A complete travel and visitor’s guide to Fitzroy Island from Cairns, Australia. Jump into this complete list of the best attractions, activities and things to do on Fitzroy Fitzroy Island. Includes information on how to get here from Cairns, what to do and how to make the most of a day trip!
Fitzroy Island is one of the best tropical islands in North Queensland. Located just a short ferry ride from Cairns, there’s no reason why anyone should miss this tropical gem when visiting Cairns and the Tropical North.
Whether you’re looking to spend an action-packed day trip from Cairns, or if you’d like to spend several days on Fitzroy Island exploring, you certainly won’t be disappointed. The truth is that this island is one of the best tropical islands off Cairns and my personal favourite! There are plenty of activities, attractions and things to do on Fitzroy Island, including hiking, snorkelling, swimming with turtles, and more.
In this guide, I aim to arm you with all of the information you need to visit Fitzroy Island on either a day trip or a multi-day visit from Cairns. I’ve visited Fitzroy Island countless times and therefore can share with you everything you need to know about how to get here and what to do!
Quick Things You Need to Know About Fitzroy Island
Fitzroy Island has its own National Park designation and is protected as Fitzroy Island National Park. It’s also part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Parks, which ensures its nature is preserved for everybody to enjoy.
Before we get into a list of activities and things to do on Fitzroy Island, I’ll share with you the best ways to get there.
Note: If you haven’t yet decided which Cairns island you’d like to visit, I’ve also written a detailed comparison between Fitzroy and Green Island to help you make up your mind.
How to Get to Fitzroy Island
If you’re looking to visit the island from Cairns, you’re in luck.
Thankfully, Fitzroy Island is only a short 45-minute ferry ride away from Cairns ferry terminal. This makes it the most easily accessible island with the shortest trip from Cairns.
Currently, the cheapest and most cost-effective way to visit Fitzroy Island from Cairns is to book a full-day trip with a return ferry transfer for $83. This is currently the best price you will find online and only includes the catamaran transfer.
Best price online for a full-day return ferry ticket: Fitzroy Island Ferry for $83
If you don’t have your own snorkelling equipment (and you want to see the glass-bottom boat), then the other option for getting to Fitzroy is booking a full-day adventure tour. This includes:
- Fitzroy Island catamaran transfer (return)
- Snorkel equipment hire
- Glass bottom boat experience on Fitzroy
- All beach-hire equipment including paddle skis
This costs $125 per person (discounts for families) and includes everything you need to experience the best activities and things to do on Fitzroy Island on a day trip from Cairns. Keep in mind that snorkel rental gear from the resort costs $20 alone so you’ll save big time by booking the full package in advance.
Best price online for all-inclusive tour: Full-Day Adventure Tour
Staying at the Fitzroy Island Resort
Of course, if you’d rather spend a few days exploring all of the activities and best things to do on Fitzroy Island, you could also stay at the Island Resort.
This is the only accommodation on Fitzroy Island but they offer en suite rooms, rainforest bungalows, beach cabins and even full suites to suit every budget and travel style.
All rooms at Fitzroy Island Resort have access to air conditioning, en suite bathroom, shower and fridge. Booking accommodation on Fitzroy Island also means visitors get access to beach rental equipment as well as the resort swimming pool, bar and in-house cinema.
The sea view restaurant also serves great meals all made with Aussie produce.
If you’re a couple, or in a group or family, staying at Fitzroy Island Resort is one of the best ways to experience the island and can be really cost-effective.
Note: If you want to stay on the island, you just use your return ticket at a later date. You’ll need to let the boat operators know that you’re staying and they will organise your return transfer.
Fitzroy Island Camping
If you’re not one for fancy resorts and you’d prefer to rough it, then it’s also possible to camp here. Located right next to the Fitzroy Island Resort is a large campsite area where you can pitch a tent and spend the night.
A tent site costs $37 per night which seems a little steep at first, but not too bad considering you can split it with up to four people.
The campground is managed by the resident resort and you can book a site through them.
Fitzroy Island Things to Do – The Complete List
With the basics out of the way, let’s dive straight into this list of what to do on Fitzroy Island!
As I mentioned in the introduction, I’ve visited this place countless times. Therefore I can share with you the best list of things to do on Fitzroy Island including walking trails, the best beach activities, where to snorkel to see turtles and where to find the best beaches on the island!
1. Snorkeling on Fitzroy Island
Perhaps the first thing that crosses your mind when thinking about tropical Cairns Islands is seeing the underwater world. Fitzroy Island lies within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, meaning snorkelling is one of the best things to do here!
Luckily, there are a few reefs which are easy to access from the main beach at Welcome Bay.
