South Molle Island is a small 4.5 square kilometer island located just a few hours from Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour.
The island was a popular tourist attraction in the 50s and 60s due to the now abandoned Bauer Bay Resort
Molle Island Group
The Molle group of islands are conveniently located in the heart of the Whitsundays. South Molle is the largest of the four, with North Molle and Mid Molle just to the north.
During low tide, the water drops and you are able to walk across to Mid Molle Island.
Daydream Island is located just to the West, and was in fact once named West Molle Island. I guess the name did the trick. Daydream is still a bustling luxury hotspot, while the rest are practically abandoned.
However, I’ll hopefully convince you that if you have the means to get there, this island is a much better alternative close to Airlie Beach.
Sailing and Anchorage Information
South Molle Island provides the best anchorage location for people sailing or cruising the Whitsunday Island. The best anchorage during developed South-East trade winds is on the North end of South Molle Island, known as Bauer Bay.
There are several buoys on the East side of this bay. These buoys were previously used for boats wanting access to the resort.
The best anchorage location in the bay is just beside these buoys. The stretching cliffs of Spion Kop provide good protection but can generate some powerful bullets in high winds.
READ THE SAILING LOG OF THE WHITSUNDAYS: SAILING LOG WEEK 3 – SAILING TO SOUTH MOLLE ISLAND
South Molle Island
South Molle Island has three tall points and is surrounded by hilly grasslands. There are several secluded bays with fringing reefs to explore.
Most travelers and backpackers tend to head straight for Whitsunday and Hamilton Islands. However, if you have the time and want an entire tropical island to yourselves, then make sure you stop-by at South Molle Island.
South Molle Island Abandoned Resort
The once bustling resort in Bauer Bay is now completely abandoned. The South Molle Island resort was destroyed during Cyclone Debbie in 2016.
A few months prior, during the same year, the resort was sold to new Chinese owners for a total of $25 million. This included the resort and a land lease.
I’m sure they weren’t too happy after being forced to shut down and abandon it. However, while we were on South Molle Island, the owners landed via chopper. We were told that they were already planning the reconstruction.
Hikes and Bushwalks on South Molle
The resort takes up a large portion of Bauer Bay beach, however, the rest of the Island is National Park.
There are several hikes to check out on the island, some stretching to the viewpoint peaks and others to small, secluded bays.
The terrain is mostly grassy hills with pockets of dense rainforest. The QLD National Parks authority do a great job of keeping the tracks open. There are even some old signs for mountain bike trails, which are wide and upkept.
All tracks on the island start on the Western end of Bauer Bay Beach. There are National Park signs and weathered hike information boards at the start.
Spion Kop Lookout
By far, the highlight of viewpoints and hikes on South Molle Island is Spion Kop Lookout. It will take you roughly 1-2 hours each way from the beach to the lookout.
This large, vertical cliff face sticks out from the North-Eastern tip of the island. The rock face is topped with native shrubs and some lonely pines.
The track winds up the back of the abandoned resort, through dense rainforest and up and over some rolling, grassy hills. The end of the hike has a boardwalk, but you will be rewarded with the best views at the top of the rock.
From the top, you can see over Bauer Bay, Middle, and North Molle Islands and even over to the mainland. On the other side, you have sweeping views of Hook Island and Whitsunday Islands.
Balancing Rock Lookout
Balancing rock lookout is another epic viewpoint located on South Molle Island. This walk is much closer to the resort beach, taking only 30-40 minutes to reach.
Follow the signs up and around the bay until you reach a rocky outcrop which you can scramble to the top of. Keep walking and climbing around the corner to have views of both Bauer Bay, the resort and Daydream Island on the other side.
Camping on South Molle Island
While we didn’t camp on the island as we had our boat, there are camping locations on Paddle Bay and Saddle Bay. However, keep in mind that it is a National Park and camping permits and fees do apply.
Check out the maps and details here for up-to-date information about camping on South Molle Island.