Are you looking for the best island resorts in Queensland for a tropical getaway in Australia? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve done a ton of research (and a little bit of vacationing) to bring you the best Queensland island holidays out there!
There are actually over 900 islands in Queensland – most of which are situated in the iconic Great Barrier Reef National Park and are uninhabited. But we’ve found 15 incredible Queensland island resorts where you can bring your other half or the little ones for a quintessential Australian holiday!
I might be a little biased (I live in Queensland), but I would absolutely rank the islands off Queensland’s coast among some of the most stunning holiday destinations in the world!
Whether you’re looking for a romantic couples holiday to Hayman Island, an action-packed 4WD adventure on Fraser Island, world-class snorkeling at Moreton Island, or a family-friendly Whitsunday island holiday in Hamilton Island. These are the best Queensland holiday islands to add to your Australia bucket list.
HERE ARE 15 STUNNING QUEENSLAND ISLAND HOLIDAYS TO PLAN YOUR NEXT VACAY!
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Where to find the Best Queensland Holiday Islands?
The obvious choice for the best islands in Queensland is the ever-popular Whitsunday islands. Alternatively, the family-friendly islands off Cairns are also a good choice. But there are some really beautiful hidden gems in the southern Great Barrier Reef region that may be a little harder to reach, but totally worth the effort. And then there are the totally underrated islands near Brisbane that are perfect for a quick weekend getaway.
We cover them all in this guide…
Unfortunately, you cannot actually stay on the majority of the 900+ islands off Queensland’s coastline. Some are privately owned, undeveloped, or not accessible to the public. Many are just too small or too remote for anyone to reach without their own boat.
We’ve narrowed down our pick to these 15 stunning islands in Queensland that actually have accommodation available and are perfect for a relaxing holiday. Keep reading for more info about each of these Queensland island resorts:
- Hayman Island
- Fitzroy Island
- Moreton Island
- Lizard Island
- Hamilton Island
- Orpheus Island
- Elysian Retreat (Long Island)
- Lady Elliot Island
- Fraser Island
- Magnetic Island
- Heron Island
- Lady Musgrave
- Daydream Island
- Bedarra Island
- Green Island
Looking to explore more of Australia? Here are 50+ must-see places in Australia to add to your Bucket List
The Best Queensland Island Holidays & Resorts
#1 | Hayman Island
After being ravaged by cyclone Debbie in 2017, Hayman Island underwent a $135 million dollar renovation and is now one of the best resorts in the Whitsundays.
Arguably the most luxurious of all Whitsunday island resorts, Hayman has something for everyone. With two totally separate resort wings, one is perfect for couples, honeymooners, and retirees looking for some sun. The other wing features a child-friendly pool and offers the perfect Queensland island holiday for families with kids or teenagers.
There is no shortage of things to do on Hayman Island. The resort offers a smorgasbord of daily on-island activities, or day trips – including stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, sailing, champagne sunset cruises, nature walks, snorkeling trips, hiking, tennis, and fish feeding for the little ones. There’s even a golf simulator!
One thing’s for sure, whether you have kids, or travelling as a twosome, you won’t be disappointed if you choose Hayman Island for your luxury Whitsunday island holiday escapade!
How to Get There: Fly to Hamilton Island and hop on a luxurious catamaran to Hayman Island. Helicopter transfers are also available from Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach.
Where to Stay on the island: The Intercontinental Hayman Island Resort
#2 | Fitzroy Island
Offering endless activities, both underwater and on land, Fitzroy Island Resort is one of the best Queensland island holidays for couples or a family vacation.
Fitzroy is one of only a handful of islands off Cairns in North Queensland. It’s only a 45-minute boat ride away and is situated on one of the most pristine and protected areas of the Great Barrier Reef. With more than 95% of the island listed as a national park, Fitzroy Island provides unparalleled opportunities for adventure.
Stay overnight and spend a few days hiking through the rainforest, wandering along white sandy beaches, and diving underwater to snorkel with the marine life. Alternatively, it’s possible to visit Fitzroy Island on a day trip from Cairns.
