Magnetic Island is a tropical paradise located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, known for its beautiful beaches and stunning natural scenery. While the island's natural beauty gives plenty of charm, it's also home to a vibrant food and drink scene in peak season, as well as unique and comfortable places to stay. So, don't miss out on experiencing the best our island has to offer, check out our range of transport options too!
EAT & Drink
These are our restaurant recommendations on the island that reflect our personal recommendations and ones which we eat in on a regular basis.
Saltwater Magnetic Island - Modern Australian Seafood restaurant in the heart of Nelly Bay. Open Wednesday’s to Sunday’s. Bookings essential. BYO only. 0414 352 762
Scallywags Cafe - Casual pirate themed cafe which is great for breakfast and does amazing burgers for lunch. Bookings not required. Open 8am to 2pm daily.
Granite - Cocktails, tapas and pizzas. A great place to unwind at the end of the day. Bookings recommended.
Stuffed on Seafood - Casual seafood restaurant, Booking not required unless a large group. Licensed.
Nell's Famous Indonesian - Every Wednesday, Nell takes orders from her weekly menu for collection on Friday's from her kitchen in Nelly Bay. Delicious things like Prawn Laksa, Beef Rendang, Honey Chicken and more. PS. this is a real locals secret...! Contact Nell for more information: 0400 676405
Magnetic Island Brewery - Highly recommended. Great beers with a special one on rotation. Check the days they open.
Mamma Roma - fresh and authentic Italian, sometimes have live music playing on the weekends. Check their facebook page for details. BYO. Open from 5pm for dinner. Bookings essential (07) 4778 5456
The Reef Bar Cafe - Great breakfasts and lunches. Tuesday to Sunday from 12 till 2 pm and on Friday night 5.30 till 8 pm.BYO. Bookings recommended. (07) 4758 1477
Stage Door Theatre Restaurant - Cheesy but brilliant. You'll laugh, you'll sing and you'll have a super fun night out. Three course dinner and a show! Bookings essential. (07) 4778 5448
Aqua in Arcadia - Fantastic restaurant offering breakfast and lunch from Thursday to Sunday. Lovely garden setting with great quality food. (07) 4778 5029
Arcadia Bakehouse - coming early 2024. Formerly Cake Ninja on the island, Arcadia Bakehouse will not only feature Barb's fabulous cakes but also a wide array of baked goods - pies, sausage rolls and more. And Pilgrim's famous Pumpkin Chutney is available for purchase there too.
Cafe Nourish - healthy breakies and lunches. Bookings not required.
Barefoot Art Food Wine - the fine dining option in Horseshoe Bay. Good for lunch or dinner. Combines an art gallery and a restaurant. Bookings recommended. (07) 4758 1170
Professional Catering Services at your holiday home:
Here is our recommendation for catering services in the comfort of your own home:
For all your desserts and birthday cakes, Arcadia Bakehouse (formerly Cake Ninja) offers an array of cakes and sweet treats to tantalise your taste buds.
Please note, over the wet season many restaurants close on the Island or change their operating hours. Click on the link below for the restaurants and cafe's we know are closed. Please check opening hours with restaurants themselves.
Finally, check out our TOP THREE TIPS to dining out on Magnetic Island. Trust us, it's worth being prepared.
Magnetic Island has a wide range of accommodation to suit any budget and taste. Most are self-catering accommodation with only a couple of the resort style properties with an in-house restaurant. And out of the resort-style properties, Peppers is our pick as it’s in a very convenient location next to the marina, ferry & bus terminal. It has two great pools and a restaurant.
Best of Magnetic has the largest portfolio of properties which suit a range of tastes and group sizes. Here are a few of our favourites which are available on Best of Magnetic unless specified.
For Large Groups:
Magnetic Island has 23 bays and beaches to explore and nearly 25 kilometres of walking tracks meandering through the national parks. Listed below are the best methods of transport to ensure you see the best of our Island during your stay
By Foot: Select one of the beautiful walking tracks on the island. There are walks of all length and difficulty. Our favourites are The Forts Walk and Hawkins Point. Check out more information on the National Parks website.
By Car: Hire a open top car and cruise the island with the wind in your hair. Our recommended car hire companies are Isle Hire, who hire the classy convertible minis and the topless cars or MI Rentals with their funky jeeps and a range of other cars too.
By Boat: Obviously our preference! There are many beaches on the island which are only accessible by boat. Pilgrim Sailing and Pilgrim Adventures should have you covered here.
Here are some other businesses who offer slightly different experiences on the water:
For families with young kids we'd recommend Aquascene. Adam and Steph, the owners have lived on the island over 30 years and know all the special spots. They run half day tours where you can snorkel, fish and explore...
For the diving enthusiasts, book in with Adrenalin Dive for a trip to the outer reef for a Dive or a Snorkel. Highlights in the region are the SS Yongala, one of the top 10 dive sites in the world and the new Museum of Underwater Art.
