Fraser Island Tour: Sand Dunes, Rainforests, & Beaches

In case you didn’t know, Australia is a pretty phenomenal country! There is so much to see on this beautiful continent. It’s no wonder travellers often struggle to pick the best stops for their itinerary.

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But the truth is, if you want to spend a few relaxing couple of days surrounded by stunning natural beauty, then you’ve got to add a Fraser Island tour to your Australia itinerary! I loved our DIY Fraser Island tour on our Brisbane to Cairns road trip.

Fraser Island, located just off the East Coast of Queensland is the largest sand island IN THE WORLD! It also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Australia’s greatest attractions!

The native people of Fraser Island were the Butchulla people, who referred to the island as K’gari (pronounced ‘gurri’), meaning ‘paradise’ in their local tongue. Upon arriving at the island, you will admire the island’s natural beauty and understand what the name stands for. 

Today, only a small number of Butchulla people remain, some residing in the Fraser Coast region. While exploring Fraser Island, it’s crucial to show respect to the original landowners.

In 2021, Fraser Island was officially restored to its original name, K’gari. This honours the deep cultural connection of the local Butchulla people, who have lived harmoniously with the land for around 50,000 years.

The name “Fraser Island” raised concerns because it overlooked the deep ties of the Indigenous people to their homeland. The Butchella People had lived on K’gari for centuries, and they are its rightful owners. Using the indigenous name is considered a fair recognition of Aboriginal people, marking a major name change in Queensland’s history.

It’s the only place in the world where the rainforest grows right out of the sand dunes, obtaining all of its nutrients from the sand and the rain. Fraser Island is home to over 350 species of birds, possums, wallabies, sea turtles, dolphins, and of course, Australia’s favourite wild dog – the dingo. This island boasts pristine beaches with tropical weather all year round. 

Fraser Island lakes are absolutely stunning. There are 100 freshwater lakes on the island and over 30 walking tracks – enough to keep the most adventurous nature lovers entertained. But if you want to just kick back, relax, and enjoy the tranquillity of the pristine beaches that rival those of the Gold Coast, there are plenty of fun options for that on the island as well!

Have we got you hooked yet on tours to Fraser Island? Just wait…You haven’t seen anything yet!

View from the top of Indian Head, Fraser Island
View from the top of Indian Head, Fraser Island
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Fraser Island Tour
Fraser Island

Fraser Island Tour: Top Attractions

1. Seventy-Five Mile Beach

The name says it all: this stunning stretch of beach stretches over 75 miles and runs along most of the East Coast of Fraser Island.

Unfortunately, this beach is not a great place for a swim. With dangerous currents, Tiger sharks in the water, and dingoes roaming along the beach, you are better off opting for a swim in one of the beautiful lakes instead.

But 75 Mile Beach is still an incredible sight that serves as the island’s National Highway, best explored in a 4WD bus.

Keep your eyes out for dingoes frequently roaming around the beach. They may look friendly, but they are not, so keep your distance and admire from afar.

Fraser Island Tour: 75 Mile Beach
75 Mile Beach, Fraser Island, Australia
Fraser Island Tour: 75 Mile Beach
75 Mile Beach, Fraser Island, Australia
Fraser Island Tour: Dingo on beach
Dingo on beach on Fraser Island
Fraser Island Tour: Dingo on the beach
This dingo looks friendly, but he’s not

2. Lake McKenzie

The most iconic of Fraser Island lakes, Lake McKenzie is probably the most visited and admired attraction on this island.

Lake McKenzie is a large perched lake with a white silica sandy beach. Perches means that it lies above the natural water sources and contains just rainwater, as no streams flow in and out of it. The sand acts as a natural filter, resulting in exceptionally clear and pure water with a captivating blue-green tint.

On a sunny day, Lake McKenzie is incredible, but even on a cloudy day, its clear waters and surrounding greenery make it a picture-perfect sight. It’s a great place for a picnic lunch or to spend a few hours relaxing on the beach with a book in hand.

The water is safe for swimming, and you can enjoy a relaxed afternoon by the banks admiring the stunning scenery. There are also some brief walking trails nearby.

