Shimmering sunshine, bouncing off the water, an almost unbelievable shade of turquoise and brilliant blue. A friendly, welcoming community of locals, eager to show you their island home. Wild goats, hidden beaches, secluded spots and an abundance of brightly coloured fish, unique coral formations, dolphins whales and more. Take all of this and combine with a rich and fascinating history, stunning sunsets and long, gorgeous days… that’s Great Keppel Island. Days of adventure, exploration and relaxation await, offering a little something for everybody, a short journey from the Queensland coastline. If you’re planning a trip but aren’t sure what to do, peep our guide to these 13 awesome things you absolutely must do on Great Keppel Island.
1.Visit one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches
Yep, you read that right! Great Keppel Island is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia and when you visit, it’s easy to see why. Coming in at #14 on the list, Long Beach is a gorgeous stretch of pristine sand, usually with nobody else on it but you. With beautiful clear water, it’s a must-visit spot for all visitors and offers the chance to have a dip on one of the most truly beautiful beaches you’ve ever seen. We were treated to a visit to this incredible spot by the team at Great Keppel Island Hideaway.
2. Then go visit the other 16 beaches
Great Keppel Island is home to 17 incredible beaches, so it only seems right to visit as many as you possibly can and decide which one is your favourite. Spend your days swimming in the shallows, playing in the beautifully clear water, lazing on the sand and soaking in the serenity of it all or tuck into a picnic in a secluded spot!
3. Go snorkelling off Monkey Beach
I’ve done my fair share of snorkelling in Queensland and I gotta say, Monkey Beach really stands out for me! A protected green zone, the reef is alive with coral of different shapes, sizes and colours as well as an abundance of fish – more than I’ve seen anywhere else. There were so many beautiful fish and even a few turtles to swim with and marvel at. Our snorkel was part of a day tour run by Freedom Fast Cats but you can also BYO gear or hire on the island.
4. Take a jet ski safari
Join lovely local, Shane, of Keppel Water Sports, for an epic guided jet ski safari around Great Keppel Island. You’ll be taken through some of the most fascinating and gorgeous parts of Great Keppel while learning about the island’s unique history. Glide over some of the most beautiful blue water you’ve ever seen and soak in the famous Queensland sunshine while whizzing along, having the time of your life.
5. Explore the homestead
Take a trip to the historic Leeke Homestead, constructed on Great Keppel Island around 1922-24. The heritage listed site was the home of Lizzie Leeke, who lived on Great Keppel from 1922 to 1945 where, along with her husband, they depastured sheep. Now, the beautiful old building is a great spot to snap a few gorgeous photos at sunset and soak in part of the island’s history. We were treated to a visit to this incredible spot by the team at Great Keppel Island Hideaway.
6. Go stand up paddle boarding
Love watersports? Put your balance to the test on a stand-up paddleboard. The lovely calm waters around Great Keppel are perfect for a spot of SUP, while the clear, turquoise waters make for a stunning backdrop to your over-water adventures. Spend a few hours paddling around exploring the local area or lazing on your board, floating around hidden alcoves, dipping in for the occasional swim. You can hire a SUP from the guys at GKI Adventures and Keppel Water Sports.
7. Watch the sunset from the beach
If you only do one thing on Great Keppel Island, make sure it’s catching the stunning sunset. Find a patch of beach at the end of the day and settle in for the show, watching the sun turn brilliant shades of bright orange, yellow, pink and red. It’s a great way to stop, pause and just enjoy the surrounds. The sunsets here are spectacular and not to be missed!
8. Glass bottom boat tour
We hopped a glass bottom boat tour with Freedom Fast Cats, learning a lot about the world below the water, spotting unique formations of bright coral reef and fish of all shapes and sizes. We were also treated to a few turtle sightings and access to a wealth of knowledge held by the skipper! It was a great way to learn even more about Great Keppel’s eco-system and the Southern Great Barrier Reef while peering into the world below.
Matt strapped on a wakeboard and took to the water for a bit of wakeboarding fun, skippered by Shane of Keppel Water Sports. The water was so glassy and clear, his whole face lit up with a huge smile! I felt like I was watching a TV advert for the island, it was just so perfect. Shane’s a great teacher, experienced and patient, so it’s a great spot for those wanting to learn or the more experienced keen for a challenge.
10. Explore the Island’s bushwalking tracks
Love bushwalking? Strap on your comfy shoes and set off to explore the island’s many walking trails. Whether you have a short time or a long time, you’ll find a trail or two suited to your skill level. Spot local wildlife, including more than a few wild goats, then end your big walk with a dip into the beautiful waters – remember the bit about 17 beaches? That’s where they come in handy! You can opt for a DIY tour or join a guided one, run by GKI Adventures.
11. Take a sunset cruise
If watching the sunset from the beach doesn’t quite sound interesting enough, climb aboard a boat and set sail for a sunset cruise. What better way to farewell the sun for the day than enjoying a few cold drinks on the water, listening to the water lap the sides of the boat?! Absolute bliss. You can hop a sunset cruise run by GKI Adventures, Great Keppel Cruises and Keppel Water Sports.
12. Go kayaking
Make the most of the gorgeous conditions by hiring a kayak and exploring Great Keppel from the water, seeing things from a different angle and taking it all in at your own pace. It’s a great way to work your way around the outside of the island, pausing at beaches that take your fancy, jumping in for a swim or stopping for a picnic in a secluded spot. You can hire a kayak from the guys at GKI Adventures and Keppel Water Sports.
13. Spot whales & dolphins
We were lucky enough to spot a few playful dolphins around Monkey Beach, popping up to say hello then ducking off again. If you’re visiting in the winter months, you’re a better chance of spotting them. You’ll also find yourself treated to a heck of a show by visiting whales, with the majority migrating north from June to August then back down again from September to November.
Watch this video we made for Southern Great Barrier Reef Tourism!
Phoebe is a travel writer and photographer with a love for storytelling and making people laugh. Matt is a videographer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and big adventures. Together we inspire big adventures through our guides, videos, vlogs and photographs. Find out more about us here.