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The closest islands off Cairns are Green Island and Fitzroy. Both are beautiful tropical islands that are easily accessible within an hours boat ride and both have their individual pros and cons depending on what you want to get out of your trip.

Green island

aerial view of green islandGreen Island is the smaller of the two islands.

In fact, it’s actually a coral cay that was created by thousands of years of wave action pushing coral rubble up from the Great Barrier Reef.

Eventually the mound became large enough for a rainforest to grow on it and now Green Island National Park is home to lots of different native plants and birdlife.

There are two tour operators that go to Green Island – Big Cat Cruises and Great Adventures.

On the island there is a resort and a handful of shops, a bar/café, a dive shop and a restaurant (nice for lunch). It’s quite small so there’s not a huge amount to see on the island itself.

However, the coral reef fringing the island makes it ideal for snorkeling from the beach (the best areas to snorkel are under the pier).

snorkeling great barrier reef green islandIf you’re not a strong swimmer or you don’t particularly enjoy being out at sea for the whole day, then Green Island is a great option for experiencing the Great Barrier Reef from the comfort of a golden sandy beach.

If snorkeling is not your thing there’s also scuba diving, helmet diving, glass bottom boat or semi-submarine tours and seaplane or helicopter rides.

While Green Island is always an enjoyable daytrip from Cairns, its does get very busy, especially round the middle of the day. Our recommendation is to take the first boat if you’re going on a daytrip and leave early in the afternoon when all the tourists start to arrive.

Alternatively, you can stay overnight at the resort and enjoy the peace and quiet of the island after all the daytrippers have left.


fitzroy island

nudie beach on fitzroy islandFitzroy Island is bigger than Green Island and it is an actual island rather than a coral cay. It is really beautiful with hills, forests, walking trails and even a lighthouse.

As you arrive and disembark onto the jetty you can immediately sense a really relaxed vibe, almost like a Caribbean island.

The great thing about Fitzroy is that the size of it means that the visitors spread out and disperse so you’re much less aware of other people compared to Green Island.

There are quite a lot of things to do on Fitzroy Island so a daytrip never seems enough. The resort is nice and has a variety of accommodation options if you’re thinking of staying overnight. Foxy’s Beach Bar is good for lunch and offers reasonably priced meals.

The beach in front of the resort where the ferry comes in is made of coral rubble rather than sand. However, there is a nice sandy beach called Nudey Beach that you can walk to around the headland, which is the best spot for snorkeling and swimming.


travel nq fast facts:

  • Green Island is the best of the islands off Cairns for a fun snorkeling daytrip
  • Fitzroy Island is better for water sports and a longer overnight stay
  • Ready to book?

Photos thanks to Fitzroy Island Resort & Big Cat