You can even hop aboard a glass-bottom boat and watch the fish from above. The area is teeming with aquatic life, courtesy of the unspoiled coral reef, so there’s sure to be plenty for you to see. And if by some chance you do happen to miss out on the action, head on over to the turtle rehabilitation centre, where you can meet the island’s rescued turtles and witness their recovery first-hand.
How to Get There: The Fitzroy Flyer passenger ferry operates a 45-minute journey from Cairns Marina.
Where to Stay on the island: Fitzroy Island Resort
#3 | Moreton Island
There aren’t many resort islands near Brisbane, but Moreton Island is one option that’s perfect for a weekend getaway or family-friendly aquatic adventure!
A short 60-minute ferry ride from Brisbane, Moreton Island is home to the insta-famous Tangalooma Wrecks – one of the largest and most spectacular man-made reefs in the southern hemisphere!
“The Wrecks” is a collection of fifteen old dredging ships that were deliberately sunk in the 1960s to create a breakwater. The wreckages are now home to scores of reef fish, and other marine life, and is a very popular wreck dive and snorkel site.
Other things to do on Moreton Island include sunset dolphin feeding, sandboarding, ATV tours, kayaking, and swimming in the Champagne Pools.
Follow our guide and plan your own trip to Moreton Island or book a day trip from Brisbane. But we highly recommend an overnight stay, as this will allow more time to really explore the island. Moreton Island accommodation options range from basic beachside campsites to glamping, or staying at Tangalooma Island Resort.
How to Get There: Catch the Tangalooma Ferry (passengers only) from Holt Street Wharf in Pinkenba, or if you plan to take a 4WD vehicle to the island, the Micat Ferry (passengers and vehicles) departs from Port of Brisbane.
#4 | Lizard Island
Situated in the middle of a 1,013-hectare national park, Lizard Island Resort is the best luxury island in Queensland.
Lizard island accommodation is absolutely stunning, with laid-back barefoot-luxury style private villas. This all-inclusive resort is open to adults and children ten years of age and older. Its secluded location and private beaches make it the perfect holiday for couples looking to get away from it all.
With an emphasis on romance, the resort offers unique experiences just for couples. If you’re looking for an afternoon away, arrange for a private outing on the beach, complete with a deluxe picnic hamper. If you want something even more relaxing, schedule a massage for two. For the ultimate romantic experience, take advantage of the romance package, which includes a sunset cruise, a beach day with your own personal dinghy, and a private dinner on the beach.
For the more adventurous couple, there are several water sports options to indulge in, including paddle boarding, glass-bottom kayaking, snorkelling, diving, fishing, and private boat charters.
How to Get There: Lizard Island is the most northern island resort in Australia. Given its remoteness it can only be reached by airplane charters from Cairns arranged through the resort.
Where to Stay on the island: Lizard Island Resort
#5 | Hamilton Island
Hamilton Island needs no introduction. This beautiful holiday destination is one of the best Whitsunday island resorts in Queensland and a longtime favourite tropical Aussie holiday for families, couples, and, well anyone really!
Located in the heart of the gorgeous Whitsundays, Hamilton Island is a great place to base yourself when planning a trip to see the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach.
Hamilton Island also happens to be one of the best islands in Queensland to live on. There is a thriving community of people who reside and work on the island, which means there are plenty of great places to eat and drink, play golf, and go hiking, along with plenty of other great things to do on Hamilton Island.
The island is completely car-free. Holiday-goers and locals get around on electric golf buggies which can be hired by the day, or there is also a local shuttle bus to get from A to B.
Hamilton Island accommodation ranges from luxury resorts to self-contained bungalows, and private villas large enough for a group of friends or the whole family, there is an abundance of places to stay on Hamilton Island. As one of the most popular holiday destinations in Australia, you simply can’t go wrong by choosing Hamilton Island for your Queensland island holidays!
How to Get There: There are daily direct flights to Hamilton Island from major Australian cities or you can hop on a ferry from Airlie Beach. Helicopter transfers from Airlie Beach is also available.
#6 | Orpheus Island
Located between Cairns and Townsville on the Great Barrier Reef, Orpheus Island Lodge is a secluded, all-inclusive resort that offers accommodations for up to 28 people. This private, luxurious resort offers the perfect Queensland island holiday for couples and small groups, with special packages for babymoons, elopements, and weddings. It’s even known to host the occasional wellness retreats!
