Situated amongst the lush Great Barrier Reef just off Cairns in Tropical North Queensland, Green Island is a must do Cairns activity and there is no better time to visit than right now. While known over the years for being the bustling island hub tourists flock to, since covid19 hit and cut tourist numbers dramatically, this island is a sanctuary of calm and the go-to spot for holiday relaxation.
Green Island is located an hour and 15 minute boat ride from the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal in Cairns City.
On your ferry journey out to the island, you’ll get great views of the Australian mainland and Fitzroy Island before crossing out to sea towards Green Island.
5 things to know about Green Island
1. It’s not named Green after the colour.
This may surprise you, given the lush vegetation on the island. However, Green Island was named after Charles Green an astronomer aboard James Cook’s boat. The real Indigenous name for the island is Wunyami or Dabuukji.
2. It’s a sand cay.
Green Island is one of 300 sand cays on the Great Barrier Reef which has grown vegetation turned rainforest that we see on the island today. It is the only sand cay on the Great Barrier Reef to have rainforest.
3. It’s older than you think.
Green Island is estimated to be about 6,000 years old.
4. It’s smaller than you think.
Green Island is only about 1.5km in circumference. It really is like being on an extra-large sand cay surrounded by the incredible Great Barrier Reef.
5. It’s a turtle paradise.
You’re very likely to see a sea turtle when visiting Green Island due to the abundance of sea grass near the island.
Our Day on Green Island
Once you’ve docked on the jetty, the island is yours to explore. As though determined to show off its reputation as being a turtle paradise, both times I have visited Green Island, I have immediately seen a sea turtle exploring the surrounding water off the jetty. Keep your eyes pealed for them as you head towards the island.
Green Island has two beaches on either side of the jetty you can enjoy. The more popular beach is directly to your right as you leave the jetty (looking at the island); however, my favourite of the two is the one to your left. The left beach is quieter with more shelter.
We spent the morning here taking in the white sand and blue water.
Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises
Our trip to Green Island was booked through Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises. On this tour you can choose to add on extra items like a buffet lunch, glass bottom boat, semi-submarine boat, snuba diving (yes, you read that correctly) and snorkel safari tours.
After spending the morning on the beach we headed back to the boat docked at the jetty for our buffet lunch. This was delicious and there were very generous servings. Once we had filled up to our hearts content, we donned the stinger suits that we had been given and got ready for our snorkel safari tour.
Snorkel Safari Tour
A short boat ride away from the island (as in a few minutes short, we could still see the island!), we adjusted our snorkel, mask and flippers and jumped straight into the Great Barrier Reef. With our dedicated reef tour guide, we ventured across different bommies and reef, all while learning about the Great Barrier Reef.
After the snorkel safari tour we headed back to the island and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon eating an ice cream from one of the tourist shops on the island, walking along the boardwalks and relaxing on the beach. When we had arrived in the morning, it was high tide and by the time we left it was very low tide, meaning the reef around the island was very visible as you can see below.
We boarded our ferry at 345pm and docked back in Cairns at 5pm.
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