A small paradise, that is how the inhabitants call their Great Keppel Island. Located on the southernmost side of the Great Barrier Reef, just 45-minutes off the coast of Yeppoon in Queensland.
Upon arrival by boat, you literally jump feet first onto the glistening white foreshores of the island. When I visited, I honestly felt as though I was arriving on a remote tropical island somewhere in Indonesia!
You can reach most of the beaches on foot, sunbathe all year round, enjoy many stunning snorkeling spots or even go on a safari to explore this wonderful island.
To get the most out of your stay, I recommend spending anywhere between 1 – 3 days here on the island. This will give you plenty of time to explore and to kick back in the sand and relax!
I have put together the ultimate list of 15 Awesome Things To Do In Great Keppel Island to help you plan your journey.
Also, at the bottom of this post, I have included some useful information on things you need to know before you go, where to stay on the island, and the best time of year to visit this tropical destination.
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WHERE IS GREAT KEPPEL ISLAND?
Great Keppel Island is located halfway between Brisbane and Townsville in Queensland. The only way to reach the island is by boat from the nearby town of Yeppoon.
You’ll find the island on the southernmost side of the Great Barrier Reef and it’s the largest island of the Keppel Island Group, surrounded by 28 kilometers of paradisiacal beaches and bays.
Turquoise waters on the island
HOW TO GET TO GREAT KEPPEL ISLAND?
Great Keppel Island is a car-free island, so if you’re traveling to the island for a short time you can leave your car at the large car park across the street from the Pier One Terminal in Yeppoon.
If you’re planning to stay on the island overnight or longer, there is a security car park available at 422 Scenic Highway, Rosslyn Bay.
Ferries to Great Keppel Island depart every day from Pier One and Keppel Bay Marina. See the timetable below.
Keppel Konnections is the main Great Keppel Island ferry service which takes around 45 minutes and departs three times daily, 7 days a week, and four times daily on the weekend, with extra services during the holiday seasons.
The ferry to Great Keppel Island costs around $25 per adult and bookings are essential so I’d recommend reserving your spot well in advance.
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Great Keppel Island ferry timetable
Ferry to Great Keppel Island
On the way to the island
HOW TO GET AROUND THE ISLAND
Keppel Island is relatively small, and everything is within walking distance if you don’t mind the hike.
Most of the island is bushland with many walking trails and you’ll most likely find a trail or two matching your hiking skills.
If you want to give your legs a rest, you can also explore the island with several scenic boat tours or hop on a water taxi for island transfers and beach drop-offs. Perfect if you want to spend the entire day at sea!
Another option is the Keppel Island Holiday Village 4×4 Safari Island Tours and Shuttle. If you’re staying overnight at the island, the accommodation arranges a 4×4 to pick you up. They operate 7 days a week and it’s totally up to you where and when you want to go.
Beautiful day on the island
Please see below for an overview of 15 Awesome Things To Do In Great Keppel Island that you will find in this post:
- Visit Long Beach
- Snorkel at Monkey Beach
- See the view from Monkey Point
- Go Kayaking around Keppel Island
- Take a dip at Fisherman’s Beach
- Sunbathe at Putney Beach
- Explore Leeke’s Beach & Leeke’s Creek
- Stroll around the Wetlands
- Hike to Second Beach & Svendsen’s Beach
- Check out Butterfish Bay
- Adventure to Wreck Beach
- Go scuba-diving with Keppel Dive
- Enjoy a beer at Hideaway Bar
- Book a jet ski tour
- Go on a 4×4 Safari
15 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN GREAT KEPPEL ISLAND
Now that we covered all the necessary info and logistics, it’s time for the good stuff.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into this complete guide on 15 Awesome Things To Do In Great Keppel Island!
VISIT LONG BEACH
Let’s kick off your island adventures by starting with the crown jewel on the western end of the island.
Long Beach is one of Australia’s top 20 beaches and I can’t recommend this place enough.
The 2km stretch of pristine, white sand and turquoise water is absolutely mind-blowing! The best thing – Long Beach is long enough to find your own private spot of paradise.
It’s deserted most of the time, so you’ll likely experience the place all to yourself with only some seabirds for company – and perhaps some beach nudists, as it happens to be the only nudist beach on Great Keppel Island.
Arriving at Long Beach GKI
Drone shot of Long Beach
The entrance to the beach
SNORKEL AT MONKEY BEACH
If you’re looking for a great place to snorkel, I highly recommend visiting Monkey Beach. It’s one of the most popular beaches on the island because it’s so close to the well-known Great Barrier Reef.
Monkey Beach is a protected green zone, which means the area is off-limits to fishing. The reef is filled with coral in all shapes, sizes, and colors as well as loads of fish and turtles. You’ll most likely lose track of time when underwater due to the beauty of it!
If you don’t have a snorkeling set, Tropical Paradise shop lets you hire one for just $15 a day.
Great Keppel Island snorkelling
Monkey Beach GKI
Aerial shot of Monkey Beach
Turquoise waters at Monkey Beach
SEE THE VIEW FROM MONKEY POINT
After a good snorkel session at Monkey Beach, I recommend taking the hike up to Monkey Point.