Fraser Island Tour: Lake Mackenzie
Lake Mackenzie, Fraser Island

3. Eli Creek

freshwater creek that’s perfect for the whole family. Its waters hardly ever rise above waist height, making it a great place for a swim with the little ones. Floating or swimming down the creek with the current is a fun activity for all ages! And for those who don’t fancy getting wet, the boardwalk along the creek offers a great alternative.

Fraser Island Tour: Board walk at Eli Creek
Boardwalk at Eli Creek, Fraser Island
Fraser Island Tour: Eli Creek
Eli Creek, Fraser Island

4. Lake Wabby

Located about 30 minutes inland, this is our favourite place on the entire island. Tours to Fraser Island definitely need to include a stop here!

A short walk through the rainforest, and you will arrive at the most incredible view of the Hammerstone Sandblow, a huge sand dune that’s slowly encroaching upon the lake. The contrast between the green colour of the lake and the brightly coloured sands makes it a breathtaking view.

The sand dunes leading up to Lake Wabby are an amazing example of tall rainforests growing on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 metres – a phenomenon that can only be found on Fraser Island. 

The journey to Wabby is a forest walk followed by a steep dune descent, but this hike makes the swim extra refreshing. Wabby is a barrage lake, meaning the sand dunes above will eventually fill it. So, make the most of it while it lasts! Do us a favour and add Wabby Lake to your must-see Fraser Island lakes!

Fraser Island Tour: Hammerstone Sandblow on the way to Lake Wabby
Hammerstone Sandblow on the way to Lake Wabby, Fraser Island
Fraser Island Tour: Lake Wabby
Lake Wabby, Fraser Island

5. The Fraser Island Indian Head

Indian Head, the island’s highest spot, provides an amazing panoramic view of the surrounding area. Located at the Northern end of the main beach, this headland is the most easterly point on Fraser Island and the most popular stop on a day tour to Fraser Island. It’s about a 20-minute hike to the summit, with some steep sections along the way.

You can climb up the Fraser Island Indian Head for beautiful views of the 75-mile beach and a chance to spot some wildlife. From here, you can see the beach and the ocean. Sharks, dolphins, and turtles can be easily seen from the top of Indian Head, depending on the season.

Fraser Island Tour: View from the top of Indian Head
View from the top of Indian Head, Fraser Island

6. Champagne Pools

Want to relax in a natural jacuzzi? Champagne Pools are exactly that. Created by volcanic rocks, they’re the only saltwater swimming spot on the island.

If you want to include a swim on your day tour, this is the place to do it. Located between Waddy Point and the Fraser Island Indian Head, the Champagne Pools are rock pools formed by waves crashing over the rocks. The water in the pools is normally quite warm, making it easy to spend hours enjoying the sun and the ocean.

Fraser Island Tour: Champagne Pools
Champagne Pools, Fraser Island

7. Coloured Sands: Red Canyon & The Pinnacles

Unique red-coloured sandstone cliffs can be seen in a few spots along the 75-Mile Beach. These sands were formed thousands of years ago and have gained their colour from iron-rich minerals.

While it may be tempting to grab a handful and bottle it up for a nice souvenir, don’t! Read our tips on how to travel to Australia sustainably for more tips on how to explore this beautiful country without hurting the environment!

Fraser Island Tour: Red Canyon
Red Canyon, Fraser Island
Coloured sands on Fraser Island
Coloured sands on Fraser Island
These coloured sands are carefully protected on Fraser Island
These coloured sands are carefully protected on Fraser Island

8. Maheno Shipwreck

Remember when I mentioned not to swim off Fraser Island? Its waters have taken many boats over the years, with the most famous being the Maheno Shipwreck. The wreck is now over 110 years old and is safeguarded by the Commonwealth’s Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.

Maheno was an ocean liner on its way to Japan for scrapping when it was forced ashore on Fraser Island by a storm in 1935. The ship was stripped of its fittings but could not be refloated. Since then, the majority of the ship has disintegrated, leaving only a rusty outline of what once used to be one of the fastest ships in the world.

