Islands of the Great Barrier Reef

The Islands of the Great Barrier Reef just off the coast from Cairns offer some of the best snorkelling and reef scuba diving to experience. Choose from luxury accommodation in Island Resorts, to rustic beachfront island cabins as you experience the wonders of The Great Barrier Reef. 

The surface of the coral reef divides the life below and the life above. Two entirely diverse universes are separated by this sheer seemingly invisible line. The breathtaking world beneath the water's surface requires a snorkel or an entire tank of air to discover. Here you can visit marine life like inquisitive Minke and Humpback whales, porpoises, dugongs, sea turtles, dolphins, sea eagles, clown fish and coral trout; species so delicate, rare and beautiful that they have to be seen to be believed. Above the water's surface stand the Island's of The Great Barrier Reef interacting with pure effortless synergy with the life below.

The islands are a great way to explore the underwater depths of The Great Barrier Reef but are alluring attractions in their own right. Experience the Great Barrier Reef however you choose. Swim, snorkel, scuba dive, fish or study; the Islands of The Great Barrier Reef provide interactive and unobtrusive Island Accommodation where you can stay and connect with the reef; the largest living and breathing organism on this planet, so big you can even see it from outer space! Once experienced- never forgotten.

Great Barrier Reef Islands - There are several islands that fringe the Coral Coast between Townsville and The Cape York Peninsula north of Cairns Australia. Each island offers something different for travellers whether it is luxury, isolation, fun or eco-friendly that you are seeking; some islands even combine all four. Island holidays are great for those that wish to experience The Great Barrier Reef and all of its dimensions. Wake up to a luminous sunrise and watch dolphins and whales frolicking in the sea, climb aboard a kayak to greet them.

At night, wander barefoot in the sand with a special loved one. Watch the stars shine brighter than you have ever seen before, with no city lights to dim their brilliance. During the day let the kids play while the adults enjoy a leisurely game of golf or an indulgent Day Spa treatment. Have piece of mind knowing that the children are safe on a supervised and secure island. If it is the kid's you are wishing to escape from, some islands are adult only so intimacy and peacefulness can be experienced at a higher level - perfect Honeymoon Island Resorts.

Experience life above the Great Barrier Reef. Each Island has numerous facilities that you would expect in a five star resort. Swimming Pool, Restaurants, Day Spas, Gymnasiums, Kayaks, Canoes and Motorised Dinghies are some of the things you should anticipate. Some islands have great environmental programs where professional naturalist guides, hikes and educational activities are planned for the guests.

If you are bringing the children along you may want to consider an island that offer Kids Stay Free - such as Green Island Resort, or for a limited time Fitzroy Island Resort.  Both of these island resorts are only a short 45 minutes from Cairns.  During selected dates the luxurious Lizard Island Resort also features "family time" which enables families to visit with children.  Outside these family periods, the luxurious Lizard Island Resort caters for children 10 years and over.

Green Island is 45 minutes off the coast of Cairns and is accessible by catamaran, helicopter and sea plane. Green Island is frequented by day visitors but also has a five star resort hidden beneath a rainforest canopy in the center of the island. Green Island Resort and Spa is an eco-certified resort with luxury suites that are sustainably incorporated into the rainforest. The resort is romantic and peaceful and is a great escape from life in the City.

There is always the question of which island is better Green Island or Fitzroy Island so we wrote a blog on our opinon of which of the two islands we prefer.  

Facilities on Green Island include

  • concierge
  • day spa
  • private guest swimming pool
  • heated day visitor pool
  • restaurant and bar
  • pool bar
  • casual grill
  • sandwich bar
  • ice cream shop
  • boutique
  • dive shop
  • guest laundry
  • guest lounge with games, play station, books, videos and internet
  • conference room

Green Island Activities include

  • welcome sunset drinks
  • glass bottom boat tours
  • snorkeling equipment
  • guided night nature walks
  • self guided rainforest walks
  • fish feeding
  • windsurfers
  • surf skis
  • canoes
  • beach volleyball
  • beach chairs and umbrellas
  • snorkeling
  • great barrier reef tour
  • club spa
  • parasailing*
  • helicopter*
  • seaplane scenic flights*
  • sea walker helmet diving*
  • marineland melanesia aquarium
  • crocodile

Fitzroy Island is located 30 minutes off the coast of Cairns by boat. The island used to be a no-frills budget island for backpackers but now it is a vibrant holiday resort where you can choose to stay in comfortable hotel style room, or self contained apartment. Fitzroy Island is covered with National Park and has a coral beach; at the southern end of the beach you will find 'nudey beach' which offers white sand into the water. Fitzroy Island is a full service resort for day and overnight visitors. The island hosts bands and parties thru the year so it can get a bit noisy on some Saturday evenings up until 12 midnight so you may as well join in on the fun. Fitzroy Island is also home to the Turtle Rehabilitaion Centre so take the family along and see how the carers look after these precious animals and then release them back to the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

Hike the paths and tracks of the surrounding mountains and climb all  the way to the historic lighthouse and read all about its history and past inhabitants. On Fitzroy Island you can do a paddle trek kayak tour, scuba diving, scoot underwater on a sea bob, jump on an in ocean trampline, snorkelling or just sun baking in the beautiful waters of the Great Barrier Reef (additional fees apply).

