Insider's Guide to Cairns & the Tropical North

Major attractions, tips and our top things to see and do.

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Tropical North Queensland is famed for being, well, tropical. And what better to do in a tropical paradise than go to the beach? Luckily we've pulled together the best beaches in Cairns and the Tropical North to tempt you. Starting your tour of the ... 

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Certified reviews by travelers like you.

Ivo F

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2016

Fitzroy Island is amazing! It was really nice to spend a day walking around, enjoying the water, enjoying the beautiful scenery and taking a glass bottom boat tour so I could take some pictures of the reef, too.
Nudy beach is beautiful, but difficult to walk on if you have no shoes, because of the coral. The secret garden hike is nice and quiet, and gets you away from the crowd so you can relax at the end point with just the sound of the birds, the waterfall and the wind through the trees.
Near the beach though, you can relax with a cocktail or go for a swim.

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Anna K

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
March 2016

Beautiful little island with some good patches for snorkeling. Make sure to bring water shoes, coral beaches only. Great for hiking. Not crowded, you can find plenty quiet spots to relax. Wish I stayed overnight.

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

mkkolberg

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
March 2016

Raging Thunder provided a fantastic day for us! The crew was fantastic super energetic and down-to-earth guys that were very friendly. The boat itself was roomy and comfortable for the trip to/from the island. On the island, I'd recommend wearing water shoes as the beach is all old coral and isn't comfortable to walk on. It was a nice relaxing island that wasn't busy at all, which was great! Underwater coral wasn't as bright and colorful as expected but we saw a good variety of fish, starfish, squid, rays, etc. while snorkeling and got views of brighter coral and turtles on the glass-bottom boat tour. The picnic lunch was more than expected but is just a couple of sandwiches, apple, and a granola bar so bring your own food if you aren't interested in that. The bar on the island has delicious drinks and mocktails, however, to suit your fancy when you need a break from the sun! Great value trip and we had a wonderful day with this tour!

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Teresa C

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2015

This trip was exceptional. I recommend skipping the buffet lunch on the boat and saving money for renting beach chairs and umbrella. The island has a few eateries you can grab food from without having to battle long queues on the boat. And I know 30 AU seems steep for two deck chairs and a umbrella, but it's WELL worth it whilst out on the reef. We loved snorkeling here... we spotted three turtles, a sting ray, tons of fish and even saw a bit of a black-tipped coral reef shark from the glass bottom boat tour. Note - the boat tour is NOT in the same area as the swimmers. I felt perfectly safe snorkeling here. We enjoyed this tour so much, we wished we had more time here.

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

msandone207

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2015

Beautiful boat tour, loved the glass bottom boat, and enjoyed the snorkeling and beach time.

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Richard Shaun L

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
January 2015

Brilliant. Enormous variety of fish and turtles to see whilst snorkelling off the beautiful sandy beaches. I wish we had stayed overnight.

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

JarDil12

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
August 2014

We flew into Cairns at 10:30am, and had time to get to the hotel, have lunch, and walk to the main fleet terminal (where all the boats are docked) for our 1:00pm trip to Green Island.
The crew was very nice and friendly.
Nice beach, clear water, and lots of tropical fish.
IMPORTANT: If you suffer from motion sickness, take Dramamine or something before boarding. The ocean was only mildly choppy, but 10 people got sick, and several threw up.

Doing what: Green Island Half Day Trip from Cairns

Stella O

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
January 2014

Brilliant!! Pleasant ferry crossing an amazing island, swam with the fish in the barrier reef in warm waters. Excellent beaches and good food supplied as part of the deal. Highly recommended.

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Penney L

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
January 2014

Loved it! Did the glass bottom boat ride and got to see all the wildlife. The glass in the boat isn't that great but good enough to see the fish (definitely get in the water and snorkel to see the fish up close).

Take the walk to the nude beach and see the white sand. A bit quiet on that side of the island and no one really does skivvy down but some pretty cool white sand to see.

There's a few hiking trails on the way to the nude beach which we tried to followed for about 20 minutes before turning back because we had to catch the boat back to Cairns. Yet, if we had more time, we would have followed the trail a lot longer as it was quite pleasant with all the birds chirping and the lizards running around.

And of course, you must snorkel! The water is a bit murky in some areas but you do get to see fish swim right in front of your face. If you miss seeing any fish, just look around the dock - there are tons there! You definitely can't miss them on the way in and out from Fitzroy Island.

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Scott B

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2013

We absolutely loved this excursion! The ride to the island was very enjoyable. We took advantage of both the semi-submersible as well as the glass-bottomed boats since neither of us are snorkeling or diving fans. There was enough time to enjoy a visit to the island and spend some time enjoying the beach areas.

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Ingrid W

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2013

This trip offers a lovely, quiet, relaxing day out. Whilst staying in Cairns we also visited Green Island whereas this has more sandy beaches it doesn't have the fabulous snorkelling that Fitzroy does. The reef and the fish are absolutely stunning. I loved Fraser Island for the fact that there is not much there at all whereas Green Island is very commercialised. If you are looking for total relaxation, walks in the tropical rain forest up to the summit, a day on the beach or snorkelling this is definitely the place for you. Unfortunately, we weren't able to do the walks as the Forestry Commission were doing controlled burning that day but we still had a great time on the beach. Water sports equipment can be hired from the beach hut and there is also glass bottom boats on offer. On the island there is a dive centre but you might have to contact them direct before your visit should you want a dive here. All in all a great day out.

