Nothing says “I’m on holidays” quite like an island escape. The next time you feel yourself in need of detachment from the mainland, instead of looking abroad, consider these east coast islands instead.
Lord Howe Island
Image thanks to Krannich Solar
Those unfamiliar with Lord Howe would be forgiven for mistaking this Australian island paradise for somewhere in Hawaii or Tahiti. The twin mountain peaks on the island’s southern end, sprawling greenery of Banyan trees and Kentia palms, combined with crystal clear lagoons, really do make this an idyllic oasis. Home to only 300 permanent residents, Lord Howe Island is located about 700 kilometres northeast of Sydney in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand. You can snorkel, dive and swim in the island's lagoons and get close to the marine species that call Lord Howe Island Marine Park home including hawksbill turtles, dolphins, sea lions and Galapagos sharks. On land, there are plenty of hikes and walking trails for outdoor enthusiasts, the best of which is a day trek to Mount Gower summit or the Malabar Hill walk.
Image thanks to Queensland Uncovered blog
Nicknamed “The Gem of South East Queensland”, Moreton Island is the ultimate Queensland island escape, located a short distance from Brisbane. Moreton is the third-largest sand island in the world, with the entire island consisting of sand bar one small section at Cape Moreton. Visitors to the island will feel a sense of familiarity here, with similar beaches and scenery to many south east Queensland coastal spots. The main difference is you’ll feel like you have the place to yourself! One of the least polluted and disturbed coastal environments along the east coast, this is the place to switch off, escape the crowds and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet. Top spots to check out while you’re here include Blue Lagoon, Cape Moreton Lighthouse, Dolphin Lake, Honeymoon Bay and Tangalooma Wrecks (pictured above!).
Sitting high on a similar sand mass scale to Moreton Island, a little further up north is the largest sand island in the world and one of Australia’s most loved holiday destinations. Fraser Island (K’Gari) really is the definition of an island paradise. A World Heritage Listed island gem, Fraser is picturesque not only for its beaches but its freshwater lakes and extensive rainforest. People flock to the island for day trips to week-long adventures, with facilities around the island to accommodate campers and glampers alike. First-timers to Fraser will want to ensure they check out Central Station, Eli Creek, Maheno Shipwreck, Lake McKenzie and Champagne Pools. You’ll need a 4WD to get around here, same for Moreton Island. If you don’t have one, you can always hire a vehicle or jump on a tour, an easy way to explore this stunning region without lifting a finger.
North Stradbroke Island
Image thanks to @northstraddieisland
Brisbane locals really can count their lucky stars for the trove of island escapes on their doorstep. One of the easiest to access from bayside Brisbane is North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) or ‘Straddie’ as it's commonly known. A short ferry or barge ride from Cleveland lands you in an absolute utopia. Sublime surfing beaches, gorges and nature hikes are just a few reasons to put Straddie on your island list. Be sure to visit Cylinder, Frenchmans and Main Beach for a saltwater surf and swim before heading inland to the freshwater lakes, including Blue Lake and Brown Lake. To really appreciate what this island has to offer, be sure to do the North Gorge Walk, a great spot for dolphin, turtle and whale spotting. Afterwards, reward yourself with a treat from Straddie’s famous gelati shop, Oceanic Gelati & Coffee Bar. While Straddie is perfect for a day trip, it’s also great for longer escapes, with plenty of campgrounds and holiday accommodation facilities for those who need longer than 24 hours to appreciate this Queensland beauty.
Image thanks to The Urban List
Sticking with Queensland but taking a trip further north, our last island recommendation is Magnetic Island, 20 minutes by ferry from Townsville. Magnetic Island is popular and populated, home to more than 2,500 people and offering plenty in the way of hostels, holiday homes and luxury resorts. Active travellers will love a trip to this north Queensland island, with all sorts of activities on offer including snorkelling, boat charters, water sports, diving expeditions, jet skiing, fishing, horse riding and hiking. If you love Australian animals, you’ll be pleased to know this stunning island is home to the largest koala colony this side of Australia, and you can even cuddle one at Bungalow Bay Koala Sanctuary. Another famous Magentic Island attraction is its topless cars! You can hire these cute, fun cars and spend the day exploring the island or simply pretend you are lost in a movie moment or two.
And, how could we forget the shining stars of the east coast island world - the Whitsundays! With over 74 island beauties to choose from, we've narrowed down our favourites right here.