If you have a weak spot for gentle shelled beauties and colourful finned friends, this is the island paradise you must visit in Tropical North Queensland.
Laying claim to Australia’s most beautiful beach in 2018 as well as being the home of plenty of marine turtles, a Fitzroy Island day trip or short stay is not hard to pass up. On our second trip to Far North Queensland, we made sure to visit this idyllic island. We detail what to do on Fitzroy Island plus provide a 2 day itinerary and breakdown of expenses.
FITZROY ISLAND | THINGS TO DO, FERRY & ACCOMMODATION
WHAT TO DO ON FITZROY ISLAND
Visit the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre
The Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (CTRC) on Fitzroy Island is a non-profit organisation operated by volunteers. The centre is dedicated to the rehabilitation of sick and injured turtles and the ultimate goal is to return the turtles to the wild.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the best places to swim alongside our flippered friends, with six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles found here.
You can book a visit to the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. Talks run daily at 1:00pm and go for 30 minutes. Tours run with a maximum of 15 guests and are accompanied by a tour guide.
For $12 per adult (plus a booking fee if booking online), you will quickly learn of the range of natural and human threats to these shelled beauties and the important conservation efforts of organisations and individuals who work tirelessly to return turtles to their natural home.
Advance bookings recommended.
Snorkel with marine life out on the reef
The water around Fitzroy Island is super warm, with access to the reef right in front of Fitzroy Island resort or from Nudey Beach.
From January – April, wetsuits will be recommended in the water during stinger season. Wetsuits, mask and snorkel and fins are available for hire at the resort for $30 per day. Lifejackets are available too.
When we visited in February, we spied almost ten turtles, plenty of fish and a reef shark. Please ensure not to swim too close or to touch the wild turtles.
Relax on Nudey Beach
Nudey Beach has been listed as one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia and we wholeheartedly agree. It is entirely made up of broken dead coral and the crunching sound underneath your soled feet will soon become familiar.
The walk from Fitzroy Island resort to Nudey Beach is along a defined marked trail and will take approximately 25 minutes. It is do-able in flip flops/thongs but for any nature trail and especially walking on the coral, we always recommend closed in shoes.
You may choose to snorkel above the reef in front of Nudey Beach and then lie down on the beach afterwards to relax and sunbathe.
Complete the Lighthouse and/or Summit Hike(s)
This will be your leg day activity. This loop can be completed in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction, your starting and finishing point at Fitzroy Island Resort.
Allow 2.5 hours to complete the loop where you’re guaranteed to make several stops to catch your breath, observe the fauna, look out for remnants of World War II relics and take in the breathtaking views over Grafton Passage and Welcome Bay.
During the warmer months, it would be wise to complete the hike early in the morning before the heat kicks in. The trail is entirely marked and would require a good level of fitness. Wear good walking shoes, carry plenty of water and don’t forget sunscreen.
FITZROY ISLAND ACCOMMODATION
The accommodation on Fitzroy Island is managed by Fitzroy Island resort and you can book directly on their website.
Your options are:
Penthouse – Sleeps 8
Resort Studio – Sleeps 2
Island Suite – Sleeps 4
Welcome Bay Suite – Sleeps 4
Two Bedroom Suite – Sleeps 6
Beach Cabin – Sleeps 4
Butterfly Bungalows – Sleeps 4
We stayed in the Resort Studio with a Queen bed which had an ensuite, a bar fridge and tea and coffee. It was adequate and comfortable for our 2 night stay. We did find that the ceiling fan only worked on one speed and the bathroom unfortunately didn’t have much ventilation.
The Bungalows are the closest you’ll get to that camping atmosphere. Should you travel with friends or kids, keep in mind that the “Sleeps 4” option usually means there is one queen bed and one sofa bed.
Book your accommodation directly on the Fitzroy Island website and the resort offers a discount code for 5% off your ferry transfers.
Alternatively, there is a small campsite on Fitzroy Island that fits approximately 20 sites. Guests must bring all their own equipment. There is a shower block and beachfront BBQ.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO FITZROY ISLAND
Is Fitzroy Island worth visiting?
Yes! In our opinion, most definitely. Fitzroy Island offers an ideal balance of daytime activities and the perfect location for relaxing. If marine life makes you giddy with excitement, then Fitzroy Island is definitely your jam.
What is the best way to get to Fitzroy Island?
The easiest way to go from Cairns to Fitzroy Island is aboard the Fitzroy Flyer (Fitzroy ferry). It is a 45 minute ride with the ferry departing from Cairns Marlin Marina and arriving into Welcome Bay right in front of Fitzroy Island Resort. The return trip from Fitzroy Island to Cairns departs from and arrives into the same ports.
