Island jobs: How to get a job in Australian paradise
Updated on January 18th, 2020
Does living in a tropical paradise and getting to snorkel coral reefs everyday sound your idea of a dream come true? Lucky for you there are islands all around Australia looking for people like you to staff them. Island jobs will mostly be found throughout the Great Barrier Reef but can be in other areas of Australia.
Australia has some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches in all of the world. Not biased – it’s true! Add in warm weather, long sunny days and over 8000 islands and you’ll want to spend all your time at the beach. Make this happen by working at a resort on an island in Australia.
Island jobs alike superyacht jobs are perfect for two types of people. Firstly, those who wish to save a bit of money, whether for travel, home deposits or something else entirely. Secondly, backpackers who are on the working holiday visa to Australia. Imagine how jealous your friends back home will be when you tell them where you are working!
There are numerous perks to working on an island in addition to the obvious, getting to live in paradise. You will make incredible friends and have once in a lifetime opportunities, your home will be where people only get to vacation and there is a chance to save lots of money (because what can you really spend money on?).
If you are ready for this incredible opportunity, read on to find out how you can get an island job in Australia
Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information on my disclaimer click here.
Firstly, what do I know about working on an island? When I took a break from travelling I went back to Australia to work on the stunning Lizard Island. Due to the year I spent living on a small patch of land, smack bang in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, I can testify it’s pretty damn awesome.
If you freak out reading small patch of land, then maybe island life just isn’t for you. In contrast, if that makes you get a little tingly with excitement, keep on reading.
When is the season to get an island job?
The best part about island jobs in Australia is there is no season. Although in saying this, there are certain times of the year when you will increase your chances of getting a job. To maximise your chances of securing a job within the thousands of applicants you should apply during the high tourist seasons.
High season will vary depending on the island you would like a job on, but no matter where you go, the December Christmas and New Years period will always be the busiest. For islands on the Great Barrier Reef, another time of year which tends to be busier is in August.
Although in saying all this, if there is a job vacancy and you fit the job requirements, you can apply at any time of year and be successful. So don’t wait around just for the ‘perfect’ time of year.
The application process and how to apply for island jobs
Applications are open year round for island jobs. Depending on which island you wish to work for you can usually apply for a particular job when a vacancy becomes available or put down your resume as a general application.
Furthermore, I have done the hard work for you and listed the websites where you can apply for jobs on the most popular Australian islands. Skip ahead to find these links to island job recruitment pages.
Firstly, before you apply for any jobs, make sure you read the job description fully. There’s no point in wasting your time and the recruitment officers if you are unqualified for a role. In the event that you don’t have specific skill sets – don’t worry. Despite this, there are a few jobs you can apply for which don’t require any previous experience. Just have a willingness to learn and a can-do positive attitude.
Secondly, pick a few islands from the list below which sound like a place you would like to work at. Each island has its own unique perks and disadvantages. So it is important to know what you want out of an island job first. For example, if you are looking to save lots of money, gain work skills, live on the mainland or even if you want to go to a party island. There are islands for each of these.
Thirdly, when you have read about each island and what it can offer you. Scroll down to the recruitment page links and start applying for your island jobs.
What and where are the resorts?
Australia has over 8,000 islands! Wowzers is right. Although not all of these have places to work or are inhabited. Since this post is focusing on working in resorts and tourism most of the island jobs you can get are located in the state of Queensland on the Great Barrier Reef. There are a few other islands I know of which I have shown on the map in case you are after something a little different.
Great Barrier Reef (GBR) jobs
This is the most common place for you to score yourself an island job. It’s also probably the kind of place you picture yourself in when thinking about a tropical island.
Some islands are very remote and have just one resort, like Lizard Island. Others can be accessed from the mainland by daytrippers. Some have more than one place to work, like Hamilton Island.
The below is a very short breakdown of some of the more popular islands but you should check out each of their websites for more detail and whether it sounds like a place you would like to work.
What kind of jobs are there?
There are jobs for everyone on the islands. Whether you are after a long term full-time position or something casual. Listed below, are the most common jobs:
- Dive instructors
- Reception staff
- Laundry attendants
- Spa therapists
- Kitchen assistants
- Marine biologists
- Medics or nurses
- Office assistants
- Event planners
- Beach and watersports attendants
- Maintenance and trade positions
Each island will have its own unique positions which aren’t necessarily offered at other resorts. So keep a lookout for something which interests you.
