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Dreamy Destinations: The Best Island Holidays in Australia

From secluded islands with all the bells and whistles, to natural wonders that will take your breath away. Sail away to serenity with the best island holidays in Australia.

Image Credit: Best Places QLD
Image Credit: Best Places QLD

Australia is one big, beautiful island – but did you know there are a whopping 8,222 others within its borders? While many are uninhabited, the rest are little slices of barefoot luxury with turquoise waters, sandy shores and lush landscapes that were made for exploring. There’s an idyllic island for every traveller, from the kind who likes to relax and rev up the romance to those who seek high-octane thrill and adventure.

Forget your passport and grab a one-way ticket to paradise with our picks for the best island holidays in Australia. These dreamy destinations, a hop from the mainland, each have a unique charm. Whether you're daydreaming of palm-fringed perfection or rugged coastal beauty, or even family-friendly trips, you'll find it here.

Pack your bags lightly and embark on your Aussie island adventure; it's a quick escape from the daily grind to island time.

Best Island Holidays Australia: Queensland

Lady Elliot Island
Lady Elliot Island

Lady Elliot Island

Just a 25-minute hop from Bundaberg Airport, Lady Elliot Island delivers a slice of the best island holiday in Australia. Its pristine coral beaches and crystalline waters are a snorkeler's and diver's paradise, teeming with vibrant marine life and now known as manta ray mecca. Nature lovers can roam the island's lush walking trails, surrounded by the enchanting reef.

This eco-friendly sanctuary provides a true digital detox, allowing you to reconnect with nature sans distractions. If you seek one of the most accessible and best Australian island holidays that's both sustainable and spectacular, Lady Elliot Island is your answer.

Sitchu Tip: For the full experience, choose the family-run Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, offering waterfront accommodations and scenic flight transfers for a unique island adventure. Dive, explore island trails, or witness turtle hatchlings making their way to the water.

Hayman Island
Hayman Island

Hayman Island

When planning the best Australian island holiday, Hayman Island in Queensland stands as the perfect choice. Nestled among the 74 Whitsunday Islands, Hayman offers a harmonious mix of luxury, adventure, and tranquillity. The InterContinental Hayman Island Resort is a hidden paradise, boasting grassy cliffs, white beaches, and a celestial-blue sea. Whether you're an experienced diver or a newbie, the Great Barrier Reef's wonders are moments away, with Maori wrasse and manta rays awaiting your discovery. If your idea of the best island holiday in Australia lists lounging and dining, then you’re in luck. From yoga to private beach picnics, the island caters to all tastes. 

Sitchu Tip: For an unabashed indulgence on your holiday, bask in the lap of luxury at the InterContinental Hayman Island Resort's stylish beach house. Enjoy opulent ocean views and your private infinity pool, with direct access to the beach, and an overall relaxing vibe.

Great Keppel Island
Great Keppel Island

Great Keppel Island

Sitting on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, this island is as chilled as it gets. Made up of 90% bushland, it’s beautifully rugged, and that wilderness is fringed by 17 beaches. All of them have the tropical tick of approval: white sand, azure waters, and pure peace and quiet. Dive beneath the surface, and you’ll see coral, brightly coloured fish and marine life. Like the best island holidays in Australia, Great Keppel Island is all about beach barefoot living – dig your toes in the sand, swing in a hammock, and relaaax.

Sitchu Tip: Take a guided jet ski tour or try tubing at Great Keppel Water Sports. Refuel with a chippie at Hideaway Bar & Bistro.

Fraser Island (Image credit: Queensland.com)
Fraser Island (Image credit: Queensland.com)

Fraser Island

The indigenous people of Fraser Island call it K’Gari, which means paradise – and that’s pretty much on point. As the world’s largest sand island (123km long by 23km wide), it’s a mecca for 4WD enthusiasts who love putting their foot down over the rugged terrain. 75 Mile Beach is where most of the action happens. Driving aside, the island is flush with rainforests, birds, and wildlife, and more than 100 brilliantly blue freshwater lakes, like Lake Mackenzie and Champagne Pools. Fun fact: it’s the only place where rainforest grows on sand.

