Fitzroy Island is located just 45 minutes off the coast of Cairns located in the beautiful, untouched waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Some of the best things to do on Fitzroy Island are of course, exploring the Great Barrier Reef in different ways! You could take a day trip to the island or even stay a few days at to experience everything Fitzroy Island has to offer!
Keep reading to learn all about the best things to do on Fitzroy Island!
How to get to Fitzroy island
Fitzroy Island is accessible by a 45 minute high speed ferry from Cairns. The ferry departs from the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal daily. There are three different ferry companies that operate between Cairns and Fitzroy Island – Fitzroy Island Ferry, Sunlover Fitzroy Island, and Fitzroy Island Adventures. Each ferry includes slightly different activities or add ons so be sure to check out each one to find the best fit for you before booking!
Fitzroy Island is also accessible by private boat or yacht, but most people reading this will probably take the ferry like us. :)
Tips for Visiting Fitzroy Island
If you are visiting in the summer, you will need to be VERY careful when swimming because it’s stinger season [November – May]. Stinger season is the months in which deadly jellyfish [aka stingers] inhabit the waters around Cairns. The most deadly and venomous jellyfish are the box jellyfish and Irukandji. The Irukandji are small and clear, making them quite difficult to spot in the water. While Box Jellyfish are a bit larger with long tentacles. You can read more about these jellyfish here.
You may be afraid of sharks but they are nothing compared to the deadly jellyfish that inhabit the water during those months. Do not take this lightly! You will see signs and warning all over every beach in Cairns.
All that being said, don’t be afraid to visit or get in the water! Just be sure to listen to posted signs and any instructions from tour guides or lifeguards. We went in January, followed the guidelines, and had no issues. We wore the full body stinger suits or swam in stinger nets [when available] every time we got in the water in Cairns!
If you visit outside of stinger season, you don’t have to worry about this. :)
Salt Water Crocodiles
If you’re anything like us, you had no idea that saltwater crocodiles lived in the beautiful beaches in and around Cairns [along with most of Tropical North Queensland]. They are aggressive and dangerous animals. You don’t need to be afraid of the crocs, but rather cautious. Saltwater crocs are typically found in rivers, murky water, and portions where the rivers feed into the ocean. They are not usually found anywhere near the reefs in the Great Barrier Reef. You probably won’t see them on Fitzroy Island but it’s always good to be aware and know this information for any other places you may visit in Cairns!
Again, just be sure to listen to posted signs and instructions about where to swim! Many locals choose to swim in freshwater swimming holes or waterfalls that are more inland, rather than the ocean. For more safety information about saltwater crocs click here.
5 Best Things to do on Fitzroy Island:
1. Go Snorkeling or Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef
Fitzroy Island is located within the Great Barrier Reef so of course a visit wouldn’t be complete without snorkeling or scuba diving! There a few different spots you can go on the island. You can rent gear daily at the Fitzroy Island Sports Hub or book a snorkel tour. Scuba Diving does require PADI Certification or additional tour requirements but you can look into the scuba diving tours here!
In addition to snorkel gear, you can rent stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, life jackets, stinger suits and more! You can read more information about Fitzroy Island rentals here.
Unfortunately, during out visit the water was super rough which affected the water clarity so we didn’t see a lot when we went snorkeling. We saw lots of color fish and a sea turtle a few times from the shoreline [after getting out of the water haha!]. Other people we talked to saw sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, and more. What you see is really dependent on the weather and time of day!
The day before we went scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef 2 hours off the coast from a sailboat with Ocean Free and had an INCREDIBLE experience! We’re still glad we visited Fitzroy Island and snorkeled even with our scuba diving tour the day before.
2. Visit Nudey Beach
Before you skip this beach after reading the name, it is NOT a nude beach. Nudey Beach was rated Australia’s #1 Beach in 2018 and after seeing the views from the beach you’ll understand why!
Most of the beaches on Fitzroy Island are coral beaches, but Nudey Beach is a bit of an exception. While it is mostly coral, it does have some sand too! Which is makes it the most comfortable beach to lay out on and enjoy. You can always snorkel here!
Nudey Beach is about a 15 minute walk from Welcome Bay [where the ferry drops you off] through a tropical rainforest. While it’s a very easy walk, the path isn’t flat and it’s quite uneven. It’s definitely worth the trek! There are no facilities at this beach so plan accordingly!
Watch our experience on Fitzroy Island in our Best Things to do in Cairns Youtube video!
3. Go on a Trail Walk
Fitzroy Island is a National Park
- Secret Garden Track: 1km / 0.6 miles – approx. 30 minutes roundtrip
- Nudey Beach Track: 1.2km / 0.75 miles – approx. 30 minutes roundtrip
- Boulder Lookout: 300m / 0.2 miles- approx. 20 minutes roundtrip
- Lighthouse Road: 3.6km / 2.2 miles- approx. 2 hours roundtrip
- Summit Track: 2.6km /1.6 miles- approx. 3 hours roundtrip
Other than the Nudey Beach Track, all allot for time to walk it very slowly, taking lots of photos along the way! You can get more information about the Trail walks here.
4. Explore the water in a Glass Bottom Boat
If you’re not a big fan of the water, especially after reading about the deadly animals in the water haha, a Glass Bottom Boat Tour may be the best fit for you! Even if you enjoy being in the water, this is still a cool experience.
Glass Bottom Boat Tour is a leisurely cruise over the reef that surrounds Fitzroy Island. Through the glass bottom you’ll see the beautiful reef environment all while learning more about the different types of fish, marine life, and corals that surround Fitzroy Island. Please note that you stay inside the boat, you don’t get out to swim or snorkel at any point.
The Glass Bottom Boat tours are 45 minutes long and are offered twice a day at 9:30am and 3:00pm. You can book your tour here!
5. Visit Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Center
The Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy Island is a “volunteer operated, non-profit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of sick and injured turtles.” This is a great place to learn more about sea turtles and learn about their rehabilitation up close during their Turtle Talks.
The Turtle Talks run Tuesday to Sunday at 1:00pm and are 30 minutes long. They allow a maximum of 15 guests and are you are accompanied by a tour guide. So it’s quite limited! You can learn more about the Rehabilitation Center and booking a tour here.
We didn’t get the opportunity to visit the Turtle Center because tours were already full for the day, but we really wanted to! It wasn’t until after we arrived on the Island that we learned about touring the Turtle Rehabilitation Center. We highly recommend that you book your tour in advance!