Pumpkin Island is a beautiful and humble little island along the Capricorn Coast, within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Reserve. The island is situated 16km off the coast of Yeppoon, 10km north of Great Keppel Island, 42km east of Rockhampton, and over 650km north of Brisbane.
Totaling just 6.1 hectares (450M long and just 150M wide at the widest point!), the island is nestled in sheltered Keppel Bay, and surrounded by the Keppel group of islands (just south of North Keppel Island). The privately-owned island offers visitors eco-friendly accommodation in but five self-contained and self-catered beach cottages. Wind and solar power provide electricity on the island, and freshly filtered rainwater provides drinking water for guests.
The island is a blissfully quiet getaway, given the small number of people who venture off the beaten path – a maximum of 30 guests at any one time. The island’s style is relaxed and informal, and it caters to a variety of guests, from romantic couples to families, to groups of friends.
Pumpkin Island is considered to be an advance eco-tourist operator with a strong commitment to the natural environment.
Fun fact: Pumpkin Island was won by Roger and Merle Mason in 1961 over a game of poker with a friend (and owner of the island), Snigger Findley, for a grand total of £50. The Masons made the Island into the tourist destination it is today, before selling the island to its current owners in 2003.
Activities (Nature and Wildlife Interest)
Pumpkin Island provides a great playground for visitors as it is surrounded by beautiful clean aquamarine water, however in most cases guests are responsible for bringing their own equipment to take advantage of these delights.
Given its small size, most of the activities on Pumpkin Island take advantage of water sports:
- Swimming and beach lounging
- Snorkeling: the island affords great off-beach snorkeling given the gently sloping beach bottom, clear water, and abundance of colourful fish, sea creatures, and plant-life close to the beach; this is perfect for inexperienced or young snorkelers. More advanced coral reef snorkeling awaits the more adventurous just a boat ride away.
- Scuba diving: nearby 5-star PADI center, Capricorn Reef Diving, will collect guests from Pumpkin Island for a day of diving, returning the divers at the end of the day.
- Fishing: a wide variety of fishing experiences are available around the island – both shoreline and deep-sea fishing – given the diverse coral reefs, Rocky headlands, sheltered bays, and open seas.
- Marine animal watching: sea dolphins, turtles, and whale sightings are to be expected in season.
- Wilderness walking and bird watching: walk along the island to various look out points .
- Paddle-boating or sea kayaking: paddle-boat around the island or view unique coral from the comfort of the island’s glass bottomed kayaks (resort-owned equipment)
- Kite-surfing or windsurfing
- Camping: please see camping section.
To ensure that you get the most out of your visit, be sure to check out Pumpkin Island’s bio-calendar (http://www.pumpkinisland.com.au/activities.html), so that you can time your vacation to suit your interests – from sea turtle sightings, to large-catch fishing, to bird-watching.
Pumpkin Island offers just five comfortable, simple self-contained and self-catered beach cottages on the entire island. Eco-friendly cottages are secluded, set away from one another along the beach, and each have a verandah overlooking the beach and an elevated entertainment deck with 360-degree views – perfect for both sunrises and sunsets. The cottages – Coco Pine, Oyster Box, Coral Cove, Pebble Point, and Tropical Tides – vary from simple to more luxurious, and each cottage can accommodate between four and six guests.
The cottages offered a fully equipped kitchen with seating area, appliances, utensils, and separate dining areas. The cottages each offer private bathroom facilities, both double- and single-beds, solar lightning, filtered drinkable rain water, gas-powered hot showers, gas cooking, gas refrigerator/freezer, and an outdoor gas BBQ.
Pumpkin Island offers camping as well – a campground on the north-western side which can accommodate up to 12 guests. Campground facilities include a cold water shower, toilet, dishwashing facility, and two gas-powered BBQs.
Rockhampton is the gateway to Pumpkin Island. Located 635km north of Brisbane or 1,072km south of Cairns, it is easily reached by flight from all of the capital cities (Qantas, Jet Star, Virgin Blue and Tiger Airways).
From Rockhampton, navigate northward 42km to Yeppoon’s Keppel Bay Marina, by rented car, taxi, or bus (Greyhound operates this route; Little Johnny’s Tours offers a transfer from the airport directly to the marina). The marina offers secure short- and long-term parking.
Pumpkin Island has a proprietary launch service called Pumpkin Xpress, offering transfers to the island which take 45 minutes. The boat seats 20 passengers, and departs at 9am on the day of departure, from the red wharf next to the restaurant. Passengers can tow their own small boat to the island for an additional fee.
Alternatively, guests can cruise their own yacht or boat to the island, anchoring off the coast.