The Tour Specialists Blog


What is the Snorkelling Like on Fitzroy Island

Saachi James-Mason on February 14th, 2024

This is not just another blog about snorkelling on Fitzroy Island written by a content writer, it’s a comprehensive guide written by a local who has been to Fitzroy Island on quite a number of occasions and has actually explored this place from top to bottom.

Our team at The Tour Specialists have been guiding tourist on the best places to visit on the Great Barrier Reef for over 20 years and our team members are Cairns locals who are on the spot 7 days talking to visitors and providing the best advice to guide them on the things to do in Cairns that suit their needs and capabilities. We have the luxury of enjoying these reef trips with the compliments of the tour operators so that we are familiar with the products, and we can form our own opinions on the tours and then work out which tours would suit our clientele.

We then like to put it in an informative blog to share our knowledge with our followers so they can then make up their own mind to see if this is the type of Cairns tour, they would enjoy.

We also provide the booking facility in the hope they enjoyed our in-depth articles and book their Fitzroy Island tours us instead of the big search engines that have no knowledge of the area. We like to see the money support the local communities, local jobs and also provide that old fashioned personal touch. And we offer our famous 2nd child travels free deal (T&C’s apply).

Where is Fitzroy Island?

Fitzroy Island is on the Great Barrier Reef just a 45-minute boat ride from Cairns, and you can visit on a full day or half day tour, you can also combine it with a 2-day outer Great Barrier Reef tour with Sunlover or the 1 day snorkelling tour. This picturesque island boasts crystal-clear waters, thriving coral reefs, and an abundance of marine life, making it a snorkeller's paradise. Fitzroy Island is also a great place for nature lovers and hikers as the woodland forests provide homes for a range of exotic wildlife and at 1pm each day you may be able to book in for a small group tour of the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. Later on, this blog we will cover more of the island walks and hiking further down the page after we cover off the best snorkelling on Fitzroy Island.

In our Tour Specialists blog, we'll uncover all the must-see and must-do experiences on Fitzroy Island, focusing on the underwater world of snorkelling. So, the first thing you need to consider is that this a great value reef trip from Cairns that won’t break the bank for your family, this bonus always puts Fitzroy Island on the top of tourists lists. There is something to do and something to see for everyone on this 11.6 square kilometre island.

Please note there is no scuba diving on Fitzroy Island however you can enjoy that on Green Island. 

If you are new to snorkelling, we suggest you read our Travel Tips on snorkelling, so you are fully aware and prepared for the experience.

1. Fitzroy Island Snorkelling: What is it Really Like?

The beaches on Fitzroy Island vary from coral based beaches to sand beaches. The front beach where the ferry boats dock is Welcome Bay, and this is where most people prefer to park their bags and begin their snorkelling adventure for the day. It is protected from the southerly winds making snorkelling conditions comfortable in all sorts of wind and weather.

Just keep in mind when snorkelling around islands your experience will be nothing like on the outer Great Barrier Reef as the waters around the islands are shallower and have higher temperatures so only various types of coral and marine life like these conditions. You will certainly enjoy it but do not expect to see the big pelagic fish species and giant coral reef systems you would see on one of these Great Barrier Reef tours.   

Best time to go snorkelling is on the high tide for better underwater visibility and marine life activity. We recommend you cover up all year round when snorkelling, so you do not get sunburnt or have any jelly fish or sea lice stings.

When in the water do not splash about, just keep your hands clasped together and let your fins slowly swim you around the reef so you do not scare away the marine life.

Whether you're an experienced snorkeller or a first-time adventurer, we are sure your day tour to Fitzroy Island will have some joy to offer everyone beneath the surface.

2. Best Snorkelling Locations on Fitzroy Island

Wondering where to start your snorkelling journey on Fitzroy Island? Look no further! Here are some of the top spots to immerse yourself in the island's underwater beauty:

  • Welcome Bay: This is where the ferry boats arrive and dock on Fitzroy Island and it’s a popular snorkelling location as it is close by the resort’s shops and food outlets. It’s a coral beach so if you have reef shoes or thongs, we suggest you bring them along. The north side offers the best variety of coral formations and marine life however on a low tide there are some sandy areas to the right of the jetty where you could set up you camp for the day. Whilst snorkelling here you'll encounter an array of marine life such as parrotfish, butterfly fish, giant clams and lots of other colourful fish species. 
  • Nudey Beach: Don’t worry it’s not really a nude bathing beach so its safe for your kids to explore. Not quite sure how it got its name, but the location is sure beautiful. Instagrammers love draping themselves across the boulders to take selfies for their followers on this beach. From Welcome Bay, Nudey Beach is just a leisurely 15-minute walk that winds through tropical rainforest and coastal woodlands making it quite pleasant. It offers a beautiful stretch of sand where guests can wade in the water to see clownfish, angel fish, black tip reef sharks and lots of other colourful marine life. The coral gardens are only small but easily accessible from about two metres offshore.
  • Confident Snorkellers: For the more confident snorkellers the further out you venture the better the corals, the better the marine life. We suggest you always have a snorkel buddy with you and keep an eye out for the busy boat traffic. From Welcome Bay explore White Rock and Shark fin Rock as you may just come across some turtles.

