Explore the tropical islands near Cairns

Off the coast of Cairns you’ll discover an array of tropical islands – each with their own ecosystems. There are Vlasoff Cay and Michaelmas Cay; the coral wonderlands of Green Island and the Low Isles; the more substantial, densely forested, Fitzroy Island; and the five tiny islands that make up the Frankland group. Explore the tropical islands near Cairns
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Explore the tropical islands near Cairns

Cairns, in Far North Queensland, is the ideal gateway to access a range of tropical islands and coral cays.


Off the coast of Cairns you’ll discover an array of tropical islands – each with their own ecosystems. There are Vlasoff Cay and Michaelmas Cay; the coral wonderlands of Green Island and the Low Isles; the more substantial, densely forested, Fitzroy Island; and the five tiny islands that make up the Frankland group.

Sailing, Fitzroy Island, Queensland

Experience the best of Cairns

Cairns is a major tourist destination in North Queensland. You can visit an Aboriginal cultural park, float above rainforests on the Skyrail gondola, explore surrounding hinterland villages and craft markets, and choose from a rich variety of accommodation and dining options. Hop aboard a boat or catamaran and head for the Great Barrier Reef and the islands (many of which are coral cays), all easily accessible from the city’s harbour.

Snorkel among the coral at Vlasoff Cay

The flight to Vlasoff Cay from Cairns takes 30 minutes and crosses clear waters and sprawling reefs. As there are strict limits set on the numbers of visitors allowed at any one time, you can wander the beach in relative privacy. Dive into the warm waters and witness coral gardens filled with brightly coloured schools of fish and abundant marine life.

If you prefer to spend a little more time experiencing the reef from above, you can take a private helicopter trip to Vlasoff Cay, where you’ll indulge in a gourmet picnic and a spot of snorkelling before flying back to Cairns. 

See protected wildlife at Michaelmas Cay

If you want to see birdlife, nearby Michaelmas Cay is a great option. Half the island is a bird sanctuary and there are three day-tours from Cairns ­offering cruising, snorkelling and swimming.

Green Sea Turtle, Poseidon Outer Reef Cruises, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Swim with sea turtles at Green Island

Walk to the Cairns marina, catch a ferry across to Green Island (departing daily at 8.30, 10.30 and 1pm) and 45 minutes later you will be lying on the white-sand beach, snorkelling through dense gardens of coral surrounded by fish and watching turtles pass slowly by, or gazing at the reef formations from an underwater semi-submersible.

If you fall in love with this small piece of tropical paradise, you can always stay at the Green Island Resort. By late afternoon, there will only be you and the other guests to enjoy the quiet as the sun sets across the water.

 

Nudey Beach, Fitzroy Island, Queensland

Walk through tropical rainforests on Fitzroy Island

For a rainforest adventure, Fitzroy Island has both camping and a family-oriented resort. You can dive, snorkel, bushwalk, see the reef in glass-bottom boats or just enjoy the beach. 

The Frankland Islands lie only 10 kilometres (six miles) off the coast and are ideal if you want to “get away from it all”, camp and explore the rainforest and coral gardens. Bring your own supplies – there are no facilities.

Further north, are Woody and Low Isle (known as the Low Islands) – both uninhabited. Low Isle, an isolated sandy outcrop with palm trees, a lighthouse and a few huts, is serviced by a number of tours; it’s ideal for snorkelling, exploring and swimming.

Go off the beaten track on the Frankland Islands

The Frankland Islands lie only 10 kilometres (six miles) off the coast and are ideal if you want to “get away from it all”, camp and explore the rainforest and coral gardens. But, bring your own supplies – there are no facilities. 

Explore uninhabited mangroves on the Low Isles

Further north, are Woody and Low Isle (known as the Low Islands) – both uninhabited. Low Isle, an isolated sandy outcrop with palm trees, a lighthouse and a few huts, is serviced by a number of tours; it’s ideal for snorkelling, exploring and swimming.

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