Home to one of the most beautiful beaches on Australia’s east coast, Fitzroy Island welcomes hundreds of day trippers from Cairns. Although the underwater visibility around the island (located near the coast) can be poor, don’t hesitate to admire its seabed if you’re spending the day there. There are dozens of reef fish species, some turtles, and small sharks that live on the reefs lining the island.
Cairns is the main departure point for boats to Fitzroy Island. The crossing takes about 45 minutes. Several companies offer boat rides to the island (about AUD80 per person, various schedules available). Once on Fitzroy Island, you are free to explore the island as you want. It is also possible to stay on the island at Fitzroy Island Resort or in the campgrounds. In this case, your transport can be organized by the hotel.
There are two snorkeling areas around Fitzroy Island. The Nudey Beach area (zone 1 on the map) can be explored at high tide as well as at low tide. The water entrance is from the beach. However, snorkeling the dock area (zone 2 on the map) is tide-dependant. In fact, at low tide, it is often impossible to get into the water without stepping on the coral (which is absolutely forbidden and dangerous). Make sure to check the tides times.
There are two areas recommended for snorkeling at Fitzroy Island:
1/ The small coral reef that borders the rocks at the north end of Nudey Beach (zone 1 on the map). We reach the beach from about a fifteen minute walk from the dock (well signposted). Enter the water near the rocks. The reef begins just a few meters from the edge. It is generally well preserved with beautiful colonies of hard corals forming a small drop off (↕1-3m/3-9ft). Parrotfish, butterflyfish, angelfish and wrasses are common at reef, which is sometimes visited by small whitetip sharks.
2/ The reef flat and reef facing the main beach of the island east of the dock, about opposite the resort (zone 2 on the map). If you find the beach to be less pleasant, this spot is the best place around the island to swim with green sea turtles. They are most often found in areas where depths are 2 to 4m (↕6-13ft), at the reef front (see map). This spot is not devoid of coral which forms in places of pretty slopes where six-banded angelfish, small schools of snappers, and couples of rabbitfish abound.
Watch out- the underwater visibility at Fitzroy Island is generally average and can worsen after heavy rains. As anywhere else on Queensland, wearing a sting suit is recommended, especially during summer months.
The Fitzroy Island Resort (which also manages the nearby campground) is the only accommodation on the island. There is a restaurant that is open to visitors during the day.
These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Shallow reefs and seagrass meadows with sea turtles, giant clams and reef fish
Protected coral reef with sea turtles and reef fish
Lagoon and reef drop off with sea turtles, manta rays and sharks
House reef with coral and reef fish
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