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Great Keppel Island with Kids

Home > Rockhampton > Beaches | Family | Fun for Children | Outdoor | Weekend Escapes
by Rose (subscribe)
In the words of JR Tolkien "Not all those who wander are lost". My passion and loves are my family, travel and writing. I'm fortunate to be able to combine all three for an extraordinary life adventure....
Published September 16th 2017
GKI, Great Keppel island with kids, what to do on Great Keppel, day trips to QLD islands, Great Barrier reef
Perfect island getaway


Great Keppel is an island that has reinvented itself time and time again and currently it is the perfect tranquil island getaway. It combines the core elements of beauty, solitude and nature beautifully, with an abundance of flora and fauna both in the water and on land.

It is an island where you can lose and find yourself in the same moment, giving you a chance to have a natural reef island experience without the crowds, over commercialisation and unnecessary distractions. It provides the sort of exclusivity that many celebrities search for the world over.

Great Keppel Island boasts 17 pristine sandy beaches to snorkel, swim, dive or fish and rugged hikes and trails to explore, making this part of the Great Southern Barrier Reef the ultimate island family adventure.

Great views - taking a boat ride around Middle Island


Great Keppel Island is a short 40 minute ferry ride from Rosslyn Bay, a scenic quiet coastal town, only 40 kms from Rockhampton on the Capricorn coast.

There are daily transfers available to and from the island. There is plenty of car parking available at the ferry terminal, however, we opted to use the secure parking while staying on the island for 3 days. There is one available at 'Great Keppel Island Security Car Park' (422 Scenic Highway, Yeppon 07 4933 6670 / carpark8@bigpond.net.au). Wayne or Judy offer a shuttle service from the car park to the ferry terminal.

We travelled by Freedom Fast Cats to the island. We were apprehensive and then thrilled when the captain abruptly stopped the ferry so that passengers could get a rare sighting of nearby whales. This happened again on the return journey.

It is possible to visit Great Keppel Island for the day with a morning and afternoon return ferry, however, to get the most out of the island and truly enjoy what it has to offer requires a couple of nights at minimum.

There are excellent snorkelling, fishing and swimming spots located around the island, and if you are a keen runner like my husband, there are plenty of trails to explore further afield of 7-10kms. For young children there are awesome, easier-to-get-to snorkelling spots off the beach, located only a 15-20 min walk from where we were staying at GKI Holiday Village. Read my review of GKI Holiday Village here.

GKI Holiday Village, GKI, Great Keppel island with kids, what to do on Great Keppel, day trips to QLD islands, Great Barrier reef
Cool hammocks to ease us into relax mode at GKI Holiday Village


For a change of pace there are different ways to explore the island, apart from on foot. As well as various trails dotted around the island, you can arrive at your chosen island hot spot location by kayaks, paddleboards, jet skis or island boat drop offs, which are available and easily organised.

We hired two double kayaks from friendly locals Shane and Dot, who run 'Keppel Water Sports' and have just about any sort of water transport device you can think of. There are endless options to explore the island to find your own secluded cove and bay, characterised by crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches.

Wake boarding, knee boarding, water skiiing, sea scoping, paddle boarding, you name it, 'Keppel Water Sports' has it. They are also on hand to provide helpful information, guidance and instruction, but if you're not so keen to do it yourself, you can organise Shane or Dot to take you there. (Keppel Water Sports: 0415 076 644/ keppelwatersports@hotmail.com).

Keppel Water sports, GKI, Great Keppel island with kids, what to do on Great Keppel, day trips to QLD islands, Great Barrier reef
Shane and Dot, one of the many friendly locals living on the island and loving it


Shane was very helpful, driving the kayaks down to the beach for us and also lent us a waterproof pouch to keep my phone dry, never being one to miss a photo opportunity.

Despite my kids wanting to kayak together across to the next bay, the currents and high tide meant that it was best to leave this sort of crossing to the 'skilful' adults. We gave our kids the opportunity to practice their kayak skills in the sheltered bay of Shelving Beach surrounded by beautiful reef on either side.

Kayaking on the reef, Kayak with kids, Shelving beach GKI, GKI, Great Keppel island with kids, what to do on Great Keppel, day trips to QLD islands, Great Barrier reef
Kayak practice - Shelving beach


You may question whether you will survive the island experience without the usual resort distractions and kids activity clubs but you will find that boundless swimming, snorkelling, walks and bird spotting time will provide plenty of enriching and wonderful experiences for the kids. My kids love nature and the outdoors and they didn't need much encouragement to go forth and explore. The reef at high and low tide provided plenty of wonderful fascinating discovery time. Snorkelling off the beach made it easy and fun for the kids to explore the underwater world.

My kids made use of the hammocks, chatted to other guests in the pleasant communal spaces and found Jenga and other board games available at GKI Holiday Village. In fact, it was not long before the peaceful serene ambience of this island retreat takes effect and rubs off on you. We all felt pretty relaxed and happy after two days on the island, chatting to others, seeing some 'cool stuff' and just hanging about enjoying the sun, sand and reef.

GKI Holiday village, stone curlew, GKI, Great Keppel island with kids, what to do on Great Keppel, day trips to QLD islands, Great Barrier reef
Plenty of bird watching opportunities - Stone Curlew outside our cabin at GKI Holiday village


There are deeper reef exploration options further ashore which can be arranged through Keppel Water Sports or GKI Holiday Village. We included a half day outing around Middle Island and a snorkel at the popular observation tower spot nearby, which resulted in our first sea turtle spotting and an amazing array of fish literally at our finger tips.

Great Keppel Island is a low key island retreat suitable for the whole family. When you seek out your chosen little bay or secluded cove for the day, you won't need to share your little piece of paradise with hordes of other tourists. You could be forgiven, for thinking you had stepped onto your own little island paradise that was still awaiting discovery.

It is the sort of place that you want to tell everyone about, but hope that it stays in its natural secluded state just that little bit longer to enjoy.

Highlights: Shelving Bay and Monkey Beach for snorkelling off the beach. Don't miss the opportunity to come across a sea turtle or two while snorkelling.

What to bring: There is a limited amount of groceries available to buy on the island so it's bestt to bring your own. A bistro/bar operates from GKI Hideaway.


Accommodation options: GKI Holiday Village offers camping, cabin (semi contained) and cottage (self contained) options. For more information see:

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Why? Awesome island family adventure
When: All year round
Where: Great Keppel Island
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