Venture off the beaten track to discover these secret spots in and around Australia.
Australia can look a little overwhelming to travelers at first, with so much to explore across such a huge stretch of land. With its diverse climate, unique wildlife, and endless stretches of coastline, there’s a lot to explore. And that’s before you’ve even taken a trip off the mainland.
There are around 8,000 smaller islands off the coast of Australia filled with secret beaches, uninhabited lands, spectacular flora and fauna, and a whole new way of life. These lesser-visited spots offer a different insight into the Aussie way of life and, if you’re feeling a little adventurous, are definitely worth exploring.
Lizard Island is, while not totally secret, only accessible to those checking in on the island. So don’t expect crowds when arriving here, as this picture-perfect stretch of white sand and turquoise waters is limited to only a few people at any one time. As the northernmost resort on the Great Barrier Reef, this secluded paradise is perfectly placed for those looking to spend most of their time in the water. There’s no need for boats here, as the reef is directly on your doorstep. While on Lizard Island, spend some time checking out the multiple private beaches, floating around in a motorized dinghy, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding, or simply lying back in the sand and figuring out how to stay here forever.
Norfolk Island is technically part of Australia, but it takes a little more coordination to find this spot, located in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and New Caledonia. Bringing together everything most loved about the South Pacific but without the hordes of tourists, this secret island is filled with rainbow coral reefs, beautiful beaches hidden around each corner, and breathtaking scenery in every direction. Wander through fields full of the tallest fern trees on the planet and admire the vibrant rare birds flying high above. Many guests say that Norfolk Island is a little like a trip back in time thanks to its bucolic setting, and with pristine nature, a diet of freshly-caught seafood, and a relaxed way of life, it’s easy to see why.
Bruny Island is located off the coast of Hobart in Tasmania, a lesser-visited spot for many tourists visiting Australia. With foreboding clifftops and dramatic landscapes, Bruny Island is a haven for photographers. Particularly those with an interest in animals, as you’ll spot all kinds of rare creatures here like fur seals, fairy penguins, albatross, and wedge-tailed eagles. Spend your time wandering into deep sea caves and watching dolphins and whales swim around and your evenings making the most of Bruny Island’s incredible food scene. You’ll find some of Australia’s most highly rated cheeses here, alongside delicious wines and freshly shucked oysters.
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Satellite Island used to be reserved as a private family retreat before it was turned into a rural, unique getaway spot. This private island highlights some of the best Tasmanian scenery, surrounded by glistening water and filled with gorgeous cliffs. Only accessible via a private boat from Bruny Island, it’s fair to say not many people have ever stepped foot on Satellite Island. Home to nothing more than a few meticulously designed houses, you’ll get the full island treatment here–which means no Wi-Fi and a stripped-back way of life. Lying close to the south-eastern coast of Tasmania, this tiny island requires a fair bit of zooming in to first locate it on the map. Once you arrive, it’s a real insight into a rural way of life: learn how to shuck oysters, start fires, dive for mussels, and more.
The Mackerel Islands
The Mackerel Islands are more than just a single spot, they’re a collection of 10 tiny islands scattered off the coast of northwestern Australia with a penchant for marine life and the underwater world. Your best bet for visiting this part of the world is by a 45-minute crossing from Onslow. This beautiful spot, fringed by coral reefs, is a haven for scuba divers with an incredible underwater world. As this spot is so remote, it’s virtually untouched except for those who tackle the initial crossing. The result? A chance to see nature at its most beautiful, complete with whales, dolphins, groupers, stingrays, wobbegongs, turtles, and more. Not a diver? You can also snorkel at this spot with almost-as-incredible views.
