Australia's Most Beautiful Islands
In the open ocean or just off the coast, Australia is home to some of the world’s most enviable island experiences. Australia is surrounded by stunning islands. Luxurious, adventurous, rugged or remote – there’s an island suited to every paradise-seeking group. Here are Australia’s best and most beautiful islands to consider for your next incentive.
Rottnest Island, just a short private ferry ride, seaplane or helicopter trip from Perth, has 63 beaches, 23 bays and one tiny attraction you can’t see anywhere else. A pint-sized marsupial known for its friendly nature, the quokka has brought about the quokka selfie phenomenon indulged by many who visit the island, including plenty of celebrities – from Kylie Minogue to Chris Hemsworth. The island has almost no cars on it, but there are plenty of ways for groups to get around – from walking and cycling to Segway or seabike tours. Groups can also circumnavigate the island in a high-speed adventure boat tour with Rottnest Express, or indulge in a “Wild Seafood Experience” with a five-course meal aboard Rottnest Cruises’ 69ft yacht featuring freshly caught seafood. Groups can stay in the newest luxury offering on the island, the beachfront Samphire Rottnest, which opened in October 2020 with 80 rooms and six event spaces.
Kangaroo Island, a 30-minute flight from Adelaide, has everything you need for a unique group adventure, with wildlife, natural attractions, gourmet produce and homegrown spirits. Head to the western side of the island to explore Remarkable Rocks - large boulders covered in orange lichen – and include a visit Seal Bay Conservation Park, where you can walk among endangered Australian sea lions. Indulge in the island’s fresh produce and culinary creativity with farm gate tours to an oyster farm and island beehives, or stop in at a distillery or winery and have a meal at acclaimed restaurant Sunset Food and Wine.
Wild dingoes, breaching whales and beaches that double as roads are just a few of the things you’ll find on Fraser Island. Located off the Queensland coast 300km north of Brisbane, with scenic air transfers available from the Sunshine Coast, the World Heritage-listed spot is touted as the only place where rainforests grow on sand dunes. Charter a yacht for a day cruise or visit during migration season (August through October) to spot giant humpbacks on a whale watching cruise. At dusk, try to spot wild dingoes with a local guide before settling into your accommodation at eco resort Kingfisher Bay Resort.
The Whitsunday Islands, located in Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef, boast some of the country’s most beautiful nature. There are 74 islands in the Whitsundays, but only some offer the chance to stay amid the azure waters and white sand. Hamilton Island is home to qualia, one of the most luxurious stays on the reef with 60 pavilions available for exclusive use, while Hayman Island is a private island paradise offering the recently refurbished and rebranded InterContinental Hayman Island Resort. Have a champagne brunch on the famous white sands of Whitehaven Beach, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, take a scenic flight over Heart Reef, or have cocktails on a tidal island and dine on the beach with several sandy venues ready to host your group.
Lizard Island rests within the blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef, so an incentive stop-off here is all about reef and relaxation. Stay at the five-star Lizard Island Resort which offers equal parts luxury and adventure, with experiences ranging from fishing and diving to spas and private dining. Don’t miss your opportunity to snorkel some of the reef’s most incredible dive sites, including Cod Hole, where you can swim alongside grey reef sharks and schools of tropical fish. After a day in the water, unwind with a private picnic or fresh seafood on the waterfront.
Made entirely of sand, Moreton Island is the perfect setting for a laid-back beach getaway. Stay at Tangalooma Island Resort for stunning views over Moreton Bay and the Glass House Mountains. Snorkel among the sunken ships of the Tangalooma Wrecks, a man-made dive site that’s now home to fish, dolphins and dugongs. You can’t stay on the sand island without a bit of sandy adventure; take a Desert Safari tour to sail down the golden dunes on a toboggan. There are also plenty of walking and hiking trails to tackle, from the easy Blue Lagoon to the more difficult, but rewarding, Mount Tempest Lookout walk.
Wild kangaroos, white-sand beaches, and humpback whales come together to create the perfect island adventure on ‘Straddie,’ the local’s nickname for North Stradbroke Island. Experience this island on a day trip from nearby Brisbane with a private “Straddie Safari” tour from River to Bay Adventure Tours on boats travelling at 85km/53mi per hour. Go surfing, swimming or paddle-boarding and explore the island with a knowledgeable guide to see wildlife up-close and discover magnificent ocean lookouts.
Just a 90-minute drive south of Melbourne is Phillip Island, famous for its abundance of wildlife. Begin your animal adventure at the Koala Conservation Centre, where you’ll stroll through the bush to spot koalas in their native habitat. Next, take a trip with Wildlife Coast Cruises to Seal Rocks to see one of the largest colonies of Australian fur seals. Afterwards, stroll the boardwalks with terrific views of Phillip Island’s rugged south coast and blowhole. One of the island’s must-dos is watching the Phillip Island Penguin Parade, where wild little penguins emerge from the sea and waddle across the beach to their dune burrows.
Australia has hundreds of islands, and you don’t have to venture far from the city to find them. This is especially true in the case of Cockatoo Island, located within Sydney Harbour. Travel by private charter to this historical industrial island, which makes for a unique daytime or evening event venue, offering various spaces across three different precincts for groups of 200 to 5,000 people. For groups interested in the history of this World Heritage-listed island, there are tours available which highlight the site’s past as a convict colony and as a major ship building hub.