There is no denying that the east coast of Australia boasts phenomenal islands. Whether it is a boutique holiday in the Whitsundays, a 4WD expedition on Fraser Island or a surfing bonanza on Straddie, they all pack a punch!! But, do you sometimes find that you crave an island experience a little bit out of the ordinary? Well, here they are; 7 unique East Coast island experiences that will fill the hole. Maybe grab that donut though, just in case they don’t 😉
LADY ELLIOT ISLAND, SOUTHERN GREAT BARRIER REEF
Lady Elliot Island lies within a highly protected green zone that offers a safe-haven for over 1,200 species of marine life meaning that it is possible to swim with humpback whales, manta rays, turtles, sharks, dolphins annnddd an abundance of other colourful marine life, in the ONE DAY!! However, for this very unique and utterly mind-blowing experience it is best to visit during the winter months. Don’t let this deter you though because it is DEFINITELY worth braving the cold crystal-clear waters of the Southern Great Barrier reef.
Still not convinced? Top 10 reasons to visit Lady Elliot Island
DUNK ISLAND, SOUTH MISSION BEACH QLD
Load up the kayak! You are in for a dunkin’ oarsome time!
After paddling across the ocean from South Mission Beach, you will be greeted with a reef front campsite surrounded by the beautiful Australian bush. Spend the day catching fish of the nearby jetty or wander around the island along the walking trails before cooking under a star filled sky. Does it get better than that? Sure does! Wake up to the magic colours of sunrise and get ready for a big day of paddling to the surrounding island before returning to the mainland.
KESWICK ISLAND, MACKAY QLD
With no rowdy tourists, crowds, retail stores, chain motels, bustling restaurants or bars, this little-known slice of paradise tucked away in the southern Whitsundays is a great spot to test your Survivor skills. With the choice of a villa/studio, glamping or plain ol’ camping, access to hot showers (sometimes having to boil), the option to hire a golf buggy and having to bring absolutely EVERYTHING you want to tantalise your tastes bud with, unless hunting for fish and other seafood is your forte, Keswick Island is an island where the castaway experience can be as raw or as luxurious as you please.
MONTAGUE ISLAND, NAROOMA NSW
With strong swimming skills and a sense for adventure Montague Island is one of the greatest wildlife experiences on the East Coast of Australia. Positioned between the mainland and the edge of the continental shelf, the island the perfect home for thousands of Australian and New Zealand fur seals.
At first thought, swimming with wild seals in the open ocean sounds like you are putting yourself out there to be shark bait but, these cute wide-eyed creatures will definitely put on a show and their friendliness is so overwhelming that you will be more worried about being covered in seal poo or having one bump into you!
LORD HOWE ISLAND, NSW
Not only does Lord Howe Island boast 11 gobsmacking beaches surrounded by coral reefs, it claims THE best day hike in Australia, Mt Gower. At 875 metres above sea level Mt Gower towers proudly on the southern tip of the island. With its endemic flora and fauna, views of the tallest sea stack in the world, Balls Pyramid and interactions with Providence Petrels, there is no other mountain like it in Australia or even the world. Reaching the summit is no easy feat though and can only be conquered alongside a licensed guide.
P.S. Lord Howe is usually off the budget friendly radar for most of us but, having visited the island, I discovered that any tight-ass can afford to completely immerse in this idyllic honeymoon hotspot. Myth? Definitely not. This “Howe To Budget” guide will quickly become your most read travel bible. Move over Lonely Planet, this is how to explore Lord Howe Island on the cheap.
GREAT KEPPEL ISLAND, YEPPOON QLD
An island escape is often about lazing around in the pristine turquoise waters, enjoying a beer at the beach front bar and pitching an umbrella on the pure white sands for a relaxing day of reading. GKI offers all of this AND MORE! There is approx. 27 kilometres of trails over the entire island to be explored. From the hike up Mt Wyndham to wandering through the old homestead to finding secluded snorkelling spots at Butterfish Bay. So, what are you waiting for? Earn that second beer, lace up the boots and throw on a backpack full of snacks and snorkels.
OLD WOMAN ISLAND, SUNSHINE COAST QLD
Lastly, the most accessible island that has it all! Reef, turtles and sometimes even a surf break. The one-kilometre paddle over to the island can often be treacherous so be sure to choose a day with the right conditions.
For an epic snorkelling adventure far from the Great Barrier reef, dive off your kayak, boat or SUP into a world where the only sounds are crackling coral, fish gnawing on the rocks and in winter, whale songs!