Move aside Australia’s big islands, it’s time to put some of Australia’s smaller islands in the spotlight. The authorities on all things travel, TripAdvisor, have put together a list of the top-rated small islands and tours around Australia that are ready for exploration. With the majority of islands located near major cities, they’re perfect for weekend adventures, with some being small enough to be fully explored within a matter of hours.
GREEN ISLAND, CAIRNS
Green Island is a protected coral cay in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, offering a gateway to an underwater world full of tropical fish, giant clams and sea turtles. A short cruise from Cairns, Green Island is also home to Marineland Crocodile Park and a nature walk through Green Island rainforest.
Top-rated tour: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns from $94
*Green Island image via Cairns Attractions.
FRANKLAND ISLANDS, CAIRNS
This totally uninhabited cluster of five isles that make up Frankland Islands (High, Normanby, Mabel, Round and Russel) are part coral cay, part continental islands, offering a healthy and vibrant coral community ready to be explored.
Top-rated tour: Frankland Islands Cruise and Dive from $169 (adults) or $99 (children)
*Franklands Islands image via Cairns Info.
LADY ELLIOT ISLAND, BUNDABERG
Famous for its unspoilt coral reef and spectacular marine life, Lady Elliot is a coral cay located at the southern tip of Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef, north of Fraser Island. The island is regarded as one of the best diving and snorkelling locations on the Reef thanks to its sanctuary of over 1,200 species of marine life including manta rays and turtles.
Top-rated tour: Lady Elliot Island Day Tour from $375 (ex Hervey Bay)
*Lady Elliot Island image via Queensland Islands.
HEIRISSON ISLAND, PERTH
Located in the Swan River in Western Australia, Heirisson Island is used as the main crossing from one side of the river to the other, using the causeway bridge. Offering ample entertainment in the form of seating barbecues, picnic shelters, a children’s playground and a kangaroo sanctuary, the island is popular for families and explorers alike.
*Heirisson Island image via Metro Trekker.
PENGUIN ISLAND, ROCKINGHAM
Just 45 minutes south of Perth is Penguin Island, a beautiful, unspoilt nature reserve home to WA’s largest colony of little penguins, as well as dolphins, sea lions, stingrays, pelicans and ospreys. A haven for swimming and snorkeling, Penguin Island offers some of the best coastal scenery in Perth.
*Penguin Island image via Grayline.
GRANITE ISLAND, ADELAIDE
Granite Island, Adelaide offers superior coastal scenery mixed with history that can be found along the Kaiki Walk or fishing from the jetty. If you travel between June and October you may even be lucky enough to spot a southern right whale.
*Granite Island image via Broadsheet.
NEW SOUTH WALES
COCKATOO ISLAND, SYDNEY
Cockatoo Island has undergone a renaissance in every sense of the word, now open to the public yet still retaining all its character and heritage from decades of human endeavour by convicts and shipbuilders alike. With a mission to reenergise history, it’s now a canvas for creatives and cultural events. Featuring the world’s first urban waterfront campground and beautiful holiday accommodation, Cockatoo Island offers the perfect day trip or overnight from Sydney.
*Cockatoo Island image via Timeout.