Secret pockets of paradise as beautiful as they are remote, are the best kept secrets of our world, and are just waiting for you off the shores of Australia.
Did you know there are a whopping 8,222 islands within Australia’s borders to explore? Many that have dreamy translucent turquoise seas, palm-fringed white beaches and endless horizons with slow paced tranquility of life for you to discover. Islands have always occupied a special place in the imagination of travellers, as the romanticised sense of ‘getting away from it all’.
You can find in Australia secret islands, beach escapes where you can swim with manta rays in pristine surroundings with a secluded chilled vibe your soul longs for.
Here are just a few best kept secrets of unspoilt, beautiful, remote peaceful pockets of undiscovered paradise:
1. Orpheus Island
‘Orpheus’ as Greek myth tells, was known for his ability to charm all living things and the charm of this island beauty is very much a secret to the outside world. Located just 80km off Townsville in Queensland this rare island hideaway, stretches across 11km of coastline which is fringed with a scattering of palm trees and abundant coral reefs. Most of the island is declared as a national park covered with eucalypt forests.
In these turquoise waters, with the outer Barrier Reef just 10km away there is uncountable reef and marine life, including rays, turtles, reef fish and small reef sharks. This secret island hideaway has 30 beaches and 1400 hectares of bush. The neighbouring Fantome Island, a former Leper colony, with its deeply moving indigenous history, can also be explored.
At the most the island hosts about 30 guests in its one very luxurious resort, so is an ideal destination for lovers of exclusive tranquil holidays. There is also three campgrounds on the island with plenty of bushwalking, snorkelling, fishing and diving on offer.
Getting there. A 30 minutes helicopter journey from Townsville or an hour and a half journey from Cairns. Guests are limited to 15kg of luggage.
2. Lord Howe Island, NSW
Lord Howe Island is the absolute definition of Paradise! With an uncrowded island lifestyle you can indulge yourself with some of the world’s best day hikes in spectacular surroundings. With its sweeping vistas, volcanic terrain, subtropical rainforests, white sandy beaches, towering mountains and translucent turquoise waters. With hardly anyone around makes you feel as if you are a million miles away from the rest of the world.
A delightful throwback in time, the island does not have mobile phone reception which means that you may want to talk to the people who come with you or have the sheer peace of escape. There are public telephones that work, if needed.
This World Heritage site sets a limit of 400 people being on the island at any one time and with only 350 residents on an island that is just 11km long, the island stays pristine and peaceful.
Getting there… There are regular flights from Sydney and Brisbane taking approximately 2 hours on a Qantas 50- seater DH 8. Don’t plan anything important though on the day you get back as flights can be cancelled due to weather.
3. Norflolk Island
This tranquil island beauty is as unspoilt as it is dramatic in its landscape. Towering cliffs, picturesque lagoons, soaring pines and tree ferns, all add to the magic of this untouched natural island. As if it is a dot, the island is 34.6km square, located 1600km off the coast of Australia. Perched in the South Pacific means the weather rarely gets chilly and ranges between 12C and 22C during the winter and from 19C to 28C in the summertime.
A world away from modern day reality, the small town community vibes gives less of a Polynesian influence than other Pacific Islands. Hosting a great deal of cultural history and harbouring a dark convict past from the Bounty mutiny, the descendants have made their home on the island. There are a few museums to visit should you wish to indulge in colonial history.
Norfolk Island allows you to unwind and enjoy the island’s laidback atmosphere. The tempting cuisine, friendly locals, untouched nature of the rainforests, dramatic cliff faces and panoramic ocean views make this island a way of getting back to being the person you know you are when you unwind.
Getting there. There are regular direct flights just two hours from Sydney and Brisbane.
4. Bedarra Island
When visiting Bedarra Island, time is measured only by the passage of the sun. There are few islands that truly feel secluded but Bedarra Island offers both lush landscape of scenery and serene solitude. Removed from the city chaos you may even forget you even have a smartphone, as you dip our toes into the Coral Sea and have the wind rushing through your hair as you run through the sand.
The enchantment of the reef fringed island is that everywhere you look, there is a postcard view of paradise. Setting your own pace you can rest and rediscover your senses in a tropical setting. As there are only a few places to stay, the island has more beaches than guests! Hidden in lush Tropical Island rainforests are romantic retreats which are even more enchanting than the fantasy, and of course is the indulgent island of the rich and famous.
Bedarra Island is part of the Family Group of Islands covering 100 Hectares and located off the North Queensland coast between Cairns and Townsville and neighbouring Dunk Island.
Getting there. Drive to Mission Beach (Wongaling Beach) which is two hours from Cairns then get a Water Taxi Transfer. The boat will leave you on the beach in shallow water where you will wade a couple of steps to the beach. Or you can fly by helicopter from Cairns. A 30 min ride with a request of using soft bags
5. Satellite Island
Named one of the top ten best private islands on the planet by UK’s Harper’s Bazaar, Satellite Island is a private piece of paradise set off the coast of Tasmania. The 34 hectare, tiny speck of land, is privately owned by one lucky Melbourne family who have decided to share it.
Canopied by blue sky, safe in the knowledge you will not encounter a soul, this isolated and luxurious island can be experience by staying in a converted boathouse on the jetty (which sleeps up to 18 in case you want to be with your friends) with the only other residents being some deer, guinea fowl and hens.
After collecting some eggs for breakfast from these free range chooks and herbs from the garden, a day can be spent hiking over open hilltops on sheer cliffs, pebbled beaches and through groves of towering blue gums while watching the wild eagles sore overhead. Alternatively you can go kayaking, where the solitude of this sea fringed wilderness can be savoured then the evening can be spent by lighting a fire on the beach and eating some wild oysters to enjoy with the wine as the sun goes down.
