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Backpackers guide to Great Keppel Island

Discover pristine beaches, vibrant marine life, and exhilarating hikes. A must-visit for your next backpacking adventure.
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Great Keppel Island, nestled at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef near the Tropic of Capricorn on the enchantingly named Capricorn Coast, is a captivating destination that often goes unnoticed by backpackers. As you embark on your journey up the coast from Brisbane, meandering along the Scenic Highway, you might find yourself passing by this hidden gem without realizing what you’re missing. But fear not, for I’m here to enlighten you about the wonders of Great Keppel Island and why it deserves a spot on your backpacking itinerary.

Don’t Take The Journey, Let The Journey Take You

Picture yourself in a paradisiacal subtropical climate, surrounded by abundant marine life, traversing scenic walking trails, and discovering not just one or two, but seventeen pristine beaches. That’s what awaits you on Great Keppel Island, an Australian treasure that promises an unforgettable backpacking experience. Yes, you heard it right—seventeen pristine beaches, each with its unique charm and allure.

Living Homes

Coral reefs embrace the island, creating a haven for a vibrant array of marine creatures, making Great Keppel Island a snorkeler’s paradise. The beauty of this island is that the snorkelling spots are easily accessible via walking paths that meander through the diverse terrain. Monkey Point, Clam Bay, and Shelving Beach are among the top-rated snorkelling spots, offering some of the finest underwater vistas Australia has to offer. And when you’re not exploring the underwater wonders, the idyllic beaches beckon you to spend a day or several basking in the sun’s warm embrace.

If you’re inclined to spend the entire day on the water, consider booking a cruise that shuttles you between the best snorkelling areas, fully immersing yourself in the marine spectacle. You have the option to bring your gear or rent it from various locations on the island. However, while you revel in the beauty of the reef, remember to leave it untouched and unharmed. Resist the urge to snap off any creatures from the reef and take care to avoid touching the delicate coral. Conservation efforts are taken seriously in this region, and the island’s pristine condition reflects this commitment to preserving its natural wonders.

Stretch Your Legs Between Dips

Great Keppel Island has more to offer than just sandy beaches and amazing underwater sights; its interior is home to some fascinating hiking trails. These bush hikes range in length and difficulty, allowing adventurers of all levels to explore the island’s major sites and lookout points while marvelling at the abundant flora and fauna. You can spend an entire day exploring the island, marvelling at the breathtaking natural landscapes and hopping between the white sand beaches that dot its perimeter.

Simply ask for a map of the island that shows the trails at the ferry pier to start your hiking adventure. The usual rules for bushwalking apply here as they do on the mainland. Ensure you come prepared with sensible walking shoes (leave your flip-flops behind) and inform your travel companions of your intended route. Safety is paramount, and being well-prepared ensures a memorable and secure exploration of the island’s hidden treasures.

Home Away From Home

While accommodation options are available on Great Keppel Island, if you’re on a tight budget or have limited time, you can opt for a day trip from the mainland. A ferry ride from Rosslyn Bay takes a mere 30 minutes to reach the island, with departures available seven days a week. Along the coast, you’ll find plenty of backpacker accommodation options that cater to backpackers like you. Emus Beach Resort in Emu Park, for instance, offers economical day trip packages to Great Keppel Island. Typically, these packages include round-trip transportation to and from the island, two nights’ lodging, and a team of accommodating staff eager to help you make the most of your time on this unique island.

So, don’t let Great Keppel Island remain a hidden gem. Take advantage of the chance to experience its tropical climate, discover its underwater wonders, and stroll along its stunning beaches. Whether you choose to snorkel among the coral reefs, embark on invigorating hikes, or simply bask in the island’s natural beauty, Great Keppel Island is a destination that promises an extraordinary adventure for backpackers like you. Let the journey take you to this Australian treasure, and you’ll discover a world of unforgettable experiences that will leave an indelible mark on your backpacking memories.

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