A detailed and up-to-date travel guide to visiting The Low Isles off Port Douglas, Australia. Best ways to get here, what to expect & photos from Low Island to inspire your visit.
The Low Isles, or Low Islets, is a small coral cay consisting of two islands located roughly 25 km east of Port Douglas. It’s a great little set of islands that offers a glimpse of the Great Barrier Reef just a short hop from the mainland.
In this travel guide, I’ll share everything you need to know about visiting The Low Isles. I’ve included a section on how to get to Low Island from Port Douglas as well as a detailed guide for what to expect once you arrive.
By Olly Gaspar, traveler, travel blogger & photographer for 5+ years with 600+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.
How to get to Low Island From Port Douglas
The great thing about the Low Isles is that visiting this group of islands is very easy. It's Port Douglas' answer to Cairns' Green Island and Fitzroy Island. After less than an hour's journey from Port Douglas, you can find yourself on Low Island, a tropical Great Barrier Reef getaway on the Coral Coast.
Of course, being a remote island, you'll need to book a boat transfer to get here. There are loads of tour booking agencies in Port Douglas but they often charge high commission rates so I would suggest booking online instead.
The most cost-effective and popular boat trip to Low Island from Port Douglas is onboard the Wavedancer. This whopping, 30-meter luxury catamaran sailing vessel seriously has to be seen to be believed. The tour on offer is equally impressive. It includes:
- A full-day sailing trip to Low Island from Port Douglas (return)
- Glass bottom boat cruise at Low Island
- Snorkel equipment rental (guided tour included)
- A tropical buffet lunch
- Hotel pickup and drop-off
The cost of booking a day trip to Low Island on the Wavedancer is less than $220 per person. This trumps all other options in terms of price considering what you get.
Your other option will be to take an organised half-day snorkelling trip. Calypso is one company that offers trips to the Low Isles.
For this option, it'll cost you roughly $195. However, I wouldn't really recommend this one as the Wavedancer offers a full-day trip with way more inclusions for roughly the same price.
Don't Miss:Where to Stay in Port Douglas
About the Low Isles
The Low Isles consist of two small islands; Low Island and Woody Island. The first is a small, round island with thick tropical vegetation. On the island, there is a lighthouse, a small research station, and accommodation for the island caretakers.
On the other side is Woody Island, a larger yet uninhabited mangrove island. This is home to many nesting birds and is protected and restricted.
Between the Islands is rich, tropical reef which extends outwards and surrounds the islets.
Exploring the Low Isles
Looking to explore one of the Great Barrier Reef's best islands? Below I've listed a few things that you'll definitely want to check out on your Low Isles itinerary.
The Island Lighthouse
The first thing you might spot when you approach the island is the picturesque white lighthouse named Low Isles Light. This is an active lighthouse that was built in 1878.
If you approach it for a closer look by land, you'll probably spot the huge pile of sticks at the top. This is actually an Eagle's nest. I was told that there are two resident Eagles who have made the nest to raise chicks.
Beside the lighthouse is a small research station. This was the site for the world's first international research project on coral reefs, which brought scientists from all over the world to study the Great Barrier Reef in 1928.
Tip: Book the Cairns Airport to Port Douglas Shuttle
Uber is limited and taxis are pricey in Far North Queensland.
So, for the cheapest and easiest way to get to your Port Douglas accommodation from Cairns Airport, book this air-conditioned shared shuttle transfer for an easy & comfortable ride.
Go Snorkelling at the Low Isles
Probably the main reason most people visit the Low Isles and the Great Barrier Reef, in general, is to check out the incredible underwater world.
The reef surrounding the Low Isles is in good shape. There are 150 different types of hard corals and an abundance of marine creatures. You'll get to see huge groupers, colourful parrotfish, anemone fish, damselfish and big schools of mackerel, just to name a few.
If you're lucky, you might even spot a resident turtle or some black-tip reef sharks as I did in the deeper waters or sandy flats.
Not Sure Which Cairns Island to Visit?
Read my comprehensive guide breaking down the top 9 Islands off Cairns to help you decide!
The Low Isles: Information for Sailors & Yachties
If you're lucky enough to explore the Low Isles on your own sailing boat, then you might be interested in knowing the anchorage information.
For sailors and cruisers, it's possible to grab some courtesy park mooring buoys just outside the coral lagoon. There are three available, and they accommodate monohulled vessels up to 20 meters, and cats up to 18.
Otherwise, you'll be best to anchor just off the reef. Here, you'll find a sandy bottom but keep in mind that the water is quite deep here, so let out plenty of chain.
More Tropical Far North Queensland Travel Guides
I hope that you have enjoyed this quick travel guide to visiting the Low Isles. If you found your way to Low Island from Port Douglas, let me know how you enjoyed the trip in the comments below. Otherwise, if you're looking for more Far North Queensland travel inspiration, check out some of the other articles on my blog.
Also, if you need some photo inspiration from the Low Isles you'll find shots I took on my recent trip below.