Despite rescue efforts, the wreck couldn’t be moved and has remained there ever since, becoming one of Fraser Island’s notable landmarks. It’s a captivating place to explore and capture in photos, offering a fantastic backdrop for picnics too!

Fraser Island Tour: Maheno Shipwreck
Maheno Shipwreck, Fraser Island

9. Whale Watching Cruises

As one of the best whale-watching destinations, a whale-watching Fraser Island cruise is a must-do day trip. On a whale-watching tour, you can see the humpback whales sheltering in the calm waters from July to October every year. They can be especially playful, getting close to the boat, slapping their tails, waving their fins, and breaching.

I recommend going with Kingfisher Bay Resort. They have family-friendly Fraser Island tours with eco accreditation and offer morning tours from 7:30 am. You’ll get expert commentary and a morning tea, along with an opportunity for close encounters with these giants of the sea. You can even upgrade your Fraser Island Tour Package to include swimming with the whales.

One Fraser Island Tour Is Never Enough

It’s not just the natural sights and attractions that bring thousands of visitors to Fraser Island every year. Australians have been visiting Fraser Island for decades.

For many, it brings back fond childhood memories of camping in this island paradise. Year after year, they are drawn back to the island to relive, re-create, and share those experiences with their kids. And I can certainly relate to the appeal. After visiting Fraser Island for the second time earlier this year, I could see it being a place that I would happily go back to!

Fraser Island is one of those places that you can visit again and again. The natural beauty and jaw-dropping landscapes of this unique destination make it easy to admire it for the 2nd time, the 3rd, or even the 10th.

So now that, I hope, I have convinced you to visit Fraser Island, let me share some of the nitty-gritty details that will help make your trip to Fraser Island easier.

Fraser island tour: Lake Mackenzie beach
Lake Mackenzie beach

How To Get Around Fraser Island

Before you decide how you are going to get to Fraser Island, you need to decide how you are going to get around the Island itself. Your options are to:

  1. Join a Fraser Island Tour
  2. Create your own DIY Fraser Island tour and explore with a 4WD (4 Wheel Drive)
  3. Conquer the Fraser Island Great Walk

More on #1 in a bit. First, let’s talk about #2. There are a few things you need to know before embarking on the 4WD adventure.

Explore Fraser Island With 4wd (4 Wheel Drive)

  1. For an independent exploration of Fraser Island attractions, consider bringing your 4WD or renting one. This allows you to discover the island at your speed, cruising on the beach and through the forest, and stopping wherever you please. It’s a true sense of freedom and an exciting journey. If you don’t own a 4WD, hire one before taking the barge to Fraser Island. There are a few places for 4WD hire on Fraser Island but they tend to be more expensive. Skip paying more for a 4WD hire on Fraser Island and opt for one of the many 4WD-specific places to hire in Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach. Rates for 2 people will vary from $300-$600 per day, depending on the car and # of days.
  2. All vehicles travelling to Fraser Island must have an official permit, which needs to be displayed on your car while on the Island. Permits can be obtained here before departing Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach. You’ll need to create an account before you can log in. Click on Make a Booking, then Vehicle Permit, and select Fraser Island from the list to obtain your permit. This will set you back by another $54.
  3. When planning driving times on Fraser Island keep in mind the low/high tide times. During high tide driving along the 75 Mile Beach is not recommended.
  4. The soft sand around the island means the risk of getting stuck, even with a 4WD, is high. Take great care while driving on Fraser Island and make sure to read some of these helpful tips before you embark on your trip.


Get the best car rental rates by booking ahead! Discover Cars compare prices across all major car rental companies, so you are guaranteed to get the best deal.

Driving around in a 4WD vehicle is, in our opinion, the most enjoyable way to get around Fraser Island. It allows you to create your own DIY tour of Fraser Island, staying at each attraction for as long or as little as you would like.

Your own vehicle allows you to get off the beaten path and explore some of the lesser-known attractions on Fraser Island. But we know it’s not for everyone! The cost of hiring a 4WD in Hervey Bay or Rainbow beach (or arranging a 4WD hire on Fraser Island), organising a driving permit, and then dealing with the stress of driving around the island can be too much for some people.