Sitchu Tip: On your visit, check out the Maheno Shipwreck and Sandy Cape Lighthouse. Head down to Sunset Bar for a beachfront aperitivo.

Hamilton Island (Image credit: Sailing Whitsundays)
Hamilton Island (Image credit: Sailing Whitsundays)

Hamilton Island

Welcome to The Whitsundays: a group of 70+ islands surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef. At its heart is Hamilton Island, a cosmopolitan yet peaceful island that’s all about slow and steady living. You can spend your days travelling by golf buggy (yep, this is another car-free zone) to beautiful beaches, sipping bubbly on sailing boats, teeing off at the championship 18-hole golf course, and watching the sunset before tucking into a fresh seafood feast. Of all the islands in The Whitsundays, this one has the widest selection of bars and restaurants.

Sitchu Picks: For the ultimate luxury island holiday in Australia, book a stay at qualia. Explore the Great Barrier Reef from the Reefworld Pontoon and check out Catseye and Escape Beach.

Best Island Holidays Australia: Tasmania

Satellite Island
Satellite Island

Satellite Island

On Satellite Island, you call the shots. It's a place where there's both a lot and little to do, making it the perfect backdrop for your one-of-a-kind adventure.

Nestled in the heart of Tasmania's untamed beauty, you can savour leisurely mornings with the serene sounds of sea birds, or take a kayaking adventure to explore the island from the water. Cast a line from the boathouse jetty and shuck your wild oysters off the rock shelf, or venture out on one of the island's enchanting walks, like the Rock Shelf Walk or Cliff Walk.

Sitchu Tip: Did you know you can explore the entire island on foot? Lace-up your shoes and witness Tassie’s beauty in three different captivating walks to discover hidden coves, cliff-top vistas, and sweeping island panoramas. 

Rock formations across the beach at Flinders Island.
Flinders Island (Image credit: Rob Mullaly)

Flinders Island

An otherworldly paradise brimming with breathtaking natural wonders, Tasmania’s Flinders Island needs to be seen to be believed. Over stretches of achingly beautiful coastline, you’ll find stunning natural bushland, 120+ secluded beaches and exceptional dining experiences centred around the freshest seafood, locally grown produce, and hand-raised meats.

Outdoor enthusiasts will also be in their element on Flinders Island with endless opportunities for adventure. From snorkelling and fishing to cycling through its rugged landscapes, there is no shortage of activities to experience. Go off the beaten track and discover some of the island’s attractions from Castle Rock and Palana Beach to Strzelecki National Park. Experience a slower pace of life as you take a scenic drive or hike one of the many walking trails promising sprawling vistas elevated by crystal-clear waters, lagoons, and native wildlife.

Sitchu Tip: Because most of us go to Tasmania for the food (and drinks), be sure to add The Flinders Wharf, Unavale Vineyard, and the landmark Flinders Island Bakery to your foodie trail. You’ll find historical treasures at the Furneaux Museum and for snorkelling, look no further than Trousers Point.

Bruny Island
Bruny Island

Bruny Island

A gem off the coast of Hobart, Bruny Island is as far south as you can go before hitting Antarctica. It brings a little of the two countries together, and the result is stunning. One day, you’ll see arctic wildlife like penguins and seal colonies; on the next, you’ll explore the rainforest and tick off some of the island’s many walking trails, spotting unique animal and plant species along the way. Bruny Island is also a foodie’s dream, and no visit is complete without indulging in its best exports: cheese, raspberries, black cherries, oysters and wine. Discovered by Abel Tasman in 1642, it’s rich in British and Aboriginal history – if you can, it’s well worth lingering a little longer.

Sitchu Tip: For jaw-dropping views of The Neck, climb the steps to Truganini Lookout. Take an easy walk to Cape Queen Elizabeth and explore the South Bruny National Park. Sample local seafood at Get Shucked oyster bar and finish off with a nightcap at Bruny Island House of Whisky.

King Island
King Island

King Island

Affectionately dubbed ‘KI’ by the locals, Kings Island is a sliver of a spot off the northwest coast of Tassie. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone; stay a few days, and you’ll be greeted by name. The island is a magnet for foodies – and it shines brightest during the annual Long Table Festival. Its green pastures produce good cheese and dairy products (a visit to King Island Dairy is a must), while its surrounding seas supply fresh seafood. Food aside, it’s famous for its nature walks and wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for a platypus or the rare, orange-bellied parrot.

