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.

Lizard Island aerial
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Lizard Island – The northern-most resort on the Great Barrier Reef

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Everything you need to know about Fitzroy Island

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Vlasoff Cay: the most incredible place to picnic

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Sleep tight in paradise

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Dreamy sand cays you must visit on the Great Barrier Reef

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Reef Talk – A chat with marine biologist Gareth Phillips

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8 Island Campsites on the Great Barrier Reef

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Luxury places to rest your head

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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

Welcome to a new month, we know you might be getting back into the 'swing' of things but a trip to #CowBay never goes astray 😉🌴

Do you know how this spot got its name? 🤔

📸 @thegreenertwo #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Happy National Tree Day, here's a big tree in the @athertontablelands 🌴

📸 @timeflees #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Feeling hungry? Make your way to @moku_cairns and fill up on a mouthwatering buffet breakfast by the pool 🥐🍳 If breakfast isn’t your preferred meal of the day, you can also enjoy lunch or dinner while you explore the resort 🌴 If you haven’t already booked your stay, what are you waiting for?! 🍹🌺

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia 

[ID: table with breakfast in the foreground, including eggs, pancakes, fruit and coffee. In the background is the Novotel resort and pool]
When Sam Sparro said fish were going to grow legs and start walking, we didn't realise this is what he meant... 😝🐠

📸 @phlipvids on board @reefmagiccairns 

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR
Found only in Cape York and parts of New Guinea the palm cockatoo is a unique cousin of the white cockatoos we’re all used to seeing around @tropicalnorthqueensland 🦜🌴 Did you know that Palm Cockatoos are one of the few bird species known to use tools? 🛠 These birds have a very interesting territorial display, banging a stick or seed pod against trees like a drum! 🥁

📸 @lidostudio.photography #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia 

[ID: Black cockatoo approaching the ground with it’s feet stretched out and wings in the air. It is landing on brown dirt, surrounded by green grass]
Just off the stunning shores of @cassowarycoastaustralia, #DunkIsland is known as  Coonanglebah – “The Island of Peace and Plenty” by the local Bandjin & Djiru Aboriginal peoples 👣🐚 And with a treasure trove of secluded beaches, the island really lives up to its name 🌺🏝 Try breathtaking walking trails, snorkelling and more when you visit the incredible Dunk Island 🤿

📸 @outbackosteos #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia 

[ID: aerial of two people walking along the beach with golden sands, blue water and bright green palm trees. There are forest-clad mountain ranges visible in the distance]
It doesn’t get much better than this 🤩

Discover the coloured sand cliffs at #ElimBeach, the stretch of seaside which hugs the coastline northeast of Cooktown 🏝 This beach is popular with families travelling with a 4WD for good reason – once you get there you can climb up the sand dunes and scoot down on a homemade sandboard, with views of the Great Barrier Reef the whole time 🏄 Kick back on Elim Beach’s squeaky white sand or walk along the coloured sands and see how many different hues you can count 🙌

📸 @heightened_vision #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia

[ID: 4WD with trailer loading boat into the water at Elim Beach, Cape York. The sand is bright orange and the water is a vibrant blue/green]

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