Australia

Island holidays in Australia for a breezy break in paradise

No need to get your passport out, these Aussie island holidays are the little slices of paradise you're dreaming of for a breezy break by the sea.

We Aussies live a charmed life on the world’s largest island, with our ‘girt by the sea’ nation offering plenty of opportunities for a coastal getaway. Even with sandy shorelines on our doorsteps, we sometimes need a break from living large to escape to island life on a smaller scale.

Maybe you fancy a summer fun-fest in the tropics with family and friends, or a romantic sojourn to a secluded isle populated by sea turtles. Laze by the pool in luxury accommodation, go four-wheeling on the world’s largest sand island, pop champagne on your sunny terrace while parrots chatter overhead or float over the Great Barrier Reef—whatever your style, the best island holidays Australia has to offer mean you get an off-shore vacay without even packing your passport.

Trade stresses for snorkels with a tropical island holiday in Australia

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While you’re floating in warm tropical waters off your Hamilton Island accommodation, you’ll already be planning your next visit to the blissfully beachy Reef View Hotel. Your spacious room is a cool oasis of calm here, with views across the reef and out to the surrounding islands. Book into a two-storey reef suite for an indulgent amount of space—that means catered meals in your own separate dining room, and long evenings in the peace and privacy of your deep spa bath.

Snorkel with the reef’s colourful inhabitants, then stretch out on a towel with a gripping novel to let the sun’s rays dry your skin. For dinner, you’ll want to visit the pool terrace—you’ll be surrounded by ferns, palm trees and the sounds of island life as you tuck into a plate of local grilled prawns, oysters and crayfish. Cool off on deliciously warm evenings with refreshing lemon sorbet and a dip in the pool before calling it a night.

In the morning, wake to views so serene they’ll inspire you to treat yourself to a morning at the hotel spa. A massage and a steamy sauna session will put you into a blissful state—just in time to switch gears completely with a ride aboard the hotel shuttle bus to the animal adventure park, WILD LIFE Hamilton Island. Kids and adults alike will relish the chance to cuddle a koala, play with dingoes and meet a saltwater crocodile.

Reef View Hotel

Hamilton Island, 0.6 km to Hamilton Island Marina
8.3 Very good (4900 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.1 / 10
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Get your heart pumping on an adventure-filled island getaway

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It’s all aboard the ferry for adrenaline-packed island holidays at Stradbroke Island Beach and Spa Resort. Here, the excitement of 4WD adventures is balanced by relaxing bubble baths in your apartment and soothing sessions in the sun.

Draw open the bi-fold doors to your spacious timber deck and bring the outdoors right into your living space. You’ll listen to the rustling of trees framing panoramic water views as you prepare a fruit-heavy feast in your stone-topped kitchen. Close the shutters in your bedroom for some privacy, or leave them open and drink in the vistas from your comfortable bed.

A lunch of grilled lobster and just-shucked oysters is on the menu at the on-site Manta Ray Bistro, paired with views over the Coral Sea. During the winter months, the bistro is an ideal spot to watch the whales on their annual migration past the hotel. You’ll find hearty breakfasts here too, with fresh eggs, bacon and grilled mushrooms and tomatoes serving as fuel for travelling around Stradbroke Island by bike.

When adventure calls, rent a four-wheeler and zoom across sand tracks through old pine forest and bushland. You can explore the area’s coves and beaches at your own pace, or grab a surfboard for an afternoon on the waves. If you’ve never surfed before, book a private or group lesson at North Stradbroke Surf School, an easy 10-minute walk from the hotel. Celebrate your first upright wave with a bottle of wine and barbecue provisions to grill up on the deck back at the hotel while the sun sets over the ocean.

Stradbroke Island Beach & Spa Resort

7.9 Good (137 reviews)
Excellent Location 9 / 10
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Bask on an island beach that's a stone's throw from Brisbane

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Far from being remote or difficult to get to, the pristine island getaway that Tangalooma Island Resort offers is just 40 kilometres off the coast from Brisbane. It’s an ideal spot for a quick and easy escape to an untouched paradise in a protected marine park. Think shockingly turquoise water as clear as glass, powdery white sand and massage huts kissed by ocean air.