Sitchu Tip: Unleash your inner child with a ride on The Grand Carousel and The Beast rollercoaster in Rivertown. Wild Harvest is great for sampling farm-to-table produce from the area.

Best Island Holidays Australia: New South Wales

Lord Howe Island (Image Credit: Rian Cope Photography)
Lord Howe Island (Image Credit: Rian Cope Photography)

Lord Howe Island

Some places are so beautiful they make your jaw drop – this tropical island 600km off the NSW mainland is one of them. It was formed by volcanic activity a cool seven million years ago, and the result is a landscape that’s right out of a movie: think two lofty mountains overlooking a lagoon, coral pools, a string of beaches, and a lush rainforest with native plants you won’t see anywhere else. Pack your walking shoes and relish the tranquillity – Lord Howe Island has a limit of 400 visitors at a time, so there’ll be barely anyone around.

The island is just a two-hour flight from Sydney, but you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world and even another time, the scale and pristine nature of the island make Lord Howe feel almost pre-historic.

Sitchu Tip: Feed the fish at Ned’s Beach, sail around Ball’s Pyramid and set aside an afternoon to snorkel the island's vibrant coral reefs.

Best Island Holidays Australia: Victoria

Phillip Island
Phillip Island

Phillip Island

It’s just a 90-minute drive from Melbourne, but Phillip Island feels like an entire world away. It also has something to please every holiday mood. Over summer, families and couples flock to the island to soak up the beautiful beaches (Cowes Beach and Smiths Beach are popular), visit the wineries, and watch the famous Penguin Parade, where penguins waddle from the sea to their burrows for the night. During winter, it’s a tranquil escape from the city, whilst in October racing enthusiasts take over for the famous Grand Prix.

Sitchu Tip: Head to Cape Woolamai to check out one of the most popular surf beaches in Australia, and to take in the scenery. If you’re feeling adventurous, head out on a coastal hike along the pink granite cliffs to the top of the cape. Refuel with a sumptuous Italian feast at Isola Di Capri.

Best Island Holidays Australia: South Australia

Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island

Just a short journey down from Adelaide sits this island paradise, where good food, untouched wilderness and some of the most gorgeous getaways collide. Kangaroo Island is a destination like no other with something for everyone, perfect for a romantic rendezvous, a girl's trip with a difference or a family adventure.

Known as ‘nature’s playground’, this pristine island is renowned for its abundant native wildlife and picture-perfect scenery. And, even though nearly half of Kangaroo Island’s landmass was burnt during the devastating bushfires of January 2020, this dreamy getaway is still one of the most beautiful places in Australia. With wild sand dunes, the bold and dramatic Remarkable Rocks and gorgeous snorkelling opportunities over the ethereal Kangaroo Island Shipwreck Trail. And with a laid-back lifestyle that's second to none, Kangaroo Island is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Sitchu Picks: Start your day with brunch at Millie Mae’s Pantry then spend an afternoon at the Seal Bay Conservation Park or swim with dolphins at Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures.

Best Island Holidays Australia: Western Australia

Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island

Floating 18km off the coast of Perth, ‘Rotto’ – as the locals call it – is nothing short of spectacular. It boasts around 60 beaches, all of which are secluded (there’s a good chance you’ll get a stretch of sand to yourself), postcard-worthy and perfect for kayaking, swimming, surfing and fishing. It’s a haven for snorkellers and divers: beneath the sparkling Indian Sea, you’ll find coral reefs and shipwrecks that hint at the island’s fascinating history, dating right back to colonial times and WWII. Cars are banned, so the best way to explore is by bike – just be sure to stop and snap a photo with a ‘quokka,’ the cute marsupial that’s unique to Rottnest Island.

Has our edit of the best island holidays in Australia inspired some wanderlust? Keen to keep planning? Check out the best winery accommodation for a luxury stay amongst the vines or try something new with Australia’s hottest new hotel openings. You can also plan the best road trip around Australia this summer.

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