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5 Islands to Visit in Sydney

Home > Sydney > Escape the City | Outdoor | Lists
by Vanessa M (subscribe)
I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published March 1st 2015
Sydney certainly doesn't offer any of the tropical islands found further north, but among the harbours, estuaries and rivers there are plenty of islands worth visiting for their own reasons. The following five islands are just some of the ones that are worth a visit, all for quite different reasons.

1. Cockatoo Island
This island is probably one of the most well known islands in Sydney. It's also the biggest one in the harbour, and is located at the junction of Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers.

One reason to visit the island is to attend one of the events it holds, like the Biennale of Sydney. It also has a lot of history, including use by convicts (as a place of punishment for re-offenders) and shipbuilders. In 2010 it became UNESCO world-heritage-listed.

This island can be visited any day and is accessible by ferry. You can tour it yourself (there are audio tours to do) or join a guided tour. Special challenges have been developed for kids to complete as the go around.

Staying overnight is an option as well and it's the only island in the harbour where you can do so. Accommodation ranges from glamping to apartments.

Did you know you can play tennis on Cockatoo Island?


2. Fort Denison
Fort Denison is a former penal site to the east of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The current name came from the fort built on the island in the nineteenth century. Today people visit it for the restaurant (and the views from the restaurant). You can get there by water taxi or on ferries like the Captain Cruise Hop-On Hop-Off ferry.

Image courtesy of Andy Mitchell / Wikimedia Commons


3. Bare Island
Unlike the other islands on this list, Bare Island isn't in Sydney Harbour, but in Botany Bay. Its main attraction is the fort which was built in the nineteenth century. Entry is only by guided tours which take place on Sundays and cost $10.00 (tickets are purchase from the La Perouse Museum). However, you can enjoy it for free (see how here). The waters around the island are also a very popular diving site.

bare island, bare island fort, bare island botany bay, sydney islands
Close to land, this island is the easiest to get to and is accessed from La Perouse


4. Goat Island
Goat Island is the first island you'll come across to the west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It can only be visited on tours which take place on Sundays. On these, you learn about the life of Sydney's convicts and soldiers of the nineteenth century. These sites are better preserved than ones on Cockatoo Island.

Goat Island from Balls Head
Image courtesy of Saberwyn / Wikimedia Commons


5. Shark Island
Shark Island is worth a visit for its recreation reserve, but only a certain amount of people (150) are able to visit at a time, so you need to book. It's accessible by ferry on weekends, and also hop-on hop-off cruises. The name comes from the shape of the island, not any sharks nearby.



These five islands are not the only ones you will find in Sydney. For a list of lesser-known islands that are also worth a visit, click here.
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Why? Take advantage of our city's natural harbours
When: Varies depending on the island
Where: Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay
Cost: Varies. Some islands have park entry fees or require you to join a tour.
Your Comment
Interesting write up.
by Irenke Forsyth (score: 3|1316) 8 days ago
A fabulous site as I am having guests from Japan who wish to visit different sites in Sydney...Thanks Vanessa!Kate
by kate_ (score: 0|2) 1052 days ago
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