With there being so many Great Barrier Reef islands to choose from, we’re sharing the many things to do in Great Keppel Island in Queensland, and why you need to visit this authentic gem.
Not only is Great Keppel Island an affordable Queensland getaway, it’s only a 30 minute boat ride from the town of Yeppoon near Rockhampton. And when the return ferry costs from just $45, I’d be surprised to hear the reasons why you wouldn’t want to visit.
When we did a Great Keppel Island day trip, the travel restrictions had just been lifted. We spent the day going on a hike round the island which we loved! There’s so many Great Keppel Island activities to choose from, you could easily spend a good week exploring.
1. Snorkelling on Monkey Beach
One of the most popular Great Keppel Island activities is to go snorkelling at Monkey Beach.
Because Monkey Beach is super close to the coral reef in Great Barrier Reef, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to swim amongst the fish. This means if you’re not keen on jumping into open water from a boat, you don’t need to as the reef is pretty much on the beach.
One of the major highlights for snorkelling on Monkey Beach is because it’s home to many turtles.
If you don’t have a snorkelling set, you can hire one from Tropical Paradise shop for just $15 for the day.
To get to Monkey Beach, it’s a 20 minute walk from the far end of Fisherman Beach.
2. Snorkelling on Shelving Beach
Shelving Beach is located next door to Monkey Beach and is a smaller beach in comparison. We really liked this beach as it has a very secluded feel to it that makes you really feel like you’re in a tropical paradise.
This is also one of the best places to go snorkelling on Great Keppel Island too, because it’s home to many turtles and in close proximity to the reef.
If you’re not up for walking too far, then go to Shelving Beach instead of Monkey Beach, because it’s closer to Fisherman Beach.
3. Visit one of Australia’s best beaches
You can’t go to the island without visiting Long Beach. This incredible beach has been names as one of Australia’s top 20 beaches, and you can easily see why. The crystal clear turquoise water and pure white sand will make you feel like you’ve gone to a tropical country. There’s just no words for how gorgeous it really is.
It takes about an hour to walk to Long Beach from Fisherman Beach. If you don’t want to walk, you can ring up the local taxi service to take you.
4. Kayak tour along the Leekes Creek
One of the more hidden gems to visit is to go on a kayaking tour along Leekes Creek. You’ll learn all about the fascinating history of Great Keppel Island whilst you meander down through the salt water creek.
This tour departs from Keppel Bay Marina in Rosslyn Bay, Yeppoon so you don’t need to get the ferry over to the island separately.
5. Glass bottom boat tour
If you’re going to do one thing on Great Keppel Island, make sure you go on a glass bottom boat tour. Freedom Fast Cats offer up a fantastic tour for anyone wanting to see the Great Barrier Reef without having to get wet!
You’ll also learn all about the island and you’ll have the opportunity to explore more remote parts of the island and ask the guide plenty of questions.
6. Jet ski tour
If the idea of doing something a bit different excites you, go on a jet ski guided tour with Keppel Water Sports. Although there’s 17 beaches to discover around GKI, you can only visit some of them by boat.
On a jet ski tour, you’ll be able to swim in secluded beaches, and snorkel in some of the more exclusive reefs around Great Keppel Island.
There’s no better feeling than just floating around on the Great Barrier Reef on a SUP. Luckily you can do this with Great Keppel Island Water Sports for just $20 an hour.
8. Scuba Diving On Great Keppel Island
If you’re looking to go scuba diving in Great Keppel Island, you’re in luck as there’s a local diving company based right on the beach run by Great Keppel Island Water Sports. They actually run various diving courses, even an introductory discovery session.
If you love scuba diving, you can also opt for their Great Barrier Reef liveaboard which run for 5 days around the nearby islands!
9. Check out the old party resort
When I found out Great Keppel Island used to be home to a legendary party resort, I wanted to know more. Steve remembered the TV ads which used the slogan ‘get wrecked’. If you’d like to see the remains of the Great Keppel Island party resort, it sits on Fisherman’s Beach.
10. Where to watch the Sunset
The sunsets are legendary on Great Keppel Island. Make sure you go to Fisherman Beach or Putney Beach and watch the whole sky come to life with a beer in your hand.
11. Sunset Cruise on Great Keppel Island
If you fancy going on a boat to watch the sunset on Great Keppel Island, make sure you book a sunset cruise with Sail Capricornia. the 1h30 minute cruise costs $55, with a cheese board included. It’s also BYO so you could make a lovely evening with friends, family or a with a special someone.
12. Whale Watching in Great Keppel Island
Whales are often spotted around the Keppel Islands and there’s no better way to go on a whale watching cruise than with Keppel Konnections. They will take you on a 3 hour cruise for $75 which includes a light lunch.