For the most up to date ferry times and prices, refer to this website.
Is it safe to swim at Fitzroy Island?
Yes, if you swim in the marked areas. These are the best snorkelling sections which lead right out to the reef. The warm shallow waters are directly in front of the resort and Nudey Beach. Be careful of jet skis and other boats outside of the snorkelling areas.
How long do you need on Fitzroy Island?
In our opinion, 1 – 2 days.
A half day tour option is available but this will certainly not feel like enough time.
If you’re planning a full day trip, plan your time wisely to make the most of your visit. The first ferry departs Cairns at 8.00am and the last ferry to depart Fitzroy Island leaves at 5.00pm. If you love the water and land activities, consider completing the Summit Hike in the morning and the snorkelling activities in the afternoon.
Should you choose to stay overnight on the island, one of the best things to do on Fitzroy Island is to visit Nudey Beach first thing in the morning or to stay for sunset when you’ll have the coral beach before or after the day visitors arrive and depart.
Here is a brief overview of our 2 day itinerary on Fitzroy Island:
Tip! To save money, purchase breakfast and lunch items and snacks from a supermarket or from Rusty’s Market before going to Fitzroy Island. All rooms will have a bar fridge but not all will have a microwave or cooking facilities. Bringing your own alcohol to Fitzroy Island is not permitted.
1:30PM – Fitzroy Flyer Ferry from Cairns to Fitzroy Island
2:30PM – Check into room at Fitzroy Island Resort
3:00PM – Snorkelling, SUP, kayak, swim at the pool bar or book a glass bottom boat tour
7:00 PM – Dinner at Foxy’s Beachfront Bar. It might be trivia night!
9:00 PM – Bedtime
Sunrise – Nudey Beach
8:00AM – Breakfast. We purchased banana bread and fresh fruit from Rusty’s Markets. The only other option is to buy breakfast at Zephyr’s Restaurant.
9:30AM – Complete Summit Hike and Lighthouse Circuit
12:00PM – Lunch. We purchased bread rolls and deli items to make our own sandwiches for the two days we were on Fitzroy Island. Tea and coffee and a small milk is provided in the studio rooms, which do not have a microwave or cooking facilities. Your only other option is to buy lunch at Foxy’s.
1:00PM – Guided talk at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre
2:00PM – Snorkelling! Keep an eye out for turtle friends and see how many species you can find
4:00PM – Cocktail(s) by the pool
7:00PM – Dinner at Zephyr’s Restaurant
9:00PM – Bedtime
Sunrise – Nudey Beach
8:00AM – Breakfast
10:00AM – Checkout of your hotel room
10:30AM – Take a stroll to the Secret Garden. The turn off is at the beginning of the trail en route to Nudey Beach but veers left
12:15PM – Fitzroy Flyer Ferry from Fitzroy Island back to Cairns
How much is it to go to Fitzroy Island?
Here is a breakdown of the costs to visit Fitzroy Island for two adults across two days:
- Return ferry – $170 ($85 each) credit card surcharge $3.24
- Snorkelling hire – $60 ($30 each)
- Accommodation – $315 (Resort Queen Studio)
- Breakfast (2 days) – $12.00 (Rusty’s Market)
- Lunch (2 days) – $15.97 (Woolworths Abbott Street)
- Dinner at Foxy’s – $55.40 (x2 burgers and x2 beers)
- Dinner at Zephyr’s – $128 (x2 mains and x2 wines)
- Cocktails by the pool – $64 (x4 drinks at $16 each, otherwise take advantage of Happy Hour)
- Visit to Turtle Rehabilitation Centre – $24 ($12 each + booking fee)
TOTAL COST: ~ $845 AUD
- Kayak or SUP (optional) – $20 for 30 minutes
- Glass Bottom Boat tour (optional) – $20 (1 hour)
Packing List for Fitzroy Island
- Sunglasses & hat
- Beach towel | We prefer to take our quick-dry, absorbent and compact Tesalate sand-free beach towels
- Reef safe sunscreen | anytime we are swimming, we try to use SunButter SPF50 Water Resistant Reef Safe Sunscreen
- Insect Repellent | We have tried some Natural Insect Repellents but unfortunately have not found it as effective as those that contain DEET. Recommendations welcome as Jasmine gets eaten alive in mosquito country
- Closed in shoes | Our Aleader water shoes have served us well
- Lightweight clothing | Cotton and linen will be your friend in the tropics. Some of our favourite brands include Country Road, Le Buns & Moni the Label
- Mask, snorkel & fins | if you have your own
- Camera, drone & goPro | Check out all our photography gear and equipment that we travel with