Butterfly Island follows the travails of Charlie Wilson and his children, who are determined to retain the tropical beauties and charm of Butterfly Island, but face such difficulties as the competition from nearby resorts, unscrupulous land developers, and shipwrecked boys with mysterious pasts and unwittingly criminal tendencies.
Moran points out in his Guide to Australian TV Series that the program made use of the same locations as its predecessor, Fauna Productions' Barrier Reef, and 'promoted the kind of tourist image of Australia, so much a feature of Fauna's work'. Indeed, he argues,
Butterfly Island was conceived principally in terms of the formula of 'likeness and difference' so much a feature of Fauna Productions in the 1960s and 1970s, with likeness in the form of father, mother, kids, adventures, odd characters, comedy and adventure; and difference in the form of the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays, Australian beaches, outdoor life, sun and sand.
As such, the program relied heavily on location shooting, and was comparatively expensive by Australian standards.
The program employed a local cast, but Moran points to such American actors as Ann B. Davis, Cameron Mitchell, and Susan Strasberg in cameo roles.