Fraser Island tour: 4WD
4WD on Fraser Island

Barge To Fraser Island

If you are exploring Fraser Island on your own there are a couple of ways to reach the island however a barge from the mainland to Fraser Island will always be involved. A full-day tour will take care of all this for you.

Ferry Fraser Island From Hervey Bay

River Heads is 20 minutes south of Hervey Bay and the most popular port to catch a barge to Fraser Island. The reason is that Hervey Bay is much more developed than Rainbow Beach.

Fraser Venture Barges runs 3 daily services to Wanggoolba Creek and Kingfisher Bay Ferry runs 3 daily services from River Heads to the Kingfisher Bay Resort. Both companies offer service to vehicles and walk-ons and ferry times are 30 and 45 minutes respectively.

Ferry Fraser Island From Rainbow Beach

Manta Ray Barges runs out of Inskip Point in Rainbow Beach. They are a locally owned company and donate a portion of their profits back into the local community.

It is just ten minutes to Hook Point on Fraser Island from Inskip Point. Manta Ray prides itself on offering customers virtually no wait time for a barge to Fraser Island.

Join The Fraser Island Tours

When I (Oksana) first visited Fraser Island in 2010, I was travelling by myself and there was no way I was going to hire a 4WD and attempt to explore the island on my own. So I opted to join a Hervey Bay to Fraser Island Tour.

Hervey Bay or tours to Fraser Island from Rainbow Bay are a great way to see the island! There are a number of different tours and tour companies to choose from. It’s hard to say which are the best Fraser Island tours, as most of the tours follow a very similar itinerary and charge a similar price.

4WD tours to Fraser Island offer the benefit of easy socialising, as participants spend 3 days together navigating roads and camping. Each evening brings a lively atmosphere to the campsites, making it a fun and enjoyable way to explore Fraser Island.

I opted to go on a 2 day Hervey Bay to Fraser Island Tour, which included 1 night accommodation at K’gari Beach Resort. Tour prices for 2 day/1 night tour range from $600-800 AUD pp. Most companies also offer a 3 day tour, which would give you a bit more time on the island and allow you to see a few more attractions along the way.

The biggest difference between the various providers is the number of people on the tour and the type of accommodation included in the price. So compare a few options and you’ll discover a great tour that fits your style of travel.

If you’re especially short on time or budget, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out. You can join a 1-day tour from Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach. There are 4WD bus tours from Hervey Bay which tick off many of the highlights in a day, including Lake McKenzie, 75 Mile Beach, and Maheno Shipwreck on a comfortable bus. Or join a remote Fraser Island day tour, which includes swimming, hiking, snorkelling, and kayaking around the island together with a guide. These Fraser Island day tours start from around $215 AUD pp.

Fraser Island tour: Indian Head
Indian Head

As advocates for sustainable travel, we encourage you to opt for a sustainable tour operator. Don’t know how to choose a sustainable operator? Learn more here.

READ NEXT: Travelling Australia on a Budget

Fraser Island Accommodation

Fraser Island accommodation options are quite limited. But from camping to hotels and resorts on Fraser Island there is certainly something for everyone

If you want eco-friendly lodging, it often comes at a cost. Yet, you can be confident that your stay includes many eco-conscious practices, minimising its impact on the environment. 

Camping On Fraser Island

Now, in our opinion, this is the way to go on Fraser Island! There are 4 large formal camping areas on the island: Central Station, Dundubara, Waddy Point (top), and Waddy Point beachfront. Most of these sites have dingo fences, showers, toilets, and gas BBQ facilities, making them a great and easy choice for families, adventurous travellers, and those on a budget.

Bookings for these sites must be made in advance and the booking number must always be displayed on your tent. For the more experienced and adventurous campers out there, there are a number of other bush-type campsites.

Due to Fraser Island’s remote nature, mobile reception is scarce across the island, creating ample chances for bush camping. It’s ideal for those wanting to immerse themselves in nature.

For more information on camping on Fraser Island and facilities at each site visit the Queensland Department of National Parks Website.

