Fitzroy Island is located only a short boat trip away from Cairns in North Queensland. You won’t be short for options on things to do on Fitzroy Island. It’s a large tropical paradise Island with beautiful beaches, amazing activities and some of the clearest waters we have seen.
It is also perfect for snorkelling and finding turtles as it is covered in rainforest and forms part of the famous Great Barrier Reef.
Fitzroy Island is great for a day trip or you can stay overnight in the main hotel or even on the campsite there. It has something for everyone, from solo backpackers, couples, friends and families.
We have provided you with a list of things to do on Fitzroy Island to enjoy this magical part of Queensland.
Fun fact: Fitzroy Island was named after Augustus Henry Fitzroy by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770.
The weather on Fitzroy Island
Since Fitzroy Island is based in tropical Queensland, it’s warm all year round.
We visited during the summer, which is from December – February and to be honest we wouldn’t recommend this time of year. It can be hot and very humid with temperatures as high as 40°C and humidity as high as around 80%, making for some uncomfortable days.
It’s also stinger season which means jellyfish rule the waters for a few months, making it very dangerous for people wanting to cool off and swim.
On the other hand, it wasn’t that busy during these times as this is when the school holidays are and locals tend to migrate to other places.
If we were to do it again, we would visit during the winter months from June – August. This time of year is still nice and warm with temperatures ranging from 17 – 26°C making it more pleasant to do activities such as trails and hikes. It is, however, the busiest time to visit, so keep that in mind.
How to get to Fitzroy Island
You can only get to Fitzroy Island by boat. Most people tend to get the Fitzroy Island return ferry ticket and that’s what we also did.
The Fitzroy Island return ferry is sold by several tourist companies and outlets through Cairns. This is a good and a bad thing. The bad thing is that it can be overwhelming not knowing where to start and what company is better than the other. The good thing is that this makes a great opportunity for bartering a price.
Price to Fitzroy Island
We always like to save cash wherever possible and we are sure you are no exception to that. So, pull up your socks, put on your sunnies and get your poker face ready. Go to around 3-4 other travel shops around Cairns and compare prices to see which each one can do for you. We did this and ended up booking through PeterPans Adventure Travel.
The cost of a return ticket was $75 each. In general, you can book the day before but on the day might be a struggle.
PeterPans has a best price guarantee so if you find another cheaper option they will match it.
Fitzroy Island Ferry departure times
The ferry to Fitzroy Island departs at 8 am on the dot, with the last check-in at 7:45 am, so do not be late.
The ferry we used is owned by fitzroyisland.com and it was a pleasant ride. You can also check out the updated departure times there too. The journey from Cairns to Fitzroy Island takes about 45 min – 1 hour, with beautiful views of neighbouring Islands and lush greenery.
The boat has inside and outside seating but go earlier for a decent seat; some people were sitting on the floor.
If you intend to crisp yourself like a baked potato, we would recommend going at the earliest if you wish to find seating or a place to tan on the deck.
There’s always the option of a private boat to Fitzroy Island. We didn’t enquire about this because our wallets wouldn’t let us, but if yours does, then, by all means, go ahead.
Fitzroy Island ferry parking price
If you’re on a Fitzroy Island day trip or want to stay overnight and you have a car or campervan, parking is available at the pier shopping mall.
All-day parking 6 am – 10 pm for $15.
They have other options for shorter stays and overnight.
If you have a campervan check it out in advance as the parking is underground and has height restrictions.
This is the cheapest option to leave your vehicle for a full day or overnight and the best thing is that it’s only a 2 min walk away from the check-in points and the pier to Fitzroy Island.
Fitzroy Island map
To gather your bearings, there is a handy map as soon as you get off the boat on the pier. Take a picture of this on your phone or use our blog as a reference guide.
Things to do on Fitzroy Island
Knowing what to do and in which order to maximise your time on the island can be quite difficult when you haven’t been before, but don’t worry, we’ve done that for you. With the list we have provided, we have put it in order to make the most of your time, since you may be doing a day trip.
However, if you are staying longer than a day you can easily spend more time in certain areas and split the day in 2.
1. Fitzroy Island Lighthouse walk
Fitzroy Island lighthouse, also known as ‘Fitzroy Island Light’ can be reached by walking to the top of the Island.
The lighthouse isn’t being used today and was only active between 1973 – 1992. Its main purpose today is for people like us to explore it and enjoy the views from it.
To reach the lighthouse is really easy; you just follow the lighthouse track which is a 2 h return.
The navigation is easy, but the trail? Not so easy. Be prepared for some steep climbing, your legs might shake like a sh*tting dog on the way up. Bring plenty of water, especially on a hot day because you’ll need it.
Kerrie struggled on the way up and we stopped a few times. Even though there is steep walking, the path is all paved and manmade so you don’t have to go through any forest area and climb over rocks.
You will probably be wearing flip flops (or ‘sliders’ as the Aussies call them) since you’re on an Island. However, it will be quite annoying because they will slide off every so often, walking up the steep paths. Due to this, we would recommend wearing some light trainers or fitted sandals.
Your 1 h of steep hills and shaking legs are rewarded with beautiful views situated with the lighthouse.
For us, the lighthouse itself was a bit underwhelming as it’s not being used anymore and it does look rather old. On the other hand, the views all made up for it with a beautiful landscape of the sea and neighbouring Islands. The cold breeze was also welcoming, letting it flow through our clothes to cool us down.
A bonus is that if you’re lucky enough and in the season between May – September, you may be able to spot whales and dolphins.
