Green island from the air

Where to go

Islands

A String of Jewel-like Islands

Scattered up the coast of Tropical North Queensland are islands that range from tiny uninhabited strips of sand to private ultra-luxury resorts.

These islands are places that will fill you with peace, take away your problems and leave you with a sense of pure adventure and child-like wonder

Jemma Craig – photographer and Green Island resident

fitzroy island great barrier reef

MILES OF ISLES

In Tropical North Queensland, there’s an island for everyone – from experienced divers to novice snorkellers, from flop-and-drop sunbakers to avid hikers, from those looking for luxury to those who want to rough it. For families and first-timers, Green Island is the place to test the waters. It’s one of only three true coral cays in the Great Barrier Reef and there’s sheltered snorkelling right off the beach. Fitzroy Island is another local favourite and its rainforest-covered hills are threaded with hiking trails, including the picturesque Secret Garden track. There are resorts on both islands, but they are also easily accessible as a day-trip from Cairns.

Manta ray swimming

THE UNDERWORLD

There are five islands in the uninhabited Frankland Islands group, about 45km south of Cairns. Only one tourist boat visits each day with a maximum of 100 passengers, making for a genuine “castaway” experience. The islands are surrounded by spectacular fringing reefs, home to majestic green turtles and manta rays.

The Frankland Islands

Low isles with light house

A LOVELY LAGOON

Low Isles is a good reef option, just 15km off the coast from Port Douglas. The protected lagoon waters are ideal for beginners who shouldn’t be surprised if a marine turtle floats by.

Low Isles

Dunk Island

CIRCLE OF GREEN

Just off the coast from Mission Beach, Dunk Island is a rainforest-covered paradise fringed with palm trees and golden sand beaches. More than half the island is a national park, with plenty of walking and hiking trails. The resort is currently closed, however there are camping facilities and a small cafe (but be sure to bring your own supplies).

Dunk Island

Edge pool at Lizard island resort

THE LUX REPORT

Luxury travellers will fall in love with Lizard and Bedarra islands. Lizard Island, off the coast of Cape York, is a 1000ha national park with 24 beaches and one ultra-luxe resort, the most northerly in the Great Barrier Reef. Bedarra Island is a small, rainforest-covered gem just offshore from Mission Beach and home to one exclusive resort and a handful of holiday villas.

Lizard Island

INTO THE BLUE

Mackay Cay off Cape Tribulation offers excellent snorkelling in its impossibly clear water; while Hinchinbrook – the largest island national park in the country – is home to the 32km Thorsborne Trail, the ideal way to discover the island’s untouched beauty and bountiful wildlife.

Dreamy Sand Cays

Tips

  • If you’re planning to camp on one of the islands, make sure you book your permit early. There are only limited spaces and they can fill up quickly, especially during school holidays. Remember that you can only camp in designated areas.

  • Most of the islands in Tropical North Queensland are close to shore, so can be easily reached for a day-trip. If you plan to visit a few, you can stay on the mainland and venture out each day.

Discover More

Find the best islands for snorkelling, diving, hiking and watersports, plus accommodation to suit every style and budget.

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Dreamy sand cays you must visit on the Great Barrier Reef

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Clown fish in an anenone

Getting here

  • helicopter on a sand cay

    By air

    Helicopter transfers are available between Cairns, Green Island and Bedarra Island. Private charter services operate between Cairns and Lizard Island for guests of Lizard Island Resort and liveaboard vessels; Mike Ball Dive Expeditions and Spirit of Freedom. Daily touring options are available to Lizard Island with Daintree Air Services.

  • Sunlover boat at Fitzroy island

    By boat/ferry

    Boats depart daily with ferry transfers services to Dunk Island, Bedarra Island, Green Island, Fitzroy Island, Frankland Islands and Low Isles. Private charters or liveaboard dive vessels offer a unique journey to Lizard Island.

Stay

Enjoy a little resort living on the Great Barrier Reef.

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

Imagine waking up to a view like that 😍🪸

📸 @reefencountercairns #exploretnq #explorecairnsgbr #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #greatbarrierreef
Riding with false killer whales at @lizardisland 🐬🏝

📸 @nico_scuba #explorecairnsgbr #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #lizardisland
There's only one #DoubleIsland and it's not hard to see why we love it so much 🌴✨ You can paddle your way from @visitpalmcove to the island at sunrise with @palmcovewatersports or @pacific_watersports_palmcove 🛶🙌

Hot tip: We hear the best time do to it is during summer - don't forget your reef-safe sunscreen! ☀️

📸 @jworrall.photography #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #palmcove
It’s not every day you see something like this! 🤩

@underwater_images spotted this turtle just turtling around a huge fish ball at the Frankland Islands 🏝🐠

Have you ever seen anything like this? 👇

#explorecairnsgbr #exploretnq #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Once you make it to island time, you'll be having Fitzroy flashbacks for the rest of your life 😍☀️ This quintessential tropical island National Park is a must-do when you visit the tropics, our favourite spot? #NudeyBeach 🏖 Boasting incredible views, refreshing water & one of the most photogenic coral shores around 🐚✨ You can discover the island for yourself with @fitzroyislandadventures ⛵️ Don’t feel like leaving? Stay a while at @fitzroyisland resort 🍹 🏝

📸 @stvzie #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
All aboard the Kuranda Scenic Rail! 🚂🌳 Take in the living colours & natural beauty of a World Heritage-Listed Rainforest that is millions of years old when making your way from #Cairns to #Kuranda 🌿 Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time when getting to @kurandavillage to discover the quirky markets, wildlife sanctuaries & rainforest walks 🐨🦋

📸 @the_bumblebus #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Just Nemo and friends hanging out in an anemo-memno-nomne 😉🪸🐠

📸 @tomsunderwaterphotography #explorecairnsgbr #exploretnq #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Camping in the @athertontablelands? Yes please! ⛺️🌾

📸 @danieljkiritsis #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #athertontablelands

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