Bare Sand Island
Bare Sand Island sits at the end of a chain of islands around 30 miles away from Darwin. This seriously remote spot is home to one important guest: turtles! While you probably wouldn’t stay on Bare Sand Island overnight due to its lack of infrastructure, it’s a beautiful day trip, especially if you have an interest in animals and the natural world. Arrive here just before sunset or sunrise and wander around, keeping an eye out for turtle tracks. Bare Sand Island is an important nesting ground for these creatures, and you may even get to watch the mothers giving birth. Watching the sunset from the beach on Bare Sand Island is yet another highlight of this magical spot. The waters surrounding the island come with slightly faster and more aggressive creatures, like saltwater crocodiles and box jellyfish.
Related: 12 Remote Islands Where You Can Still Socially Distance
French Island is a little more rustic than most, with a population of around 100 permanent visitors who are responsible for keeping an eye on their water and electricity use at all times. There’s no permanent connection to mainland Australia from here, so guests and residents must plan their arrival carefully. But venture over, and you’ll be treated to a picturesque escape with more koalas than humans. Here, without any urban development, you’ll be free to experience the breathtaking hiking trails, explore the national park, listen to the calls of rare birds, and admire wild orchids. If you do fancy staying overnight here, there are a few B&Bs and plenty of space for camping.
The clue is in the name when it comes to Long Island, close to The Whitsundays mainland. Despite being 5.6 miles long, it’s only 400 meters wide at its widest point. This private island was cut off from visitors in 2014 and is now a privately owned spot. Known as one of the prettiest islands in the area, it’s covered with secret beaches, dense bushland, and white sand dotted with pink shells. If you’re into bushwalking, you’ll fall in love with Long Island’s 12.4 miles of land to explore. If you’d prefer to make the most of that endless blue water, you’ll find plenty of opportunities here for parasailing, water skiing, or boat trips, when you may come across dolphins, tropical fish, and turtles.
There are multiple private, luxurious islands dotted around Australia, and plenty of them are widely known nowadays. That doesn’t apply quite so much to Haggerstone Island, a privately owned spot where days are spent either by the sea or in the sea. Set in the most remote region of north Queensland, this island is set apart from most with its untouched waters and footprint-free beaches. While it’s less visited, it’s by no means under-appreciated, having won multiple awards in the past for its beauty. The only way to access this island is by flight, which takes two hours from Cairns. In a place where time doesn’t seem to exist, you’ll lazily float throughout the day snorkeling, tanning, swimming, exploring via boat, or napping in the sunshine. It’s the true definition of hidden paradise.
Broughton Island is part of the Myall Lakes National Park and is famed for its kayaking, fishing, and camping opportunities. It’s also the only place in New South Wales where you can camp among an active seabird colony, waking up to the sounds of the wedge-tailed shearwaters amongst other creatures. This rugged, rural spot is a wonderful escape for active adventurers, with a few basic campsites ensuring it never gets too crowded here. Spend your time relaxing on the sandy beaches of Esmeralda Cove or swimming, hiking, boating, or snorkeling on the water itself. Accessible by boat from Port Stephens, it’s a place that nature lovers will quickly fall for.
All visitors to the Tiwi Islands require a permit, as these secret islands are Aboriginal land, and many of them are uninhabited. This unique spot is known as the “land of smiles” and offers a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the art, culture, and lifestyle of its people. These picturesque islands are considered very welcoming, and though they don’t receive many tourists because of the remote setting, those who do venture to the Tiwi Islands are always shown a good time. Its creeks, rivers, and coastline are great for fishing, and its thriving Aboriginal arts scene is a great way to learn more about traditional methods and to support its local communities.
Houtman Abrolhos Islands
There are a huge 210 islands across the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, and they’re only accessible via boat, helicopter, or plane. There’s also no tourist accommodation here, so if you do visit, you’ll want to squeeze as much as possible into your day trip. This mysterious spot is shrouded in history, with more than 60 shipwrecks discovered in and around its waters. Shallow waters and coral reefs ensure you’ll want to explore most of this region with snorkeling gear as many boats can struggle with the lack of deep water. An enchanting part of the world unlike anywhere else, it’s one of the largest seabird breeding areas and is also home to a large number of adorable Australian sea lions.
Amazing informative travel tips. Good to see it.