’ on a 4WD adventure across the island. The island also has spectacular fishing and diving, secluded beaches to swim and surf from, underground caves and rugged rock formations. Visit historic lighthouses, load up on top-quality local food and wine and stay in accommodation ranging from budget to breathtaking.
islands circle Tasmania, but Flinders, King, Bruny and Maria Islands are the largest. Flinders and King - part of 51 Furneaux islands in Bass Strait - are a short flight from both Tasmania and Victoria. Flinders Island is the place to climb granite mountains, walk unspoiled beaches and hunt for a Killiecrankie ‘diamond’. On King Island, you can dive shipwrecks, go game fishing and taste the island’s famous dairy products. Hike along dramatic cliffs or cruise past sea-birds and dolphins on Bruny Island, a wilderness not far from Hobart. Sitting off Tasmania’s east coast, Maria Island is rich in wildlife and history and remains without the modern intrusion of cars.
Phillip Island Nature Park, VIC
Sydney Harbour. Pack a picnic for tiny Clark Island, which has unsurpassed views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Or learn about its Aboriginal significance on a cultural cruise. Further to the east, Shark Island has a large grassy area and gazebo. You can camp overnight on 18-hectare Cockatoo Island or take a tour to understand its fascinating history. It’s been variously an Aboriginal fishing spot, colonial prison, shipyard, industrial school, reformatory and jail. Explore Sydney’s convict past on a tour of Fort Denison or Goat Island, a former quarry and convict stockade.
Lord Howe Island, which sits in the Tasman Sea, less than two hours’ flight from Brisbane or Sydney. Only 400 visitors are allowed, bicycles are the best way to get around and there’s no mobile phone reception. Bushwalk through the island’s native Kentia palm forests and swim from white sand beaches. Snorkel and dive in protected, temperate waters on the world’s southernmost coral reef. There are more than 50 sites teeming with green turtles, colourful coral and fish. If you’re feeling brave, tackle the arduous climb to the top of Mount Gower. It takes 8-10 hours and is rope-assisted!
The Tiwi Islands comprise Bathurst and Melville Island, and nine smaller uninhabited islands: Buchanan, Harris, Seagull, Karslake, Irritutu, Clift, Turiturina, Matingalia and Nodlaw. Melville Island is Australia's second largest island after Tasmania.
Rottnest Island, WA
Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Buccaneer Archipelago, WA