Are you wondering what to do on a Great Keppel Island day trip? We had no idea what to expect either until our recent visit. We’re sharing with you how to spend the day on Great Keppel Island in the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Plus it’s a fantastic way to see the Great Barrier Reef on a budget!
It wasn’t until we moved up to the Southern Great Barrier Reef town of Agnes Water did I know how many amazing islands there are just waiting to be visited. After our trip to Lady Musgrave Island recently, we were keen to check out more Great Barrier Reef islands.
Just a three hour drive from Agnes Water is the beautiful coastal town of Yeppoon (and 30 minutes from the city of Rockhampton). This town popped up on our radar a while ago after we kept hearing great things about this gem. We had no idea how beautiful it would really be.
From Yeppoon we could see the many islands out to the Great Barrier Reef. So, with a long weekend on our hands, we jumped on the 30 minute Freedom Fast Cat Ferry to embark on a day trip to Great Keppel Island.
Initially we were going to stay at a Great Keppel Island accommodation called Great Keppel Island Hideaway. We were pressed for time because there were so many places we wanted to visit near Yeppoon, so we decided to go on a day trip instead.
So how did we spend our day on the island? Here’s everything you need to know about what to do on a Great Keppel Island day trip.
There are two ferry services to Great Keppel Island. We actually went with Freedom Ferry Fast Cats just because the timings matched up for us.
Otherwise you can go with Keppel Konnections which we learnt at the end of our day trip is actually a much smaller boat. If you tend to get a bit sea sick, I would take some sea-sickness tablets if you go on the smaller boat to be on the safe side.
There’s not much in it with pricing either – we paid $45 return each. So see it like this…
…you can go on a day trip to a Great Barrier Reef island for just $45.
We went on hikes around the island too so you can easily spend the day in paradise without spending much at all.
How long should you spend on a Great Keppel Island day trip?
We were a bit unsure about how long to spend on Great Keppel Island. Because we visited not long after the travel restrictions had been lifted in Queensland, a lot of the Great Keppel Island activities weren’t available.
We didn’t want to be hanging around waiting for the ferry back to Rosslyn Bay in Yeppoon because the weather wasn’t predicted to be the best on the day we went.
In actual fact, we almost ran out of time and I’m glad we chose to go on the 9:15am ferry and return on the 3:45pm ferry. These times were actually spot on for us.
We visited Great Keppel Island in June on a bit of a windy day. If it had been a bit warmer, we would have absolutely LOVED to stay for the weekend. It’s a great place to get away from everyone in an authentic and rustic paradise.
Are there any shops or restaurants on Great Keppel Island?
We were unprepared with our visit to Great Keppel Island and didn’t bring as much water with us as we usually would have done so. We were glad to see there is a shop open called Tropical Vibes so we could get any snacks and water once we arrived.
When you get off the ferry from Yeppoon to Great Keppel Island, you’ll be greeted by Fisherman Beach which is absolutely gorgeous. Lined with palm trees and clear turquoise water, it’s paradise at its best. All we could think of is; “if this is the beach the boats come in on, then how much better will the other beaches be?
We had no idea where to go and just followed the crowds walking up to a walking path. Here we found an old shark’s mouth statue from what looked like a playground or maybe an aquarium. It turns out this has been on the island for years and years, something many generations come back to take photos of.
Just passed the sharks mouth, we came to Tropical Paradise, a tourist shop selling beach clothes, drinks, snacks and burgers. Here we met the shop owners, Dot and Shane, really lovely couple who had lived on the island for a long time. They showed us a map of Great Keppel Island and we asked them about the best walks to discover. You can also find a Great Keppel Island map on the ferry as well so just take a photo of it on your phone.
I had done my research on Great Keppel Island walks but it’s always good to ask a local who will be able to give you better insights. It was a toss up between Mount Wyndham and the Long Beach & Monkey Beach walks.
We heard Mount Wyndham walk is a fantastic walk to the highest point of Great Keppel Island where you can see the beaches to the other side of the island. It was supposed to take around 3 hours return.
Or we could hike over to Long Beach which has been voted one of the best beaches in Australia (11th to be precise) and onto Monkey Beach which has the best snorkelling in Great Keppel Island. It was going to take a couple of hours return to go this hike.
We opted to go to Long Beach & Monkey Beach on our Great Keppel Island day trip and we weren’t disappointed! We hired out a snorkel set each from the shop for $15 and we went off on our adventure.
Steve told me he remembered always seeing ads on TV about Great Keppel Island being a party island. I couldn’t believe it as I just hadn’t heard anything about Australia actually having a party island before.
