Magnetic Island got its name back in 1770 when Captain Cook commented that it seemed to exert a magnetic force that interfered with his compass. It was an interesting theory, but Cook was wrong. The only magnetic force this island has is the one that attracts visitors to it.
Maybe a better name for Magnetic Island would be Magic Island. There is a palpable feeling of magic on the island that cannot be measured with scientific instruments, but has to be experienced in person. What is the magic?
Of course, its location on the Great Barrier Reef has something to do with it, but there are many wonderful islands on the Reef. What sets this one apart from the rest? One of its attractions is its location. Clearly visible from Townsville, it would be difficult not to be drawn to this mysterious looking, tree covered, and mountainous island. Looking at it from a distance, the adventurous traveller would naturally want to explore some of its over 200 natural coves or set out into its interior. Since over half of the island is a protected National Park, there is plenty of scope for exploration.
However you wish to explore Magnetic Island, it can be done. On land, you can do it the old fashioned way and go on fantastic bushwalks or you can rent a dirt bike, take a 4WD tour or even rent a Harley Davidson. In the water, take your choice between scuba diving, snorkelling, taking a guided sea kayak tour or, if speed is your thing, jet ski or water ski. For the ultimate in luxury, you can even rent a yacht.
Many people get the mistaken impression that Magnetic Island is one of those Great Barrier Reef islands that only millionaires can afford to visit. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, one of the attractions of the island is the numerous budget accommodations and backpackers lodges that are available. As for dining, you can find whatever you want, no matter what your budget is, in any of the island’s four main residential districts.
If you do want a luxurious accommodation on Magnetic Island, you won’t be disappointed, either. Especially in more recent years, luxury accommodations have been developed on the island. Then there are the day spas and other businesses that have been set up to help make your trip to this special island even more memorable.
Magnetic Island’s major attraction may be its authentic village atmosphere. When you visit this island, you don’t feel like you are visiting a Great Barrier Reef island that has been developed solely for tourists. The locals are a special breed. While they love to share their island, they are down-to-earth Australians you can sit down and "have a yarn" with.
With over 300 days of sunshine a year and temperatures that rarely can be described as anything but "balmy", any time of the year is a good time to visit Magnetic Island. It’s probably best to book your Magnetic Island accommodation ahead of time, though, since it is a popular Australian getaway destination all year ’round.