Looking for an adventurous island getaway that’s fit for the whole family in 2021? The largest sand island in the world is full of surprises, writes James Shackell.

The Cessna Skyhawk skidded over the sand and picked up speed, rising slowly off the beach. Crosswinds whipped off the Coral Sea, just outside my starboard window, kicking up spindrifts and buffeting the little plane, making it lurch sideways through the air. The thin metal floor vibrated under my feet.

I’m a nervous flyer at the best of times, and this didn’t feel like the best of times. I imagined I could hear every rivet and bolt shrieking, ready to wobble off. “Now look to the left,” our pilot yelled, banking sharply.

Outside the glass was the green bulk of K’gariFraser Island—the world’s largest sand island. A thin wedge of land, 123 kilometres long, overrun with scribbly gum, wild brush box, mangrove swamp, Kauri pines and Satinay trees. Huge pockets of yellow-white sand dotted the forest like giant golf bunkers. I’d come to Fraser Island expecting some vague image of tropical paradise. But what I found was way more interesting.