After ten months in Australia, I think I’ve officially I just had my best day ever! On long, tiring work days, I used to daydream about the “perfect day”. I envisioned myself on an isolated island, with white sand, blue waters and lots of wildlife to keep me happy. I think it’s safe to say I got my wish this weekend when we visited Fitzroy Island in Northern Queensland!
I’m currently living in Northern Queensland and am working a lot to save for my next adventure. We love exploring the Tropics and Fitzroy Island was high on our wish list. So for my 25th birthday, we packed up the car and headed for a weekend on the Great Barrier Reef!
How To Get To Fitzroy Island?
Fitzroy Island is easily accessible from Cairns (29km away), just a 50 minute boat journey from the marina. We booked our boat tickets with Raging Thunder (don’t worry, despite the name the boat is actually very smooth!). Take a seat up top deck and soak in the views of the Barrier Reef as you approach the island. A return ferry ticket is $78pp, including your reef tax.
Where To Stay?
There is only one resort on the entire island, but it offers a few different types of accommodation to suit your budget. You can camp for just $35 a night but must bring all your own camping equipment. If you don’t feel like splashing out on a resort room and camping isn’t your thing, book a room in Cairns near the Marina and take a day trip to Fitzroy instead.
What To Do On Fitzroy?
Foxy’s – What’s the first thing you do when you’ve a full day of freedom on a remote tropical island? Stepping off the boat I was almost overwhelmed by the beauty of Fitzroy, I didn’t know where I wanted to start first!
Feeling a little delicate from our pervious night on the town in Cairns, we headed straight for Foxy’s, the beach front bar and grabbed a coffee. They don’t serve brekkie here so make sure you’ve eaten before you leave, otherwise there is a small convenience store that sells muffins, etc.
Once we had our caffeine fix we picked up our snorkel gear from the activities beach hut and headed straight for Nudey Beach! Follow the signs carefully as the trek to the beach is an unsteady one and weaves into the rainforest. There’s lots of uneven path with high steps and loose rock. It’s just about manageable with kids but you’ll need to leave the strollers behind. After a sweaty 20 minute walk we arrived at Nudey Beach, a sight to behold!
This beach is like something from a dream paradise! We’ve seen white sands and blue waters in Asia, but unlike anything we’ve seen before, this beach is remote, untouched and beautifully quiet. There’s no shops, no one trying to sell you trinkets or rent you surfboards, it’s just white coral and views of the Great Barrier Reef!
Fitzroy is famous for its snorkelling and resident turtles due to its location smack bang in the Barrier Reef. One quick look at Nudey Beach and we realised its not the spot for snorkelling. We kept walking down the beach and climbed over some rocks. Eventually we came to an even smaller, even more secluded beach. The water is so shallow here we could see the reef inches below the surface!
We spoke to a couple who were just emerging from the water, they advice of us here was the best place to see the reef and some sting rays, but no turtles. As it’s stops get season right now (September to May), we were advised to wear stinger suits. These are literally suits that cover every inch on your body, fingers, toes, hair, face, EVERYTHING! Getting stung is unlikely but one sting from a box jellyfish/irukandji can leave you hospitalised or even worse.
I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at Darren in his stinger suit!! I donned one as well, but eventually took it off as we were snorkelling very close to the shore, where there are no jellyfish.
After about twenty minutes swimming to the left of Nudey Beach, admiring the coral and fish, Darren stood up (yep it’s that shallow!) and called my name. I swam over and came face-to-face with a turtle! A beautiful big green turtle happily drifting along munching on the coral.
I’ve seen turtles on the Great a Barrier Reef before, but have been with a group of people who all swarm in the turtle’s direction to get a picture – not the most “at-one-with-nature” experience. I’ve also seen huge ones in Indonesia while snorkelling, but they tended to sit on the coral bottom deep beneath us.
This was by far the best turtle experience I’ve ever had and will ever have! It was just Darren, the turtle and I with no one else around for miles! He swam between our heads as he broke the surface for a gulp of air. He zig-zagged below our bellies as he rummaged through the coral. He let us stroke his shell and even posed nonchalantly as I took a selfie with him! We swam with him for half an hour, just watching him graze and float with the current. I could have stayed with him all day but there was more of Fitzroy to explore!
***Please Remember*** Do not harm, bother or interfere with any marine life you encounter while snorkelling!! “Turtle Selfies” are amazing but only snap a pic if the turtle approaches you, not the other way around. Never EVER remove a turtle from the water for a picture or interrupt it while feeding.
I waved goodbye to my new marine friend and reluctantly dragged myself back to the beach. After so much swimming, we’d worked up an appetite so it was back to Foxy’s for food, where we are, drank and listened to some live music by the beach…my idea of a perfect lunch!
The afternoon was spent on the main beach where you can bake on the white sand, or enjoy some water sports. A water trampoline is there for everyone to enjoy, or you can rent a canoe, paddle board and even go on a glass bottom boat to enjoy some views of the GBR.
Turtle Rehabilitation Centre
There is also a turtle hospital on the island where turtles are nursed back to health in an effort to help save the turtle population. After the floods in late 2010 and Cyclone Yasi in January 2011 there has been an 800% increase in Turtle strandings along the Queensland coast. The centre holds free talks and tours at 2.30pm everyday but make sure to book a space when you arrive on the island.
The catchline used for Fitzroy Island tourism is “where the rainforest meets the reef”, and it’s not wrong! The island is home to a beautiful set of hikes through the rainforest and up to the summit. Here you can take in beautiful views of the tie-dye waters sprinkled with the coral reef all round. From Foxy’s Bar to the Summit takes about two hours to complete.
Australia has over 8,000 islands on its coastline and no two are the same. Tourists and backpackers flock toward the well-known islands of Magnetic, the Whitsundays and Fraser. If you are taking a trip up the aag coast of Oz, I highly recommend you put Fitzroy on your list. Get off the beaten track and enjoy the Great Barrier Reef in the tranquility of this beautiful tropical island!
For a limited time only, Groupon are holding an unbelievable deal for two people on Fitzroy for three nights. For just $649 for two people, you will stay in a studio room in the Fitzroy Resort for three nights, with island transfers, free buffet breakfast and two thirty-minute massages each. You will also have use of the hotel’s water sport equipments. At $649 for two, that’s just over $100 each a night, a bargain for such a beautiful island. This deal is perfect for a romantic getaway and fr those who wish to get off the beaten track.
If this sounds like your cup of tea, click here to avail of this deal and make your booking!