The Museum of Underwater Art features a dive site, The Coral Greenhouse and a snorkel site, The Ocean Sentinels. The Coral Greenhouse is a groundbreaking underwater museum at John Brewer Reef, 30 nautical miles north-west of Magnetic island, which was created by Jason deCaires Taylor a world-renowned underwater artist. It combines marine science, coral gardening, and environmental art and architecture to offer a fresh perspective on the Great Barrier Reef and its ecology. In June 2023, a new snorkel trail at the same location featuring Ocean Sentinels, which is a collection of sculptures that blend human figures with natural marine forms. These sculptures represent influential Australians who have made significant contributions to marine science and conservation.
If you’re looking for a fishing charter, contact Dom from Horseshoe Bay Fishing Charters.
For fast and furious look no further than Jetski Hire Magnetic Island for the largest jet ski area on the east coast of Australia or Magnetic Jet who do guided jetski tours around the island.
Alternatively if you’re looking for something a bit slower, jump on a kayak with Magnetic Island Sea Kayaks for a sunset or morning tour.
Magnetic Island offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, delicious cuisine, and comfortable accommodation that make for an unforgettable island experience. With so many options for food, drink, and sleep, you can truly indulge in the best that the island has to offer.
Welcome to our Discover Blog series, written by our one and only Marine Scientist, Adventures Skipper and Pilgrim Deckie, Bridie Lewis. Make sure you don't miss out on each edition, published regularly, on our social media platforms, providing a one of a kind insight to our marine worlds!
Let's dive in to our Island's underwater world's
As a marine scientist studying the captivating world beneath the waves, Magnetic Island's fringing reefs have become a place of exploration and awe. Join me as I dive into the shallows and uncover what I have had the opportunity to discover and learn from Magnetic Island’s fringing reefs.
Magnetic Island, with its sun-kissed beaches and azur waters, beckons visitors to discover the hidden wonderland beneath its surface - the fringing reefs. These coral formations stretch along the island's shoreline, creating a marine paradise for water enthusiasts from around the globe.
From a scientist’s perspective, the fringing reefs surrounding Magnetic Island are more than just picturesque seascapes. They are highly biodiverse ecosystems, teeming with marine life that all contribute to intricate ecosystem webs and functional roles that help create such productive ocean ‘hotspots'. Schools of colourful butterfly fish gracefully navigate through the coral maze, while giant clams and sea turtles find refuge within branching corals and large ‘brain like’ coral domes. A map of these snorkel trails can be purchased for five dollars from Fish'n'Fuel in Nelly Bay or Pleasure Divers or the newsagency in Arcadia.
Two exceptional snorkel trails, Nelly Bay and Geoffrey Bay, offer immersive encounters with Magnetic Island's fringing reefs. These trails provide a front-row seat to site-seeing our key “reefal” residents. As you glide through the surrounding tropical waters, you'll be greeted by an array of distinctive fish such as the energetic coral trout, territorial wrasses or colourful parrotfish. You’ll discover small rarities such as nudibranchs, and giant 200kg clams that live for 100 years; both of these creatures are unbelievably unique and colourful - a feature to ward off predators and a reminder to keep a distance when snorkelling such treasures.
For those that would like to venture off the beaten-track, the fringing reefs of Arthur and Florence Bay offer an extraordinary underwater voyage. Descending into the bay, you'll witness an entirely different world unfold before your eyes - from the sandy shallows, to the reef ridge and reef flat. The friendly cod and dart fish, ever-curious, may even become your snorkelling companions, following you with boundless curiosity. Currently, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) is monitoring water quality parameters such as water temperature, salinity, phosphates and nitrates/nitrites for better understanding of fringing reef dynamics in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). You may notice small, square tiles with cylindrical data loggers attached when snorkelling over the reef crest and reef flat which are doing just this! Arthur Bay and Florence Bay offer the perfect setting for ongoing research and monitoring as they are heavily protected green zones. On-going data collection and analysis is collaborative with research labs globally, allowing scientists to do their best to preserve and protect our natural wonders.
In partnership with AIMS and James Cook University (JCU), I have had some incredible opportunities to work with some of the marine life that call Magnetic Island home. My research on green sea turtles to hybrid coral growth, and epaulette sharks has allowed me to understand the crucial importance of these reef habitats and their residence’s, on the wider ocean dynamics. These reefs serve as vital habitats, nurturing a multitude of marine species and playing a crucial role in maintaining the health of the surrounding ocean ecosystem. Regrettably, like their counterparts worldwide, they face threats from climate change, pollution, and overfishing. As stewards of these delicate ecosystems, it is both our responsibility and privilege to safeguard them for future generations to cherish.
So, when you set foot on Magnetic Island, why not take the plunge and immerse yourself in the wonder of our fringing reefs. Explore the vibrant, amorphous coral gardens, whilst watching out for angelic marine life, and witnessing the interdependence that sustains these fringing reefs.
Stay tuned for more from your local marine scientist here at Pilgrim Magnetic Island, as there is more to discover and learn about our underwater world, most months with my Discover Blogs!
Until next month,
Shark Physiologist & Marine Scientist