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

curiouscanuk

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
October 2013

The ride out to Green Island is fairly quick and smooth, now do be aware that there is a deposit ( money,ID, or a room key) required for the snorkel gear. The island itself is lovely as is the beach. Now I have to assume time of year matters but there was a HUGE drop in tide from morning to afternoon. The staff was friendly, the water so clear, and heaps of coral and fish to see and photograph. As a side note the buffet lunch was tasty and plentiful, but you do need to pay for drinks fyi. Overall a very enjoyable way to spend a day and I would absolutely recommend it.

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Barbara B

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
July 2013

Stunning day. Loved the snorkelling and paddle-boarding and lazing on the beach. Lovely relaxed atmosphere away from it all. Great value for money too. Would highly recommend.

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Maria L

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2013

Pick up and drop off were easy. The Catamaran was smooth to Green Island. We had a great day and enjoyed the semi-submersible, glass bottom boat and snorkeling. We did pay the extra for the wet suits and my husband wore his primarily not to get sunburned although they were recommended to prevent any jelly fish stings. I simply could not get mine on and had no problems. Don't forget beach towels, sunscreen and whatever else you need for a day at the beach. Just an FYI: bring your own coffee if you are picky and pack a lunch for the same reason as well as the time factor. We definitely recommend this day tour.

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Avril C

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2012

Great day out on Green Island. Go early to get the food,plenty of it and loads of seating.Just enough time on the island for some time on the beach and a walk around the island.Only drawback is that the boat is slow compared to some of the other boats going out.

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Meggy Australia

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2011

Lovely island, snorkelled and swam with a large green turtle. Went for a nice rainforest and beach walk. The weather was superb and the boat trip very pleasant.

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Anonymous

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
June 2010

Great trip! All went really smooth. Not much time on the island with lunch on the boat, the semi sub tour and glass boat tour however. Just enough time to walk around the island and rest by beach or pool for a bit before heading home

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Benjamin N Australia

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
May 2010

Had a very nice day. Trips up and back were fine on the cat, a bit bumpy but we took ginger tablets which helped a lot. Had a great lunch and the submarine was also worth it. Snorkeled and sat on the beach for most of the day.

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Sharon A USA

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
April 2010

Fun day at Green Island. Waves were a bit choppy due to the cyclone, but the trip was worth it. Sea turtles were swimming around the island, and the reef was a quick swim away from the beach. The beach was also a great place to relax. Lifeguards were on duty, which was a great peace of mind.

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Patrick A

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
January 2010

Very lovely island. Lots of fun. We found a beach that had very few people and swam in warm and beautiful sea.

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Sarah A United Kingdom

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
December 2008

Boat was quite busy, but it only took about 45 minutes to get to Green Island and once there you could walk anywhere on the island and not bump into many people! We snorkelled and saw loads of amazing fish, a stingray and a reef shark! Coral was beautiful. We also walked around the island and had the lunch on board the boat. If you want to rent equipment on the island it was very expensive.. even a sunlounger and umbrella cost an arm and leg! But if you are going to enjoy the island and coral it is well worth it. If you want water sports and to lounge on the beach I think you could find somewhere a lot cheaper.

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Beachgirl380 Canada

4 star rating: Recommended
May 2016

Fitzroy Island itself is very beautiful and the snorkeling was amazing! It was easy to find amazing reefs within a few meters of the shoreline. We booked the full Activity Pass but felt that there was a real lack of communication between the guests and the tour guys. There were no real instructions on how to catch the glass bottom boat, how to get the lunch, where the best snorkel spots were, etc. Unless you asked all the questions, you didn't receive any instructions on anything. It was also very hot 30C during our visit and it was very difficult to avoid the hot sun -- there is no shade on the beach unless you are lucky to snag a spot under a tree somewhere. Since it is such a long day, it would be nice if the company arranged beach chairs/umbrellas for the guests as we found it very uncomfortable for the full 6 hours.

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Ivo F

4 star rating: Recommended
May 2016

I really liked this tour! I was picked up quite late, but the company ensured me it was merely a delay and nobody forgot me. Had a nice road trip along Port Douglas nice view!, to Mossman. Our guide always asked us what we preferred if we had a choice, allowing us to spend a little more time at the places we really liked. The Mossman gorge was not that special, but I liked the walk to get there, through the rainforest. The lunch at the Daintree Tea House was really nice, and the owner explained in detail a lot about all the different kinds of fruit on our plate. During the boat trip on the river, we saw two crocodiles, of which one was enormous. Very nice to see from up close.
The walk to Cape Tribulation was nice too, seeing plenty of animals including a python eating a bush turkey. I wished to have spent more time on beautiful Cape Tribulation beach, but unfortunately we had to head back already after some 10 minutes. I would have loved to have a little bit more time everywhere, but all in all, it was definitely worth it.

Doing what: Cape Tribulation, Mossman Gorge and Daintree Rainforest Premium Day Tour

Cindy F

4 star rating: Recommended
November 2015

Beautiful place, the dead coral beach was very unusual and not to foot friendly, but the surroundings were amazing and the kayak and snorkelling was great

Doing what: Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Suzanne M

4 star rating: Recommended
August 2015

Beautiful day wonderful experience. Staff of
Big Cat were excellent and extremely helpful. The island although small was well worth the visit with plenty to do whether you wish to simply lie on the beach or be more active.Recommend the glass bottom boat and snorkling

Doing what: Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

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