13. Go on an Ocean Spa!
If you fancy going on a snorkelling tour from Yeppoon which includes an ocean spa then check out the Adventure Cruise with Freedom Fast Cats.
You’ll spend the entire day exploring the island on a glass bottom boat cruise, snorkelling and have a chance to experience an ocean spa aka a boom net on the back of the boat. Just hold on tight as you cruise around the Great Barrier Reef.
A day trip on the Adventure Cruise with Freedom Fast Cats costs $138 per adults.
14. 4×4 island tours
Great Keppel Island Holiday Village offer 4×4 Island Tours so you can spend more time exploring the island, rather than having to walk around it. This also means you’ll have more time for swimming and snorkelling around the popular beaches of Monkey Beach and Shelving Beach.
15. Bird Watching
Great Keppel Island is actually home to over 90 species of birds and is a fantastic place to learn all about the variety of birds living on the island.
Bring a pair of binoculars and lookout for the rainbow lorikeets, honey eaters and sea eagles around the island on your walk.
16. Motorised Canoe trip
With the 17 islands to choose from, some of them are a bit tricky to get to on foot. If you fancy doing something a bit adventurous which doesn’t require a lot of effort, a motorised canoe trip could be just the trick!
Check out the options from Great Keppel Island Hideaway to find the hidden gems around the island!
17. Sunset Sessions at Great Keppel Hideaway
Great Keppel Island Hideaway is a popular place for gigs and their legendary Sunset Sessions.
We found this video from 2019, follow their Facebook page for future announcements.
Great Keppel Island walks
We’re going to talk about some of the best Great Keppel Island walks because it’s one of the best ways to explore the island. As 90% of the island is bushland and walking tracks, here some of the best walks to take on.
18. The Lookout Trail
Time: 1 hour
For those of you looking to go on a walk which won’t take up too much time, opt for the Lookout Trail. As you guessed it, this trail takes you up to a lookout point with views out to the west of the Great Keppel Island.
19. Monkey Beach & Long Beach trail
Distance: Approx 10km
Time: At least 2 hours
We decided to go on the Monkey Beach & Long Beach trail because we wanted to go snorkelling and we wanted to see one of Australia’s best beaches.
When we visited Tropical Vibes tourist shop when we arrived at GKI, the owners told us Long Beach was the prettiest beach on the island. This sold us! You can read more about our Great Keppel Island walk here.
We would have otherwise done the Mount Wyndham walk which we mention below.
20. Mount Wyndham
Distance: around 3.5 hour walk
If you want to find the best views on the entire island, make sure you hike to Mount Wyndham. Although it’s not an easy hike, you’ll climb to the highest point in the island and see views out to most of the beaches.
21. Leeke’s Beach walk
Time: Allow a couple of hours
The Leeke’s Beach circuit is a great walk if you’re looking to learn a bit more about the history of Great Keppel Island as well as visit one of the best beaches on the island!
Make sure you check out the Old Homestead which was home to the Leeke family back in the early 1920s.
22. Lighthouse walk
Distance: 3 hour return walk
Lighthouse walk in Great Keppel Island is renowned for being the hardest hike on the island.
Make sure you do a detour to Wreck Beach to chill out and go snorkelling.
23. Clam Bay Trail
Distance: 10km and around 4 hours return.
Clam Bay Trail might be one of the longer walks but it’s predominately flat. The good news is once you arrive at Clam Bay, get your snorkel set out and explore the Great Barrier Reef at this fantastic snorkelling spot.
Things to know before you go to Great Keppel Island
Shops on Great Keppel Island
There’s a shop called Tropical Paradise selling beachwear, drinks, snacks and burgers. You can also hire our snorkel sets from here too.
Ferries to Great Keppel Island
There’s two ferries to choose from to get to the island from Rosslyn Bay in Yeppoon. We went with Freedom Fast Cats which is a bigger boat than Keppel Konnections. Both charge around the same price and we paid just $45 for a day trip. Our boat times were at 9:15am and return at 3:45pm which is enough time for a day trip.
Restaurants on Great Keppel Island
Great Keppel Island Hideaway has a great restaurant area on the beach to dine at. They hold a Friday night Argentinian BBQ which is really popular amongst locals and serve up food all day long everyday.
Time of the year to visit
We visited the island in June which is a great time of the year to visit. With the cooler months, it was still warm but not horribly hot. I’d recommend visiting between May – August so you can explore the island when it’s not feeling like it’s 40C.
There’s also loads of airbnbs to choose from as well.
But first… don’t forget to use our $76 discount on your first airbnb booking!
Don’t forget to watch our video to Great Keppel Island!
23 Things To Do On Great Keppel Island
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