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Nelly Bay – Gateway to an Island Dream

Magnetic Island lays majestically as a sentinel at the entrance to Cleveland Bay in Far North Queensland. Just 8 kilometres across the bay from the island, on the shores of the Queensland mainland, lays Townsville, considered by many as the unofficial capital of North Queensland. Magnetic Island is the only island of its kind in North Queensland, as it is a congenial mix of virgin Natural Park and tropical island resort coexisting with a permanent residential population. Nelly Bay, a large inlet with a beach over a kilometre in length, is the gateway which joins the thriving capital with the idyllic island. This point of access to the island is both the passenger and car ferry terminal, as well Magnetic Island’s main residential area.

Your Holiday Home Base

Because you need to stay a few days in order to explore the beautiful island and take advantage of the many attractions which Magnetic Island has to offer, it is best to book accommodation on the island, and Nelly Bay is your best base for holiday accommodation from which to explore the isle. As Nelly Bay is the ferry terminal, it is here that most of the island’s shopping and other facilities are located. Transport services also have their main hub in or around Nelly Bay, with taxi ranks and bus services located outside the terminal, and for those eager to explore the island on their own, vehicle hire, from bicycles to rental cars may also be found in close proximity to the ferry terminal. There is also no shortage of holiday rentals in Nelly Bay itself ranging from budget accommodation to luxury holiday houses.

Rugged Natural Haven

Magnetic Island is situated within the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and is the only island in the Great Barrier Reef which has a permanent resident population. This means that the island is not as touristy and is more relaxed than isles which are exclusively island resorts. More than seventy-five percent of the island is National Park, through which nature enthusiasts will find more than 24 kilometres of walking tracks, some of them with panoramic lookouts.

Bird lovers will be enthralled with the abundant and diverse bird-life and there is a very good chance that the visitor will be able to see possums, koalas and rock wallabies in their natural habitat. Magnetic Island’s virgin terrain is covered in eucalypt forests dotted with small patches of tropical rainforest, its rugged and stunning coastline fringed with hoop pines and large granite boulders.

The island boasts twenty magnificent beaches, many of them secluded by its rocky headlands with some accessible exclusively on foot or by boat. With so many natural attractions and available activities, it is a perfect destination for the whole family, and family accommodation abounds in this family oriented paradise.

Tropical Island Getaway with Comforts of Home

Getting back to your holiday home base at Nelly Bay, the whole family can enjoy a safe swim in its sheltered beach which is easily accessible from the village. The very pleasant beach is naturally shaded by parkland lining the length of the beach with palm trees and shady strangler fig trees. Its calm waters are also perfect for fishing, as well as snorkelling on its coral reef. The beach is extremely well appointed with facilities including toilets, a children’s playground, picnic area with sheltered tables and coin operated barbecues.

A coral reef fringes the southern end of the beach at Nelly Bay. It is within swimming distance from the shore, but you may also rent a glass bottomed kayak. As this end of the beach is most popular, budget accommodation is available right on the beach. If you prefer boating to snorkelling, the opposite end of Nelly Bay beach has a sheltered harbour and is a much quieter spot for a picnic or relaxing, after a swim in sparkling waters, on warm, golden sands under the palm trees.

For those holidaymakers catering for their own meals in self contained accommodation, whether a holiday apartment or a luxurious holiday villa, Nelly Bay is the ideal base as here is where most of Magnetic Island’s shopping facilities and other amenities are located. The Nelly Bay Shopping complex is located in the centre of the village and includes a supermarket, a chemist and a cafe, amongst other specialty stores and services. Any gear you may need for your holiday which you may have forgotten to pack may be purchased at Nelly Bay, including swim gear, headwear, sun lotion and even clothing is available in Nelly Bay stores.

Something for the Whole Family

Everyone will enjoy a holiday in Nelly Bay as there is no shortage of other things to do, such as windsurfing, sailing a catamaran, snorkelling and scuba diving, admiring coral reefs, or exploring sunken wrecks claimed by its rugged coastline, there is a selection for the entire holiday party. Its easy access to both a major city, as well as to as to the Great Barrier Reef, its natural and pristine beauty and wildlife and its relaxed atmosphere make it a unique tropical experience not to be missed.

As holidays in Magnetic Island appeal to many holiday tastes, the island also boasts a wide selection of accommodation to suit all needs. Whether looking for budget accommodation or luxury, family accommodation, pet-friendly accommodation, serviced apartments, or a holiday home for either short or long term holiday rentals, everyone will find something to suit their needs and budget.

Idyllic Weather

Although tropical, the Townsville area is the sunniest on the Queensland Coast and Magnetic Island boasts an average of 320 sunny days per year. Days are warm and sunny and temperature variations throughout the year are small. Yearly average temperatures range between 19.5ºC and 29ºC making it possible to swim throughout the year. Due to sea breezes, the island generally experiences maximum temperatures about one degree cooler than in Townsville.

Getting to Nelly Bay

Magnetic Island is easily accessed from the mainland at affordable prices. It is just a twenty minute fast catamaran ride from Townsville to Nelly Bay. All transport services to Magnetic Island depart from Townsville where there is a very reliable and safe passenger ferry service, with up to 14 return trips daily, as well as a vehicle and passenger ferry with up to 7 return trips per day. Both ferry terminals which are situated on Ross Creek are easily accessed from the city centre from where you my follow the excellent signage. As Townsville is the main communication hub in the region, whether travelling from overseas or from within Australia, there are many diverse transport options available. Both national airlines have connecting flights with Brisbane with flight time being approximately two hours. Virgin Blue has daily low fare services from Brisbane with connections from all other Australian state capitals. Other smaller airlines provide services from Cairns and other regional centres.

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Recent Reviews

Great view

4 of 5
Great view, short walk to ferry, mini mart around the corner! Rooms are basic but clean . We thoroughly enjoyed our stay
  • Review Submitted: Oct 03, 2017
  • Date of Stay: Oct 2017

Will def visit again

5 of 5
Loved our stay. Hosts has extra touches that were unexpected and very thoughtful. Super clean & modern apartment. Only suggestion would be better curtains in the bedrooms.
  • Review Submitted: Sep 05, 2017
  • Date of Stay: Sep 2017