Leaving for Great Keppel Island, we had no idea what to expect. After five nights there, we didn’t want to leave. Great Keppel Island is located in the Southern Great Barrier Reef and is our idea of an island paradise. It was quiet, laid-back and picture perfect.
Places to visit & Things to do
Long Beach was hands down our favourite beach on the island. It is absolutely stunning, boasting white sand and crystal clear turquoise water. The walk there took us just under an hour and isn’t as steep as some of the others. You’ll definitely want to spend a few hours there (or pack lunch and go for the day). While we were there we even saw a turtle swimming right off the beach – how cool is that?!
Shelving Beach is another spectacular beach and it also happens to be a great spot for snorkelling as there is reef right off the beach. The snorkelling was beautiful and we saw so many different species of fish. We recommend timing your visit when the tide is a little higher if you plan on snorkelling. The walk to Shelving Beach isn’t overly long however it is steep in parts, particularly the descent down onto the beach so be prepared for climbing down rocks to reach it.
I would suggest visiting Monkey Beach on the same day as Long Beach because it’s only a hop and a skip away. If you walk to the end of Long Beach, there is a nice boardwalk track that takes you straight across to Monkey Beach (it might only be 50-100m). The water at Monkey Beach is super shallow and clear (from up on top of the mountains it can actually look murky because of how shallow it is). There is also reef here so it’s another great spot for snorkelling.
Sunset at Putney Beach
Putney Beach is the PERFECT spot to sit and watch the sun going down. There really is something special about watching the sun setting over the water. We also managed to see some dolphins right near the shallows before sunset which made it extra special.
The lighthouse trail
If you’re feeling up for a hike, the lighthouse trail is a great one. Its nearly 16km return and took us just under 6 hours. The walk is challenging and very steep in parts so it’s not suitable for everyone. Our legs were pretty sore afterwards but it was very worth it. We passed the Great Keppel Homestead, saw some incredible beaches, got to see a whale and her calf swimming right of the beach and had some incredible views. If you decide to give it a go, take a map because some of the tracks aren’t well marked.
How to get there
Great Keppel Island is only a 30 minute ferry ride from the Keppel Bay Marina (only 15 minutes from Yeppoon). You can book your ferry transfers in advance with either Freedom Fast Cats or Keppel Konnections. You can leave your car at the Marina or you can book in to leave it at Great Keppel security car park which is what we did. It is secure undercover parking and they have a van to drop you to and from the marina.
Where to stay
We stayed at the Great Keppel Island Hideaway in an island cabin which was right on the beach. The cabins are basic but neat and tidy with everything you need. They are also very affordable considering the ocean views and that you can walk out of your door and straight on to the beach. We would suggest asking for rooms 10,11 or 12 (where we stayed) because they’re the best beachfront locations! We stayed on the island for five nights and could have easily stayed longer.
When to visit
We visited in July (Winter) and loved it! The weather was warm through the day and cooler at night and in the mornings. Winter is also the best time for whale watching and because stingers are less common making it a safer time for swimming and snorkelling. We also found the weather perfect considering the amount of walking you do whilst on the island. I don’t think we would have managed the lighthouse trail in Summer.
Things to know before you go
- Great Keppel Island is very mountainous so be prepared for lots of walking.
- Wear sandals/flip flops on the ferry because you may get your feet wet when getting on/off the boat.
- If you plan on staying in Yeppoon the night before/after your trip, book in advance as it is high season and does book out.
What to bring
Definitely a good pair or sneakers, beach towels (not provided at Hideaway), sunscreen, moisturiser (the water on the island is bore water and very drying), snorkelling gear if you have your own otherwise you can hire it on the island, and your own food and drinks. There is a bistro on the island however it is pretty expensive and the food wasn’t fantastic so it’s much cheaper to take your own.
We absolutely loved Great Keppel Island and can’t wait to head back there one day. If you’ve ever been to GKI or are planning a trip, let me know in the comments below!