As I spent so much time in Northern Queensland (pretty much the majority of my time that I’ve been in Australia) I was able to visit Fitzroy Island a number of times. Unfortunately each time I did visit I was either drinking or hungover, so I wasn’t able to do any of the walks or explore much of the island itself. I regret not taking the time to do these things, but on each visit I really did enjoy myself and would definitely recommend making the short trip from Cairns to visit the island.
The first time I visited the island was back in 2015 when I was first staying in Cairns. Me and a group of my good friends decided to go for the day as we were planning to leave Cairns around that time, so thought it would be a nice thing to do all together before hand. We booked through one of the backpacker travel shops (Happy Travels if anyone is interested) and decided to go through the Raging Thunder company. This was mainly because it was the only Fitzroy Island flyer I could see but I would highly recommend them having booked through them twice now.
We had paid for the activity pass which gave us return ferry transfers, lunch and access to the water trampoline and snorkel gear. We were all a little worse for wear after the night before, me in particular, but we made plenty of use of the water trampoline and even gave snorkelling a go. We mainly messed around trying to get underwater photos of us so I can’t really comment on the snorkelling from that experience, but the second time I visited I realised how good it was there!
Thanks to our raging hangovers my first visit didn’t really consist of anything more than sunbathing and messing around on the water trampoline. On my second visit I was able to do a little more, although once again I was cursed with a hangover! This visit was the weekend after my birthday where my sister and her boyfriend had flown over from Perth to come visit, so I wanted us to do something fun. As I was completing my Divemaster training at the time I was super keen to get in the water and go for a snorkel, so we spent most of the morning doing so and relaxing on the beach.
The snorkelling wasn’t the best in terms of the reef itself, personally I thought it was in a pretty bad state, but the marine life was awesome. As with most popular snorkel spots a lot of marine life has become accustomed to seeing people in the water and are fairly relaxed, and this was definitely true that day. For nearly 10 minutes I was able to hover literally 2 or so metres above 3 white tip reef sharks. For anyone who has seen reef sharks diving or snorkelling you may know how shy they usually are, so to be able to spend so much time so close to them was absolutely incredible! This was hands down my most incredible shark encounter, I still get so excited when I tell the story. I was able to spot a couple of turtles who were happy enough for me to get a close look, and there was a nice variety of tropical fish.
For the afternoon we had arranged to go on a tour of the island’s turtle rehabilitation centre. I was so excited for this, obviously being a lover or marine life, and the tour itself was so inexpensive with all proceeds going to the centre. The centre itself is very small so most of the tour is taken up walking to the site whilst hearing about the history and the work of the rehabilitation centre. It was lovely to hear about the amazing work that they do and the tour ended at the centre itself and getting to meet a couple of the residents.
I really enjoyed both day trips I made to the island and my third visit was also amazing. For Halloween one of the pub crawl companies based in Cairns decided to throw a party on the island and I was lucky enough that my friends had bought me a ticket for my birthday. The night started with pre drinks at the Shangri La hotel and the ferry ride there a back had a bar and DJ. On the island the party was held at the only bar on the island, Foxy’s, with the same DJ and it was actually a lot of fun. It’s a bit of a blur of drinks and dancing but I know I had a good time.
I have a lot of fond memories of Fitzroy Island, even if I do have a few regrets. If I do make it back to Cairns at some point and ever revisit the island itself, I will definitely make the time to do the walks around and see some of the other beaches it has to offer. I would definitely recommend a trip if you’re in the region!