Fitzroy Island has a great a la carte restaurant, bar and also a convenience store for those little items like ice-creams, drinks etc. Fitzroy is a family favourite as the ferry boat ride is such great value when you travel in a group.

Lizard Island is off the coast of Cooktown which is about 300 kilometers north of Cairns, a short scenic flight from Cairns. Lizard Island has some of the most stunning and pristine coral waters in Australia, very popular amongst scuba divers and fishermen. Lizard Island has its own luxury five star resort, Lizard Island Resort, which is luxurious in every regard appealing only to the most discerning travellers. Lizard Island is an All Inclusive adult only* resort that features full services, a thriving rainforest environment surrounded by a stunning coral coastline. Lizard Island is elegant and romantic.

Facilities on Lizard Island include

  • book and games library
  • island boutique
  • fresh water swimming pool
  • floodlit tennis court
  • postal service
  • azure day spa
  • gymnasium
  • disabled services
  • guest lounge

Activities on Lizard Island include

  • catamarans
  • glass bottom paddle skis
  • motorized dinghies
  • snorkeling equipment and lessons
  • picnic hampers
  • self guided nature walks
  • paddle ski tours
  • nature slide presentations
  • gymnasium
  • diving and snorkeling trips on The Great Barrier Reef
  • diving courses
  • full and half day game fishing
  • glass bottom boat tour
  • day spa
  • research station tours
  • champagne sunset cruise

Book a scenic flying tour to spend the day on Lizard Island or enjoy a luxury holiday staying overnight on the Lizard Island Resort. Lizard Island caters to *children 10 years and above, and in selected dates offers "Family Time" for the younger families.

Orpheus Island is the southernmost island and is located off the coast of Townsville. Orpheus Island Lodge has only 14 rooms and suites which are decadently appointed with spa tubs and private terraces. This small intimate island is sophisticated indulgence at its finest. Enjoy an all inclusive secluded island hideaway complete with unrivalled cuisine, stunning natural scenery and 1368 acres of National Parks.

Resort Facilities at Orpheus Island include:

  • infinity pool
  • a heated Jacuzzi
  • alfresco style dining
  • pavilion bar
  • a quiet lounge and library
  • day spa
  • a water sports centre
  • a post service
  • a laundry facility
  • a gymnasium
  • a recreation room
  • boutique
  • WiFi in main pavilions
  • a luxury 32 foot catamaran available for hire

Activities on Orpheus Island include

  • water sports including paddle boards, kayaks, motorised dinghies, paddle skies, catamarans
  • nature walks (guided and unguided)
  • fishing gear
  • gourmet picnic baskets
  • snorkelling trips
  • interpretive activities

Magnetic Island is off the coast of Townsville and accessible by ferry boat. This thriving tropical island has over 5000 hectares of National Park where several Australian native animals and birds such as wallabies, koalas, possums and kookaburras can be spotted. Magnetic Island has several accommodation types ranging from luxury to budget. Stay in the luxurious Peppers Blue on Blue resort or rough it in a campsite on the beach. This child-friendly island has plenty for all ages to see and do. Magnetic Island is a full service island, so expect plenty of restaurants and shops to make your holiday comfortable and effortless.

Some examples of accommodation on Magnetic Island include

  • Pure Magnetic Luxury Villas
  • Peppers Blue on Blue Resort
  • Segara Villas
  • Beachside Palms Holiday Units
  • Forest Haven Tropical Resort
  • Island Life Holiday House
  • Magnetic International Resort
  • Magnums on Magnetic

Activities on Magnetic Island include

  • jet ski tours
  • sailing
  • swimming
  • snorkelling
  • catamaran hire
  • sailboards
  • surf skis
  • sea kayak tours
  • aqua bikes
  • water skiing
  • sky diving
  • nature hikes (guided and self-guide)
  • fishing
  • bike hire
  • motorcycle hire (Harley Davidson)
  • moke hire
  • trail bike hire
  • scooter hire
  • horse back riding
  • tennis
  • lawn bowls
  • golf course (9 hole)
  • several shops (almost anything can be purchased on the island)
  • Book a scenic flight around Magnetic Island or land on the beach and have a look around. There are so many things to do on Magnetic Island and you can explore them on your next holiday on the Great Barrier Reef.   

