Adventurous Day Trip to Magnetic Island : Hiking from Nelly Bay to Picnic Bay via Rocky Bay

Adventurous Day Trip to Magnetic Island | Hiking from Nelly Bay to Picnic Bay via Rocky Bay

A day trip to Magnetic Island is easy peasy if you are just looking for a day out at the beach.  A 25 minute ferry ride from Townsville and then a short bus ride will get you to the main popular beaches in Magnetic Island.  However, if you’re like us and need more adventure then this article is just for you.  Keep reading to find out how you too can go on an adventurous day trip to Magnetic Island, hiking from Nelly Bay to Picnic Bay via Rocky Bay

Getting To Magnetic Island

Visiting Magnetic Island and starting your adventurous day trip is super simple.  Magnetic Island is serviced by two ferry companies: Sealink Queensland and Fantasea.  Sealink offers ferry transfer services for $33 adult return and it takes roughly 20 to 25 minutes. Fantasea has a barge service to take your car to the island, as well as a walk on passenger only trips for $26 adult return. The journey on the barge takes roughly 40 minutes.   Check their websites for more pricing options, timetables and general information.

The start to our day trip to Magnetic Island

We started our day a bit later than we would have liked as I was in serious need for a bit more sleep.  Once we got organised and all packed, we headed out for breakfast and then quickly made our way to the city.  Something we love about Townsville is how easy and fast it is to get anywhere!  We headed to the Breakwater Terminal for the Sealink transfer on this occasion.  While David parked the car on the onsite car park, I went inside and picked up our tickets.  Ten minutes later we had boarded and were on our way to Maggie.  It is recommended you are ready to board 15 minutes before hand, however once you are there, the process is very straight forward and quick.

The logistics

We each carried one of our boys in our carriers.  This hike is definitely not suitable for a pram of any kind. We also decided to only bring one big bagpack instead of two smaller ones.

Rocky Bay
Rocky Bay

The adventure begins

Once we arrived at the ferry terminal in Nelly Bay, we got off the ferry and quickly got moving.  We started our walk by heading to the Esplanade.  Once there we continued our hike by walking on the beach.  The disconnect is inmediate!  The salty air and the soothing waves instantly welcome you to the relaxed Maggie feel you’ll come to love.

We continued walking until we reached the hostel Base Magnetic Island.  At this point we moved onto the path adjacent to the road as you can’t continue on the beach.  A quick climb up leads you to the entrance to Rocky Bay.  We do warn you though, it isn’t for the faint of heart!

Rocky Bay aka The Nude Beach

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❤️GIVEAWAY ~link in bio~❤️ Yesterday we visited Magnetic Island and a few of its walking trails. Our first stop was a secluded beach, Rocky Bay. Stunningly soft fine sand and rocks that are a little boys dream to climb on. Coming down here though is not for the faint of heart !! Blogpost with more info and tips coming up! What did you get up to this Saturday?? . . . . . . . . . . . . #magneticisland #weekend #saturday #rockybay #beach #ocean #adventure #getout #explore #explorer #explorewithkids #exploreaustralia #australia #australia_oz #australia_oz #australiasbest #australia_shotz #thisisqueensland #fnq #queensland #beautifulday #sealinkqld #hike #island #secluded #fun #exploretnq

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We had been here before, however the descent to the beach with young kids who are strapped to you is definitely a different ball game!  We strictly do not recommend it if you are not confident or fit.  The descent, although not long, is through huge boulders.  I moved Javi on to my back so I could see better in front of me.  Also so I could effectively balance and use my arms in pretty high stretches.  Once concentrated on the task ahead, we rapidly made it all the way down to the beach.

Now, although there is no sign before you descend to Rocky Bay, this is a Nude Beach.  If the big writing on one of the boulders wasn’t obvious, then the man walking around in his pure glory I happened to see as soon as I put my feet on the sand, made it perfectly clear.

Don’t let this deter you though!  The beach at Rocky Bay is simply astonishing.  The amazingly huge rocks in and surrounding the beach give the place an out of this world feel.  The sand is gorgeously fine and surprisingly a pale shade of yellow.

We walked past the rocks to the second part of the beach where we stayed for about half an hour.  The boys were enjoying themselves in no time.  The rocks were perfect for Javi to climb and Joaquin was loving the sand.  Believe it or not, I actually had time to take in the view and relax for a few minutes.


The encounter

We could not come to Rocky Bay and not get drone footage of this amazing beach.

A few minutes after David initiated the flight, a nude man quickly approached him.  He asked David what is was that he was doing and wanted us to take it down.  We politely advised him that we were following rules and regulations and that the beach is a public space.