Far North Queensland island jobs
Lizard is a remote island in the far northern part of the GBR. To get to the island you are required to take a one-hour small aircraft flight from Cairns.
This exclusive resort caters for wealthy guests which means the level of service required is high. If you are after a service position you will need to have a good deal of experience before being accepted for a job here.
As I can speak personally for having worked on Lizard Island I can vouch for its beauty, friendly staff and the fun to be had on your days off. Given that, I would go back to this island in a heartbeat.
Apply to Lizard Island Resort if you are happy to spend 3 months or longer on the island before you get your first paid flight off. While you will still receive weekends these must be spent exploring the island. With no shortage of wonderful beaches to explore, hikes, snorkelling and diving you’ll be lucky to do everything before you leave the island for good.
For anyone on a 462 working visa Australia (Americans), to apply for a second-year visa you are required to spend 3 months in a northern or regional area of Australia. Lizard Island is classified as regional due to its remoteness. So instead of doing farm work like a lot of backpackers have to, you can spend 3 months living in paradise! Hell yeah to that!
Green Island is located a 45 minutes boat trip from Cairns. Due to its proximity to the mainland, you have the opportunity to live in Cairns and commute to and from work. There are pros and cons to this, but this lifestyle definitely suits a lot of people. For instance, you get the perks of working on an island, without the complete isolation from the real world. Conversely, you will not save as much money or be able to say you lived on an island.
Apply to Green Island Resort to live the Cairns backpacker lifestyle plus get additional island life perks.
Likewise to Green Island, Fitzroy Island Resort is only 45 minutes by ferry from Cairns. With many day guests, there are more job positions available than the smaller resorts. Apply for Fitzroy Island jobs.
North Queensland island jobs
With a small total of 10 guest villas, this all-inclusive island resort is very intimate. Due to the size of the team, you will need to be multi-skilled and have a personality that gets along well with everyone.
Orpheus Island is another small private resort which sleeps 28 guests at full capacity. There is incredible diving is off the Hinchinbrook Island chains and staff become a real family here.
For information on careers and job openings send a well-written email to the careers department of Orpheus.
Magnetic Island is the first island on our list which has multiple hotels and resorts on it. Since it is only 8km off the coast of Townsville it is a popular day trip and holiday destination.
In order to find a workplace that suits you, perform a google search of the accommodation and services based on the island. The hotels and resorts are a good place to start. Go to each website and scroll to the bottom. You can usually find an employment or jobs button.
Whitsunday Island jobs
A larger luxury resort in the northern part of the Whitsunday Islands. Because of the 166 rooms and 5 dining options, there is a large number of jobs. This in turn also means there will be a lot of staff on the island to meet and enjoy island life with.
See Hayman Island jobs.
An even larger resort yet, Daydream Island has 277 rooms. The higher the room count increases the number of staff on the island. With a resort this size, expect to have your own group of friends (rather than everyone – like on the smaller islands) and even see new faces around the place.
This is the ideal setting for someone who isn’t sure if ‘island life’ is for them. Test the remote living situation on an island with lots of people and still be within a boat ride from Airlie Beach.
Apply for Daydream Island Jobs on their careers page.
If you have heard of only one island in Australia, I bet it’s Hamilton. This is the largest inhabited Island in the Whitsundays complete with its own school for permanent residents.
The island has something for everyone in terms of luxury accommodation, to self-contained units to holiday homes. What this means for you, is regardless of your level of experience in the hospitality and tourism industry there will be a job you are qualified for.
Boasting over 350 different job opportunities you’ll be bound to find something that interests you. Have a look at the careers page for more information on Hamilton Island jobs.
Southern Great Barrier Reef island jobs
Does working for an eco-friendly company rank high on your future job requirements? Lady Elliot Island has won multiple awards in sustainability and eco-tourism.
There are around 30 full-time staff on Lady Elliot Island and as well as the other remote islands, no phone reception.
If this doesn’t scare you off take a look at the employment page.
Likewise to Lady Elliot Island, both are coral cays. This means that the island they are on is made of coral. Heron Island has a great social club which means the staff are in great hands in terms of free time.
For job enquiries send your cover letter and CV to the HR on Heron.
Southern Queensland island jobs
World Heritage listed in 1992, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world! In addition to this cool fact, Fraser Island has rainforests, resorts and dingos. Only 4 hours from Brisbane, you can even take your car over by ferry.
Only 75 minutes from Brisbane by ferry, this is a great island if you want to be near a major city. While not on the Great Barrier Reef, you will have access to great wreck dive sites, whale watching and Flinders Reef to the north.
