Getting Around Magnetic Island – ‘How to’ Transportation Guide

Everything you need to know about getting around Magnetic Island, from public transport to car rentals and even some epic boat tours.

Once you’ve figured out how to get here and checked out all the incredible things to do, the final thing you need to work out is getting around Magnetic Island!

The island is massive at 52km², but 95% of it is designated as a national park with almost zero access, except for a few hiking trails.

That means you usually only need to navigate how to get around between the main villages of Nelly Bay, Picnic Bar, Arcardia and Horseshoe Bay.

Luckily for you there’s a few different ways to get around Magnetic Island, and we’re going to highlight them all in this article.

READ MORE: Here’s our complete guide on how to get to Magnetic Island, with all the latest options and prices.

Getting Around Magnetic Island – Your Comprehensive ‘How To’ Guide

Depending on your budget and how long you’re planning on staying, you have a few different options for transport on Magnetic Island.

Let’s get into them now.

Campervan On Magnetic Island
Having your own vehicle is definitely the best way to get around Magnetic Island.

Public Bus on Magnetic Island

There is a local public bus that runs from Picnic Bay to Horseshoe Bay and back all day. 

For the bus you have 2 options and price points:

  • One-way ticket costs $2.80 per person per ride.
  • Day tripper ticket is $7.60 per person, and you can hop on and off as much as you want all day with unlimited ride.

It runs daily on the hour from one end of the island to the other, operating between 6:00am – 10:00pm.

The only down side with it running hourly is that if you miss the bus then you have to wait around or walk. So plan your trip so you can get the most out of your day.

It is a great way to see the island on a budget, and it’s pretty much your only alternative if you don’t want to rent a car or bring your own vehicle over from the mainland.

The bus stops off in front of the ferry terminal, at all the main bays including Geoffrey Bay, and the Forts Walk area.

It is very convenient for getting around Magnetic Island from one side to the other and exploring.

For the Sunbus Magnetic Island timetable information click here.

Hawkings Point Lookout Sunset
Sunset over Hawkings Point in Picnic Bay. One of the fantastic spots you can only get to by foot.

Car Hire on Magnetic Island

There are a few companies on the island to rent a car from

From auto and manual SUV’s to topless Jeep Wranglers, the prices range from AUD $80 a day for a standard SUV for a 5 seater.

If you want the classic Instagram photos though you’ll want to rent a topless Jeep (or ‘Barbie Car), which is about the same price.

Some companies offer half day hire, full day hire or 24 hour hire. If you are staying longer, some people offer discounts for 3 days or more.

For almost all of the car rentals on the island, their vehicles are only allowed to be driven on sealed roads between Horseshoe Bay and Picnic Bay.

Their vehicles are NOT allowed to go beyond the Forts car park to Arthur Bay, Florence Bay and Radical Bay, or on the road to West Point.

There are a number of car hire companies on Magnetic Island;

  1. MI Rentals Car Hire
  2. Magnetic Island Topless Car Hire
  3. Isle Hire Car Rentals/Hire
  4. Tropical Palms 4WD
  5. Magnetic 4×4 Rentals
  6. Tropical Topless Car Rentals
  7. Tropical Palms Resort & 4WD Hire (Picnic Bay)
  8. Arcadia Beach Guest House and Car Hire (Arcadia)

All of the car rental companies are located in Nelly Bay (unless otherwise stated), and are easy to locate when you get off the ferry terminal.

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

Scooter Hire on Magnetic Island

One of the things we loved most about Magnetic Island was the whole place had the atmosphere of a southern Thai island such as Koh Tao or Koh Phangan.

And one of the things that helps give it that vibe is that lots of people drive around on scooters.

You can rent a scooter on Magnetic Island from Road Runner Scooter Hire from just $40 a day to zip around on.

The company offers single and dual seat scooters, trail bikes and road bikes. When we were there on the island we saw a lot of people renting scooters and this is definitely a perfect place to do it.

When you are renting, do check with the owners where you CAN and CANNOT go, as there are limitations on rentals.

If you want to head out to West Point for sunset or Radical Bay look at hiring a trail bike if you have the correct licence.

When you are renting a scooter, remember to think seriously about your safety. It is all fun and games until someone falls off and rips their skin off or breaks a bone.

Please be responsible and wear proper clothing when riding around the island. Don’t ride around in your bikini or board shorts. If you come off, it will hurt.

Road Runner Scooter Hire is located in Nelly Bay and is walking distance from the ferry terminal.

Beach Views Magnetic Island
Radical Bay – Just one of the gorgeous spots you can visit on the island.

Bicycles on Magnetic Island

Bring your own bike over on the ferry (for free) or rent one over on Magnetic Island. 

The main roads on the island are well maintained and sealed between the bays. There are great walking/biking trails by the water and on unsealed roads also.

Having a bike on the island makes it easier (and quicker) to get from bay to bay.

READ MORE: Check out our comprehensive ‘Travelling in Australia‘ guide to answer all the questions you could ever have.

Walking on Magnetic Island

If you’re wondering how to get around Magnetic Island by foot, we have good and bad news for you.

Yes, you can explore on the island by walking. But unfortunately you will not see too much.

The bays are a quite a bit of distance apart, and it does take time to walk between them.

On the plus side though you’ll get to some absolutely stunning places!

If you are into hiking, going by foot is the only way to get to the famous viewpoints, and if you want to head over to Horseshoe Bay from Nelly Bay you can tackle the awesome trail straight over the island.

There are over 26km of walking trails around the island to explore, so make sure you pack your hiking shoes.

When you are exploring the bays, we find by foot is the best way to enjoy it. You can slowly take everything in and you might spot things you would have never seen if you were on a bus or in a car, especially little koalas that are everywhere over the island.

Koala In Tree With Baby Magnetic Island 4
Magnetic Island is full of so many koalas.

Taxi Service on Magnetic Island

There is a taxi company called Checker Cabs on the island and they can get you and your suitcase to your accommodation when you first arrive.

You’ll occasionally find the taxis waiting around at the bays, or you can ring ahead and arrange a pick up from the ferry terminal.

This is a great way to get home after you have enjoyed a nice dinner or had a few too many drinks over sunset as well.

One thing to keep in mind though is that the taxis run on island time (ie they’re not exactly punctual or regular) and they are limited in numbers. Make sure you give yourself lots of time if you need to rely on one.

  • Phone: 07 4426 2885

Day Tours on Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island has a couple of day tours available so you can check out some of the main spots, both on land and out on the water.

You can jump on a bus tour with a local guide to see some of the highlights of the Island and find out a bit of the history, or you can cruise out on the water in either a speedboat or sailboat to get to places that aren’t accessed by land.

This boat tour here is our favourite, and we highly recommend it.

Sailboat On Magnetic Island
A boat sails past the island at sunset.

Driving Your Own Car

If you’re planning on being on the island for a few days, and you have your own car and some friends or family to split the cost, the absolute best way to get around Magnetic Island is to bring your vehicle over on the ferry.

It is very expensive, starting at $220 return for a normal-size car, so it’s not worth it for just one or two days. Instead rent a car on the island if that’s how you want to explore the place.

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About the Author - Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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