Vlasoff Cay is a beautiful, secluded sandy Great Barrier Reef cay just a short boat trip or helicopter flight from Cairns.
After exploring many of the epic sandy cays, coral reef systems, and epic islands off Cairns, I have to say, Vlasoff is up there with one of the best for snorkelling, relaxing, and enjoying the reef.
In this guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about visiting Vlasoff Cay; one of the Great Barrier Reef’s most incredible sand bar cays. Find out how to get here, what to expect and detailed information on zoning and restrictions.
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.
Vlasoff Cay Cinematic Video
I recently made a quick cinematic edit from some of the footage that I captured during my visit to Vlasoff Cay. Check it out below and if you like it, subscribe to me on YouTube!
All photographs and video clips on this blog post are taken by me and are available for purchase as fine art prints or for commercial licensing. Please contact me for more information or read about how to use my images for free.
About Vlasoff Cay
Vlasoff Cay is located in the Great Barrier Marine Parks, just north of Green Island. The cay itself is a sand bar situated on the greater Vlasoff Reef, an outer reef system of the Great Barrier Reef.
This reef extends out for several hundred metres and is dotted with large bommies. This section of the reef is quite healthy, which makes for excellent snorkelling and diving.
Vlasoff Cay is a very popular spot for Cairns locals to visit as it is located less than 38 kilometres (20.5 nautical miles) from Cairns. This means that yachts, sailing vessels and even jet skis often head out to Vlasoff Cay for day trips and to spend the night on the Great Barrier Reef.
You won't find any vegetation growing on the cay, and only a small tip of sand is left exposed on very high tides.
How to Get to Vlasoff Cay
Unfortunately, there are very limited options to get out to Vlasoff Cay. None of the primary Great Barrier Reef Tours from Cairns offer a stop to Vlasoff Cay, meaning that you will either need to find a private charter or book a full-day return helicopter trip landing on the cay ($800 per person).
Alternatively, for those adamant about experiencing a Great Barrier Reef sand cay, I'd recommend booking a trip with SeaStar (link below). These guys run snorkelling and diving trips to the outer reef and are the only boats that stop off at a sandy cay (the adjacent Michaelmas).
Vlasoff From a Scenic Flight
Read about my scenic flight trip to find out how to get a good deal and more photos of what to expect.
Great Barrier Reef Zoning at Vlasoff
Vlasoff Cay and the surrounding Reef have a "yellow" Marine Parks designation, which means that it is a Conservation Park Zone. This means that you can fish off a boat and even spearfish here. However, there are limitations.
Below is an image with the current restrictions for reef zoning.
Many of the nearby surrounding reefs and cays including the popular dive sites on Hastings and Norman are Marine National Park Zoning. Consequently, you'll find that Vlasoff Cay is one of the only accessible sandy cays that you can fish at.
Moorings & Anchorages
There are at least three blue courtesy buoys on the western side of Vlasoff Cay accommodating monohulls up to 20 metres in 34 knots of wind.
However, you can also navigate through the bommies to anchor on the sandy flats on the western side. Alternatively, head out to the eastern side of the cay where many other day-trip boats tend to anchor.
More Photos From Vlasoff Cay
I hope that this quick guide to Vlasoff Cay, one of the most beautiful sandy cays on the Great Barrier Reef off Cairns. Below I've included a few more photos from my recent trip sailing out to Vlasoff.
More Cairns & Far North Travel & Adventure Blogs
Before you head off, make sure to check out some of my other useful travel guides and adventure blogs. I've spent a great deal of time photographing and documenting my adventures in the Cairns region.
As a result, I've compiled the most comprehensive travel resources to the region (all free).
- 60+ Things to do in Cairns - my ultimate Cairns and FNQ travel resource covering the best activities, hidden gems, and unmissable experiences.
- Cairns Hiking Guide - a huge list of epic rainforest, waterfall, and lookout hikes in Cairns.
- Cairns Waterfalls - a huge list of epic waterfalls that I've visited in Cairns and the surrounding tropics.
- Cairns Islands - discover my favorite Great Barrier Reef islands near Cairns and Port Douglas.
- Cairns Tours - my roundup of the best tours you can book in Cairns and FNQ, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Daintree Rainforest.
- Cairns Packing List - tips on what to pack for a trip to Far North Queensland.
- Top Things to Do in Port Douglas - a comprehensive guide to the sleepy Far North Queensland town of Port Douglas.
- Epic 5-Day Cairns Itinerary - my suggested adventure itinerary if you only have 5 days to spend in Cairns.
- Cape Tribulation Travel Guide - discover where the rainforest meets the reef at one of my favourite places in Australia.
- Magnetic Island Travel Guide - your ultimate resource for visiting "Maggie" near Townsville.
- Best Things to do in the Atherton Tablelands - my guide to one of Far North Queensland's most underrated adventure destinations.
- Accommodation Resources: Discover where to stay in Cairns, the best hotels in Port Douglas and my Cape Tribulation accommodation guide.