Green Island, located on the inner Great Barrier Reef, is one of the most accessible snorkeling spots in Cairns. Bordered by coral reefs and seagrass beds, the small island allows you to explore various underwater environments. From a few steps from the beach, we can meet green turtles, giant clams, fluorescent corals, and fish of all colors.
Green Island is accessible mainly from Cairns in about 45 minutes by boat. Several companies offer simple transferts to the island (about AUD100 per person round trip, various schedules available). Combined excursions to Green Island and the outer reef are also offered. If you choose this option, know that the stop at Green Island lasts about 2 hours, which leaves enough time for a nice snorkeling before joining at the Great Barrier Reef. These combined trips cost around AUD250 per person which includes lunch, as well as snorkeling equipment and sting suit. In these two types of excursions (Green Island alone or combined with the outer reef), you will be free from your activities once brought on the island. It is also possible to stay on the island at the Green Island Resort. In this case, the hotel will organize your transport to the island.
Two separate areas of Green Island are recommended for snorkeling. In both cases, you will enter the water from the beach. To access the western zone (zone 2 on the map above), enter the water at nearly the foot of the dock, as the water level on the reef flat is too low.
There are two areas recommended for snorkeling at Green Island:
1/ The area facing the main beach, located north of the island (zone 1 on the map). We reach the beach on foot in about ten minutes from the dock (well signposted). The seafloor has mainly seagrass beds, but also some coral areas that attract many fish, including parrotfish, six-banded angelfish, batfish and snappers. The water level increases gradually from the edge, at 4m to about 200m from the beach, near the orange buoys. It is in these remote areas that you will most likely see green turtles (though they are sometimes spotted closer to the shore).
2/ The fringing reef which extends to the east of the island, south of the dock (zone 2 on the map). This is the area you see on your right when you land at Green Island. Here, a shallow reef flat extends from the beach to a small reef front at about 150m from the edge. The reef flat allows some interesting views (of triggerfish, blue starfish, etc.) when the height of the water is sufficient enough for snorkeling over it. However, it is at the front of the reef (↕1-3m) that the underwater life is the most dense: angelfish, parrotfish and schools of surgeonfish gravitate around multicolored corals and giant clams. Be careful because the front of the reef is also the area in front that maneuvers the boats to land on the dock. Make sure to stay away from this area.
The Green Island Resort is the only accommodation on the island. Day visitors can access the hotel’s restaurant and several shops.
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.
Fringing reef with coral, fish and sea turtles
Protected coral reef with sea turtles and reef fish
Shallow coral reef with fish and clams
Lagoon and reef drop off with sea turtles, manta rays and sharks
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