Accommodation bookings can only be made for groups, private functions and weddings.

Hinchinbrook Island is just off the coast of Cardwell two hours south of Cairns. Hinchinbrook Island has the largest island based National Park in Australia which features unique and diverse eco-systems, a paradise for nature lovers! Discerning travellers can stay at the luxurious Hinchinbrook Island Wilderness Lodge and Resort while budget conscious travellers can rough it out at the campsite. Bring the kids, grandma and grandpa because Hinchinbrook Island has plenty to see and do for visitors of all ages.

Facilities at The Hinchinbrook Island Wilderness Lodge and Resort include

  • fast island transfers
  • licensed restaurant
  • fishing charters
  • reading room with games, TV and DVD
  • wireless broadband
  • swimming pool
  • canoes and kayaks
  • beach hammocks
  • snorkelling gear
  • snorkelling and dive charters
  • island shop and library
  • kayaks
  • canoes
  • snorkels and masks
  • beach hammocks
  • fishing equipment

Activities on Hinchinbrook Island include

  • fishing
  • kayaking
  • canoeing
  • snorkeling
  • hikes
  • guided walks

Book a scenic helicopter flight around Hinchinbrook Island and the Great Barrier Reef from Townsville.

Resort has totally closed due to Cyclone Yasi destruction.

Day tours are available from Mission Beach for hikers and explorers.

Dunk Island is just off the coast of Mission Beach and is accessible by ferry boat. Known as the "Island of Peace and Plenty," Dunk Island exists peacefully amongst The Great Barrier Reef with plenty to do for guests. This kid-friendly island has an extensive children's program as well as specialised facilities to pamper Mum and Dad such as a destination Day Spa and 9 hole golf course. Dunk Island is 3/4 National Park with kilometers of walking tracks and a stunning coral rimmed coastline for you to relax. Voyages Dunk Island Resort is the only resort on the island and consists of luxurious beachfront suites, beachfront rooms and garden rooms.

Resort Facilities on Dunk Island include

  • activities centre
  • daily activities program
  • kids club for children 3 - 12 years
  • babysitting available
  • spa of peace and plenty
  • daily laundry service guest laundry facilities (machine usage is complementary)
  • postal service
  • internet kiosk
  • boutique for resort wear, souvenirs and basic pharmacy items
  • two swimming pools
  • three floodlit tennis courts (1 indoor and 2 outdoor)
  • gym equipment
  • squash court
  • Coonanglebah Farm
  • conference Room (maximum capacity 105 people)
  • art colony

Activities on Dunk Island include 

  • squash
  • gym
  • beach volleyball
  • badminton
  • snorkeling lessons
  • island farm
  • fishing charters
  • great barrier reef tours
  • mountain bike tours
  • jet ski tours and rentals
  • family island group tours

You can still enjoy some terrific Great Barrier Reef tours from Mission Beach to see Dunk Island and the surrounding reef.s

Bedarra Island is located off the coast of Mission Beach just two hours south of Cairns. Bedarra Island is one of Australia's most exclusive island resort that has only 10 romantically designed Villas tucked away in the rainforest offering All Inclusive island luxury.  Bedarra Island Resort is sophisticated and isolated perfect for a romantic getaway or corporate retreat- leave the kids at home because this is an adults only island resort.  Bedarra Island Resort is the only accommodation on the island.

The facilities at Bedarra Island Resort include

  • guest DVD, book, game and CD library
  • island boutique
  • therapeutic massage in dedicated massage room
  • massages and spa treatments also available in your Villa
  • fresh water swimming pool and heated plunge pool
  • gymnasium
  • tennis court (day and night)
  • daily laundry service
  • postal service
  • internet access facilities
  • children 16 years and under are not catered for

Activities on Bedarra Island include

  • catamaran
  • paddle skis
  • fishing
  • snorkeling
  • motorized dinghies
  • picnic hampers
  • guided and self guided walks

Double Island is just 10 minutes off the coast of Palm Cove; Palm Cove is 25 minutes north of Cairns. Double Island is the only island of The Islands of the Great Barrier Reef which can be rented on a whole island basis meaning you and your friends or family will have the entire island to yourself. This island is perfect for functions, weddings and conferences and sleeps 40 people but can handle nearly 500 for events. Double Island is five stars in every regard and once accommodated for Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston! This exotic private Island has only recently been re-opened and made available for couples to book for a minimum of two or three nights as per other Great Barrier Reef Island hotels.