Settle into your two-storey Beachfront Villa as a warm sea breeze draws the scents of the tropics inside to instantly put you in island mode. Take a seat on your private balcony and soak in the view of the gentle ocean and swaying palm trees—you might even catch the comical sight of resident pelicans flocking to local fishing boats for an easy meal. Whip up your own snack in your tiled kitchen, then take the kids down to the playground or pool to burn off some energy while you kick back with a cocktail.

You can get a thrilling birds-eye view of island life and the surrounding waters by booking a helicopter tour at the front desk. Bring your camera—the jaw-dropping landscape in rich jewel tones is something you’ll want to remember. Once you’re back on land, take a seat at the on-site Beach BBQ Bistro, where the gentle ocean is practically within reach of your toes and the menu offers delicious fare like tender Wagyu beef and barramundi with kaffir lime beurre blanc.

Tangalooma Island Resort

7.5 Good (1084 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.8 / 10
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A spa-centred island holiday in Australia

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Leave the mainland for shifting sand dunes and subtropical rainforest at Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. Keep an eye out for friendly echidnas as you relax on the balcony of a breezy Queenslander-style Wallum Lagoon View room, or upgrade to a spacious Spa Villa in the treetops and luxuriate in a hot spa on your timber deck over the bushland.

Begin your island escape in the most relaxing way possible: by making a beeline to the resort’s Island Day Spa. Treatments here reflect the healing power of nature, melding organic botanicals with expert techniques to take you on your own ‘spa journey’. Which step in the Sand Dune Dream experience will be your favourite—the coconut vanilla body scrub, warming scalp elixir or deeply soothing aromatherapy massage?

Should you be up for a little more activity, have staff arrange a trip to Lake McKenzie, a spectacular perched lake fed only by rainwater, where you’ll walk barefoot on the sand before splashing into clear, fish-free waters.

As the sky dims, head back to the resort for dinner at Seabelle Restaurant. The menu draws inspiration from Fraser Island’s indigenous Butchulla tribe, using native ingredients and super-local produce. Dine on paperbark-wrapped barramundi or wild mushroom risotto followed by a creamy cheese plate and a glass of Fraser Island Sparkling Cuvee, all while the sounds of the Australian bush put you in the mood for rest.

Mercure Kingfisher Bay Resort Fraser Island

Hervey Bay, 18 km to Vic Hislop's Shark Show
7.8 Good (761 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.7 / 10
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Sea swims and stargazing

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Far-removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a small green island in the glorious Great Barrier Reef makes a for truly secluded stay at Hotel Heron Island Resort. A ferry ride from the mainland will ease you into island life as you cut across the sparkling blue waters of this natural coral cay.

After unpacking in your airy Wistari Suite, head to Shearwater Restaurant and share plates of succulent oysters, juicy prawns and charred squid drizzled with tangy lemon. The panoramic view across the water is the ideal accompaniment to your first meal in Aussie paradise. Back in your suite, open up the wooden blinds to the lush garden and lie down for a nap on your king-size bed under the soaring timber ceiling.

Join a complimentary snorkelling lesson in the resort pool, or hire your own gear from the Marine Centre and splash into the water just off the beach. For those harder-to-reach reefs, book a boat trip to spots on the Great Barrier where you’ll swim over multi-hued coral with sea turtles for company. You can get even closer to the marine creatures in the morning with the resort’s turtle walk—you’ll stroll slowly along the sandy beach with an experienced guide and watch nesting sea turtles go about their centuries-old routine. In the evening, trade the seas for the skies with a spot stargazing on the resort’s helipad.

Hotel Heron Island Resort

8.0 Very good (2270 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.2 / 10
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Feature image courtesy of Sander van der Werf / Fotolia