In the early 2000s I visited one of Queensland’s jewels, Great Keppel Island – 15km off Australia‘s Capricorn Coast near Yeppoon.

I visited once as a teen and again as a young adult. We stayed at the resort and I remember it being a great holiday.

Whether it be relaxing by the pool, on the beach, sailing, or snorkelling. The island was a real gem.

When we visited, the main resort on the island was run by Mercure, targeted toward families. Prior to that, it had been a Contiki resort for party goers. In 2008 the resort closed its doors. Though there have been several attempts to revitalize the resort, they have all been blocked for environmental reasons.

So what’s happened to Great Keppel Island since then?

My parents have just revisited the island after all these years. While the main resort is closed-down, and cordoned off by fences, there are still other accommodation options on the island. Though they are basic compared to the amenities provided by the resort, they are a great way to get off the mainland and away from it all.

Accommodation

Great Keppel Island Hideaway

The GKI Hideaway has a range of accommodation to choose from including beach and garden cabins as well as two larger sized houses. This is where my parents stayed this time around.

The cabins weren’t much to look at from the outside but comfy enough on the inside – especially when you consider that when you’re on Great Keppel, you probably want to spend all your time on the beach.

Great Keppel Island Holiday Village

The GKI Holiday Village has cabins too. They also have ‘glamping tents’ if you want to go a little rougher than a cabin. Or if you have your own tent, they have camping sites too. If you’re after something a little homelier, they also have the Dolphon Cottage and Keppel House available.

Keppel Lodge

Sleeping up to 8 guests, Keppel Lodge is ideal for larger groups. They do offer individual rooms, and there is even wifi available – but who needs that when you’re there to get away from it all?

Dining

GKI Hideaway Bar and Bistro

Mercure used to have a great smorgasbord of food in their restaurant. That building is now locked down and derelict. That said, if you are skilled with a fishing rod, you’ll be able to try some of the fresh fish from around the island. There is also a pub (the GKI Hideaway Bar and Bistro) that serves three meals a day and is right on the beach.

I hear there is also pizza available, but good luck tracking them down until you get to the island – there isn’t too much info out there! I am told that the pizza and burger places on the island are back towards the old resort.

Activities

Though the all inclusive activities and swimming pools that used to be included at Mercure are long gone, if you’re creative, there is still plenty to do on Great Keppel today.

Snorkelling

Great Keppel Island is amidst one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. While most of what you see in the pictures is from the outer reef – further from the coast – there is an underwater world worth exploring at Great Keppel. You’ll find plenty of tropical fish, rays and even a sea turtle if you’re lucky. My favourite place to snorkel was from the next beach to the South of the old resort. There you will find part of the Great Keppel Island Reef.

Water Sports

Keppel Water Sports offers a range of water activities, from jet skis, ocean kayaks, to water skiing.

Fishing

Fishing on Great Keppel Island

The island is surrounded by sea life, you might just catch some of it if you’re handy with a rod. Dad didn’t have too much success this trip, but part of the enjoyment is the serenity of fishing. At least that’s what they say when they don’t catch a thing.

Relaxing on the Beach with a Book

If you are like me, you rarely have a spare moment to sit down with a good book. What better environment to do that in then sitting on the beach or relaxing in a hammock?

Walking

Most of the accommodation is restricted to one small corner of the island, but there is plenty more to explore. There are tracks that will take you to some of the island’s high points and to some of the more remote beaches.

It may not be a 5-star resort these days but Great Keppel Island sounds like it is still a great place to get away from it all. Have you been to Great Keppel Island recently? We’d love to hear your experience!