While a lot of the shallow coral is sadly bleached, there are still big patches of healthy hard and soft corals. Below are the best spots that I recommend checking out when snorkelling on Fitzroy Island.
Best spots to Snorkel on Fitzroy Island
The reef on either side of the ferry wharf at Welcome Bay has some pretty decent snorkelling. The coral reef in the shallow sections is mostly bleached. But, you’ll pretty much be guaranteed to see turtles.
If you swim a little further out, the coral bommies start looking healthier. However, there is a lot of boat traffic in this area, so be careful.
Shark Fin Rock
Shark Fin Rock is located on the northern end of Welcome Bay. You can swim around the rocks from the point, or walk around and enter the water from the rocks.
Don’t worry, its name comes from the shape of the rock on the shore, you (probably) won’t find any great whites lurking here. The Shark Fin Rock snorkelling area has a much healthier reef and coral than Welcome Bay, but currents can get pretty strong.
Nudey Beach Point
Nudey Beach isn’t only one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia on land, it’s also got some pretty great snorkelling opportunities. Swim out from the beach or from the rocks at the point and keep a lookout for the cruising turtle and the occasional blacktip reef shark!
2. Fitzroy Island Walks
Second to snorkelling, the famous Fitzroy Island walks are up there with the best things to do on the island. There are a total of 5 main walks which all depart from the beach at Welcome Bay.
Below I’ve outlined the best three walks on Fitzroy Island that I believe are worth your time.
Fitzroy Island Summit Walk
The longest Fitzroy Island walk takes you to the highest point in the National Park. The track is approximately 3.6 kilometres return from Welcome Bay and climbs to a total elevation of 265 metres.
You can pick up the trail at the northern end of Welcome Bay, just after the campground. There are signs indicating the route for the entire walk, so you won’t have a problem finding your way.
From the top, you’ll experience the best view on the island. Panoramic views pan across the Coral Sea and around to the southern bays of Fitzroy Island. From the summit, you’ll also get a glimpse of Nudey Beach from a unique perspective.
If hiking and walking are what you’re into, then definitely add the summit. toyour list of what to do on Fitzroy Island!
Fitzroy Island Lighthouse Walk
Another Fitzroy Island walk takes you to the lighthouse. This walk continues on the main summit track but continues straight before the trail turns up the hill to the summit.
The path to the lighthouse is much flatter and only takes about 10 minutes on a sealed road from the base of the summit track.
Overall, the lighthouse isn’t the most impressive one near Cairns or the Tropical North. But, the view from the cliff is worth the walk. If the season allows, you might also spot a migrating humpback whale from this point!
A good idea would be to head over to the lighthouse after you climb up Fitzroy summit since it’s only a short detour before heading back to Welcome Bay.
The Nudey Beach Walk
A shorter, equally scenic Fitzroy Island walk leads in the opposite direction (right from Welcome Bay wharf) towards Nudey Beach.
This walk is completed on a short 15-minute track through dense tropical rainforest. At the end, you’ll be rewarded with views of one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches.
3. Visit One of Australia’s Most Beautiful Beaches – Nudey Beach
Okay, you already got a spoiler to this attraction but this beach definitely deserves its own spot on this list of the best things to do on Fitzroy Island.
Nudey Beach is a small white-sand beach wrapping around the southern coastal bend. The clear water is an incredible shade of turquoise and a perfect place to soak up the tropical North Queensland vibes.
4. Swim With Turtles
Initially, unbeknownst to me, Fitzroy Island is somewhat of a turtle hotspot! I honestly couldn’t believe how many turtles cruise around this stop the first time I visited. Now, each time I visit Fitzroy Island, one of the things I always do is go swimming with Turtles.
You’ll almost always find these guys feeding on seagrass in the shallows of Welcome Bay, either side of the wharf. I also commonly see them cruising past the point near Nudey Beach at Shark Fin Rock.
Truthfully though, I’m sure you’ll see a turtle wherever you choose to snorkel so add it to your list of what to do on Fitzroy!
RELATED POST: Review of the Best Great Barrier Reef Tour in Cairns
5. Visit the Turtle Sanctuary
Fitzroy Island also has an in-house turtle sanctuary known as the Fitzroy Island Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (CTRC). This is a non-profit program run by the Island Resort. The facility dedicates time and resources to rehabilitating sick and injured turtles around the island and the larger Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
When visiting Fitzroy Island, add it to your list of things to do. You can either drop by and say hello, join in on a tour or leave a donation!
6. Jump off the Wharf
The tide differences on Fitzroy Island can get pretty drastic. This means that at high tide, the top of the wharf is only just out of the water. But, at low tide, you can jump off the wharf into the crystal clear waters below. It’s only a 3-4 metre drop at low tide, but still, a fun little activity to do on Fitzroy Island.
