Whether you want to run through the waves in Rottnest or hide away on ‘Hammo’, picking the best of Australia’s island holidays is an impossible task and depends entirely on your needs. So before you book, take some time to get to know some of the Australian island all-stars…
Cocos Keeling, WA
If you’re unfamiliar with the Cocos Keeling Islands don’t dismay, commercial flights to this far-flung atoll only began in the 1990s and so it’s a destination that’s still gaining traction amongst the masses. Which is precisely its charm. Cocos is remote with capital ‘R’ but that also makes it ideal for those hunting for that other big ‘R’ word—relaxation. Also known as ‘Australia’s Maldives’ Cocos Keeling boasts the same clear azure waters, white sand and shady palms of its Indian Ocean counterpart but without the crowds all cloying for a unique Insta-moment.
Rottnest Island, WA
Just 19km from the city, Rottnest Island is Perth’s beloved nature playground. A largely cycle-only haven (cars aren’t allowed, except for the island’s own bus services), you’re pretty much required by law to slow down and take things easy upon arrival. Here playful Quokkas roam freely amongst the weekend warriors who flock here for the stunning walking trails, abundant sea life and safe family-friendly energy.
The Whitsundays are arguably the most famous cluster of islands in all of Australia. The pristine white beaches of this paradise plays host to some 3.5 million nature-lovers each year and with 74 islands to choose from there’s something to suit every type of traveller. There are 9 major destinations that draw crowds for different reasons. Prefer to party with the locals? Airlie is ideal. Rather live a little luxe alongside the great outdoors? Hayman has you covered. You can find our guide on which island will best match your personality here.
Fraser Island, QLD
With its crystal clear freshwater lakes, breathtaking constantly shifting sand dunes and towering rainforests filled with ancient ferns, it’s little wonder Prince Harry and Meghan Markle opted to make camp at Fraser Island on their royal visit. This is the ultimate island all-rounder, serving up world-heritage listed beauty and off-grid options alongside high-end (and royal-approved) eco-luxury resorts.
Lord Howe Island, NSW
Lord Howe Island is so picture perfect it’s like something dreamed up in Hollywood. The semi-sheltered reef lagoon and volcanic mountain ranges seemingly straight from a Bond-villain’s lair definitely help with that, however we can confirm that Lord Howe’s Heritage-listed beauty is all real and easily accessible on a 2-hour flight from Sydney. Need more convincing? Check out 9 of the most jaw-dropping things to see and on Lord Howe.
Phillip Island, VIC
Flippers, fins or feathers, take your pick. Just 2-hours-drive from Melbourne, Phillip Island is the perfect escape for those stuck for time but looking for maximum magnificence. Here you can get up close and personal with the bulls and pups of Australia’s largest seal colony, feed friendly stingrays near Phillip Island Bridge, however most visitors flock to Phillip to view the rafts of dainty fairy penguins as they waddle ashore from a day at sea.
Kangaroo Island, SA
Foodies rejoice; Kangaroo Island is an oasis of all things artisanal, seasonal and locally sourced. A distillery, a brewery and over 12 respected vineyards call this place home, sharing real estate with sea-lions, echidnas and, of course, countless kangaroos. Ready to tuck in? Read our gastronomes guide to Kangaroo Island.
Flinders Island, TAS
Despite boasting a coastline as picturesque as its northern counterparts, the true beauty of Flinders Island lies in its simplicity. No crowds to contend with, limited network reception to ensure you truly switch off, this is a place that likes to keep things low key and attracts visitors looking for the ultimate destination to feel a sense of space.