This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read the full disclosure policy here.
Here’s my guide on how to plan the best Fitzroy Island day trip. Believe me, it’s one of the best things to do while you’re in Cairns.
So, I grew up in Townsville, which is about a 5-hour drive south of Cairns. We went on a couple of trips to Cairns over the years, but I never got to have the quintessential Fitzroy Island experience. Thankfully, I finally ticked Fitzroy Island off my bucket list in June. It was as dreamy as I expected, so this blog post is basically an excuse for me to share my favourite Fitzroy Island photos. However, I’ll also share some Fitzroy Island day trip tips too, promise 😉.
Planning your Fitzroy Island day trip
How to get from Cairns to Fitzroy Island
First, to get to Fitzroy Island from Cairns, you need to book a Fitzroy Island day trip package. Fitzroy Island day tours only include return tickets with a tour company and start from $83 for a full day, so they’re not cheap. But I promise the experience is worthwhile. Anyway, there are half and full-day tour options, but for us, the half-day trip would have felt rushed. When we went to make a booking a few days in advance, there were, unfortunately, a lot of sold-out options. Thankfully, GetYourGuide came to the rescue, and we secured full-day tickets through the platform with Sunlover Reef Cruises 🙌🏻.
Here is the link, but I highly recommend GetYourGuide. I’ve used them around the world with no issues. Departing from Cairns’ Reef Fleet Terminal, it took just under an hour to reach Fitzroy Island. Then we were on the island for approximately six hours. Another option is the Fitzroy Flyer, which offers return ferry transfers to Cairns Marina as well. Their full-day option is similar in time and pricing.
What to bring to Fitzroy Island
There’s a small convenience store on the island, but you better believe it includes island pricing! So if you’re on a budget, I recommend bringing your own water and food, otherwise, you can purchase meals from Foxy’s Bar too. We also packed bathers, towels and all the necessary sun protection (hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc). If you’re keen to hike, don’t forget enclosed walking shoes like my fave Allbirds. I also brought my thongs (flip flops) to slip on as the beaches on Fitzroy Island aren’t pristine and sandy!
Things to do on Fitzroy Island
Now you’ve made it, here are the best things to do on Fitzroy Island:
1. Go on a hike
So, we did the hike to the summit, which is estimated to be 4 kilometres return. What we didn’t realise was how hard it would be and for me, the views weren’t that good or worth the effort. But if you’re a hiker, you’ll definitely enjoy the challenge. We followed the signposts from the jetty to the summit track and then headed down via the lighthouse track.
If you go this way, expect lots of steps to the summit and a steep decline through the rainforest back to Fitzroy Island Resort. If you’re also carrying heavier bags, don’t take them with you like us. There are lockers available next to Foxy’s Bar. Be very careful doing this hike in the wet season as well, as I can see it being both extremely hot and difficult to navigate following heavy rain. For more hiking information, visit the Fitzroy Island National Park website.
2. Snorkel around the fringing coral reef
One of the most popular things to do on Fitzroy Island is to go snorkelling around its fringing reef. There’s a coral reef located metres from the island’s shoreline at Welcome Bay, so you don’t have to go far to see coral and a plethora of tropical fish. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a friendly turtle. To hire equipment, head to the Fitzroy Island Sports Hub at the resort.
Another option the Fitzroy Island Sports Hub offers is glass-bottomed boat tours. The one-hour guided tour allows you to see the coral reefs and marine wildlife surrounding Fitzroy Island from the comfort of the boat. For more information about any of these services, visit their website.
4. Visit Nudey Beach
If there’s one thing you do on your Fitzroy Island day trip, it must be visiting Nudey Beach. Repeatedly winning the title of Australia’s Best Beach, this little slice of paradise is a brief walk from Foxy’s Bar. Yep, you’ll wrack up the steps in no time on Fitzroy Island! I don’t know if it’s the best beach, but the water was beautifully clear.
5. Lunch and a cocktail from Foxy’s Bar
For lunch on your Fitzroy Island day trip, you have limited options. Fortunately, Foxy’s Bar offers sweeping ocean views and a satisfying lunch menu of burgers, salads and other specialties. If you’re feeling fancy, why not indulge in a cocktail overlooking the water?
6. Go sea kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding
If you’d prefer to see the reef from above, you can hire a sea kayak or stand up paddleboard (SUP). The Sports Hub has a staff member stationed at Welcome Bay for all your kayak and paddleboard needs.
7. Visit the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre
Fitzroy Island’s Turtle Rehabilitation Centre is a non-profit organisation that rehabilitates sick and injured turtles. The Great Barrier Reef is home to six of the world’s seven marine turtle species and many are under threat. To learn more about the centre and to see what the team does, you can book a guided tour. The 30-minute tours operate every day at 1 pm. They recommend booking in advance, which you can do here.
8. Relax in the ocean
If you visit during the dry season like us, the water will be the definition of refreshing. We swam around Welcome Bay, but you can take your pick of locations as you explore Fitzroy Island.
9. Check out the Weekly Activity Schedule
This Weekly Activity Schedule updates every week and features absolutely everything happening on the island. The list is extensive and includes the Junior Marine Biologist Program and other kids’ activities, guided bush tucker and nature walks, and education talks. On the water, you can take part in a guided Fitzroy Island snorkelling tour for beginners or a guided stand-up paddleboarding lesson. There are also DIY workshops available. Basically, you can’t say you’re bored when you visit the island, with this many activities and Fitzroy Island tours available.
Want to stay longer on Fitzroy Island?
If you’d prefer your Fitzroy Island day trip become a weekend getaway, there’s only one place to stay on the island. Fitzroy Island Resort has hotel rooms, cabins and camping facilities.
Other day trips from Cairns
I also have to mention a couple of other options if you’re looking for Cairns day trips. We stayed in Palm Cove, which is an option, as it’s only 30 minutes from the city. However, there isn’t a lot to do in the small town except for enjoying the palm-fringed beach. Other Cairns day tours include Port Douglas and Kuranda, which we visited on alternate days. In Port Douglas, don’t miss St Mary’s By The Sea, a.k.a one of the world’s most beautiful chapels.
Your day tour to Fitzroy Island, sorted
I hope this guide helps you plan your own day trip to Fitzroy Island. If you have questions about your Fitzroy Island trip, remember you can always reach out via the comments section or find me on Facebook and Instagram.