Like many Type A travelers, I do some deep internet research before committing to major activities and excursions on an upcoming trip. I went back and forth for weeks on whether I wanted to take a day trip to Fitzroy Island, Green Island, or Frankland Island while we were visiting the Cairns area of Australia.
With our limited one-week timeframe, we only planned to go for a day, so I had to rule out Frankland Island fairly quickly because the timing wouldn’t work due to needing to depart about 45 minutes from Cairns. Although, it looks amazing! I finally decided on Fitzroy because I read this blog post that said the off-shore snorkeling and beaches were better. This was a big bonus to us since you aren’t able to snorkel – or even swim due to the saltwater crocodiles – at the beaches on Queensland’s coast. Getting to enjoy a tropical island beach and diving in without worries was a huge perk of going to one of these off-shore islands. And Fitzroy Island did not disappoint!
Here are the highlights of our day trip to Fitzroy Island from Cairns:
1. Scenic Ferry
We hadn’t even thought of the 45-minute ferry ride as being a perk of the experience, but the views from the boat were really lovely as we made our way out to Fitzroy Island. We sat inside on the way there because it was raining a little bit, but the weather was perfect on the ride back and made for a lovely experience. We ended up returning to Cairns right around sunset, so the views were wonderful – especially with a light breeze!
2. Award-Winning Beach
A lot of the blogs I read said that Green Island has more beaches, but Fitzroy has the best one. Nudey Beach has been awarded best in Australia in the past and it is stunning. (Note: it is not a nude beach, despite the name).
Nudey Beach isn’t sandy, so you will be laying on coral that has been turned into a pebble consistency. But it is beautiful and it is fun to take the short walk through the rainforest to get there. It just felt like more of an adventure! When we went, there were only a few other people there and we loved getting to explore the reefs there also.
3. Nature & Wildlife
I loved that the beaches of Fitzroy Island were surrounded by rainforest. While I was a little apprehensive to have to through the forest to Nudey Beach, the only scary creature we encountered was a large monitor lizard who walked up at us out of nowhere. After catching my breath, he was actually pretty cool to check out. We also saw tons of little skinks and many pretty birds flying around (especially toward sunset).
It’s a lovely tropical vibe! Although we didn’t take advantage of it, there are also multiple longer hikes – including one that loops the island and another to the summit of the island. While exploring, you can also see cockatoos, kingfishers, and some non-dangerous snakes.
4. AMAZING Snorkeling Off the Beach
While the island is beautiful and the beaches are wonderful to relax on, we spent most of our time doing what we were most excited about: exploring the underwater wonderland!
We had taken another snorkeling tour the day before that was kind of a dud. The weather was poor and the visibility wasn’t great, so we were pretty disappointed and worried the Great Barrier Reef was just more hype. No. Snorkeling off the beach at Fitzroy Island quickly showed us that the Great Barrier Reef was indeed worth its world-renowned status and was even more stunning than we could have imagined.
For more than three hours straight, we snorkeled along the reefs just a short swim from the shore. We saw a ray, two turtles, multiple exotic fish, and the most amazing displays of hard and soft coral. It was absolutely mind-blowing to get to have such an up-close look at that kind of immense and unique beauty.
As someone who can be nervous in open ocean, this was an ideal option. We were within earshot of multiple people on the beach while being able to enjoy an underwater world all our own. The water was calm, comfortably warm, and made for the perfect environment to have a much-needed reprieve from our initial GBR experience.
5. Idyllic Beach-Side Bar
I had every intention of treating myself to a delicious adult beverage at the end of our day trip to Fitzroy Island, but I was so exhausted from all that snorkeling I opted for a non-alcoholic option to avoid Buddy having to carry me to the ferry boat. It was so lovely to sit in that tropical paradise, sipping a passionfruit slushy and taking in the views. The open-air bar even had live music and a food menu as well!
While our day trip was a blast, I definitely wouldn’t have minded staying overnight at the resort to have a little more time to explore and chat with other visitors. However, if you are like us and only have limited time, a day trip to Fitzroy Island is certainly enough time to take in the highlights of this beautiful place.