A useful travel guide to visiting Alma Bay on Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia. Discover how to get here, what to expect, and useful tips for your trip to Maggie!
Alma Bay, located in Arcadia is one of Magnetic Island’s most beautiful bays and a must-visit when exploring the epic Maggie Island.
With its crystal-clear waters, pristine beaches, and lush tropical vegetation, Alma Bay is the perfect place to swim, snorkel, or just hang out on the sandy shores.
In this Maggie travel guide, I’ll be sharing everything you need to know to plan your own trip to Alma, from how to get there to the best things to do, where to stay, and more.
By Olly Gaspar, traveler, travel blogger & photographer for 5+ years with 600+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.
Where is Alma Bay?
You'll find Alma Bay in the area called "Arcadia", on the eastern side of Magnetic Island. It is just 2.5 kilometers from the Magnetic Island Ferry Terminal in the main town of Nelly Bay. You'll find it tucked away just north of the popular Geoffrey Bay (known for the rock wallabies).
Below is an easy map to see exactly where this bay is.
How to Get to Magnetic Island
Getting to Magnetic Island is as easy as a 40-minute ferry ride from the coast of Townsville.
The best ferry company is SeaLink, which has ferries operating roughly every hour from Townsville to Nelly Bay ferry terminal on Magnetic Island.
The cheapest SeaLink ticket can be booked online in advance on GetYourGuide, which gives you a scannable QR code to use on your phone when you board.
The cost of the return trip to Magnetic Island on SeaLink is $39 per adult with several concession options also available.
How to Get to Alma Bay
The easiest way to get to Alma Bay is just to take the reliable and affordable Magnetic Island public bus along the eastern coast of Magnetic Island. If you're arriving from the ferry terminal, you'll want to take the Translink Route 250 bus on Marine Parade, getting off after 4 stops at "Armand Way".
The bus journey takes just 5 minutes, with buses departing roughly every hour.
If you're going to explore the island, checking out the famous Maggie Wreck, Horseshoe Bay, Florence Bay, and the Forts Track, then it's a good idea just to buy a TansLink daily ticket (pay cash on the bus). This gives you unlimited bus travel for an entire day for just $7.60.
Alternatively, you can also rent a car in Townsville and take it with you on the ferry to explore the island, or just walk to Alma Bay following Magnetic Island Rd along the coast.
Related: Castle Hill Hike in Townsville
Walking Trail to Alma Bay
Whether you're taking the bus, driving, or walking, you'll want to stop near the Arcadia Newsagency and Arcadia Village Hotel to take the short walk down to Alma Bay.
This is a short and easy walk, passing some public barbecues and picnic tables along the way. Once you arrive, you'll be at the shores of a World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef Island!
Things to Do at Alma Bay
Alma Bay Beach is one of the smallest of Magnetic Island's 23 bays. And, since it is quite close to Nelly Bay, it's also quite a popular beach for swimming, especially during the summer months.
Swim & Relax
There's the Arcadian Surf Life Saving Club at this beach, meaning it's a great place to swim if you're visiting the island with kids.
Both ends of the beach feature some prominent granite headlands. This offers some good protection from the weather and creates smooth and calm water conditions at this beautiful beach. These rock formations are also a good area to walk around the coast in good weather and get some unique views of the beach.
Just be mindful of marine stingers during the stinger season between November and May!
Snorkeling & Scuba Diving
The rocks at the end of the beach are also a good spot to snorkel since there are some healthy coral reefs with abundant marine life here. It's also a Great Barrier Reef Marine National Park designated Green Zone, meaning you cannot fish (better for snorkeling).
We spent a day snorkeling and enjoying the bay and found loads of giant clams!
Alma Bay is also home to a couple of popular dive sites for scuba diving, with the local dive shops organising boat trips around the headlands.
