Magnetic Island is a little slice of heaven and only a short ferry ride away from Townsville. If you want to enjoy the paradise that’s available in our backyard, here’s some insider tips from a true island lover to get you started.
About 12 years ago, my parents made the decision to invest in Magnetic Island. We purchased land in Horseshoe Bay and built a one-of-a-kind bush to beach family holiday home and since then we’ve cherished every minute and special moment that we’ve spent together in our island home. Whether it’s scientifically correct or not, Magnetic Island certainly has a “pull” that makes you never want to leave.
Over the years Magnetic Island has become my sanctuary. We’ve held countless birthday parties, anniversaries, Australia Days, Easters, and Christmases in our house, not to mention the hundreds of weekends spent escaping the rigmarole of everyday life on the mainland. I try to escape to Magnetic Island most weekends. No matter how stressful or long my week has been, the moment I step onto the 6pm ferry on a Friday afternoon, all my worries fade into the distance and it feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders.
We’ve developed so many traditions on the island over time; some things are well-kept island secrets and others are better known. So this month, I’d like to share some of my own personal insider tips that are loved by locals and visitors all over Magnetic Island. I hope you’ll try them out and fall in love with the island, just like I have.
1. Nell & Rick’s Indonesian Crepes
We’ve been visiting Nell & Rick’s Indonesian Food Stall for so many years now that it almost feels like they’re family. Located at the Arcadia Hotel on a Friday night, Nell and Rick are a husband and wife duo who make the best Indonesian food I’ve ever tasted. Nell is one of the warmest and nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and the more you visit her, the more it will feel like you’re a part of her family too. My pick: Try two of the beef rendang crepes, washed down with an icy cold beer from the bar.
2. Butterfly Rainforest at Horseshoe Bay
Not many people know about this hidden little spot located on Horseshoe Bay Road, just before you hit the beach. Situated right beside Bungalow Bay, the entrance is almost unnoticeable to many people. But if you look closely, you’ll see a butterfly drawing etched into the side of one of the gumtrees. And this is the entrance to the most enchanting little butterfly rainforest on the island. Filled with hundreds of thousands of blue monarch butterflies, this little walk is most magical in the cooler months. My tip: visit between April – September in the mid-afternoon and be captivated as the butterflies fill the air around you.
3. Breakfast and Mango Smoothies at The Early Bird Café
This is a relatively new favourite of mine. The Early Bird Café is owned by a young Italian couple and is located on the waterfront of Horseshoe Bay Beach. They have excellent coffee, amazing breakfasts, and the best mango smoothie (in my opinion) on Magnetic Island. My tip: get in early if you’re heading here for breakfast on a Sunday! Bonus tip: order the baked eggs with a side of haloumi – you won’t regret it.
4. Cricket and swimming at Florence Bay
The only thing that inhabits Florence Bay is the wildlife. It’s one of the 23 beaches that make up Magnetic Island and one of the spots most-favoured by locals. Naturally, my family prefers it for its cricket pitch abilities. Here, the tide goes out quite far, the beach is wide and the sand is firm. Usually, there’s hardly anyone here so it’s the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic and a massive game of beach cricket. Insider tip: when there’s a strong easterly wind, you might even be able to catch a wave.
5. The perfect photo opportunity
Magnetic Island is one of the most beautiful, picturesque places I’ve ever seen in the world. From the crystal clear water at Alma Bay, to the scenic view from the top of the Forts Walk. Almost everywhere you look, there’s a perfect picture opportunity worthy of being posted to your Instagram page. My favourite spots: underneath the Picnic Bay Jetty when the tide is at its lowest, the beautiful forgotten piano at Radical Bay and the stunning yellow and orange sunset over Horseshoe Bay in winter.
6. Secret waterfall spots
Many of the hidden waterfalls on the island have been discovered by locals over time and are secret spots that are off the beaten track. Of course, in order for these waterfalls to reach their peak magnificence, it needs to rain a lot – something that hasn’t happened for quite some time in Townsville. My favourite is a little spot at the end of Horseshoe Bay. Of course, I can’t tell you exactly where it is, but here’s a little hint: ask a local to point you in the direction of Winikies Waterfall and you won’t be disappointed.