Six Must see

Tropical Islands

near Cairns

…..and how to get to them

I often say to people that winter in Tropical North Queensland is very similar to some of the best summers I’ve experienced around the world. Blue sky days, perfect temperatures and no shortage of fun things to do.
The islands and coral cays on the Great Barrier Reef, just off Cairns, are a big reason why this statement has rung true for me over the years. Taking a trip to Fitzroy Island this past weekend inspired me to share some information and photos of some of the amazing island destinations near Cairns.

Fitzroy Island

Fitzroy Island is the perfect all round island paradise and many Cairns locals have stories about camping on Fitzroy and the fun they had there as kids. You can visit for the day, camp in the camp grounds or stay at the new Fitzroy Island resort which offers full resort accommodation facilities.  There are also bungalows that overlook the beach that are perfect for families.

Fitzroy Island  is about 45 minutes from Cairns by boat and there is no shortage things to do on the island including kayaking tours and hire, scuba diving, snorkelling, glass bottom boat tours, ocean trampolining, lighthouse walk, strolling nudey beach, a visit to the turtle rehab centre or you can just relax and catch some rays. There’s a shop on the island for the little necessities and a bar  that is a great place to have lunch or dinner and enjoy the views and island vibe.

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Fitzroy Island tours

Want to find out more about Fitzroy Island? Including our favourite tours, latest specials, travel information and plenty more. See our Fitzroy Island Things to Do Travel Guide.

Green Island

Green Island is a coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef  about 27 kilometers from Cairns. It has rainforest in the middle, is surrounded by beautiful beach and is ringed by reef in all directions, and it’s only 40 minutes cruising time from Cairns. The thing I love about Green Island is that every time I’ve been there I seen at least one turtle.
There is a stunning resort on Green Island if you want to stay the night but on the flip side if you are just looking for something to do for half a day from Cairns you can still pop over for a few hours. There are transfers to Green Island running at 9am and 11am from the Cairns Reef Fleet terminal which makes it easy to get to.
You can get to Green Island by boat, helicopter or even a seaplane and there are a range of different Green Island tours that allow you to make it part of a full day trip including the outer Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef and Green Island Adventure drops you off at the island and then takes you out to a pontoon on the outer reef giving you a reef and island experience in one day. There’s a lot of things to do on Green Island from snorkelling and glass bottom boat tours to the famous Seawalker helmet diving. A tropical Great Barrier Reef destination that’s well worth a visit.

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Green Island tours

Frankland Islands

The Frankland Islands group is made up of 5 islands roughly 10 kilometers off the coast from the mouth of the Russell River which is about 45 minutes south of Cairns. They’re stunning! Normanby Island is the biggest of the islands and the only one that is visited by a tour operator, and there is only one regular day tour to the island. The different islands are Normanby, High, Russell, Round and Mabel. You can camp on Russell and High Islands but there are no facilities so you need to be self sufficient and be able to get yourself there. You can get more information on the camping options at the department of national parks website.

I went out to Normanby Island recently and had an amazing day. The island has rainforest, beautiful beaches and nice coral bommies on the inside of the island and during the trip saw 4 turtles. We did a naturalist walk around the Island and learned about the marine life which is easy to see during the walk since some of the reef and shallow areas are exposed at low tide. Normanby Island is a little more untouched than Fitzroy or Green but that also means there aren’t any facilities on the islands and it’s further away from Cairns.

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Franklin Island tour

Want to find out more about Cairns? Including our favourite tours, latest specials, travel information and plenty more. See our Cairns Things to Do Travel Guide.

Michaelmas Cay

There is a magical feeling about sand cays on the Great Barrier Reef and Michaelmas Cay certainly has it with the white sandy beach, beautiful clear blue water and postcard like images . It is also a bird sanctuary which makes half of the island off limits to people but it’s truly amazing to watch the birds while you’re there and get a feel for how plant life starts to grow on a coral cay.
Michaelmas Cay is particularly interesting because you can imagine that many thousands of years ago this is what Green Island and Low Isles may have been like as the birds started to bring seeds and the vegetation process started. You can get to Michaelmas Cay by boat and a few companies run trips from Cairns that visit the cay and go out to a reef location as well, which gives you a chance to visit two Great Barrier Reef destinations in the one day.

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Michaelmas Cay tours

Vlasoff Cay

You won’t find much information on Vlasoff cay. The cay is maybe 50m long and less at high tide, so why does it make it into this guide? It happens to be a very popular destination to propose!
Imagine being dropped off on this sandy cay by a helicopter and having two hours alone here with just a picnic hamper, some champagne and enough tropical paradise ingredients to melt any heart.

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Vlasoff Cay tours

Low Island

Low Isles is made up of 2 islands; Woody Island and Low Isle and is about 15kms off Port Douglas. Woody Island is uninhabited apart from a large bird population and is more of a mangrove island while Low Isle is something more of the postcard tropical island.  Low Isle is surrounded by coral reef and the reef is really close to the island so it’s easy to snorkel from the beach and see the coral and marine life.
It also has an active lighthouse that has been in operation since 1878. There are thatched umbrellas that you can relax under on the beach and depending on who you go with you can take guided snorkelling tours or glass bottom boat cruises. Cruises run daily out of Port Douglas as well as a range of other beautiful boats that do day tours to Low Isles. It certainly makes for a great day trip out of Port Douglas.

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Low island tours