Activities on the island include snorkelling, picnicking, sailing, kayaking, diving, and more. There are also options for special tours. You can arrange for a trip to the Museum of Underwater Art, a man-made gallery of sculptors that lies 18 metres below sea level. Or if you’d rather stay on dry land, take a trip out to Hinchinbrook Island, the largest national park island in Australia.
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, then be sure to check out the island’s volunteer activities. As a guest, you’ll have the option to help out with beach clean-ups, go on eco dives, and assist with marine research.
How to Get There: Orpheus Island can be reached by 30-minute helicopter ride from Townsville or 90-minute helicopter ride from Cairns.
Where to Stay on the island: Orpheus Island Lodge
#7 | Elysian Eco Retreat (Long Island)
Photo credit: Elysian Retreat
Elysian Eco Retreat located on Long Island, is one of the only luxury Whitsunday resorts that is completely solar-powered!
Open to adults and children, 14 years of age and older, Elysian Eco Retreat provides accommodations for up to 20 guests. Offering a secluded getaway complete with rocky beaches, tropical rainforests, and of course, the stunning Great Barrier Reef.
With a focus on tranquillity and relaxation, Elysian Eco Retreat is a great holiday destination for your next honeymoon, babymoon, elopement, or anniversary.
The resort offers individual and small group experiences. In the mornings, you can join gentle yoga sessions, which are held right on the deck overlooking the ocean. In the afternoon, head over to the wellness centre for organic spa and beauty treatments.
There are also endless opportunities for island exploration, including biking, sailing, snorkelling, kayaking, and paddleboarding. In the evenings, make sure to simply sit back and take in the sunset from your oceanfront villa.
How to Get There: Elysian can be reached via helicopter ride from Hamilton Island or Proserpine Airport.
Where to Stay on the island: Elysian Eco Retreat
#8 | Lady Elliot Island
Known as the “Home of the Manta Ray”, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is the perfect island resort in Queensland for families seeking adventure.
Located in the remote southernmost tip of the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island lies within the middle of a highly protected “Green Zone” – a no-take area where only non-destructive activity is allowed.
Amid this marine sanctuary, you can find over 1,200 species of marine life, including manta rays, sharks, turtles, and pristine coral reefs teeming with fish. It should come as no surprise that the resort is known for its underwater activities. With over twenty dive sites to choose from, it’s a great location for seasoned and beginner divers alike. The resort even offers PADI diving courses for those looking to obtain or expand their certifications.
Snorkelling is another great option if you prefer to stay closer to the surface. In 2020, Lady Elliot Island was ranked as the second-best beach in the world for snorkelling by Lonely Planet.
How to Get There: Lady Elliot Island Resort arranges scenic flight transfers from 1770, Bundaberg or Hervey Bay. Due to its remoteness, there are no boat transfers to the island.
Where to Stay on the island: Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort
#9 | Fraser Island
Fraser Island, or K’gari, is one of Australia’s most famous natural landmarks and definitely a bucket list item for any visitor to Australia. Located 15 kilometres off the Queensland coast near Hervey Bay, it’s the world’s largest sand island, stretching over 120 km from top to bottom!
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed gem is one of the best islands in Queensland for adventure seekers. There are no sealed roads on the island and cruising along the beach in a 4WD vehicle is one of the most fun things to do on the island. And if you don’t have a 4WD, you can jump on this 2 day eco tour.
Fraser Island is an eco-tourism destination. Accommodation ranges from the upmarket Kingfisher Bay Resort, to decked-out glamping safari tents, and powered campsites, or you can literally pitch a tent right on the sand dunes.
Frasier Island is also home to some of Australia’s most beautiful natural land formations including pristine freshwater swimming holes such as Lake Mackenzie, Lake Wabby, Champagne Pools, and Eli Creek, as well as massive sand dunes, and the famous Maheno Shipwreck. With such amazing experiences on offer, Fraser Island is one of those Queensland island holidays that won’t disappoint!
How to Get There: Vehicle and passenger ferries operate daily trips to Fraser Island from River Heads in Hervey Bay or Inskip Point near Rainbow Beach.