2. Climb the summit
Near the end of the lighthouse trail, you will come to a point where you can continue onto the summit. This is an extra 750 metres and in total on average takes 3 h return. If you’re extra keen for some more exercise or different views, this is the spot to go to.
3. Fitzroy Island snorkelling
What better way to cool off if you already haven’t from the lighthouse walk, than snorkelling.
Don’t be worried about where to put your valuables as there are lockers for hire near the Dive Shop. The lockers cost $5 for a small locker / 8 hours and $7 for a large locker / 8 hours.
Snorkelling equipment and be rented from inside the Dive Shop. We rented a stinger suit (since it was stinger/jellyfish season) for $10 each, fins and snorkels were $7 for both until 4 pm.
Although, we only needed the fins as we had our own full-face snorkels (geeks).
The full face snorkels by the way are amazing and make snorkelling 10x better.
It is possible to see sea turtles here and that’s what we were most excited about. Also, where there are sea turtles, there are no jellyfish because they eat them!
There is one particular rock situated about 10 min away from the welcome bay where it’s common to find sea turtles swimming around. It’s called ‘Bird Rock’. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to find any as there had been a sea storm overnight, so for us, the water wasn’t as clear as it usually is near there.
The other snorkelling spot we decided to go for was right near the beach by the pier, at the welcome bay. This was some of the clearest water we’ve seen, competing with those we’ve seen in Thailand it was so good.
We did, however, see loads of stingrays, coral reefs and plenty of reef sea life.
We even saw a reef shark! Which at the time we absolutely sh*t our pants and frantically swam back to shore.
It wasn’t until after we found out that they are harmless and are common on the reef. Panic over for next time.
Also, we were followed for about 2 hours by 2 little yellow fish. They would not leave us alone and kept swimming in front of us or just under our faces near our chest the entire time. It was really cute but also really weird. We still don’t know why they were doing that, if you do please let us know in the comments below?
4. Fitzroy Island diving
If snorkelling isn’t good enough for you then it is also possible to do a diving tour.
There are plenty of tours and companies offering diving, you can book them before you leave for Fitzroy Island in Cairns. Try and get a deal with the same company you book the ferry with to save some money. They may even have other deals and tours regarding things to do on Fitzroy Island.
5. Fitzroy Island Turtle rehabilitation
By offering a donation you get to learn about the rehabilitation of the turtles and taken on a tour around the facilities.
The centre depends on donations and it’s great to give a helping hand, as well as to those who volunteer there.
Rightfully so, there is no touching or interaction with the turtles but you do get to see them.
Tours can only be booked on the day, for more information check out their website.
6. Nudey Beach on Fitzroy Island
Do not get confused, this is not an actual nude beach, but it does unveil the true beauty of the Island.
To get to Nudey Beach follow the track on the map located at the pier. It should take around 15 min to walk. On the way there you will have to walk/climb up and down some uneven surfaces but it is nothing too strenuous.
In 2017, Nudey Beach was voted Australia’s best beach from over 11,000 Australian beaches and we can see why.
We have never been on a beach with so many seashells! When you walk across them it’s such a wonderful sound. It kind of sounds like shattering glass. It’s pretty cool.
Secluded, tranquil vibes, bright blue waters and a mix of sand and seashells on the beach. We came here near the end of the day and it was so enticing.
You can also snorkel here, with people also tending to paddleboard surf.
7. Camping on Fitzroy Island
Camping on Fitzroy Island is made really easy. We noticed a nice camping area where they were lots of families hanging out and having a good time.
There are barbecue and toilet facilities as well, making life easier.
The camping site is managed by the Fitzroy Island Resort and is located only 5 min away from the beach, having approximately 20 tent sites. Check out the Fitzroy Island website for more details.
Where to stay
Unless you are camping there is only one place to stay on Fitzroy Island.
Fitzroy Island Resort
Fitzroy Island Resort is the main and only hotel/resort to stay on the Island and it looked rather nice inside as we had a nosey around. It also has the convenience of being able to book tours and rent snorkelling equipment within the resort.
There is also a pool in case you don’t want to swim in the sea, especially in stinger season.
Where to eat
We packed some lunch and brought it with us and kept it in a locker, in a cooler bag. Then we just took some water and a few light snacks with us to keep us going between places.
At lunchtime, we got our lunch and sat on the beach with some nice cold water and really enjoyed it. However, looking at the food at the restaurant was very tempting with a nice cold cocktail!
Zephyr Restaurant is the main restaurant on the Island and the food did look mouth-watering, walking past people eating.
We wanted to save some money so we skipped this but do let us know how it was if you try it for yourselves.
The Island life wouldn’t be complete without having a few drinks. Check out Foxy’s bar where they even have a ping pong table to enjoy.
As we didn’t eat at the restaurant, we did, however, get an ice-cream each from the general store on the island and a bottle of water. Go here for a few snacks in case you have forgotten them.
- Make the most of the price of the ticket and get the earliest boat you can to the island, it is beautiful; you won’t want to waste a minute anywhere else
- To save on costs, bring your own snorkel gear and rent out a locker
- To further save on costs, bring a packed lunch and plenty of water and also store them in a cooler in your locker
- If you’re only doing a day trip as we did, consider skipping the lighthouse and spend more time snorkelling or on Nudey Beach
- If you do the lighthouse trail, make sure you wear a hat and sunscreen as there is a chunk of the area with no shade
- Check the tides and water before you book your trip; we went after a sea storm so the water wasn’t very clear in some areas and we didn’t end up seeing any sea turtles
Carrying on your east coast journey? Cairns isn’t that far from other areas not to be missed.