3. Snorkelling with Turtles on Fitzroy Island

Fitzroy Island is home to a resident population of green sea turtles. These gentle giants are often spotted while snorkelling in the island's waters. Snorkellers have a high chance of encountering these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat if you snorkel around slowly and quietly. If you do not see any then pop on over to the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre after lunch and don’t forget to make a donation to help preserve these animals.

4. Fitzroy Island vs. Green Island: Which Offers Better Snorkelling?

Both Fitzroy Island and Green Island are part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and both provide great snorkelling experiences. Your choice between the two depends on your preferences, who you are travelling with and their capabilities. We wrote a blog on this subject as so many visitors ask us this question quite a lot.

5. Marine Life Encounters on Fitzroy Island

When snorkelling on Fitzroy Island, you'll be treated to a diverse range of marine life. Some of the common sightings include:

  • Colourful Coral Gardens: Whilst not huge and not abundant you can explore vibrant corals, including soft and hard corals.
  • Diverse Fish Species: Keep an eye out for clownfish, parrotfish, angelfish, and a variety of other colourful and exotic fish species that call Fitzroy Island's reefs home. You certainly won’t be disappointed.
  • Giant Clams: Don't miss the opportunity to witness giant clams, with their intricate patterns and vivid colours, creating a stunning spectacle. Just need to be in deeper water so go with your snorkel buddy.
  • Reef Sharks: Encounter harmless and very shy reef sharks, such as blacktip and whitetip reef sharks, as they elegantly patrol the waters around Fitzroy Island. It’s the pups that you see swimming up and down the shorelines looking to chase little fish. The big mum and dad are out in the deeper ocean.

6. Snorkelling Equipment and Access

You won't need to bring your own snorkelling gear when visiting Fitzroy Island. The tour operators provide snorkelling equipment as part of your day tour package, including a mask, snorkel, fins, and appropriate attire. You may also be able to get prescription snorkel glasses or bring your own along if you have had some made.

You can also book Glass bottom boat tours, Snorkelling safaris, and Snorkel experience tours on the island or with your day tour packages.

7. Fitzroy Island: A Tropical Oasis

Fitzroy Island is not just a snorkelling hotspot; it's a tropical paradise with plenty to offer. In addition to exploring the underwater world, you can indulge in other island activities such as hiking to the lighthouse summit, kayaking, paddleboarding, or simply relaxing under the trees in the shade and watching all the activities in the water. The island's lush rainforest provides an excellent backdrop for nature enthusiasts, with a number of walking trails leading to breathtaking viewpoints.

8. Tips and FAQs

  • Currents: While there are currents in all oceanic environments, Fitzroy Island's waters generally offer protection from strong tidal currents compared to the outer reef.
  • Snorkelling Comparisons: Fitzroy Island snorkelling offers a unique experience, distinct from the outer reef. The island's seclusion and rock formations create a different but equally captivating underwater world.
  • Turtle Sightings: While there are no guarantees, green sea turtles are commonly seen around Fitzroy Island, providing ample opportunities for encounters.
  • Access to Snorkelling Sites: The island's snorkelling sites are easily accessible from the shore, allowing for flexibility in your snorkelling adventures.’
  • Food and Beverage:The most popular place on the island is Foxy’s Bar where you can have a substantial pub meal and great icy cold beverages with the beats rocking in the background and it’s on the beachfront.  There is also a general store for snacky things like ice-creams, chips, lollies etc. 15% surcharge on Sundays!
  • Disabled Travellers: Fitzroy Island is suitable for travellers with mobility issues. Read our blog to find out more  and our Travel Tips for guest with mobility issues.

We wrote another informative blog on Hiking and Walking on Fitzroy Island as there is so much to talk about so follow this link for more details.

As you plan your snorkelling adventure on Fitzroy Island, remember that this tropical island offers its own unique experiences. Whether you're exploring the underwater wonders, hiking through lush rainforests, or unwinding on pristine beaches, Fitzroy Island offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and adventure. Dive in, explore, and create memories that will last a lifetime!

Hey have you heard about Frankland Island?

Saachi James-Mason

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