Updated: 3/13/21 | March 13th, 2021
Part of Great Sandy National Park, Fraser Island was declared a World Heritage site in 1992. Spanning over 1,650 square kilometers, it’s home to beaches that stretch for miles as well as rainforests, mangroves, swamps, sand dunes, and even more beaches.
The island has been inhabited for over 5,000 years by the Butchulla people, who named it “K’gari” which means “paradise.”
They weren’t wrong — the island truly is a paradise and the perfect destination for some R&R if you’re looking to get away from it all for a few days.
Located in Queensland, Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island. It’s a day’s drive from Brisbane (about 6-7 hours by car) and, once you take the short ferry ride to the island, you’ll be greeted by postcard-perfect vistas and all the sandy beaches that you’d ever want.
I loved my time on the island. It’s pretty easy to get around, the hikes relatively flat, and there’s plenty of swimming opportunities. There’s not much to do on the island itself so most people tend to go for only a couple of nights.
The majority of people who visit do a 4WD self-drive tour around the island and spend their time camping, swimming, eating, avoiding dingoes, and drinking by the campfire at night (there’s nothing else to do). I went with an organized tour because I didn’t have anyone to camp with.
Fraser remains one of the highlights of my time in Australia simply because it’s such a relaxing, easy place to visit.
To give you a taste of what Fraser Island is like, here’s a short video from my first trip to the island (while it’s not the best footage, you’ll at least be able to get a sense of what this incredible area has to offer):
Travel Tips for Visiting Fraser Island
- There are 45 campsites around the island if you’re planning to camp, but not all of them have toilets or showers. Prepare accordingly (bring your own toilet paper!). If you don’t want to camp, there is a hotel on the island!
- If you’re planning to camp, you’ll need to get a permit and book your sites in advance. Expect to pay around 7 AUD per night for a campsite (or 27 AUD for a family).
- If you’re traveling without a guide, make sure you’re aware of the tides. During high tide, some areas as inaccessible so be sure to plan accordingly.
- Only drive to the island if you have a 4WD vehicle. Anything less will likely just get damaged as there are no proper roads around the island.
- If you’re visiting without a company, remember to bring extra water (for drinking and cooking) as well as extra fuel. It’s a big island and you’re 4WD will go through a lot of fuel. Make sure to bring a camping stove too, as there can be fire bans in effect.
- Buy your food before you come to the island. While there is a small store at the island’s resort, it’s very expensive and should only really be used in an emergency.
- If you do a self-drive tour, you will likely need to bring your own food and alcohol. Be sure to check in advance.
- Don’t worry if you’re traveling alone and still want to do the self-drive 4WD tour. You will be placed with a group of other travelers and share a car with them.
Frequently Asked Questions about Fraser Island
What is the best time to visit Fraser Island?
You can visit Fraser Island at any time of the year. While the summer months (January-March) will be the warmest, they will also be the busiest. Consider going in the shoulder season so you can enjoy warmer temperatures without the crowds.
How do you get to Fraser Island?
To get to the island, you’ll need to take a ferry. The ride will cost between 95-270 AUD per vehicle, depending on whether you’re going during peak hours and the size of your vehicle. A standard car during off-peak will be 114 AUD. Walk-on passengers without a vehicle cost 60 AUD return. If you are going on an organized tour, this cost is covered!
How much is Fraser Island?
In addition to the ferry fee, you’ll also need to pay for accommodation on the island (if you’re not doing a multi-day tour). Hotels on Fraser Island will cost anywhere between 250-475 AUD per night. If you’re on a budget and have camping gear, you can book campsites for as little as 7 AUD per night.
How many days do you need on Fraser Island?
You can do a 1 or 2 day guided tour. Guided tours will take you to all the major sites on the island. I’d save your money and do a single-day tour though. I found the two-day tour to be way too long. Only a few extra sites were added in but you have a lot of “dead” time sitting in places. I mean how long does it really take to see the shipwreck? However, if you’re camping, I would do two nights because you’ll be better able to hang out and hike on your own schedule.
How long are the tours?
Tours leave from Hervey Bay (northern entry point onto the island) or Rainbow Beach (southern entry point). Hervey Bay is a lot bigger than Rainbow Beach with more things to do. Rainbow Beach is a small, small town with a nice beach, a few hotels, and some restaurants. It’s supposed to be the “main backpacker destination” but I found that just as many people planned to stay in Hervey Bay. If given the choice again, I’d stay in Hervey Bay. There’s just more to do there.
My two suggested companies for 4WD tours are:
- Kingfisher Tours
- Fraser Explorer Tours
I had a ton of fun on my trip to Fraser Island. It’s definitely a must-visit stop on your way up or down the coast. Just don’t be one of those people that comes just for a day. While the island isn’t that big, you’ll want to spend at least one night (ideally two) when visiting Fraser Island.
Book Your Trip to Australia: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines, because they search websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
For my favorite places to stay in Australua, here is a list of my favorite hostels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for over fifteen years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.
Looking for more information on visiting Australia?
Check out my in-depth destination guide to Australia with more tips on what to see and do, costs, ways to save, and much, much more!