If you want proof not all Great Barrier Reef islands are born equal, pay a visit to the supermodel of the island world, Fitzroy Island.
This photogenic, natural beauty, has all the right dimensions – it’s 4km² small, found 29km off the coast of Cairns and bears a tropical climate which dances between the 24 – 31 degree mark for most of the year. Within its 339 hectares, this island packs far more than meets the eye – one resort, two restaurants, a National Park and a whole lot of activities to keep the family busy.
If you’re wanting to get to know this island-beauty, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about Fitzroy Island and its resort.
Swapping Cairns for this island in the Great Barrier Reef is a cinch. In fact, there’s just 45 minutes between the Cairns Marina and Fitzroy Island jetty on board the Fitzroy Island Flyer, whose thrice daily transfers mean you can choose to stay and play overnight or just pop island-side for a day trip.
Don’t like being on someone else’s schedule? No bother. BYOB (aka bring your own boat) and charter yourself there and moor your vessel in Fitzroy Island Resort’s secure anchorage.
Choosing to stay at Fitzroy Island Resort is easy, picking a room is harder, with lots of different room styles that range from cosy beach-side bungalows to four-bedroom penthouse.
Some rooms come with some sort of self-catering facilities, from food preparation space and an outdoor BBQ to a fully equipped kitchen, perfect for families wanting to save on dining costs to splurge on reef-focused activities.
Resort guests have access to the Fitzroy Island Sports Hub aka “FISH”, the island’s tour desk, which promises to obliterate the words “I’m bored” from your holiday vernacular.
What to do on the water
When you’re staying on an island that’s surrounded by fringing coral gardens, our money’s on the fact you’ll end up spending most of your time in the water. The obvious way to explore it is with a snorkel mask, but if you don’t want to get your hair wet, there’s plenty of other ways to explore this atoll too.
For an orientation of the island, start with a glass-bottom boat tour to glide over the top of the world-famous coral and local marine animals or sea turtles. We say orientation, because your skipper will provide interpretative commentary, something you can’t enjoy when you’ve got your head underwater.
If you’re wanting to explore the reef with a bit more action, stand-up paddleboards and sea kayaks (with glass-bottom) are available to see the reef from a different angle.
What to do off the water
Don’t dismiss this island on the Great Barrier Reef as just a place for water-babies. On dry land, the island is made up of 97% national park where you can lace up your hiking boots to explore the island’s walking trails which wind their way over the island through tropical rainforest right to the summit.
Take the Lighthouse Road trail to wind your way to the lighthouse, where you’ll have spectacular views out to Green Island on a clear day from 269 metres above sea level. From the top, you can wind back a different way taking the Summit Track, which pops out near the resort.
Beach hopping is a must do island-side, especially when the island hides what Brad Farmer (Tourism Australia’s global beach ambassador) ranks #1 of Australia’s 101 best beaches, Nudey Beach. Just remember, it’s nudey by name only!
Education and conservation are also at the heart of this island resort, and you can spend your time learning about turtle conservation at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, rehabilitates sick and injured turtles, before releasing them back into the ocean.
What to eat there
The peril of plenty of island holidays is that you need to forgo gourmet food in favour of remote locations. Good news for foodies, Fitzroy Island is not one of them. On the island, there’s two restaurants, Zephyr and Foxy’s Bar, that compete with the island’s collection of coral and fish for memorable holiday moments. Join Zephyr for breakfast or dinner to experience the work of its new executive chef, who has given the menu a distinctly Middle Eastern twist.
Other things to note
Your dance card can be as full as you like with a stay at Fitzroy Island Resort. Resort guests are treated to a weekly schedule of activities which are all inclusive in the resort rate, which range from guided bush walks to educational talks on the reef. For the little ones, parents can earn some P&Q with the Junior Marine Biologist program, which runs across school holidays and weekends.
To find out what’s on, call ahead to reception as activities like the tides out here change to ensure the resort experience is always different.