Double Island: For the best escape close to Palm Cove
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Though it is only a five-minute boat ride from Palm Cove, the soon-to-open amenities of Double Island – including luxury villas, plunge pools, snorkelling, hiking and wild natural beauty – still fly under the radar. Get here while it’s still a secret.
Fitzroy Island: For the best luxury eco-escape
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A 45-minute boat trip from Cairns, Fitzroy Island is home to rugged coral beaches, wild rainforest and a turtle rehabilitation centre. Guests kayak, paddleboard and snorkel on the reef; they hike to the lighthouse or sip cocktails at the swim-up pool bar; and at night they dine on beautiful dishes – seafood broth with crocodile tortellini, paperbark-smoked swordfish and seafood platters – flavoured with native Australian plants such as muntrie berries, quandong and lemon myrtle.
Haggerstone Island: For the ultimate desert-island fantasy
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Haggerstone Island is legendary among the few people who’ve heard of it. Located off the Cape York Peninsula in Tropical North Queensland, it’s the quintessential desert-island fantasy, a speck of paradise inhabited by just a handful of people. It’s accessible by either a charter flight from Weipa or Cairns or, for the adventurous, a two-day journey by boat.
Pumpkin Island: For the best self-catering holiday
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Pumpkin Island, a 45-minute cruise from Yeppoon’s Keppel Bay Marina, has been recently reimagined as a stylish, eco-conscious island escape – with beautiful self-catering bungalows, private plunge pools, and cozy hammocks hanging by the tideline, it’s the laid-back tropical getaway you’ve been dreaming of.
Keswick Island: For something different
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Keswick Island hides a sweet secret: a colony of purebred Caucasian bees that produce a rich, dark-red honey unlike any found on the mainland. Located off the coast of Mackay, the island is encircled by shipwrecks, reefs and a rich marine life. Accommodation options include camping, glamping, cottages and Airbnb.
Lady Musgrave Island: For the best wildlife experiences
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Dangling like a gem at the very end of the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Lady Musgrave is the only coral island in the reserve with a navigable lagoon. Daytrips launch from the towns of 1770 and Bundaberg and visitors can expect to see plenty of turtles and nesting birds in this national park and World Heritage zone. Camping is permitted, although campers must bring along fresh water and other supplies.
Humpy Island: For the best walking and whale sighting
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It’s an effort to get to Humpy Island off the coast of Yeppoon. Visitors must hire a boat (or take their own) and should bring fresh water and supplies if camping. But it’s well worth it for walking tracks that lead through a variety of island habitats, spectacular views from the island’s summits and possible sightings of whales and dolphins in the surrounding waters.