#10 | Magnetic Island
Located just 8 km offshore from Townsville in Cleveland Bay, Magnetic Island is one of the most lively and popular Queensland holiday islands that offers countless opportunities for adventure on the Great Barrier Reef.
With over half the island designated as a national park, “Maggie” quite simply has it all – captivating forests, coral-lined oceans, sandy beaches, rocky shorelines, and its very own colony of koalas.
Couple this with its Peppers Blue on Blue Resort, which provides tranquil and relaxing accommodations, and you have the perfect destination for couples and families alike.
One of the few islands off Queensland that is home to many year-round residents, there are always plenty of events and activities to take part in, as well as a variety of restaurants and bars to choose from. Experiences on Magnetic Island include everything from snorkelling, to sailing, hiking, golfing, fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, and jet skiing. The island is also known for its diving, as it is located near one of the top shipwreck dive sites in the world – the SS Yongala.
How to Get There: Passenger and vehicle ferries operate daily from Townsville
#11 | Heron Island
Heron Island Resort is located on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef near Gladstone. The island offers endless opportunities for family fun with its white sandy beaches, pristine coral reefs, and ancient Pisonia Forest. Home to marine birds, nesting turtles, and an abundance of aquatic life, Heron Island is a sanctuary for wildlife and guests alike.
The island also plays host to the University of Queensland’s Research Station, a world-renowned research and teaching centre. Here you can join in on the fun and take a tour of the facilities, discover more about the research, and get up close and personal with a variety of marine life. The resort also offers a Junior Rangers Program for young researchers, which provides children seven to twelve years old the opportunity to learn more about the island’s natural environment.
For those who prefer to explore on their own, be sure to take advantage of the resort’s activities, which include everything from snorkelling to kayaking, paddle boarding, and nature trails.
How to Get There: Heron Island resort arranges boat transfers for guests from Gladstone. Seaplane or helicopter transfers are also available.
Where to Stay on the island: Heron Island Resort
#12 | Lady Musgrave Island
Lady Musgrave is considered by many to be one of the best Great Barrier Reef island resorts for snorkelling and diving as it is situated right on a coral cay in an area of the national park that is less frequented by tourists.
Lady Musgrave is a great option for families looking for a short getaway immersed in nature. You can spend your days snorkelling, swimming, diving, whale watching, and exploring the beaches and forest. There’s also the opportunity to tour the island’s reef via a glass-bottom boat.
Offering unique camping and glamping accommodations, Lady Musgrave is a Queensland island resort unlike any other. You can camp under the stars while the sounds of the ocean lull you to sleep. Or sleep aboard the Lady Musgrave HQ – a three-level pontoon boat featuring an underwater observatory that turns into bunk-style accommodations in the evenings. Here you can fall asleep “underwater” surrounded by abundant marine life. For a more private night under the stars, you can even try glamping on the top deck of the boat.
How to Get There: Daily ferry transfers operate from Bundaberg and the Town of 1770.
Where to Stay on the island: Lady Musgrave HQ Pontoon Accommodation
#13 | Daydream Island
Located in the middle of the Whitsunday Islands off the Queensland coast, Daydream Island Resort is an ideal holiday destination for couples and families. With modern, spacious accommodations, endless opportunities for adventure, and peaceful settings that are sure to invoke a sense of tranquillity, there truly is something for everyone.
Daydream Island’s premier attraction is the one-of-a-kind man-made Living Reef – a freeform coral lagoon built around the island’s central building. Holding over 1.5 million litres of water, the lagoon is home to hundreds of aquatic species. Here you can find a variety of fish, stingrays, reef sharks, starfish, and, of course, coral.
As a guest at the resort, you’ll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with all of the marine life. You can snorkel through the reef, help feed the fish, and even splash around with the stingrays.
There are loads of other activities on the island such as golfing, ocean rafting, paddle boarding, and yoga. But the Living Reef certainly makes Daydream one of the most unique island resorts in Queensland!
How to Get There: Catch a plane to Hamilton Island and then hop on a boat transfer to Daydream Island. There are also boat transfers from Port of Airlie.
Where to Stay on the island: Daydream Island Resort
#14 | Bedarra Island
Photo credit: Bedarra Island Resort
Bedarra Island Resort is a privately owned island situated just off the coast of Mission Beach near Cairns and Townsville, on the Great Barrier Reef.
