Fitzroy-Island-cairns

Green Island Or Fitzroy Island Day Trip: Which One Is Better?

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Are you wondering which island to visit in Great Barrier Reef, and thinking about doing a Green Island or Fitzroy Island day trip from Cairns? Our new writer, Sarah Melrose has been to both islands in Cairns, and is sharing her personal experience about what to expect.

Sarah is originally from UK and moved to Coogee in Sydney in 2016. Make sure you follow her expat adventures on Instagram at @melrose_sarah.

Fitzroy-Island-cairns-Green-Island-or-Fitzroy-Island

Not sure which island to visit between Fitzroy Island or Green Island in Cairns? Having been to both within days of each other, hopefully this guide may help you decide. Both Great Barrier Reef islands do look quite similar in description and photos even. They are even similar in nature, and the cost and travel time is actually nearly identical.

So, how do you decide between the two islands? It comes down to the experience on the day and the activities and facilities on the islands. In these day trips from Cairns, I share my honest opinions about which island I would personally go back to again.


Where Is Green Island And Fitzroy Island?

fitzroy-island-map

Both Fitzroy Island and Green Island are located just 45 minutes boat trip from Cairns. Within easy distance to reach both islands, they are two of the most popular day trips from Cairns.


Choosing Which Cairns Tour Companies To Go With

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The are only a handful of tour operaters to choose from when you go to Fitzroy Island and Green Island. Here are some comparisons to bear in mind when booking your trip.

Fitzroy Island
I booked this tour with Fitzroy Island Adventures
Cost: $85 for day trip
Tour duration: 8:30am – 4:30pm
Add On: $15-$30 for snorkel hire

Green Island
I booked this tour with Big Cat Green Island Cruises
Cost: $88 for a day trip
Tour duration: 8:30am-2:30pm
Add On: $15-$30 for snorkel hire

Consider other Green Island tours:

All ferries depart from Reef Fleet Terminal, and most leave at the same time around 8am / 8.30am which makes it somewhat chaotic. I would advise going as early as possible to be able to check in without the lines. After you’ve checked in early, get a coffee in one of the cafes by the terminal while you wait for your ferry. Otherwise, you may face quite a long line to check in! It’s literally similar to checking in for a flight.


Green Island Review

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One of the most popular day trips from Cairns is a visit to Green Island. The 45 minute boat ride has a top deck for those sun seekers and air con inside for everyone else. The boat has a bar on board with light snacks, drinks and a beer for the ferry home! We were quite lucky with the weather so the sailing was smooth. I would think the boat is big enough to not get too rocky in bad weather.

To be honest, I found Green Island quite underwhelming and the beaches not outstanding as I hoped they would be. Maybe it’s because the weather wasn’t as nice on the day I visited, and maybe it was because I visited during the Christmas holidays just as the borders shut. The water was clear, and the snorkelling was OK, but there was only one area good for snorkelling which then meant it was quite crowded.

You can make use of the swimming pool and facilities at the eco-friendly Green Island Resort which should technically be a highlight of the day trip. However, even though it was Christmas holidays and during Covid when I visited, half of the facilities were closed on the island. We had one takeaway food outlet to choose from selling sandwiches, chips and pizza and one bar which was located inside the resort.

The shop on the island wasn’t open, and I struggled to find somewhere to fill up my water bottle for example, which is a shame. I really felt like there was not a lot to do here on Green Island, and the services and whole island felt a little bit like everyone had packed up and left it. Unfortunately, it was definitely looking a bit sorry for itself.

You can hire snorkelling gear for the day snorkel independently and there is a small walk through the bushland on the island, but there wasn’t much else to do apart from this. There are lockers to leave your stuff though if you did want to wander off snorkelling.

TIP – bring a lot of water with you for your Green Island trip!

Pros
Free use of the pool on the island
Good snorkelling & a shallower area for those less able to swim
Easy to get to

Cons
Not many services or facilities on the island
Not many activities on offer
Limited / poor catering on offer
Bar is inside and a bit depressing in comparison to Fitzroy Island
There are better beaches on other islands


Fitzroy Island Review

Fitzroy-Island-cairns-Green Island or Fitzroy Island

Our Fitzroy Island day trip took just 45 minutes to get to from Cairns on the ferry. It’s got a top deck so you can sunbathe on the way there, and aircon inside for those seeking cooler temps before the day really gets started.

The boat had a bar on board with light snacks, drinks and a beer for the ferry home! We were quite lucky with the weather as the sailing was smooth. I would say the boat is big enough to handle bad weather and probably wouldn’t rock too much if that was of concern.

Fitzroy Island looks like Fiji when you approach it on the ferry, the water is crystal clear and the backdrop on the island is very lush and green (this should be called green island instead if you ask me!). It is honestly stunning and exactly what I hoped it would look like.

There are many Fitzroy Island activities to choose from so you’ll have an action packed day. Take a walk up to the lighthouse at the top of the island, a perfect way to get a good perspective on how small the island actually is.

Go on a snorkelling boat trip with a marine biologist! This was a major highlight for me as we were taken to the other side of the island and taught so much about the coral and fish. It was only $20 which I thought was great value.

Fitzroy-Island-great-barrier-reef-cairns-Green Island or Fitzroy Island

Snorkel on your own at one of the many beaches and get away from the crowds. You’ll have a pinch me moment that you’re actually snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef. Or go on a bush walk to Nudey Beach, which is only takes about 15 minutes, but the view is worth it.

Check out the turtle sanctuary in Fitzroy Island and learn all about the turtles. Although we chose to do the snorkelling trip instead, we heard rave reviews about it. Or, take a long lunch at Foxys Bar in Fitzroy Island which overlooks the water. With live music and a cocktail in hand, the vibe is spot on.

Fitzroy Island tips – there’s not much shade on the island unless you head over to the bar. Bring sunscreen and a hat with you, otherwise a whole day in the sun might not be so much fun.

Pros
There’s plenty to do in Fitzroy Island as mentioned above
Absolutely stunning beaches and walks
Good facilities on the island

Cons
Only one bar to have lunch at
Can’t use the hotel facilities such as the pool
Not much shade anywhere


Summary

fitzroy-island-cairns-Green Island or Fitzroy Island

Considering both Green Island and Fitzroy Island in Cairns are quite similar, I preferred Fitzroy Island. The island as a whole along with the range of activities to do completely blew me away. There were more families on Green Island which could have been due to have access to the hotel pool, but I wouldn’t recommend going on a Great Barrier Reef Island trip, just to use a pool.

If you want to feel like you’ve made it to Fiji in 45minutes, head to Fitzroy Island. I would go back in a heartbeat.


If you’re wondering whether visiting the islands and Cairns during wet season and at Christmas is worth it, check out our guide for 13 Reasons Why Visiting Cairn in Wet Season Is A Good Idea.

And if you’re unsure where to base yourself on your Cairns trip, check out our guide Cairns vs Palm Cove vs Port Douglas.


Green Island vs Fitzroy Island Day Trip From Cairns

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A big thanks to Sarah for sharing her guide for visiting Green Island or Fitzroy Island in Cairns! If you would like to share you travel stories on Londoner In Sydney, simply fill out our Write For Us form below!

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