Forty-five minutes by boat from Cairns, Fitzroy Island has been many things — a Chinese Quarantine Station, a Mission School, a WWII coast-watch station...and today it’s all about its natural features — tropical rainforest and a fringe coral reef, part of the Great Barrier Reef system, where you can dive and snorkel in among green sea turtles, clown fish, and parrotfish.
A continental island that separated from the mainland in the last Ice Age over 8,000 years ago, Fitzroy Island covers just 4km — 97% of which is National Parkland that you can wander through on the walking trails through the forest and along the coast. The rest of the island is all about the white sand beaches, and on the sheltered western end you’ll find the island’s accommodation, a restaurant, Foxy’s Bar, and a conference and wedding venue. There’s also a diving school on the island, and options to go on glass bottom boat tours, SUP boarding, ocean trampolining, and kayaking. A relaxed walk is to the old lighthouse on the northwest point. On a clear day, from here you can look out past Cape Grafton to the Frankland Islands.
Eighteen miles from the mainland, it’s possible to stay overnight on Fitzroy Island or you can just head out there on a day trip. To reach the island from Cairns, head to the Reef Fleet Terminal to take the high-speed 45-minute ferry, which departs at 9am.