Where to Stay on Magnetic Island
Below I've summarised the three best places to stay on Magnetic Island for various budgets. The links go to Booking.com, which is what I personally always use to book the best deals on accommodation.
- Stay at the Koala Sanctuary: Bungalow Bay Koala Village - This hostel is one of the best-rated budget accommodation options on Magnetic Island. It has a good chill-out area, pool and of course, the on-site koalas.
- Best Hostel With a View: Base Backpackers - Base Backpackers is a name synonymous with budget travel in Australia. This hostel has shared rooms for under $35 a night. Rooms are actually small cottages and overlook the reef right on the water's edge in Nelly Bay.
- Best Guest House for Couples: CStay in Picnic Bay - One of the best value accommodation options for couples is Cstays in Picnic Bay. There are several twin rooms for less than $65 per night.
FAQs About Visiting Magnetic Island's Alma Bay
Got some more questions about visiting one of Maggie's most beautiful beaches? This should clear that up!
Is it safe to swim at Alma Bay?
Yes, this is one of the most popular beaches for swimming at Magnetic Island. There are also lifeguards here that patrol during the summer months.
When is the best time to visit?
The best time to visit Magnetic Island is between June and August, during the Australian winter. During this time, the weather is cooler and drier. However, this is also the peak tourist season, so expect more crowds and higher prices. On the other hand, the shoulder season from April to May and September to November can be a great time to visit, with fewer crowds and more affordable prices. During the Aussie summer (November to February) Maggie is quite hot, and there is an increased risk of stingers.
What are the tide conditions like at Alma Bay?
Alma Bay experiences a pretty moderate tide range. This includes low tide exposing a wider area of sandy beach and high tide covering most of the beach. During spring tide, which occurs twice a month during the new moon and full moon phases, the tide range can definitely be more significant.
Are there dangerous stingers on Magnetic Island?
Yes, it's a good idea to wear a stinger suit in the stinger season in Far North Queensland.
What kind of native wildlife is there at Alma Bay?
Alma Bay is a pretty popular beach, so you might not see as much native wildlife as you would on the other, more remote bays of Magnetic Island. However, chances are still high of spotting a range of birdlife, including kookaburras, rainbow lorikeets, and cockatoos. There are also plenty of reptiles around like lizards and snakes. If you're lucky, you might spot one of the most iconic animals of Magnetic Island the rock wallaby! Of course, the water is full of marine life as well!
More Magnetic Island Travel Guides
I hope that you've enjoyed this quick travel guide to visiting Alma Bay on Magnetic Island, Queensland. For more North Queensland travel inspiration, make sure to check out some of my other guides below!
- 60+ Things to do in Cairns - my ultimate Cairns and FNQ travel resource covering the best activities, hidden gems, and unmissable experiences.
- Cairns Hiking Guide - a huge list of epic rainforest, waterfall, and lookout hikes in Cairns.
- Cairns Waterfalls - a huge list of epic waterfalls that I've visited in Cairns and the surrounding tropics.
- Cairns Islands - discover my favorite Great Barrier Reef islands near Cairns and Port Douglas.
- Cairns Tours - my roundup of the best tours you can book in Cairns and FNQ, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Daintree Rainforest.
- Cairns Packing List - tips on what to pack for a trip to Far North Queensland.
- Top Things to Do in Port Douglas - a comprehensive guide to the sleepy Far North Queensland town of Port Douglas.
- Epic 5-Day Cairns Itinerary - my suggested adventure itinerary if you only have 5 days to spend in Cairns.
- Cape Tribulation Travel Guide - discover where the rainforest meets the reef at one of my favourite places in Australia.
- Magnetic Island Travel Guide - your ultimate resource for visiting "Maggie" near Townsville.
- Best Things to do in the Atherton Tablelands - my guide to one of Far North Queensland's most underrated adventure destinations.
- Accommodation Resources: Discover where to stay in Cairns, the best hotels in Port Douglas and my Cape Tribulation accommodation guide.