When we asked Shane from the shop about the islands party days, he told me he used to drive the boats back and forth with everyone from 18 year olds and upwards to the legendary party resort. I wanted to know more as I could see he surely must have had some wild stories to tell.
Luckily, when we left the shop and started on our walk, we passed by the old party resort. It was situated right on Fisherman Beach and had just been left there as it was.
At the time of visiting, the locals told us they were waiting a new resort to be built. Plans for a casino, golf course and much more had been propositioned by investors.
Finding directions on Great Keppel Island walks
We read Great Keppel Island wasn’t the best for providing directions on the walks. When we walked down to the end of Fisherman Beach (on the left from Tropical Paradise), we came to a sign which offered up directions to Long Beach or Monkey Beach. I read somewhere to go the Long Beach way instead, so we opted for that way.
Within two minutes we were already lost. There was a barrel with an arrow pointing to Long Beach which had been turned upside down. Which way did it want us to go? After a while, we took the road up the hill on the right from the barrel. This is the right way to go.
We walked for about 40 minutes or so before we came to Long Beach. Along the way, you’ll see signs saying how far away the beach is but it’s just that initial way to get there is confusing.
You’ll also need to walk up hill for a bit but it’s gradual so it shouldn’t be too hard unless you’re visiting when it’s really hot. There isn’t any ocean views on this hike until you get to Long Beach but it’s worth doing.
Should you hike to Long Beach in Great Keppel Island?
When we arrived at Long Beach on Great Keppel Island, we were blown away by its beauty. There’s a sign when you get there stating that’s it’s a nudist beach on the eastern end but we had the entire place to ourselves when we visited.
The sand is pristine white and the water is turquoise. There’s no houses or buildings to be seen and we love how untouched it really is.
Steve even said it was one of the best beaches he’s ever seen! And he’s been to well over 60 countries.
We spent a good hour or more relaxing on Long Beach before we decided to move onto Monkey Beach.
As we walked along the sand, we saw a sign post offering up a taxi service to take you back to the main beach on the island, Fisherman Beach. Steve tried to persuade me but I was having none of it! If you bring kids with you, then this could be a good option!
Getting to Monkey Beach from Long Beach
We walked all the way to the end of Long Beach on the right until we found the path to Monkey Beach. We thought it was going to take quite a while to get to but it only took about 15 minutes in total.
There’s a boardwalk which takes you down to Monkey Beach from Long Beach and has lovely views overlooking the ocean.
We actually asked one person sat on the beach if we were at Monkey Beach and she confirmed it. I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe a smaller version to Long Beach. Maybe it was because it had clouded over and it was getting windy that the snorkelling didn’t seem as appealing as it should have been.
We didn’t go snorkelling in the end because the wind had picked up, and I think I’ll always wonder what it would have been like. I have read that a lot of turtles come to this spot so it’s definitely somewhere I’d come back to again!
We then walked around the rocks on the beach to get back to Fisherman Beach in the end. I know this isn’t the correct way but because the tide was low and we were wearing hiking boots, we were OK. Do not attempt this if the tide isn’t low and you’re not wearing hiking boots.
We read that you needed hiking boots to walk around Great Keppel Island but I think trainers would be fine (as long as you don’t walk around the rocks like we did).
In the end it took us around 4 hours of walking and exploring around Great Keppel Island. We timed it on my Garmin 235 watch and we walked around 11km in total.
Great Keppel Restaurants
When we got back to Fisherman Beach, we had about an hour before the boat was to depart. This means our hiking trip around the island took us about 4 or 5 hours. We didn’t hike fast and we spent a while on Long Beach so you could easily do it faster. Plus you can get picked up on Monkey Beach and Long Beach from the taxi service if needed.
We went over to Great Keppel Island Hideaway for lunch. The menu on offer was a takeaway menu but that’s understandable considering everything has been in lockdown for the last couple of months. The options included fish & chips, burgers, and snacks like chicken wings. We opted for the chicken wings and a pina colada to complete our tropical adventure.
I have read that they do have live music on the weekends from time to time and a big Argentinian BBQ on Friday nights.
More ideas for a day trip to Great Keppel Island
Because we visited Great Keppel Island just after the travel restrictions had been lifted, there’s actually much more to offer than hiking on the island. Both ferry services offer loads of boat tours and snorkelling tours around the island.
There’s camping options so you can have a really cheap Queensland getaway in the Great Barrier Reef.
Whilst Great Keppel Island isn’t a luxury island getaway, it’s perfect for those of you who appreciate an authentic island for a perfect hiking and camping weekend. If you’re a bit of an adventurer, you’ll love the many walking tracks and 17 beaches to discover.
Don’t forget to watch our video below!
Great Keppel Island Day Trip
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