Magnetic Island is actually a suburb of Townsville that is connected by water rather than road. There is a resident population of around 2500 people and Townsville Council looks after the infrastructure etc. It takes 20 to 25 minutes to get across and ferries run from very early morning until late night – the photo has Townsville in the foreground and 'Maggie Isle', as the locals call it, across the water. The island was named by Captain Cook in 1770 because there was something about the island that made his compass act a bit crazy.
As suburbs go, they don’t come much prettier or more relaxing. With great weather year round, watersports abound – swimming, snorkelling, sailing, kayaking, sailboarding, waterskiing, aquabiking and scuba diving. It is a good spot for an intro dive. The fishing is also sensational with the waters around the island being home to marlin, sailfish, wahoo, giant trevally, mackerel, red emperor and tuna. You also have a good chance of spotting dolphins, turtles and sea eagles – and the island is also home to some 800 koalas.
To get around the island there are buses and taxis or you can hire a Moke, scooter or bicycle. There are also plenty of guided tours. There’s horse riding, tennis, lawn bowls and an excellent golf course (the Country Club in Picnic Bay). There are all the shops you would find on the mainland as well as a great selection of restaurants and cafes.
Magnetic Island makes for a fantastic day trip and, back on the mainland, Rydges Townsville can look after all your accommodation needs.