Fitzroy Island is the gem of Tropical North Queensland and is one of the best day trips from Cairns (taking only 45 minutes by ferry). In this post I will explain how to get there and the best things to do and see on Fitzroy Island.
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Fitzroy Island should be top of your bucket list if you’re looking for crystal-clear turquoise water, gorgeous coral reef, and an abundance of sea turtles. I couldn’t get enough of this island when I lived in Cairns and it’s a great spot to experience the magic of the Great Barrier Reef, especially if you’re short on time!
Getting To Fitzroy Island
Fitzroy Island is a 45-minute ferry ride from Cairns, with ferries departing daily from the Reef Fleet Terminal (near the lagoon).
For a day trip, take the morning ferry which departs around 8.30AM and head back to Cairns on the 5PM ferry. It’s best to book online in advance, especially for weekend trips as tickets can sell out quickly.
The boat ride is usually calm but bad weather can make for a really bumpy ride so if you’re prone to seasickness, make sure to take a few sea sickness tablets at least 30 minutes before your trip.
Best Things to do on Fitzroy Island
Snorkelling is definitely my favourite part about Fitzroy Island and it is one of the best places to swim with turtles near Cairns. There are 3 main snorkel spots on the island: White Rock, Nudey Beach and Welcome Bay (out the front of Foxy’s Bar & Cafe).
White Rock: As you walk along the jetty towards the island, you will see a big white rock to your far left. Between here and the jetty is where I have had the most luck seeing turtles and reef sharks.
Welcome Bay (Out the front of Foxy’s): This is the best spot on Fitzroy Island for beautiful, unique corals and colourful reef fish, with the odd turtle here and there.
Nudey Beach: To the right of the beach, near the rocks is where you snorkel from Nudey Beach and there is a deep drop off a few metres out. The only time I have snorkelled here it was pretty murky so I can’t comment on what you’ll see but the beach itself is so incredible it didn’t really matter!
Looking for the ultimate guide to swimming with turtles in Tropical North Queensland? Check out this post for my top 3 spots!
Visit Nudey Beach
It takes a little effort to get to Nudey Beach but it is SO WORTH IT. The walk starts from around the back of Foxy’s and takes about 15-20 minutes. The walking track is a mix of tropical rainforest and coastal woodland with a few steep points but overall it is totally manageable in thongs. About 3/4 of the way there you will come to a rocky platform where shrubs frame the famous view looking out over Nudey Beach.
Once you get to the beach, you will see the cute rope swing and the beach in all its glory. It’s common to see big monitor lizards here – don’t freak out if they just pop right out of the bush behind you. They’re super chill and just want to soak up the sun with you.
Hot tip: the beaches are made up of dead coral which is considerably harder and more painful to lie on than sand. Bring a thick rug or cushion to place under your beach towel for maximum comfort.
Fitzroy Island is packed full of things to do and if hiking and nature walks are your thing, pick one of these to round out your day on Fitzroy Island:
- Secret Garden Track (45 mins, 1km return, moderate)
- Summit Hike (3 hours, 4km circuit, difficult)
- Lighthouse Walk (12 hours, 3.6km return, difficult)
You’ll find many other activities on offer at Fitzroy Island including diving, stand-up paddle boarding, the turtle rehab centre and glass bottom boat tours.
Check out all tours and transfers to Fitzroy Island:
Where To Stay
If you’re looking to stay a night or two on Fitzroy Island, you can choose between a room at Fitzroy Island Resort, or you can spend a balmy night camping under the stars. The best part is, they provide camping sites with all gear included so you don’t need to lug around your tent and sleeping bag – unless you want to!
Tips for your visit to Fitzroy Island
Can you swim at Fitzroy Island?
YES! Unlike some of the beaches around Cairns, you can most definitely swim at Fitzroy Island. Due to its distance from the mainland and crystal-clear water, crocodiles are very unlikely to be here as they prefer murky waters.
Do I need a stinger suit on Fitzroy Island?
That depends on when you visit. During the summer months (between November and May) box jellyfish are present in Tropical North Queensland and so it is highly recommended that you wear a stinger suit. They are full body lycra suits and are available to rent from the resort.
When is the best time to visit Fitzroy Island?
Fitzroy Island is great to visit all year round, however if you want to avoid the stingers, its best to visit between June and October. The days are also more pleasant around this time, however water temperatures are beautiful any time of the year.
Is there mobile phone reception on Fitzroy Island?
Phone reception is limited on the island and I often had no reception on the beaches or in the resort, however there is limited coverage out the front of the resort near the jetty.
Looking for more epic things to do in Tropical North Queensland? Check out these 5 epic day trips from Cairns.