Star gazing opportunities then come into their own as the island is in the D’Entrecasteaux Chanel so named for observing the stars in the universe.
Getting there: By car and boat,from Hobart Tasmania head to Kettering catch a ferry to stunning Bruny Island, on getting to Alonnah catch another ferry to Satellite Island across the D’Entrecasteaux Chanel. By Helicopter it is a 20 minute ride from Hobart.
6. Lady Musgrave Island
This uninhabited island is waiting to be discovered is the truly unspoilt gem of the Great Barrier Reef. Along with the calm, crystal clear water of a protected lagoon and the uncrowded reef you can discover pristine habitats of many marine animals. In this authentic island an island walk in over eight kilometres in circumference, allows you to take in the abundant flora and fauna unique to the island as well as the land animals which call the island their home.
Just as rewarding, if you come in the summer, turtles come ashore to lay their eggs and thousands of seabirds nest in rookeries.
The Island is a National Park and World Heritage Zone but camping is permitted. Otherwise day trips on Lady Musgrave Island cruises are one of the best ways to pack as much actions as possible.
Getting there: Drive or fly to Bundaberg. Qantas operates a daily service from Brisbane. Day trips from Bundaberg, including snorkelling, glass bottom tours and guided Island walks can be booked online. Campers should note that there are no shops or facilities ashore and are required to take their own fresh water and food supplies
7. Pumpkin Island
Pumpkin Island is the ultimate ‘get away from it all’. Previously, this tiny 6 hectare island, was named the ‘XXXX Island’ which had conjured up the image of beer drinking. Luckily it has recently been reimaged as a stylish, eco-conscious island escape and is now a laid back and secluded getaway.
Without sacrificing any of the modern day comforts, this picturesque island has just seven self-catering cottages, all of which come with their own private beach. During the day you can snorkel, paddleboard, go fishing or oyster harvesting without being disturbed. The hammocks and swing chairs which hang from the trees seduce you into more relaxing, as well as tempt you into capturing those exceptional tropical sunsets. All of which leave you wondering how this paradise has been kept as a secret for so long.
You will find no pumpkins there but if you go in the summer when the warm breeze blows thousands of butterflies decorating the island like bright pieces of coloured paper being thrown in the air.
Getting there: Transfers to Pumpkin Island leave Yeppoon’s Keppel Bay Marina. The closest airport to Yeppoon is Rockhampton airport which is a 45 minute drive away. There are regular commercial flights to Rockhampton from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
8. Lizard Island
Those in search for a real escape can experience complete freedom, breath-taking views and tropical delights at the exotic destination of Lizard Island. This natural paradise is a haven of isolation, gratification and relaxation.
The Island takes its name from the local lizards called Goannas which are found everywhere. As one of the most northerly Great Barrier Reef Islands it is renowned for its diving, and experiencing the rich dazzling array of visual diversity in the marine life. The Island is secluded within over 1000 hectares of National Park. Tropical birds and diverse Australian wildlife can be found as well as many species of fauna and flora.
Shrouded with tropical palms this natural paradise has 24 powdery white deserted beaches and a hidden lagoon just waiting to be discovered. This hidden gem is an occasional hideaway for royals and Hollywood A-listers who enjoy its remoteness, the luxury of being able to wade from beach to reef and sunset picnics on private beaches!
Getting there: Depart from Cairns on a 60-minute charter flight
9. Haggerstone Island
Haggerstone Island is a pristine, peaceful, exclusive island is an incredibly beautiful and sparkling gem in the secret islands discovery. The Island was uninhabited before Roy and Anna Turner arrived in 1985. They have since transformed the 42 hectare island into an acclaimed “rustic luxury” resort with three huts and a villa to choose from.
A small number of guests can enjoy the lush jungle, white sands beaches and blue lagoons. As well as being surrounded by some of the most magnificent coral gardens in the world, the remoteness of the island means it is teeming with fish so diving and fishing by rod, reel or fly is amazing! With World War 2 artefacts in the waters surrounding the island, snorkelling and diving is complimented by exploring shipwrecks. Bird life is prolific and plenty of coconuts grow on the island to highlight any menu.
At Haggerstone Island you can enjoy remoteness isolation, miles of white sandy beaches, the perfect tropical climate, adventurous exploration and the simplicity of being a castaway.
Getting there: Fly to Cairns then go on a two hour trip in a chartered aircraft to Hicks Island where you will then be transferred on a 20 minute boat ride.
10. Bigge Island
Bigge Island, just off the coast of the Kimberley regions in West Australia is one of the coasts best kept secrets. Its heavily indented coastline and shaped bays, are scattered with reefs that make you feel like Robinson Crusoe as you splash ashore by an inflatable boat.
This must see Island is a rugged place, but is home to some of the country’s most spectacular Indigenous rock art which exists on cave walls and cliffs. Paintings include Wandjina figures painted by the Wunambal people. It is thought that these magnificently preserved images are more than 50,000 years old, which makes them possibly the oldest art on the planet.
Free from feral predators, the small Monjon rock wallabies and the North Australian native cat or Northern Quoll thrive without threat. As a Haven for indigenous creatures, one of the rarest of snakes in the world, the rough-scaled python has also been found there.
The island has an irregular rectangular shape measuring 22 km north to south by 11 km across. The North coast is cut deeply by the large Boomerang Bay.
Getting there: Bigge Island is accessible by boat from Broome. Qantas, Western Australia and Virgin Blue fly from Perth and Darwin to Broome.