Find a job at Tangalooma Resort.
Known to the locals as Straddie, this southern Queensland island is a popular holiday and day trip destination.
The island has resorts, hotels, hostels, camping and more in term of accommodation. In addition, there are restaurants, grocery stores, clothing boutiques, medical offices, boat services and more. So it makes the options for finding a job high but also competitive.
Take a look at the resorts and hotels webpages for information on their jobs or have a look at Seek.com for Stradbroke Island jobs.
Other Island Jobs
Are you interested in snorkelling, walking and bird watching? Lord Howe Island is the furthest island from mainland Australia on this list and boasts a unique ecosystem, complete with its own endemic species.
With the maximum number of tourists being capped at 400, make sure you are ok with remote living before applying to Lord Howe Island.
For hospitality positions, first, look at the accommodations and dining page. Next, go to their individual websites and scroll to the bottom to find the careers/jobs tab. To start you off, have a look at TripAdvisor’s Number 1 Hotel in Australia in 2017 and 2018 – Pinetrees Employment.
As we head all the way south to Tasmania, you will find your coral reefs have swapped for food and wine. Not bad if you ask me!
Easily reached from Hobart, this beautiful island is home to white wallabies, seals, fairy penguins and a variety of bird species.
As mentioned previously, take a look at the Bruny Island website for accommodation and other services which interest you. Contact the owner directly to see if there are any jobs available.
Now we’re moving over to the west coast of Australia. Rottnest Island is off the coast of Perth.
You may have seen a quokka selfie floating around the internet? No idea what I’m talking about, go and google it. You won’t regret it. Anyway, home to these little guys, plenty of sunshine all year and warmer waters than the mainland.
Grab yourself a Rottnest Island job.
Pros and cons to weigh up about different island jobs
Before applying or accepting any of the island jobs, first, make sure you get the answers to the following questions.
Will I be living on or off the island?
One major benefit of an island job is no commute time to work. Many of the positions are live in resort jobs. If you aren’t sure if island life is for you, taking a ferry to work each day may just be what you need to test the waters. You still get to live on the mainland with friends and family and still get a few perks of island life.
Islands nearby the mainland are Rottnest, Hamilton, Stradbroke, Fitzroy and Green.
What do I pay for food and accommodation?
Another perk of island jobs is the ability to save lots of money. Most live on positions offer staff housing and meals. Compared to the mainland, it is significantly cheaper.
When I lived on Lizard Island my weekly food and rent costs were less than $200. I didn’t have any other expenses and living on a remote island meant there was nothing else to spend money on (except the staff bar).
Do you want to save a lot of money? Try a remote island which only has one small resort. Lizard, Orpheus, Bedarra and Lady Elliot are good picks.
What is the accommodation like?
Island jobs with housing included are pretty standard or with a small weekly deduction from your pay. Some islands will have shared rooms or shared bathrooms, while others you get one to yourself. The price you pay for accommodation doesn’t necessarily reflect your roommate status though. Depending on the position you are hired for, you may be entitled to your own room.
Are there other expenses?
Having an island job is definitely a good way to save money. Just make sure you are aware of any other costs associated with that lifestyle.
Do you have phone signal? If not, look at cancelling your current plan. Do you need to pay for your own wifi or does the resort include it?
How about getting to and from the island, whether it is by ferry, plane or helicopter. Who pays for this? How often are you able to leave?
Speaking of the above, find out how often you can leave the island.
Living in a remote setting can be taxing. Some people can’t get used to it, while others absolutely love it. I personally had a 3-month quota. If I stayed on the island longer than 3 months without a break I noticed I would get angrier at work and just generally felt more unhappy.
Will you be working full-time, part-time or casual?
Each of these has its own benefits and downfalls. If you are on a remote island and are employed on a casual contract, that’s great for the busy periods. You’ll be working lots and making heaps of money. On the downside, don’t forget to think about the quiet periods which are bound to happen anywhere.
Make sure you know what your needs are and check what employment classification you will be hired under.
Island jobs in Australia for foreigners
As mentioned earlier, foreigners coming to Australia can legally work on an island. Many resorts will offer extensions for visas and depending on your skill you have the option of being sponsored to stay. Yippee!
Let me know how you go!
Although island jobs are not for everyone. I ultimately believe though, if you have gotten this far then they are for you.
Finally, hand in some CV’s and enjoy the time of your life working in paradise.