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Great Barrier Reef 3 Island Getaway

Photo by Fiona Harper

Exploring islands from Cairns or Port Douglas

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Here’s a Great Barrier Reef island adventure to three gorgeous islands accessible from Cairns and Port Douglas – Frankland Islands, Fitzroy Island and Low Isles. Each are worthy contenders for the prettiest islands on the Great Barrier Reef!


Frankland Islands

The little known Frankland Islands are located south of Cairns. Normanby Island is a National Park part coral cay, part continental island, with a fringing coral reef. Board a boat on the Mulgrave River with Frankland Islands Cruise & Dive (the only cruise operator cruising to Frankland Islands) for a full day of beachcombing, snorkelling and island escapism. An added bonus is a gentle cruise on the Mulgrave River with knowledgeable guided commentary. Keep a lookout for saltwater crocodiles as they sun themselves on the river bank.


Fitzroy Island

A continental island that is mostly National Park, for overnight stays check into the beachfront 4.5star Fitzroy Island Resort or book a campsite nearby . Whether you stay overnight or do a day trip to Fitzroy Island, there is plenty to do. Board the Fitzroy Island Fast Cat from Cairns Marlin Marina for a fun-filled island adventure.

Fitzroy Island is a tropical paradise of rainforest and beaches within the calm sheltered waters of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s equally ideal for families or a romantic gateway. Whether you’re an energetic traveller into hiking or diving, or you merely want to relax on the beach or slurp cocktails overlooking the beach at Foxy’s Bar, Fitzroy Island has you covered.

Take a glass bottom boat tour that also includes snorkelling before visiting turtles in rehab on their last stop before being released back into the wild at the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. There’s a dive school, fish feeding, kayaks, walking trails and beaches. Or you could unleash your inner James Bond on a SEABOB underwater jet craft. Nudey Beach is absolutely delightful with white coral sand bookended by granite boulders. Dine bistro style at Foxy’s bar or a la carte at Zephyrs Restaurant.


Explore more local itineraries via the RELATED links below.


Port Douglas

To get to the third island on this itinerary you’ll need to take a short road trip north from Cairns to Port Douglas. But don’t worry it’s no real hardship! The Great Barrier Reef Drive (officially the Captain Cook Highway) is one of Australia’s most scenic coastal drives. In fact, the stretch of bitumen between Cairns and Cooktown is worthy of an adventure in itself.

Arriving at Port Douglas check into uber-plush Coconut Grove Luxury Apartments in downtown Macrossan St. A heavenly retreat, Coconut Grove is a most impressive interpretation of luxurious Port Douglas accommodation, particularly if you book a 3 bedroom apartment with rooftop plunge pool.

But don’t get too settled as we’ve got one more island to explore.


Low Isles

Board Aquarius Cruises from Port Douglas marina for your third island visit to the Low Isles, a short boat trip from Port Douglas. Low Isles is actually two islands (Woody and Low Islands), with Low Island a coral cay poking above the Coral Sea a short boat trip from Port Douglas where visitors are welcome. It’s an ideal spot for an island escape where you can get your beach and reef fix and be back in Port for sundowners. The coral is quite remarkable for an inshore island plus there is a healthy population of turtles for keen-eyed snorkellers to look out for.

Capt James Cook named the Low Isles as he passed through here in 1770. A little over a hundred years later a lighthouse was built on the coral cay, which remains today. Visit the lighthouse while you’re on the island and brush up on local history from the resident caretaker. Beachwalkers can circumnavigate the island in about half an hour. Or, if you’re feeling particularly lethargic, roll out a beach towel on the sand beneath a tree and catch up on some holiday sleeping.

This island hopping business can be exhausting we know!


At A Glance

Price Range:
budget
midrange
luxury
Most Suited to:
couples
Season:
winter
spring
summer
fall
Length:
longer

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