Top 10 islands on Australia’s East Coast

Unmissable Islands on Australia’s East Coast 

Big, bigger, biggest. Australia’s East Coast Islands, include the biggest sand islands in the world. But that’s not all. The East coast — with a coastline of around 4,000 km from Melbourne to Cairns — has many other islands to visit during your time in Australia.

Most of them are tropical, so snorkelling and diving activities are highly recommended at most places, but there are some islands, like Cockatoo Island, that offer an experience that is totally different from what you can experience on the Whitsundays.

With over 2,000 islands located on the eastern coastline — spanning Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales — it can be hard to decide on where to go and what to do. So, we have selected the 10 best islands to visit on Australia’s East Coast (north to south). Keep on reading and be inspired for your next We Tour Australia tour!

Green Island

Green Island

At the top of the East Coast and the Great Barrier Reef, just 27km East of Cairns (a 45-minute boat ride) is Green Island. Although this island is not even square kilometre, it still has more than seven square kilometres of reef to explore. Given the island’s small size, it may come as no surprise that most of the activities that can be undertaken here are water-related.

With the Great Barrier Reef as a backyard, it is a good place for snorkelling and scuba diving. However, there are also some activities on land that are definitely worth it. Visit the Marineland Crocodile Park to see some amazing sea life. Walk around the island’s national park, Green Island National Park. Keep an eye out for 134 species of plant life and 35 seabird species. They all call Green Island home!

Fitzroy Island

Fitzroy Island

Another 45 minutes away from Cairns is Fitzroy Island. Again, this place is perfect for snorkelling, diving and kayaking. For a sea turtle encounter you can go to the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation centre. Don’t be fooled by the name. This centre is located on the western side of Fitzroy Island. Here you can see injured turtles before they are released into the ocean again.

A visit to this island is also not complete without a walk to the summit. It’s a 3.6km return track and will give you unforgettable 360-degree views.

Magnetic Island

Near Townsville is Magnetic Island. You can spot more wildlife on Magnetic Island. To see koalas, you can either go to Bungalow Bay Koala Village — an eco-accredited animal sanctuary and bungalow accommodation in one. Or you can try your luck by doing the Forts Walk. This walk takes you to a viewpoint over the entire island. Here are also remains of the ruins of forts that were operating during World War 2. Along the way, there is a good chance that you will also spot koalas.

Another way to see the island is to explore by car. This way you can visit all the beautiful beaches and hotspots that the island has to offer, and you can set off at your own pace. This is especially useful if you don’t have much time and still want to see as much as possible.

Daydream Island


A stay on the Whitsundays feels like you’re in a dream. A total of 74 tropical islands form the Whitsundays. One of those islands is even called Daydream Island. You can take a short 30-minute ferry and you will find yourself in paradise!

Explore the Great Barrier Reef in different ways here. Snorkel. Scuba dive. Simply, relaxon a boat and take in the beauty of your surroundings.

But you can also visit the Living Reef at the Daydream Island Resort. This is a free-form coral lagoon and home to over 100 species of local marine life. The underwater observatory, which takes you four meters under the surface, might be one of the highlights.

Heron Island

Another place to see turtles is Heron Island. This island rests within the Capricorn Group of islands located on the Great Barrier Reef. This island is a nesting ground for green turtles. So, you will most likely see one during your stay.

For the early birds and night owls, there is a shipwreck where you can snorkel too. It is located just off the beach so you can swim there on your own without a tour. But this is not allowed between 8am and 5pm, because of boat traffic coming from and to the island.

75 Mile Beach.

Fraser Island

Fraser Island (K’Gari) is the world’s largest sand island. On this island, you will find remote beaches, impressive rainforests and natural creeks. The island offers all kinds of accommodations from camping to luxury resorts.

You will need a 4WD if you want to travel around the island. The main road is called 75 Mile Beach. And you can drive from one side of the island to the other in two hours on this sand highway. Along the way, you will have stunning ocean views.

Shipwreck near Tangalooma Island Resort

Moreton Island

Moreton Island is located offshore between Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. Although it is not world’s largest sand island, it comes close. Moreton Island is the third largest.

You will probably see lots of wildlife here. Feed wild Dolphins that visit the jetty at Tangalooma Island Resort around sunset. This is located in the island’s north-west corner, above the heart of the island, Moreton National Park.

North & South Stradbroke Island

Just 8km south of Moreton Island is North Stradbroke Island. It and South Stradbroke Island, were one island until a storm in 1896. Today the two islands are only about 1km apart.

The north island is buzzing. There’s plenty to do here. Think of wildlife such as whales, kangaroos and koalas. For those who enjoy tranquillity, the South Island is recommended. There are no big resorts and it is also less touristy. Everything revolves around nature.

Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island

This island can be reached from Sydney with a 2-hour flight on QantasLink. There are also regular flights from Port Macquarie and Newcastle with Eastern Air Services. What is so special is that only 400 tourists are allowed on the island at all times. The island itself has a size of about 15 km2.

You can really relax on this island. You can go fishing, do some breath-taking hikes, and explore Lord Howe Island Marine Park. A good way to do this is to join a glass-bottom and snorkelling tour.

Cockatoo Island

The only island on this list that is not tropical, but definitely worth a visit. Cockatoo Island is located in the middle of Sydney. Popular attractions here include several heritage buildings. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. End your visit with a drink and the a walk across the famous Harbour Bridge.

Experience the island life yourself!

Fancy a trip to Daydream Island? Do you want to experience what life on Fitzroy or Fraser Island is like? We Tour Australia offers tours to these places and more.

We’ve only touched on the island options that Australia’s East Coast has to offer. Tourism Australia will help you explore your options virtually while you plan.

We are also more than happy to make sure you get your ideal holiday on Australia’s East Coast islands. Contact us today to discuss your options.