Let’s be clear here!  Nude beaches are actually NOT legal in Queensland.  So although we understood where he was coming from, we were not filming him or anyone else, nor were we breaking any laws.  I also mentioned to him we were clearly here with our kids, not for any obscure purpose and that we have a family travel blog.

Also the man seemed to have an issue with the fact that we were dressed and he wasn’t.  To be honest, we didn’t and don’t have an issue with nudity.  We also like to mind our own business.  I can appreciate now though, that although we were not uncomfortable with the handful of nude people at this beach, unfortunately he was.

Exiting Rocky Bay

Most people enter and exit Rocky bay from the main point on Nelly Bay Road.  However, if you’re making your way to Picnic Bay like we were, we recommend you follow this path.  Once you have crossed the rocks that appear to break Rocky Bay into two, stick to the right and walk towards the bush. You’ll quickly be able to make out a path amongst the long grass that takes you up the hill, and down to Butler St.  Once you are on the street, follow the road to Picnic Bay.

Additional detour

When you get to Picnic Street, take a left turn and follow the path at the end of the street to the look out.  The views are worth it!  We didn’t do it on this occasion as we had family waiting for us at Picnic Bay.  We definitely recommend it if you are not short on time and up for the climb.

Picnic Bay
Picnic Bay. Beach on the left side of the jetty. The look out is on top of the hill ahead.

Picnic Bay

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And just like that the weekend is over! Now it's time to get working on the details of our next getaway. We have a roadtrip in mind, from Townsville to Port Douglas, stopping in some amazing places in between. We can't wait to showcase beautiful North Queensland and show you what adventures you can get up to with your babes in this part of the world 🌎😍 <Opportunity> This road trip is a great opportunity to collaborate! If you'd like to work with us get in touch through our contact us page on our website. . . . . . . . . . . . . #fnq #thisisqueensland #cairns #cairnscafes #missionbeach #paluma #portdouglas #cairnstourism #portdouglastourism #visitcairns #travel2cairns #seecairns #seequeensland #northqld #discoverfnq #explorefnq #discoverqueensland #travel #roadtrip #magneticisland #missionbeachqld #missionbeachtourism #missionbeachcafe #portdouglasdaintree #exploretnq #explore #beach #picnicbay #jetty

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Even though it’s not one of my favourite beaches in Magnetic Island, it is still worth the visit.  It’s a lot quieter than Horseshoe Bay and the food options are limited here.  However it has a beautiful tree lined and shady Esplanade where you can relax and absorb the views.  As well as a great jetty to take a picture or two.  What I did love though is how tranquil it was.  We truly had the section to the right of the jetty to ourselves the majority of the time we were there.  The water was also the perfect temperature for a swim.  Once in it was hard to get out!

Picnic Bay. Beach on the right side of the jetty with views of Townsville
Picnic Bay. Beach on the right side of the jetty with views of Townsville

We spent roughly three hours at Picnic Bay.  We ordered a light take away lunch from the Picnic Bay Hotel and took turns at riding my dad’s jetski.  The boys spent lots of time playing in the sand and later Javi became obsessed with climbing a near by boulder.  We had planned to get back on the 17.10hs ferry so started our walk back to the Nelly Bay terminal at just after four in the afternoon.  We couldn’t think of a better way to finish off our day trip to Magnetic Island than by walking and enjoying the view along the way.  However there is a bus service on the island so you can catch that back to the ferry if you prefer.  Just make sure you have cash in hand for a ticket.

Baby Joaquin in Picnic Bay
Baby Joaquin in Picnic Bay

Thanks for reading about our adventurous day trip to Magnetic Island, hiking from Nelly Bay to Picnic Bay via Rocky Bay.  We hope you will give it a go too.  If you have any questions or would like to share your day trip experience doing this trail, leave us a comment below!  We also hope to bring you more of our hiking experiences we have had on the island over the years, but with kids this time!

The World n Us
Travel with Kids | Travel Blog | Travel Vlog


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Day Trip to Magnetic Island



14 Responses

  1. Wow.. This was such a detailed description of the magnetic Island. Loved reading about this place. looks so unique. PS: your photos are really nice. great going. Cheers..!!

    1. Thank you Sherrie! I know they are still little, but that is the intention, to continue to educate them this way.

  2. Beautiful photos!! I love nude beaches so this looks like a fun beautiful location to visit. Made me giggle too knowing someone nude wasn’t happy you were dressed. Thanks for the tips!!

  3. Beautiful images! And yellow sand – how cool! Thanks for providing a virtual trip to such a neat place! Now to google why it’s called “magnetic” 🙂

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