Top 5 Unknown Islands to Explore

We all love Hamilton Island and the Whitsundays, but there are many other islands along the coast of Queensland that have picturesque, private beaches for you to explore. Here are the top 5 island escapes you didn't know existed, so you can have your next holiday sorted.

The Southern Great Barrier Reef region is a part of Queensland that is untapped and full of hidden gems that most people have never thought of exploring. In just a two-hour flight you could be sitting on a private beach with a cocktail in hand, enjoying a week of tranquility and serenity. Read on to discover the top 5 unknown gems that will have your next holiday destination sorted.

1. Turtle Street, Curtis Island

Curtis Island offers stunning unspoilt beaches, intimate north-facing bays, sparkling ocean, the Great Barrier Reef, wilderness, wetlands as well as an outback-style cattle station, and remains one of the hidden secrets of the Southern Great Barrier Reef. It is this combination of these diverse attributes and natural beauty which make Turtle Street absolutely unique in Australia and perhaps even the world. As it is situated under the Tropic of Capricorn, the climate is far less humid in summer than further north and it escapes the chill of south-east Queensland in the winter.

Play: The combination of beaches, wilderness, "outback" and reef all in one place can’t be found anywhere else in Australia. Take your pick between catamaran sailing along the eastern coastline, bush camping under coastal she-oaks with easy access to the beach, a 27 kilometre coastal exploration (including lighthouse and Yellow Patch), wilderness and station tours (4-wheel drive tours of Monte Christo cattle station and Curtis Island), or horseback riding tours with naturalists at Monte Christo cattle station and Marine Plain.

Stay: Turtle Street, Curtis Island, has villas and apartments with spectacular views over the Coral Sea and island coastline.

2. Great Keppel Island

Situated just north of the Tropic of Capricorn and on Australia’s heritage listed Southern Great Barrier Reef, Great Keppel Island is an island paradise where you will find 17 pristine white sandy beaches and acres of bushland scattered with winding walking trails.

Play: Just a 30 minute ferry ride to Great Keppel Island, there is so much to see and do in this beautiful part of the world. Embark on a coral cruise and discover the beauty of Great Keppel Island, snorkel to the pristine reefs of the Keppel Group of Islands, part of Australia's Southern Great Barrier Reef, explore one of the many walking trails with spectacular views and scenery, or take some time out and see the island in your own time with a boat charter.

Stay: The Rosslyn Bay Wellness Retreat and Day Spa in Yeppoon is the place to discover impressive landscape consisting of the beaches, the harbour, the hinterland and the lush headlands. Rooms start from $155 per night.

3. Heron Island


Start your day with a beautiful sunrise and end it with a spectacular sunset on Heron Island. This exclusive island is for guests only (no day-trippers) and is ideally positioned to take you back to nature. As part of the Southern Great Barrier Reef region in Northern Queensland, Heron Island is situated so close to the Great Barrier Reef, you can simply dive off the island and snorkel with a myriad of colourful coral and reef fish in seconds.

Play: At Heron Island, you’ll sense early on that you are very much a guest of the natural environment, so there is a bounty of activities for any nature lover. For an unforgettable experience up until March you can see two vulnerable turtle species, the Green Turtle and Loggerhead Turtle in their natural habitat at night when they are hatching and nesting, go diving and see turtles, mantras, rays, sharks, dolphins, tropical fish while diving the coral gardens, or explore the island with a complimentary guided walk or nature tour.

Stay: Heron Island Resort has a bed and breakfast package in their beautiful Beachside Suite for $274 per night. Board a one-hour flight from Brisbane to Gladstone and from there you can travel by seaplane or via boat. 

4. Lady Elliot Island

For anyone wanting a digital detox, Lady Elliot Island is the place as it allows you to switch off and explore the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. The island is situated in the Southern Great Barrier Reef region and is a sanctuary for over 1,200 species of marine life and is known for its abundance of manta rays, turtles, amazing array of spectacular marine life and unspoilt coral reef.

Play: Explore the amazing eco system by reef walking, snorkelling or diving. Reef walking is a great way to explore the reef in the lagoon at low tide with the assistance of reef walking poles and seascopes. Discover the reef at night without getting wet by travelling on a night glass bottom boat. The Great Barrier Reef comes alive at night, and you are able to experience the coral polyps awake. Get wet and try snorkelling in the lagoon (ideal for novice snorkellers) and you'll find enough tropical fish, colourful coral, sea cucumbers, starfish, sea urchins, clams and turtles to keep you entertained for hours.

Stay: Lady Elliot Island Eco-Resort has a 1 night escape package including a guided snorkel tour and breakfast, lunch and dinner for $871 per night. 

5. Lady Musgrave Island Camping

Lady Musgrave Island is an uninhabited coral cay in the Southern Great Barrier Reef region, one of the world’s greatest natural phenomenons and a world heritage listed marine park. Lady Musgrave lagoon’s amazing colours and beauty are unsurpassed anywhere in the world, boasting an abundance of coral, fish and turtles.

Play: Lady Musgrave Island cruises are one of the best ways to pack in as much action as possible into a day trip to the island. Hop on a cruise boat and moor alongside a floating pontoon known as ‘Reef Sanctuary’, a stone’s throw from the island. Cruises include such great activities as snorkelling in the lagoon, glass-bottom boat trips, guided walks, turtle and manta ray discovery, reef fishing and much more. Explore Lady Musgrave Island National Park as it is a true un-spoilt wilderness offering the ultimate ‘castaway’ experience.

Stay: Lady Musgrave offers an affordable stay for anyone who would like to experience camping on a true coral cay.

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