Facilities on Double Island include

  • barbeques
  • business center and services
  • cocktail bar
  • conference facilities
  • games room
  • gymnasium
  • indoor and outdoor cinemas
  • internet facilities
  • laundry services
  • library
  • postal services
  • restaurant services
  • spa
  • swimming pool
  • water sports gear

Activities on Double Island include

  • 46 acres of rainforest
  • catamarans
  • jet skis
  • kayaks
  • wind surfers
  • motorized dinghies
  • outdoor cinema
  • indoor cinema
  • table tennis
  • computer games
  • palm cove nearby

Haggerstone Island is located in the middle of nowhere amidst the Coral Sea. 600 kilometers away from civilization you will truly feel isolated while staying on this luxurious five star island. A holiday on Haggerstone Island is a true Robinson Crusoe experience. All meat, fruit and veggies are grown and prepared on the island and the cuisine and service has been internationally recognised for its excellence. Only 8 people at a time can stay on the island so you are guaranteed a peacefully remote and isolated holiday on one of the most beautiful tropical islands in Australia.

Facilities on Haggerstone Island include

  • main pavilion with restaurant
  • library
  • jetty
  • laundry service
  • lounge area
  • medical supplies
  • farm

Activities on Haggerstone Island include

  • sand boarding
  • fishing
  • spear fishing
  • skin diving
  • snorkeling
  • bird watching
  • beach combing
  • helicopter tours

Instead of staying on the mainland, looking out at the Great Barrier Reef from a beach in Cairns, Palm Cove or Port Douglas why not stay on the Great Barrier Reef- become a part of it! Discover what is on top and underneath the ocean's surface, the evasive invisible boundary that separates two distinctly different worlds. Both worlds hold an overwhelming abundance of beauty and intrigue for you to discover and explore on your tropical island holiday in Far North Queensland.

Great Barrier Reef Tour Cairns - Aerial view Great Barrier Reef Cruises pontoon

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Great Barrier Reef Tours | 2 In 1 Deal | Cairns Island and Outer Reef | GIGBRA
  • Departs From: Reef Fleet Terminal, 1 Spence Street
  • Duration:

    7 hours (approx)

This is one of our most popular Great Barrier Reef tours. Visit tropical Green Island in the morning and then go to the outer edges of the Great Barrier Reef to our pontoon platform where you will find glass bottom boats, semi-submersible submarines, helicopters, Scuba Doo underwater motor bikes and much more. A great family day out!

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Fitzroy Island Tours - Snorkel with the Family

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Fitzroy Island FULL DAY Tour Packages | Cairns | Great Barrier Reef
  • Departs From: Cairns Marlin Marina
  • Duration:

    7.5 hours approx.

Book a ferry ride and spend the day on beautiful Fitzroy Island on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. There is so much to see and do you will never be bored. Sea kayak tours, in water trampoline, scuba diving, snorkelling, hiking trails to the light house, nudie beach, and lot's more and it is such great value for money.

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Lizard Island Scenic flights - Aerial view islands around Lizard Island

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Cairns Scenic Flight Lizard Island Day Tour | DAINA
  • Departs From: Cairns General Aviation Airport

This is the ultimate scenic flying tour over the Great Barrier Reef to Lizard Island. See the coral formation on this low level scenic flight and then swim in the blue azure waters for some snorkelling on this world famous island where the rich and famous hide out. Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia also offers scenic hiking trails for the more adventurous also

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Ariel view Green Island Great Adventures Cruises on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland Australia

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Green Island FULL DAY Tour Ex Cairns | Snorkel & Dive Great Barrier Reef Australia
  • Departs From: Cairns Marina
  • Duration:

    7 or 5 hours on Green Island - boat ride 45 minutes each way

    Times are approximate

Enjoy a Full Day at Green Island with a choice of activities to experience the Great Barrier Reef. Why not stay a night or two? Ask us about our Overnight Island options at Green Island Resort.

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Green Island Tour - Snorkel Tour Green Island - Day Tour

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Cairns Reef Tours | Green Island Snorkel Tour | FULL DAY Great Barrier Reef Tour
  • Departs From: Reef Fleet Terminal, 1 Spence Street, Cairns
  • Duration:

    5 Hours on Green Island - 9:00am Departure (Big Cat)
    4 Hours on Green Island- 11:00am Departure (Reef Rocket)

    Return to Cairns at 5:00pm for both tours

Book a full day or a half day ferry ride to beautiful Green Island There is so much to see and so much to do on Green Island, snorkelling, scuba diving, semi-submersible submarine tours, guided snorkel tours, glass bottom boat tours, Seawalker tours, Scenic helicopter flights and you can also visit the worlds largest crocodile in captivity and his name is Cassius

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Aerial View New Lagoon 560 Catamaran | Port Douglas Reef Trip

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Port Douglas Reef Trip | Low Isles | Luxury Sailing & Snorkelling |SAAM
  • Departs From: Port Douglas
  • Duration:

    8:30am to 4:00pm: 7.5 hours approx.