Just be aware that there are several boats and ferries that use this wharf daily. Make sure not to get in the way of any marine traffic and use common sense!
6. Flip off The Ocean Trampoline
Just 30 metres from the shore you’ll see the large yellow and blue Ocean Trampoline located next to the wharf at Welcome Bay. This is owned by the Fitrzoy Island Resort and is free to use for those staying here.
But, if you’re visiting Fitzroy Island on a day trip from Cairns, you can pay $5 for unlimited daily use.
7. Join in on a Glass-Bottom Boat Experience on Fitzroy Island
While snorkelling and free diving on the island are by far the best ways to immerse yourself in the underwater world, I understand that there are those who would prefer to see the reef from the comfort of a boat.
Luckily, there is one tour provider that offers glass-bottom boat experiences on Fitzroy Island. However, if this is an activity that you’d like to check out, you will need to organise it in advance.
You can only book the glass-bottom boat on Fitzroy as part of a full-day adventure package that also includes the return catamaran transfer, beach-hire equipment and snorkel gear.
Best price for the glass-bottom boat: Full-Day Adventure Tour From Cairns
8. Experience a Fitzroy Whale Watching Tour
During the whale migration seasons, you can also book a full-day tour that takes you to Fitzroy Island and out for a day of whale watching.
This trip includes 4 hours to explore Fitzroy Island, before heading out to spot the migrating humpback whales. This tour costs $99 per person, which is less than $15 more than the actual return boat ticket.
So, if you don’t mind spending less time here in favour of spotting some whales, then this tour will offer the best of both.
Best price: Whale Watching & Island Stop Day-Package (seasonal)
9. Hire a SUP or Kayak
Whether you’re visiting Fitzroy Island on a day trip from Cairns or if you have a full few days to spend exploring, renting a SUP or Kayak s a great way to do it.
Visitors staying at the resort can hire SUPs and Kayaks for free. But, if you’re only here for the day, there is a beach hut that rents snorkelling equipment, SUPs, Kayaks and anything else you might want for water activities.
Below are the current prices for rental:
SUP Rental Price: $25 per hour
Kayak Rental Price: $25 per hour
Snorkeling Equipment Rental Price: $20 per day
10. Go Scuba Diving
If you’d like to take it up a notch from regular snorkelling, then you can also spend a day scuba diving. This costs $60 for the first dive and $40 for any additional dives.
These dives begin at the beach, just 30 metres from the resort. This makes it an easy entry-level dive. There is only one dive shop that is licensed to run commercial scuba operations on Fitzroy, and they run out of the resort.
If you don’t have your PADI open water certificate, then now’s the time to get it! One of the best deals for a 5-day Open Water Certificate in Cairns is run by Pro Dive.
11. Unwind at Welcome Bay
After a long day of hiking, snorkelling and experiencing all of the epic activities and things to do on Fitzroy Island, I can understand if you want to just spread out a towel and relax.
Also, visitors will find a restaurant/bar as well as a general store right near the wharf. This is run by the resort but is open to all visitors. This makes it the perfect place to wind down the day with a sunset cocktail or meal.
How Long to Stay on Fitzroy Island
Already decided that this is exactly your kind of destination and now you’re wondering how long to stay on Fitzroy Island?
If I had to pick, I would recommend 2 days and 1 night to explore the entire Island. However, it is possible to do all of the walks, snorkel with the turtles and enjoy all of the great things to do on Fitzroy Island in one big day.
I have seen some “half-day” island tours pop up but I’d discourage you from these as the ferry itself takes 45-minutes each way. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot, you’ll want at least a full day here.
How to Get Around Fitzroy Island
There is no transport available on the island. To get around, you’ll have to walk.
However, most Fitzroy Island must-see attractions and activities are easily accessible on foot from Welcome Bay.
More Cairns and Far North Queensland Travel Guides and Blogs
And, that’s a wrap. I hope that this travel guide to the best things to do on Fitzroy Island has inspired you to visit this tropical gem! Armed with the information from this blog, I’m sure you’ll be up for an epic island day trip or multi-night stay from Cairns. For more Cairns travel guides and blogs, take a pick from the list below.
MY CAMERA AND PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT
- Mirrorless Camera: Canon R5
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- 360 Action Camera: Insta360 One X2
- Landscape Lens: Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L
- All-Round Lens: Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L
- Telephoto Lens: Canon RF 100-500mm f/f/4.5-7.1 L
- Long Action Pole: Insta360 Invisible Pole (BulletTime)
- Landscape Lens Filter: Hoya Circular Polarizer
- Camera Backpack: F-Stop Tilopa
- Favorite Photography Accessory: Peak Design Capture Clip
For a list of all my recommended photography gear (including what I use and why) check out my guide to camera gear for travel.