Your ultimate guide to Darwin and Tiwi Islands

Experience a melting pot of people, culture and wildlife at Darwin and Tiwi Islands, a distinct sanctuary in the far north.

Asian-influenced food, vibrant outdoor markets, numerous adventure activities and the largest number of crocodiles in the world await discovery for those planning a Northern Territory holiday. If you’re seeking a destination with a difference, the Northern Territory capital of Darwin is one on your bucket list.

Best things to do in Darwin & Tiwi Islands

Stunning gorges, waterfalls and billabongs are must-see Darwin attractions awaiting discovery in Litchfield National Park, Kakadu National Park and Katherine Gorge. Welcome to Darwin and Tiwi Islands, where untouched nature, azure waters and strong cultural influence come together in an unparalleled experience.

Litchfield National Park
Litchfield National Park

Darwin Harbour Cruise

Gain a deeper understanding of Darwin’s history aboard a harbour cruise. Hop on a short cruise around the beautiful Harbour to discover the city's WWII history. Commentary from your knowledgeable skipper covers the bombing of Darwin during WWII and the destruction wrought by Cyclone Tracy.

Visit Crab Claw Island

Plan a day trip to Cox Peninsula with the SeaLink Crab Claw Island cruise from Darwin. You’ll have plenty of time to unwind on the two-hour cruise, followed by a beach-deck seafood buffet lunch, and time to relax before heading back to Cullen Bay.

From May to September, Darwin cruises to Crab Claw Island are a perfect way to relax and unwind like the locals do. Feast on locally caught seafood, Black Angus porterhouse steak, fresh salads and dessert; all while taking in the stunning views.

Explore Cullen Bay Marina

Dine at one of the many popular restaurants or cafes in the Cullen Bay Marina. This is a favourite spot for holidaymakers and locals alike, with a variety of sensational cuisines including Greek, Italian, Asian, and amazing local seafood. Head to Lola’s Pergola on the marina to enjoy dinner and drinks in a relaxed atmosphere; enjoy vegan delicacies at Ebb & Flow; or indulge in Syrian fare at Damasquino.

Discover Darwin's Famous Markets

For shopping, fresh tropical fruits and vegetables, exotic food stalls and entertainment explore Darwin’s markets. There’s plenty of choice between Rapid Creek Markets, Nightcliff Markets, or Mindil Beach Sunset Market where the fun starts as the sun goes down.

Crocosaurus Cove Crocodiles

Interactive wildlife centres dedicated to fearsome crocodiles are another popular Darwin tourist attraction, providing a chance to see these prehistoric creatures up close. When planning your Darwin family holiday, be sure to include a visit to Crocosaurus Cove for a chance to feed - or even swim - with the crocs!

Darwin crocodiles experience
Crocosaurus Cove Experience

Tiwi Islands Culture

Head across the Beagle Gulf and visit Tiwi Islands, where you’ll be immersed in the Tiwi Islands Aboriginal culture. Known as ‘the island of smiles’, the happy Tiwi Islands people are internationally renowned for their individual style of art.

Tiwi Islands Aboriginal art is prized by collectors and has been exhibited around the world. Their history and traditional stories are vividly expressed through paintings, sculptures, ceramics, screen-printed fabrics, etchings, prints and jewellery.

Embrace the authentic flavour of the Tiwi Islands on a Tiwi By Design Tour. Accompanied by a local guide, you’ll learn about island life, visit the Patakijiyali Museum and tour the historic mission precinct.

Tiwi Islands tours give you the chance to visit Wurrumiyanga, boasting three art centres, the culture museum, the old Catholic mission precinct, as well as Pukamani (burial) poles in the cemetery.

Experience the unique and spiritual Welcome Smoking Ceremony - an insight into the ancient culture of the Tiwi people.

Tiwi Islands ceremony
Tiwi Islands ceremony

Tiwi Island Football

Tiwi football is legendary in AFL circles; the Tiwi Islands has produced three Norm Smith Medallists — the highest accolade in the AFL. Catch a game or visit in March for the famous Tiwi Islands Grand Final which draws huge crowds from all over Australia.

Fishing on Tiwi Islands

The Tiwi Islands are made up of the Melville and Bathurst islands and a few other smaller islands. While fishing in Tiwi Islands, one must be respectful towards the traditional owners and custodians of the region. In terms of permits, you don’t need permission to fish intertidal waters around the southern and eastern regions of Melville and Bathurst Islands, however, you must not fish on the west coast of Bathurst Island.

Tiwi Islands Aboriginal art

Tiwi Islands are home to art centres such as Tiwi Design, Jilmara and Manupi Arts and Crafts. The art is deeply rooted in cultural stories and ceremonies.

Tiwi Islands artwork
Tiwi Islands artwork

How to get to Tiwi Islands

Situated around 80kms north of Darwin, the Tiwi Islands comprises of two main islands – Bathurst and Melville. SeaLink Northern Territory operates a passenger ferry between Darwin and Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island, which takes about 2.5 hours each way. For more information visit: Sealink NT.

Best time to visit Tiwi Islands

The weather in Northern Territory is warm to hot all year round with the seasons described as ‘wet’ and ‘dry’. If you’re looking for a tropical break, clear skies and warm days, the dry season between May and October is perfect. It’s also the popular tourist season when people from other parts of Australia visit Northern Territory to escape the harsh winters on the south and east coast.

Looking to explore more of Australia's beautiful island destinations? Here are the 8 best islands to visit in Australia.