Fitzroy Island is an island in the Great Barrier Reef, close to the Australian city of Cairns. The island is 339 hectares in size, 324 of which is protected as Fitzroy Island National Park. The island is within sight of the mainland; in fact, it's a peak in a mountain chain which lies south of Cairns.
Fitzroy Island is only accessible by ferry from Cairns. Ferries depart at 8:30AM, 10:30AM and 4PM. The trip takes 45 minutes. A day return trip costs $63. Contact Fitzroy Island Pty Ltd, operated by Raging Thunder Adventures at 52-54 Fearnley St, Cairns. tel 07 4051 9588. fax 07 4052 1335. email email@example.com. You can buy tickets that include some combination of snorkeling equipment hire, a barbecue lunch and a glass bottom boat tour.
The island's roads are for walking only; they're just dirt tracks of varying quality. Reception, the eateries and the accommodation are all very close to the ferry wharf, so you won't have to walk far with bags in tow. You can travel around the island by water in a sea kayak, or hire one of several kinds of boat.
- Take a glass bottom boat tour of the island's fringing reef.
- Swim at any of the islands calm beaches. There is a nude beach about ten minutes walk through the rainforest from the ferry wharf. The island isn't a particularly good place to sunbathe though: the beaches are made of large smooth pieces of coral skeletons, rather than sand.
- While the fish life is not as spectacular as on the outer reef snorkeling on Fitzroy Island will let you see many kinds of coral and a lot of fish life, including large parrot fish, no more than a two minute swim off the beach. One good spot is the rocks seen to the right of the ferry wharf as you arrive. Swim out around them rather than trying to climb over them into the water.
- Scuba dive. The islands diving is run by Fitzroy Island Dive Adventures, tel 07 4051 9588. fax 07 4052 1335. (a subsidiary of Down Under Dive, 287 Draper St, Cairns. tel 07 4052 8300. fax 07 4031 1373.) You can do a three day PADI Open Water certification including two nights accommodation on the island from $565 single and $449 twin-share. Certified divers can do guided beach dives for $50 ($40 subsequent dives) and boat dives around the island for $60 ($40 for subsequent dives).
- Sea kayak. Raging Thunder includes a 3 hour sea kayaking trip around the island as part of one night package deal costing $175.
The resort has several small eating establishments:
- The Kiosk, selling snacks and fast food including fish and chips, burgers and steak.
- Flare Grill, open from 8AM-10AM for breakfast and 12PM-2PM for lunch. Breakfasts are 'continental' style (meat, eggs, toast); and lunch is a barbecue buffet (many daytrippers buy this barbecue with their ferry ticket, but it isn't compulsory to do that).
- The Raging Thunder Beach Bar and Restaurant opens for dinner from 6pm, kitchen closes at 9pm. It serves local fish, beef grown on the tablelands, and tropical fruit.
- The Raging Thunder Beach Bar and Restaurant serves beer, wine and cocktails. It also has a dancefloor.
All accommodation on the island is managed by Fitzroy Island Resort, & can be booked through numerous tour desks in Cairns.
There are a number of different styles available:
- Beach bunkhouses, beds $31 per night, solo use of the room $116 (1-3 people) or $124 (4 people).
- Beach cabins, $220 per night single or $110 per person twin/double. Children under 4 are free, other children cost the same as adults.
Ferries to Cairns leave at 9:30AM, 3PM and 5PM daily.
You can take fast trips to the Outer Reef on the Raging Thunder speedboats, which reach the Outer Reef in 25 minutes. Cost is $150 adults and $110 children including ferry transfer from and to Cairns. Raging Thunder shares management with Fitzroy Island.