Magnetic Island, or “Maggie”, as it is affectionately dubbed by locals, is a very popular backpacker destination that has plenty of fun adventure activities, but manages to retain a retreat-like atmosphere. It is just a 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville and it boasts 23 bays and beaches, extensive hiking trails and a good choice of hostel accommodation. It also has a substantial residential community and quite a few of its 2000 residents commute to work in Townsville by ferry.
Much of the island’s lush interior is national park and the surrounding water is part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, providing some great diving and snorkelling not far from the shore. The island is home to an impressive range of wildlife including koalas, possums, rock wallabies and various bird species. With an average of 320 sunny days per year, Maggie is a nature-lover’s paradise. Nightlife here is not very good, unless you count (and perhaps you should) the monthly full moon parties put on by Base Backpackers.
Magnetic Island is serviced by a bus service that runs once or twice an hour, but is not the most punctual nor reliable. A good alternative is renting a scooter, Moke or bike to get around, as the towns are just far enough away to warrant transport other than walking.
Sunbus operate Magnetic Island's bus service and runs a route between Picnic Bay and Horseshoe Bay stopping en route at Florence Bay and Nelly Bay. Buses run at least once an hour and one-way fares range from $1.70 to $3.50, although most fares are either $2.30 or $2.80. The bigger hostels on Magnetic Island also run their own shuttle buses between the hostel and the ferry terminal.