Looking to explore one of Australia’s best-kept secrets? Dunk Island is a tropical Great Barrier Reef Island located in the Cassowary Coast Region, just south of Cairns.
If you’re a Mission Beach local or if you’re traveling the East Coast of Australia, then Dunk Island is a spot you definitely do not want to miss.
How to Get to Dunk Island
Being an offshore island, Dunk Island can only be accessed by boat.
For people looking to get here by ferry, there is a Watertaxi company operating out of Mission Beach which charges $40 per person for the return day trip.
You’ll need to contact them for a precise schedule, as days and times of operation vary depending on the season.
When is the Best Time to Visit Dunk Island
Like many of the Islands on the inside of the Great Barrier Reef, the best time to visit is between June to August. Exploring Dunk Island at this time of year means no stingers, and warm, predictable weather.
Typically, during these drier Winter months, temperatures hover between 25-28 degrees celsius, with water temperatures averaging around 23 degrees.
Camping on Dunk Island
Looking to explore Dunk Island for more than just a day? You’re in luck. Since it is quite a popular place to visit from Mission Beach, the council has set up camping areas, with showers, water and even BBQs.
You will need to reserve and pay for a camping permit. Click here to get more information from the Government website.
The Abandoned Resort
For obvious reasons, the abandoned resort is off-limits, with only the main central building remaining open for special events and weddings.
Best Ways to Explore Dunk Island
Planning your adventures with a Dunk Island itinerary? Below I’ve listed some of the best things that we got up to in tropical paradise.
Take the Hiking Trails Around the Island
The further you move up the Australian East Coast, the more tropical the rainforest flora becomes. Even compared to islands just south of Hinchinbrook like Orpheus and the Palm Islands, Dunk is much denser and more rainforest-like.
There are two trails leading from the main pier. They begin by walking through well-maintained camping areas and continue past the old airstrip. Further along, you’ll walk along the long stretch of white beach past the abandoned resort, and finally into dense rainforest trails.
It’s fairly easy to follow the bush tracks. However, I’ve also linked the official National Park walking map here for your convenience.
Island Circuit Track
Once you’ve past the beach and are on the track, you’ll have a few options. I recommend following the signs and take the Island circuit track. This is an 11-kilometer walk which takes you to the top of Mount Kataloo, down Palm Valley, across to Coconut Beach and ends at the sand spit.
Taking the Island Circuit track takes approximately three hours, but offers the best of what Dunk Island has to offer.
If you just want incredible views of the southern end of Dunk Island, then walking to the highest viewpoint at Mount Kataloo is the best way to get them.
The trail continues on from the end of the beach at Brammo Bay, and climbs gently for two kilometers to an old World War Two Radar Station.
Muggy Muggy Beach Track
If you’re looking to snorkel or just relax on a more secluded beach, then instead turn left at the first junction and follow the signs to Muggy Muggy Beach. The beach is just around the corner, and should only take around 20 minutes to reach from the pier. Read down further below for more details.
Snorkel at Muggy Muggy Beach
As mentioned, Muggy Muggy Beach is a located just around the corner from the main resort beach on Brammo Bay.
The beach itself is much quieter and more secluded beach for swimming and snorkeling. There are also several hanging palms on the beach, making it feel a bit more of an isolated tropical paradise.
You can snorkel all around the bay, sticking to the fringing reef to get a taste of the unique Great Barrier Reef marine life.
Explore Mound Island (Purtaboi)
When you first arrive at Dunk Island, you might notice the small, rocky island known as Mound Island, nested just outside of Brammo Bay. The indigenous name for this island is Purtaboi.
It’s possible to kayak or boat over to the island, however keep in mind that it is an important bird nesting site. Stepping onto the island between 1 October and 31 March is prohibited to protect the nesting.
Jump off the Pier
The main pier at Brammo Bay looks like it’s made for jumping! If there aren’t too many people fishing, then it’s possible to launch some backflips even at low tide!
Swim at the Sand Spit
The sand spit on Dunk Island has to be one of the most picturesque sand bars in Australia, maybe besides Hill Inlet.
The sand spit is probably one of the best places to swim on the island, since there are no rocks and the water is extremely clear!
It’s also a great spot to snap some photos and get a unique vantage point of Dunk Island.
Catch the Tropical Sunsets
We all know that there’s no better sunset than an Island sunset. Catch sunset at the beach at Brammo Bay or watch the colours light up over the Family Island group at the top of Kataloo.
Sailing to Dunk Island
Dunk Island is traditionally a Cruiser’s island. This means, for those enjoying Australian coastal sailing, there’s usually great seaworthy company.
Anchorage and Berthing Information
The main anchorage area on Dunk Island is in Brammo Bay. It’s important to read your maps when entering, as the fringing reef spreads deep into the bay. While we anchored here, we watched a large 60-foot sailing vessel run aground close to the sand spit, luckily, they didn’t venture too far into the reef.
There are also three guest mooring buoys that are operated by Queensland Parks. These hold monohulls up to 20 meters and catamarans up to 18 meters and are rated to 34 knot winds.
The anchorage at Brammo Bay offers good protection against established South East trade winds, but will be very exposed to Northerlies.
Photos of Dunk Island
Looking for some photos to inspire your trip to Dunk Island? Check out some of the photos that I was able to snap below!