Great Keppel Island

A Quick Guide to Great Keppel Island

With its squeaky-clean, white sandy beaches and its sparkling-blue water, Great Keppel Island is a paradise on earth. Only a 30-minute ferry ride from the coastal town of Yeppoon, it is one of the easiest Great Barrier Reef islands to get to. It’s also one of the most affordable.

Being so close to the mainland, it is the perfect island for day trips, which are easily booked from the mainland. But Great Keppel is so spectacular that a single day won’t do it justice.

Great Keppel Island

Great Keppel Island is the largest of a group of islands called the Keppel Islands. While it is the most developed of the group, apart from a few accommodation and restaurant options and a few tour operators (all on one side of the island), the rest of it is largely vacant. There are no roads, no cars and your only way to get from one place to the other is by foot, or by boat.

Keppel Connections

How to get to Great Keppel Island?

There are two ferry companies running transfers to the island from Rosslyn Bay marina in Yeppoon.

We used Keppel Connections which uses a smaller boat. They run multiple trips daily starting as early as 7.30am. The cost is $50 return.

The second company is Freedom Fast Cats. They also run multiple trips daily and charge $55 return. Freedom Fast Cats uses a much bigger boat.

The trip takes approximately 35 minutes, so it’s very quick to get to the island.

What to do on Great Keppel Island?

Monkey Beach

Enjoy the incredible beaches!

Great Keppel Island is home to some breathtaking beaches and with 17 of them to choose from, you’re spoilt for choice!

Fisherman’s Beach

Fisherman’s Beach

Fisherman Beach is Great Keppel Island’s main beach and the busiest. It’s also where you will arrive by boat. A lot of people stay on this beach, especially day trippers, so if you’re looking for a quiet beach, this is not it. But if you walk to the far end, you can still find some peace and quiet.

Great Keppel Island
A deserted Putney Beach

Putney Beach

Putney Beach is Great Keppel Island’s second busiest beach. Just past the Hideaway resort, it’s a great spot to sunbathe, relax and take a dip! It’s also a top spot for watching the sunset.

Great Keppel Island
Beautiful Shelving Beach

Shelving Beach

Shelving Beach is a 15 minutes’ walk from the main beach and the closest snorkelling beach from the main area. The snorkelling is great and the easiest to get to on the island.

If you are looking for pristine white sand, sparkling blue waters and fabulous snorkelling, look no further than Monkey Beach. It’s a bit of a hike to get there (about 40 mins hike from Fisherman’s Beach) but once there you won’t regret it. You’ll find the reef if you snorkel out about a hundred metres, it has colourful fish, corals and if you’re lucky, turtles.

Walking up the rocks at Leeke’s Beach

Leeke’s Beach

If you find Putney Beach too busy, head up over the hill and down to Leeke’s Beach. You might be the only one there! We recommend wearing proper footwear to do this walk however, as the path is quite rocky.

The clear water of Long Beach
The clear water of Long Beach

Long Beach

Our absolute favourite beach on Great Keppel Island was Long Beach. Long Beach is apparently a nudist beach but when we visited, there was not a single person there! So, take your pick, bathers or your birthday suit; it’s likely nobody will be there to judge you anyway!

The beach for ourselves

Long Beach is a couple of kilometres walk from the main part of the island, which explains the emptiness, but this long stretch of white sandy beach is one of my favourite beaches ever. The water was such a beautiful, sparkling blue and having the entire stretch of beach just for us made it extra special. It was our very own piece of paradise!

Of course there are many other beaches to choose from. We didn’t get a chance to see them all on a 4-day trip. Be sure to comment below with your favourite beach as we’d love to explore some more next time we visit the island.

Snorkel off the beach

It’s always so special to spend time in the water exploring the underwater world and you never know what you’re going to see. Although you can take a snorkelling tour to go a bit further out, there is really no need to do that on Great Keppel Island. It’s very easy to snorkel off the beach. I love an island where you can do that!

As mentioned earlier, Shelving Beach and Monkey Beach are the two best beaches that are easily accessible from the main area where you can go snorkelling off the beach. Butterfish Bay and Wreck Beach are also good snorkelling spots, but you will either need to hire a boat to take you there or take a long hike.

Hike the many trails

Great Keppel Island
View from the walking trail to Monkey Beach

Great Keppel Island is not only packed with amazing beaches, but it is also a hikers dream with 26 kilometres of hiking trails to choose from. They range from short strolls to nearby beaches, or all-day hikes across the island to the highest point or to other deserted beaches.

Great views!

Mount Wyndham is a popular hike which takes you to the highest point on the island. It takes around 3 and a half hours to complete. We had planned on doing that hike but visiting in December, the heat prevented us from making it to the top. At 33 degrees Celsius we decided a hike to a beach would be more enjoyable and we were right!

Take a water-taxi to a secluded beach on the island

Of the 17 beaches to choose from on the island, only a few are easily accessible by walking. Many require a few hours of hiking to get to or hiring a water-taxi to take you there.

GKI Watersports can organise a beach drop off for you. You tell them the time and they will come and pick you up when you are ready to go!

Great Keppel Island
Amazing sunset on Putney Beach

Enjoy the sunset

Great Keppel Island puts on a great show at sunset. Watching the sun go down from the island was one of our favourite times of the day! You can watch it from Fisherman’s Beach or Putney Beach or grab a happy-hour cocktail from the Hideaway Bar and Bistro.

The storm is coming!

How long to stay on the island?

With daily trips offered from the Yeppoon Marina, it’s easy enough to visit just for the day. However, we spent four nights and could have happily stayed longer. If you have time to spare, we recommend staying at least 3 full days to enjoy what Great Keppel has to offer and to have time to really take in the beauty of this magnificent island.

Sunset drinks at the Great Keppel Hideaway

Where to stay?

Great Keppel Island Hideaway

At the Great Keppel Island Hideaway, you can choose from a variety of accommodation options, including a holiday home and cabins. Some offer air-conditioning, a patio, garden views and a private bathroom.

The bistro style restaurant offers a variety of meals which are available for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The ferry from Yeppoon to the island can be organised directly with the resort at an additional charge. See their latest prices here.

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