Hotels And Resorts On Fraser Island

There are several eye-catching hotels and resorts on Fraser Island for travellers who don’t want to sacrifice comfort to get amongst nature.

Mid range Fraser Island Accommodation

K’gari Beach Resort is a family-friendly resort that offers hotel rooms and 2 bedroom apartments. The resort is well equipped with various facilities: from swimming pools to restaurants and a bar. It’s ideally located just off 75 Mile Beach at Central Station allowing for easy access to shops and attractions on the island.

Cathedrals on Fraser offer 1-3 bedroom cabins. It’s located just 6 km north of the famous Maheno Shipwreck. Cathedrals also offer powered camp sites and permanent tent options for those that are looking for a camping experience on Fraser but don’t have their own camping equipment. This would easily make your Fraser Island trip more affordable.

Beachcamp Eco Resort offers the ultimate glamping experience on Fraser Island. They offer permanently erect canvas tents for rent which have their own ensuite bathroom and hot showers. Beachcamp is located just south of Wabby Lake on the beach. Call Beachcamp Eco Resort for availability and pricing.

Beachcamp Eco Resort.
Beachcamp Eco Resort. Photo credits: Tourism and Events Queensland

Fraser Island Retreat offers bungalows with private balconies just steps from the beach and close to Eli Creek. Suitable for couples, all bungalows are equipped with a fan, fridge, and an electric kettle. They have a swimming pool, an on-site bar, and bistro.

Luxury Fraser Island Accommodation

Kingfisher Bay Resort is one of the luxurious resorts on Fraser Island. Although more pricey, this resort has a wide range of options for accommodation, with suites, villas, and houses on offer.

Kingfisher offers an array of facilities: four swimming pools, three restaurants, four bars, a Spa Sanctuary, child minding, conference facilities, and more. They also offer some incredible Fraser Island adventure tours. The downside of Kingfisher is that it’s located on the other opposite side of the island, but the extra facilities and luxuries definitely make up for the location’s downside.

Kingfisher Bay Resort
Kingfisher Bay Resort. Photo credits: Tourism and Events Queensland.

Hostels And Other Fraser Island Accommodation

There are currently no hostels on Fraser Island. For an adventurous spirit, add a tent and sleeping bag to your Fraser Island packing. Just be cautious of potential hazards like dingoes, snakes, and spiders. Familiarise yourself with safety guidelines in case you encounter any of them.

If you’re looking for affordable options, then you’ll have to opt for camping. There are 45 camping areas on K’gari, which must be booked in advance. They are very popular, so get started early and plan your Fraser Island camping tour ahead of time.

The camping zones are grouped into areas, such as eastern beach camping, western beach camping, southern remote camping, and more. There are also special camping areas with dingo deterrent fences, which are ideal for families with young kids. 

You can book per person or for a family in a National Park campground. You also need a vehicle permit on top of this per each day that you’re on the island. You can book here

Besides these options, there are a few holiday homes for rent throughout the island. Check the full Airbnb accommodation listings here.

Rainbow Beach And Hervey Bay

There are a ton of other accommodation options available on Rainbow Beach and in Hervey Bay. Many hotels and hostels on shore also organise day tours to Fraser Island, allowing you to spend the day exploring the island’s main natural attractions, without the need to stay overnight.

What I loved most was the rawness of the island. It’s like a huge playground of nature. Fraser Island is an ideal spot to escape from the world, discover its untamed beauty, and relish the tranquillity.

Fraser Island tour

Fraser Island is one of the few places in Australia that still retains a lot of evidence of aboriginal Australian culture that dates back to 5,000 years ago. So as the Butchulla people would say, “Ngalmu galangoor Biral & Biralgan bula nyin djali!” or “May all our good spirits be around you throughout the day”.

And Don’t Forget, When Visiting Any UNESCO World Heritage Site…

“Wanya nyin yangu, wanai djinang djaa.” – “Wherever you go, leave only footprints”

To learn more about travelling to Australia, check out these posts:

Top 10 Things to Do in Australia

A Guide to Visiting Barossa Valley

Getting Around Australia on $1/day

The Ultimate Guide To Australia On A Budget

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