It’s located between Monkey Beach and Long Beach and the trail starts at Fisherman’s Beach. The hike leads you through lush green bushland and past historic sights left by Aboriginal ancestors.
Once you reach Monkey Point, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of Monkey Beach and Long Beach on both sides and you can overlook the whole of GKI and its surrounding islands.
Also, keep on the lookout for parrots and seabirds. I even spotted some goats while enjoying the great view!
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Exploring Monkey Point
Aerial shot of Monkey Point
View of Monkey Beach from Monkey Point
Panoramic views from Monkey Point
GO KAYAKING AROUND KEPPEL ISLAND
Another one of the most awesome things to do on the island is kayaking. This unique experience allows you to explore the island a little differently while gliding above the Great Barrier Reef.
Located near the Great Keppel Hideaway at The Spit, this is where you can find the Great Keppel Watersports and Activities Hut to organize your kayaking adventure.
You can hire kayaks or arrange a two-hour guided kayaking tour which you can pre-book or book on the day.
It’s a great way to explore the crystal-clear waters surrounding the island, check out the more secluded beaches, and enjoy a fun-fuelled activity!
Kayaking around the island
Great Keppel Watersports
TAKE A DIP AT FISHERMAN’S BEACH
Is your idea of paradise swimming in turquoise waters? In that case, Fisherman’s Beach is my personal recommendation. Fisherman’s Beach is the first beach which you will arrive on when catching the boat over from the mainland.
It’s one of the two resort beaches which is easily accessible and the usually calm wave conditions make it safe to take a refreshing dip.
This west-facing beach is backed by an awesome tree line, so I recommend staying until the evening to enjoy the stellar sunset.
Also, this place used to be home to a luxurious party resort, and you can visit the location for some retro party vibes.
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The stunning Fisherman’s Beach
SUNBATHE ON PUTNEY BEACH
One of the best places to sunbathe is by far Putney Beach. It’s a fantastic spot where you can just sit back and relax while working on your tan!
Putney Beach is well known for its magnificent blue water and calm waves. If you’re traveling with young kids, this place is perfect for them to comfortably swim.
To end your day at Putney Beach with a bang, make sure to stay here at least until sunset and watch the whole sky light up.
It’s a definite must on your list of things to do in Great Keppel Island as the view is simply stunning!
The shoreline at Putney Beach
EXPLORE LEEKE’S BEACH & LEEKE’S CREEK
Exploring Leeke’s Beach and Leeke’s Creek is another one of the top things to do as it allows you to learn more about this awesome destination.
Leeke’s Beach is one of the larger and more spectacular beaches on the island and Leeke’s Creek is one of the best-hidden gems.
Follow the Leeke’s Beach Circuit trail from Fisherman’s Beach, or from Putney Beach, through bushland, and out on to Leeke’s Beach all the way up to Leeke’s Creek.
The hike is a moderate 4km return journey and takes approximately 2-3 hours. It’s a great way to discover the island on foot, which gives you plenty of time to stop and take pictures along the trail.
The trailhead to Leeke’s Beach
Leeke’s Beach GKI
Aerial Shot of Leeke’s Beach
STROLL AROUND THE WETLANDS
Next on this list of awesome things to do is a stroll around the wetlands. It’s a great way to discover the diverse flora and fauna and lets you explore the interior of the island.
The wetlands are located behind Leeke’s Beach and you can follow the trail that goes all the way around the area.
Following the trail, you’ll pass the old homestead where sheep were held at the turn of the century. It has been recognized on the Queensland Heritage Register and it gives a fascinating insight into the simplicity of island life!
The Wetlands behind Leeke’s Beach
HIKE TO SECOND BEACH & SVENDSEN’S BEACH
One of my favorite hikes on Great Keppel Island is to Second Beach and Svendsen’s Beach. The trail starts at the western end of Putney Beach and continues to Leeke’s Beach.
You can follow the track along the tidal lagoon to get to Second Beach, but if the tide is too high you can go around the wetlands to get to Svendsen’s Beach.
Both beaches are uncrowded and great if you want to enjoy some quiet time! Here you can get a sense of tranquility and listen to the sound of the sea at your own pace.
Second Beach and Svendsen’s Beach
Beautiful scenes at Second Beach
CHECK OUT BUTTERFISH BAY
Backed by large sand hills and flanked by rocky outcrops, Butterfish Bay is a small cove with stunningly clear, aqua green waters. It’s a secluded and peaceful spot with awesome views of the headland on both sides of Big Sandhill Beach.
Also, Butterfish Bay is a recommended snorkeling area and the Butterfish Reef is fantastic to spot hard corals. As the rocks are quite far from the beach, you have the best access via boat or snorkel during low tide.
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ADVENTURE TO WRECK BEACH
If you’re in for a cool adventure, I recommend adventuring to Wreck Beach. Hidden on the far east side of the island, this beach gives you a good taste of being on a deserted, tropical island.
The trail starts at Fisherman’s Beach and you’ll be guided through bushland via Svendsen’s Beach and past the sand dunes at Butterfish Bay.
