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The Tour Specialists Tour Blog

Mar 06

5 Great Barrier Reef Islands in Tropical North Queensland You MUST Consider!

Posted on March 6, 2018 by
  1. Green Island

The most well-known island located 45 to 60 minutes from Cairns by fast catamaran. It is a coral cay home to a rainforest.

Departures are from Cairns Marlin Marina. Various activities including off-shore snorkelling, Glass Bottom Boat Tours, Sea Helmet Walker, Scuba Diving, Parasailing, Kayaking, Windsurfing, Marineland Melanesia Crocodile & Sea Turtle Habitat.

There are options to travel to the island by helicopter over the reef or 10 min & 15 min scenic reef flights while at the island.

Facilities include Restaurant, Cafes, Poolside Bar, Ice-Cream shop and Souvenir shops.

It has shallow crystal clear waters and soft sandy beaches with life guards on patrol.

This is makes it ideal for families with young children. There are several departure times allowing for full day or half day excursions.

Green Island has its own resort so you could choose an extended stay and enjoy the island once the day visitors have gone – Green Island Resort

Photo Courtesy of Tourism Tropical North Queensland

  1. Fitzroy Island

Once classed as a “local’s hidden gem” is located 30mins to 45mins boat ride from Cairns.

Fiztroy Island also has accommodation on the island for those who would like to spend a little more time on a tropical Island.

Nudey Beach, one of the islands beaches was recently voted Australia’s number one beach.

For this reason it has become a well-known island destination.

Another attraction of the island is the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Centre which opens its doors to visitors on the island at a cost of a donation fee.

The island is large enough to find your own quiet place to keep away from crowds and enjoy some tropical tranquillity.

With trees overhanging its beaches, there is plenty of shade to laze under.

Fitzroy Island is ideal for nature lovers and hikers, as it has several walking trails throughout the island.

The beach consists mostly of coral rubble unless you walk to Nudey Beach where it is more sandy.

Scuba Diving is available as well as a kayak tours, kayak hire, stand up paddle board hire and an ocean trampoline.

Facilities are limited, however, there is a tropical style venue called ‘Foxy’s Bar’ where café & bar style food is available for lunch and afternoon drinks.

It is fully licensed so you can enjoy a beer, wine and a cocktail or two.

To purchase snacks, Ice-creams and souvenirs, there is a little general store located near Foxy’s Bar.

There are several departure times allowing for full day or half day excursions.

Book your day on Fitzroy Island here

Photo Courtesy of Tourism Tropical North Queensland

  1. Michaelmas Cay

Is a Sandy Cay located in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef which is nesting place to many sea birds.

The Cay is surrounded by shallow crystal clear waters with coral gardens very close to the shore’s edge.

Many varieties of Giant Clams can be seen amongst the coral gardens which is unique to Michaelmas Cay.

Tours to Michaelmas Cay are full day tours with only two operators allowing snorkelling from its white sandy beach.

The tours include lunch on board the main vessels plus all snorkel equipment, lunch and a semi-submersible.

There are no facilities or amenities on the beach, however the beach is manned by lifeguards from the operators of the tour boats.

There are no shady trees to sit under for sun protection on the cay itself, however, for times of rest and relaxation a shuttle boat will take you to and from the Cay to the main vessel at any time.

All amenities are located on the main vessel. One of the operators that travel to Michaelmas Cay go by a relaxed style luxurious sailing catamaran.

The other is by a fast dive & snorkel boat. Departures are from the Cairns Marlin Marina.

Photo Courtesy of Ocean Spirit Cruises

  1. Low Isles

A Coral Cay located on the Barrier Reef North East of Port Douglas is small in size and takes only 30min to 60min travel time depending on the operator you travel with.

Only two operators travel to Low Isles for full day tours, and another operator which travels to Low Isles for a half day option.

It has shallow sandy beaches with thatched beach umbrellas for sun protection as well as a walking trail through the  trees on the island.

It also has a lighthouse situated on the island which gives it extra character.

The two full day tour operators offer all snorkel equipment, glass bottom boat tours, guided snorkel tours and guided island walk as well as lunch in the price.

Amenities are on board the boat. Lifeguards on the beach are supplied by the operators.

Low Isles is a lovely romantic beach getaway and also family friendly especially with families with young children.

This is a very relaxing day. The two full day tour operators will have you travel out to Low Isles on a sailing catamaran rather than a fast jet boat.

If your accommodation is in Cairns, there are transfers available which will take approx. 60min via a scenic coastal route.

Book your Low Isles escape now

Photo Courtesy of Tourism Tropical North Queensland

  1. Frankland Islands

Is a group of islands South East of Cairns where the National Park only allows one commercial operator to visit the area with a maximum limit of 100 passengers a day.

So if you like to join small groups and explore more remote places, this is an option worth considering.

The tour travels to Normanby Island for its day tour, and If you are prone to motion sickness, you will be pleased to know that the tour to this island has one of the shortest open water crossings out to the Great Barrier Reef.

The first half of the boat ride is via a  calm water estuary cruise.

The operator offers not only snorkelling off the beach, but an opportunity to travel to a fringing reef nearby for more experienced snorkelers.

Activities available are: snorkelling, semi-submarine, glass bottom boat tour, guided island walk including rock pools and low tide with a marine biologist.

See through kayaks and stand up paddle boards for hire as well as Sea-Doo.

Approximately 70mins travel time on the boat to the island.

There are no facilities on the island other than an undercover picnic table and chairs for lunch.

All amenities are on the boat.

This tour departs from Deeral Marina, located South of Cairns approximately a 40min drive away.

Transfers are available from Cairns and Northern Beaches.

There is only one operator visiting Frankland Islands daily – click here for more info & bookings

Photo Courtesy of Frankland Islands Cruises

If you need more information on any of the above, you can give us a call 7 days a week (except Christmas Day) on 1300 761 612

Author: Jennifer Tofia – Tour Specialists

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