If snorkelling with turtles is on your bucket list then we would highly recommend you book this Port Douglas reef trip to the Low Isles as these islands are well known for the amount of turtles that come and go in these waters. The islands next to low Isles are also turtle nesting islands.

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Great Barrier Reef Uninhabited Island

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Great Barrier Reef Tours | Frankland Islands Reef Cruises | Snorkel & Dive
  • Departs From: 169 Ross Road, Deeral, QLD 4871
  • Duration:

    9 hours (approx)

The Frankland Islands are some of our favourite Great Barrier Reef Islands as the daily visitor numbers are capped at only 100 visitors per day. Lush rainforest provides walking trails and shade and the crew of the boat take you for nature walks around the island. Scuba dive, snorkel, glass bottom boat, semi-submersible submarine and much more. The Frankland Islands are very well known for having a lot of sea turtles so turtle enthusiasts just love this Great Barrier Reef island tour

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Great Barrier Reef | Fitzroy Island Tour

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Fitzroy Island Ferry Boat Tour
  • Departs From: Reef Fleet Terminal Cairns
  • Duration:

    45 minute cruise to Fitzroy Island

    Over 5 hours on Fitzroy Island

Need a fast ferry ride to visit the ever popular Fitzroy Island on the Great Barrier Reef just off Cairns? Why not stay a night or two? Ask us about our Overnight Island options at Fitzroy Island Resort.

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Best Value Accommodation Deals in Cairns
Green Island Resort

Green Island Resort is the most popular island resort in Tropical North Queensland Australia. The perfect tropical island getway for couples and families with FREE island activities, and FREE return ferry transfers.  Dive and snorkel during the day or take a trip to the outer Barrier Reef, you can do as much or as little as you like at Green Island resort & spa     

  • Family Offer Available (Kids Stay FREE)
  • Ultimate 3 Night Package Available
Fitzroy Island Resort

Fitzroy Island Resort is popular for both couples and familes offering stylish Hotel Rooms to Two Bedroom Apartments, located on the Great Barrier Reef.  There are lots of things to do and things to see on Fitzroy Island like hiking, scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking tours, seabob underwater jet machines and more. Book a tour to the outer Great Barrier Reef or enjoy a swim from the beach.

Lizard Island Great Barrier Reef

All inclusive luxury 5 Star Resort - Lizard Island Great Barrier Reef.  Enjoy gourmet meals, Australian wines, beer, picnic hampers, and complimentary activities.  Lizard Island boasts seclusion, romance, secluded sandy white beaches....

Peppers Blue on Blue Resort - Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island Resort is the jewel in the crown for the Townsville locals and visitors alike. Just a quick boat ride from the city and you are in a new world of beauty with lot's of beaches, hiking trails and restaurants to explore.

Go horse riding on the beach or hire a funny little moped and drive yourself around this beautiful tropical island.  Magnetic Island is a popular Island in Tropical North Queensland for a holiday.  

Orpheus Island Resort, Great Barrier Reef

Orpheus Island Resort, Great Barrier Reef is a secluded island retreat boasting All Inclusive luxurious island accommodation located only 90 minutes helicopter flight from Cairns, or 30 minutes from Townsville.  Guests can indulge in a plethora of once in a lifetime experiences!  Experience diving, snorkelling, fishing or perhaps a romantic gourmet picnic hamper on a seclued cove as you discover the island with a motorised dinghy.

Daydream Island Resort, Whitsundays

Daydream Island Resort located in the spectacular Whitsunday Islands on the Great Barrier Reef has recently completed a multimillion dollar redevelopment.  Enjoy complimentary breakfast daily plus a wide range of Complimentary Island Activities - Daydream Island Resort is the idyllic Whitsundays destination for families and couples!

Bedarra Island Resort, Great Barrier Reef

All Inclusive Island paradise, Bedarra Island Resort located on the Great Barrier Reef off the coast from Mission Beach offers a private sanctuary of seclusion.  Escape, relax and reconnect with only ten private villas each boasting unique features to highlight the natural beauty of the island paradise. 

Best Value Accommodation Deals in Cairns