One of the best luxury islands in Queensland, the all-inclusive resort accommodates up to 20 people. With ten private villas dispersed throughout the island’s tropical rainforest, this hidden escape is a perfect holiday destination for your next romantic couples getaway.
Each villa at the resort offers its own unique experience, giving you the option to personalize your holiday. If you love to be by the beach, request to stay at the Beach House. Or perhaps you prefer the tranquility of the rainforest? If so, be sure to book the Treehouse Villa. With ten different options to choose from, there’s something to satisfy everyone’s needs.
Outside of private and unique accommodations, the resort also provides several options for relaxation or adventure. Spend your days kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkelling, fishing, or getting a massage. There are even nearby deserted islands that you can visit for a romantic afternoon picnic.
How to Get There: Ferry transfers to Bedarra Island operate from Mission Beach. Helicopter transfers are available from Mission Beach or Cairns Airport.
Where to Stay on the island: Bedarra Island Resort
Read Next: The 10 Best Airbnbs in Cairns, Australia
#15 | Green Island
Green Island is a tiny coral cay located in the middle of the pristine Great Barrier Reef, just 27 km off the Queensland coast. It’s the perfect spot for an island getaway or day trip from Cairns.
There’s a reason behind the name – Green Island is the only island within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park that is completely covered in 6000-year-old unspoiled rainforest. It’s also surrounded by an ‘inshore patch reef’ with stunning coral gardens that provide a haven for a diverse range of marine life – including hundreds of coral species, colourful fish, turtles, and even dugongs!
Regardless of its tiny size, there is so much to discover on Green Island. This family-friendly island holiday destination boasts a range of activities from snorkeling, diving, or kayaking, to glass-bottom boat tours, rainforest eco-tours, and parasailing.
There are only a handful of islands near cairns that can be reached via boat. The ferry ride to Green Island only takes 45 minutes making it the perfect place for a quick weekend getaway or day trip!
How to Get There: Catch a plane to Townsville and then a boat to Magnetic Island.
Where to Stay on the island: Green Island Resort
Know of any other great Queensland island resorts that you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below.
Ready to Book Your Queensland Island Holiday?
We use and recommend Booking.com and Hotels.com or Agoda to book most of these Queensland island resorts, as they all offer a price match guarantee, free cancellation on most bookings, as well as other benefits and special deals for members. Use the search box below to find the best rates on accommodation!
Queensland Island Resorts Wrap Up
Queensland is one of the most beautiful states in Australia, and with so many amazing island holiday destinations, you’ll be simply spoilt for choice!
Because we live in Queensland, we’ve spent a great deal of time exploring this stunning state and have a ton of articles about Queensland island resorts and holiday destinations. Here are a few that you might be interested in:
- The Ultimate Guide to Hayman Island
- A Guide to Visiting Hayman Island
- 20 Photos to Inspire You to See the Great Barrier Reef from the Air
- The Ultimate Guide to Port Douglas
- A Guide to Visiting Tangalooma Wrecks on Moreton Island
- The 10 Best Airbnbs in Cairns
- Top 50 Most Famous Landmarks in Australia
We hope this list of Queensland holiday islands has helped you to plan your next trip. Be sure to check out more information about visiting Queensland on the Queensland tourism website.
WHICH OF THESE QUEENSLAND HOLIDAY ISLANDS WILL YOU CHOOSE FOR YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY?
Feeling Inspired? Here are 10 places to add to your Bucket List to visit this year!
Planning a trip soon? Here’s a list of the websites we use for booking our trips:
- Skyscanner for the best flight deals
- Booking.com for the best rates on hotels
- HomeAway for the best price on apartment and home rentals
- Rentalcars.com for quick and easy car rentals
- Luxury Escapes | Expedia for luxury package holiday deals and tours
- Get Your Guide | Klook | Viator for booking day tours and attraction tickets
- Tourradar for a wide selection of multi-day tours
- Safety Wing for the most comprehensive worldwide travel insurance
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About the Author:
Amanda Twine is the founder and creator of Bucket List Seekers – a luxury travel blog sharing informative travel guides, food guides, hotel reviews, itineraries, and tips about how to make luxury travel more affordable.