04 Apr Why You Need To Visit Fitzroy Island
Why You Need To Visit Fitzroy Island
No trip to Cairns would be complete without a visit to Fitzroy Island.
Originally called Koba/Gabar by Indigenous people who used the lands for fishing and hunting, this magnificent island was renamed by Lieutenant James Cook himself, after the Prime Minister of England, Augustus Fitzroy. Over the years, the island has attracted many tourists and locals alike, and continues to play an important role in Australian history today.
Visiting Fitzroy Island has never been easier, as the island is freely accessible to the public and only a 45 minute boat ride from Cairns Marina. Hop on board the Raging Thunder catamaran, and take in scenic views of Cairns Hinterland, as you cruise through the Great Barrier Reef. Make sure to keep a close eye out for dolphins, and in winter, you may even be lucky enough to see whales (July to September). With 97% of the island being a protected National Park, and fully surrounded by turquoise blue waters and coral reef, you’ve never seen a more lush, tropical paradise than Fitzroy. There are heaps of activities to get stuck into when you arrive at Welcome Bay, and these are our favorites:
On The Ferry to Fitzroy Island
Walking Paths Stunning Views
Always time for a coldie
Four walking paths have been established on Fitzroy, each leading to a different, unique part of the island. If you’re an avid hiker, it’s not unheard of for visitors to walk all 4 trails in one day, and you will have truly seen the island from almost every angle.
The Summit Circuit it the longest path, at 4.2km, taking you on a winding track through the rainforest, up to the summit near the center of the island. At a height of 269m, this viewpoint offers a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of the rainforest canopy and the Great Barrier Reef, with mainland Australia in the background. The Summit Circuit is also the most challenging walk offered on the island, due to the steep incline to reach the summit.
The second longest path is the Lighthouse Track at 3.6km, which takes you slightly closer to the coastline, and around to the old lighthouse. This lighthouse was used as a coast watch station during World War II, but has since been decommissioned and turned into a visitor center. A smaller, unmanned lighthouse was built on Little Fitzroy Island to replace its predecessor (which can be accessed via guided sea kayak tours). Make sure to look closely for humpback whales off the coast!
The magical Secret Garden Track is only 1km in length, and takes you inland, up stone steps that meander through the rainforest, over tree roots and under vines. This track feels like something straight out of the set of King Kong, offering a tropical vibe like nothing you will have experienced before.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Nudey Beach Track. This 1.2km walk takes you along the coast to the best beach in Australia….
Nestled on the South West shores, between the tropical rainforest and coral reef, is Nudey Beach. Don’t forget to pack your swimmers though, because despite the name, this isn’t actually a nude beach. Nudey promises a daily dose of sun, sea and relaxation, with soft white sand and crystal clear blue waters. As Australia’s best rated beach for 2018, enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving in safe, sheltered waters, and discover the vibrant marine life that thrives off the coral shores, amongst the tropical birds and reptiles found on land. You may find yourself alone at Nudey Beach, leaving you to enjoy this picturesque island experience and all its untouched natural beauty.
Fitzroy Island Beautiful Scenery
Did you know the Great Barrier Reef is home to six types of marine turtles? Located in Welcome Bay on Fitzroy Island is the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (CTRC). Run entirely by volunteers, the CTRC monitors and aids in the recovery of sick and injured turtles, before returning them to the ocean. Join a 45 minute guided tour of the facilities and meet some of these magnificent turtles on their road to recovery. With only 15 spaces available for the tour each day, we recommend booking when you arrive on the island, to avoid disappointment.
Fitzroy Island’s warm, turquoise waters provide the perfect conditions to observe the tropical marine life beneath the surface. Whether you’re planning to snorkel in the shallows, or scuba dive in the deep, you’re going to have your breath taken away by the marine life that inhabit the fringing coral reefs. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to swim alongside sea turtles, and maybe even find your own Nemo! If you have a blast scuba diving, you can actually take your PADI open water course at The Dive Centre on the island, and become a certified diver.
Chilling out on Fitzroy
Raging Thunder Ferry
Experience all Fitzroy Island has to offer, with the Raging Thunder. Not only will the company provide your return ferry transport to Cairns, they also offer a variety of activity passes that you can choose from. This day trip starts with check in at the Reef Fleet Terminal in Cairns from 8:30am, for a 9:00am departure. Enjoy all these activities on the island, and return to Cairns for 5:00pm.
Activity Pass One:
- Water Trampoline
- Stand Up Paddleboards
- Water skis
- Snorkeling OR Glass Bottom Boat Tour
Activity Pass Two:
- Water Trampoline
- Stand Up Paddleboards
- water skis
- Glass Bottom Boat Tour
You can even choose to include a picnic lunch with either Activity Pass.
Alternatively, Raging Thunder also offer a 3-hour guided sea kayak tour from Welcome Bay, and you don’t need to have prior experience to join this tour. Your guide will take you along the island pick the best spot for snorkeling! When your tour is over, you still have half the day left to explore on land.
If you’re restricted for time, Raging Thunder also offer a half-day trip, which can include one of the Activity Passes, if you so choose. Safe to say, they have thought of everything to offer you the best possible day at Fitzroy Island.
Monkeys on Holidays
This day trip is easily affordable for backpackers, and offers a full day out in Cairns. Make sure not to miss the unspoiled, natural wonders of Fitzroy Island before you move on to your next destination in Australia, or beyond. You’ll want to bring a hat, sunscreen, bathers and a towel, as well as comfy walking shoes and a bottle of water. Of course, don’t forget your camera!
OTHER RELATED BLOG POSTS
We’d like to formally introduce you to Uncle Brian’s, one of the best backpacker tour companies in all of Cairns. Uncle Brian’s has been locally owned and operated since 1995. They know Cairns and the surrounding areas better than anyone, and offer only two tours: ‘Cape Tribbbin’ ventures north to the Daintree National Park, and ‘Fun, Falls and Forest’ to the waterfalls at the Atherton Tablelands, south-west of Cairns.
The city of Cairns is usually the starting or finishing point for backpackers travelling the East Coast of Australia. It is perfectly located in the tropical climate of North Queensland, making it an ideal place to visit all year round. Access not one, but two Australian World Heritage listed sites, The Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, side by side. With heaps of awesome must-do activities in the area, we have a feeling Cairns might make the top of your travel bucket list in Australia.
You’ve arrived in Cairns, and at the top of your bucket list: The Great Barrier Reef. You may have a rough idea of what to expect, and what you hope to see once you’re in the water, but there are heaps of different tour options available, and it can be a little overwhelming. Whether you’re after a relaxing day out on a luxurious vessel, or looking for more of a budget option that still ticks most of the boxes, there’s always something for everyone.