Everything you need to know about how to get to Magnetic Island in the tropical north of Queensland.
Located just 5 miles from the town of Townsville and in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef in Far North Queensland, lies the beautiful Magnetic Island, one of the most incredible destinations in all of Australia.
Over the years, the island has become a major tourist attraction thanks to its pristine beaches, laid-back atmosphere, diverse wildlife and adventurous activities.
The easy access to Magnetic Island has also contributed to the recent increase in visitors, with ferries departing every 20 minutes from Queensland’s second largest city.
We loved the island so much when we visited it that we ended up buying a piece of land and building a house there!
Yes, after traveling the world for 12 years, this place is just That magical that we wanted to stay forever. And after your visit, we are sure you will feel the same.
How To Get To Magnetic Island – The Complete Guide
Here’s our complete guide to getting to Magnetic Island.
And while you’re at it, don’t miss these other great Maggie Island articles we’ve curated:
Traveling to Townsville
To get to Magnetic Island you must first go to Townsville in Far North Queensland so you can hop on the ferry as there is no airport on the island itself.
Townsville is well connected by road, rail and air, so getting here is no problem.
There are also plenty of epic things to do in Townsville, so make sure you have a few days off either side of your Maggie trip!
Driving to Townsville
Townsville is at the intersection of Queensland’s two main highways – the Bruce Highway which goes from Brisbane to Cairns, and the Flinders Highway which goes inland from Townsville to Mt Isa.
The drive from Brisbane takes approximately 16 hours, so should be split over a minimum of two days.
From Townsville it’s only 4.5 hours to Cairns, 4.5 hours to Mackay, putting it right in the middle of the tropical north of Queensland and with many incredible sights nearby.
Fly to Townsville
If you’re planning to fly into Townsville, you’re in luck as it’s home to a very well-connected airport.
Townsville has an average of 7 flights per day from Brisbane, and daily direct flights to Sydney and Melbourne.
There are also regular direct flights between Gold Coast, Cairns and Darwin to Townsville, as well as a range of regional flights to Mackay, Cloncurry, Mt Isa, Rockhampton and more.
Train to Townsville
There is also a train service between Brisbane and Cairns that stops at Townsville. The Spit of Queensland does this trip 5 times a week.
Traveling from Townsville to Magnetic Island
Once you’ve reached Townsville, you’re ready for the next leg of your journey on how to get to Magnetic Island – Jumping on the Ferry!
The island has two ferry companies that make the short 25 minute crossing from Townsville every day. SeaLink, the passenger ferry, and Magnetic Island Ferries, the vehicle ferry.
Both ferry companies have different terminals in Townsville, but they arrive at the same Nelly Bay Ferry Terminal.
READ MORE: Don’t miss our local guide to the best beaches on Magnetic Island!
Most people who travel to Magnetic Island usually only stay for one day, or a few days at most.
For that reason, it is often more economical to leave your vehicle at the SeaLink ferry terminal in Townsville and come across as a foot passenger.
But if you’re staying longer, or prefer to use your own car rather than rent one on the island, it’s well worth bringing your own set of wheels.
Passenger Ferry to Magnetic Island
For the foot passengers wondering how to get to Magnetic Island, you can hop aboard at both companies.
However, the main passenger ferry to Magnetic Island that most people take is: SeaLink Queensland, and they only take foot passengers to and from the island.
The reason most pedestrians take this one is that it’s a little faster and has a few more regular departures.
Their terminal in Townsville is also closer to downtown, making it a bit more convenient to get there.
The SeaLink ferry is a fast, modern and safe vessel, with clean facilities and wheelchair accessibility.
The ferry price is AUD$17.50 one way (or $34 round trip) for an adult and $8.70 one way (17 round trip) for a child.
They also have family deals where 2 adults and 3 children can travel for $79.
If you pre-book your ferry online through the SeaLink website, you can unlock a special $30 adult round trip price.
You can also take a bicycle on board for free.
- Address: Breakwater Terminal, Sir Leslie Thiess Drive, Townsville
- Phone: 1300 MAGIC (1300 624 443)
- Time: 05.30 am to 23.00 pm
Car Ferry to Magnetic Island
If you plan to bring your vehicle to Magnetic Island, your only option is to go with the company Magnetic Island Ferries.
Their large ferry can transport motorcycles, cars, RVs, caravans, boats and even trailers from Townsville to Magnetic Island and back again.
They also take foot passengers (for the same price as SeaLink), which you walk up and down before the vehicles board the boat.
This ferry company is not cheap and charges based on the weight and length of your vehicle, so be wary of this.
For example, a standard car costs $216 round trip (rising to $240 round trip during peak season), and if you take a long vehicle such as a motorhome or caravan, their round trip rates are $196 + $52 per meter over 5 million.
But they’re the only option you have if you want to bring your own set of wheels to the island, so there’s little you can do.
If you’re only planning to spend one day on Magnetic Island, it may be more economical to park your car at the ferry terminal in Townsville and simply rent a car for the day on the island.
- Address: Ross Street, South Townsville
- Phone: +61 7 4796 9300
- Time: 05:00 to 20:00
We hope this article answered all your questions about how to get to Magnetic Island, Queensland.
It is one of the best places in the entire state and we sincerely hope you have a great time there.
Is there a bridge to Magnetic Island?
No, there is no road or bridge to Magnetic Island. While rumors of construction have been circulating for a number of years, Townsville Council has confirmed they will not build one as the island is reportedly drifting away from the mainland.
How long is the ferry from Townsville to Magnetic Island?
The journey to and from Magnetic Island is 5 miles and takes approximately 20 minutes by ferry in calm conditions.
How much is the ferry to Magnetic Island?
The price for the ferry to Magnetic Island is $34 round trip for a foot passenger, but special offers are available if you pre-book your ferry.
How much does it cost to take a car to Magnetic Island?
The price to take your car to Magnetic Island starts at $216 round trip for a standard length vehicle and goes up from there based on length and peak season availability.