Need trip ideas? Check out our curated collections of destinations around the globe.More
Half a dozen marked walking trails traverse Fitzroy Island National Park; they range from half-hour rainforest strolls to steep, challenging three-hour hikes. Take drinking water; wear sturdy closed shoes, insect repellent, sunscreen, and a hat; and watch for snakes (and in estuaries and mangroves, crocs). For maps and detailed information, visit the Queensland Government Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing (NPRSR) website (www.nprsr.qld.gov.au).
But most visitors to the island are keen to get on or under the water, and there are plenty of options for doing that. Day-trippers and resort guests can book guided dives and tuition, and rent scuba gear at Fitzroy Island Dive & Adventure Center, and hire snorkeling and water sports equipment from Raging Thunder Adventures by the jetty on Welcome Beach. The island has some terrific snorkeling spots—some right off the beach, others accessible by sea kayak—and excellent beginner dive sites close to shore. Go sea kayaking, paddle-boarding, or glass-bottom boat touring for more chances to spot turtles, rays, reef sharks, and thousands of bright-hued fish.
Cairns Dive Centre. Departing Cairns's Marlin Marina daily, dive boat MV Reefkist drops day-trippers at Fitzroy Island en route to the outer Great Barrier Reef. The A$65 fare includes round-trip transfers, a coral-viewing tour on a glass-bottom boat, and time to snorkel, swim, explore the island. Reefkist picks you up again at 3:45 on its way back to Cairns. Daylong Reefkist trips from Cairns include gear, lunch, and stops at two exclusive outer Reef sites. You can also take a three-day scuba course on Fitzroy Island that includes four training dives, a two-dive outer Reef day trip, and all gear. Fitzroy Island Dive & Adventure Centre, Fitzroy Island, QLD, 4871. 07/4051–0294; 1800/642–591 toll-free in Australia. www.cairnsdive.com.au. A$65, Fitzroy Island day trip; A$130/A$180 outer GBR day trip (A$50/A$30, 1–2 dives); A$100/A$65, Fitzroy Is. intro. dive, A$85 night dive; A$520, 3-day dive-course package.
Fitzroy Island Dive & Activities Center. Day-trippers, resort guests, divers, and campers can rent kayaks or paddle-skis for A$25 an hour, as well as stinger suits, diving equipment, and snorkeling gear from the island's Dive and Activities Center. Here, you can also book everything from guided dive and snorkeling trips to windsurfing, sailing, and AquaJet excursions, sea-kayaking explorations, and glass-bottom boat tours. Fitzroy Island Resort, off Cairns, QLD, 4870. 07/4044–6700. www.fitzroyisland.com.
Raging Thunder Adventures. This operator offers three-hour sea kayaking excursions to top snorkeling spots around Fitzroy Island (A$134, including ferry transfers, guide, gear, and a pre-packed lunch). The company's water-sports hire hut, right on the beach near the Jetty, rents out snorkeling gear, wet suits, coral viewing boards, paddle-skis, and stand-up paddleboards. Raging Thunder's Fitzroy Island Activity Passes (A$103/A$113) might include ferry transfers, pre-packed lunch, a glass-bottom boat tour, and paddle-skis. Prebooking at least a day ahead is essential. Beach Hire Hut, Welcome Bay, to the right of Fitzroy Is. Jetty, Fitzroy Island, QLD, 4871. 07/4030–7990. www.ragingthunder.com.au.
Even if you plan on diving, pack light for your Barrier Reef vacation—especially if you're flying in on light aircraft. Most resort dive shops have newish, well-maintained gear. At most, bring your favorite mask-snorkel set and dive computer.