This hike takes approximately 2.5 hours and it’s well worth it as you get to experience the whole island.
Wreck Beach is great for relaxing in the sun or for snorkeling as you’ll most likely see loads of turtles, dolphins, large corals, and a variety of marine life.
GO SCUBA-DIVING WITH KEPPEL DIVE
For an exceptional diving experience, I would highly recommend a scuba-diving session with Keppel Dive. Find them on The Spit at the blue hut near the Fisherman’s Beach visitor precinct.
It’s the only diving center operating on the island and your go-to for watersports and activities!
Keppel Dive offers a variety of dive services and tours. They can also arrange boat pick-ups and drop-offs to most of the Great Keppel Island beaches.
If you can arrange a diving tour with Keppel Dive, I guarantee you won’t regret it. It’s great for anyone that’s looking for a memorable activity and doesn’t want to lay on the beach all day long.
Keppel Dive Shop
ENJOY A BEER AT HIDEAWAY BAR
Great Keppel Island Hideaway Bar is the perfect place to calm down after all those awesome activities and relax for a bit while enjoying an ice-cold beer.
Located right on Fisherman’s Beach, the accommodation has a restaurant on-site and welcomes anyone looking for a perfect paradise vibe.
Even if you’re not staying here for a night or more, the bar is open to all and you can enjoy a $5 beer anytime. They make sure your beer is cold when you arrive!
It’s definitely the best place on the island to unwind after a day full of adventures.
BOOK A JETSKI TOUR
Ready for an adrenaline-fueled activity? Why not! I highly recommend booking a Jetski tour and explore some of the most wonderful and hidden parts of the island that you wouldn’t normally get to.
You can join Keppel Water Sports and Great Keppel Island Adventures for a guided jetski tour around the island (28km) while learning about the island’s interesting history.
It’s a recipe for a great time as you soak in the warm sun and blast over the most beautiful turquoise waters you’ve ever seen. I promise you it’s going to be epic!
GO ON A 4X4 SAFARI
Last but not least on this list of awesome things to do is going on a 4×4 safari. It’s a great alternative to exploring the island on foot and gives you more time to discover the island, rather than having to hike different trails. I guarantee it’s a lot of fun!
Keppel Island Holiday Village offers 4×4 safari tours around the island and gets you to your desired destination. You can call them for bookings or visit their beach resort on Fisherman’s Beach to arrange a guided tour.
The tour includes time for a swim and extra time to spend on Long Beach or Monkey Beach and costs around $25 per person.
BEST TIME TO VISIT GREAT KEPPEL ISLAND
To be honest, this stunning island in the Great Barrier Reef is spectacular all year round!
If you’re aiming for dry weather and warm temperatures that are still comfortable enough to go out and be active, I suggest visiting between May and August (Autumn – Winter). It’s not too hot to explore the island and the best time for tourism, so it’s perfect for those looking for things to do.
Overall, Spring and Summer (September – February) see higher temperatures, some rainfall, and stronger winds. If you’re looking for the warmest time to visit, I recommend going in December, January, or February, with highs around 30°C.
ACCOMMODATION IN GREAT KEPPEL ISLAND
The best place to stay on the island is by far Great Keppel Island Hideaway, boasting ocean views and good vibes.
They have a variety of different rooms available such as Family Rooms, Triple Rooms, and Queen Rooms, all of which are located a stone’s throw from the ocean!
There’s also a fully licensed restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner so you’ll never go hungry.
Beach cabin at Keppel Island Hideaway
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Whether you plan a day trip or plan to stay several days on the island, there are some things you need to know before you go.
I´d recommend bringing some food supplies with you, as there are no supermarkets on the island and limited food venues available. There’s a souvenir shop called Tropical Paradise selling some drinks, snacks, burgers, and beachwear.
Perhaps your accommodation provides a private or communal kitchen where you can prepare or cook something to eat. Otherwise, a great restaurant to dine at is Keppel Island Hideaway on the beach. They serve food all day long and hold a Friday night Argentinian BBQ!
Also, all island businesses accept credit and debit cards, and there is an ATM within the Hideaway restaurant.
As it’s a car-free island, don’t forget to bring decent footwear. Most of the trails have unstable gravel and sharp rocks so a good pair of hiking shoes or sneakers make it easier to wander. Also, I’d recommend you bring a headlamp for hiking in the early morning or late afternoon.
If you plan on spending loads of hours snorkeling or fishing, I’d recommend being careful not to damage any coral and protect the reef. To avoid the cost of daily hire of snorkel and fishing gear, it’s best to bring your own items. Keep in mind that the best time to snorkel is on mid-tide, but regularly check the tides and currents. Any green zone from the southern end of Shelving Beach to Monkey Point and around Clam Bay is protected and is off-limits to fishing.
If you don’t want to get sunburnt and still want to enjoy your time outside, I’d recommend wearing good sunscreen and cover up from the tropical sun.
Last but not least, don’t forget to take loads of pictures as this is a place you want to remember forever!
GREAT KEPPEL ISLAND MAP
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