The Great Barrier Reef stretches from Cape York down the Queensland coast to Bundaberg, spanning a length of 2,300km. Along the way there are over 3,000 coral reefs and 600 continental islands, as well as many cays – plenty to explore!
Whether you’re a long-time North Queensland local or are visiting, a trip out to the reef is a must. There are plenty of beautiful things to see and do, and it really puts into perspective just how beautiful our world is.
Each island has its own unique qualities. Here are a few amazing ones to discover in North Queensland.
1. Frankland Islands, Cairns area
Frankland Islands is composed of five islands called Normanby, Russel, Round, High and Mabel. Every single one of them is uninhabited except for the spectacular wildlife. It has no facilities, but there are six campsites if you’re after an adventure in untouched nature.
2. Green Island, Cairns area
3. Fitzroy Island, Cairns area
A popular day trip option, Fitzroy Island has a turtle rehabilitation hospital, walking tracks (with one leading up to a lighthouse), and plenty of fun activities and tours.
4. Magnetic Island, Townsville area
Magnetic Island is home to a number of beaches, hiking trails and cute resident koalas.Hike up to WWII forts, visit the Bungalow Bay Koala Sanctuary or drive a topless car around the island. It is the only island on this list with its own postcode, and 2,500 residents call it home.
5. Hinchinbrook Island, Townsville area
Hinchinbrook Island is a hiker’s paradise. Only 40 people are allowed there at any time. It is massive and completely uninhabited and home to the famous 32km Thorsborne Trail. It is accessible by a ferry ride from Lucinda or Cardwell and is the perfect place for those seeking a real adventure.
6. Whitsunday Island, Whitsundays
The biggest island as part of the 74 Whitsunday Islands, and home to the iconic picturesque Whitehaven Beach.
7. Hamilton Island, Whitsundays
Hamilton Island is car-free but has its own airport and loads of accommodation options are available. There is lots to do including hiking up to Passage Peak, offering stunning views of the surrounding islands.
8. Long Island, Whitsundays
Located just one kilometre from the coastline, Long Island features bush walking paths and a tropical rainforest.
9. Daydream Island, Whitsundays
It certainly lives up to its name. Daydream Island features 280 modern rooms making it perfect for families, along with three restaurants and a coral lagoon wrapping around the central building home to over 100 species of marine fish.
10. Hayman Island, Whitsundays
The most northerly of the Whitsunday Islands, Hayman Island features a number of accommodation options and restaurants as well as botanical gardens. It’s a popular honeymoon destination, but also popular with families.
11. Keswick Island, Mackay area
Spot vibrant blue butterflies, turtles cruising in clear waters and learn about fascinating bees. Explore the bushwalking tracks or simply relax.
12. Newry Island, Mackay area
Newry Island is close to the mainland and is popular with camping, fishing and bushwalking, and it has some spectacular lookouts. The area has been designated as a dugong protection area.
The Great Barrier Reef is a world heritage listed site. When visiting, show respect for mother nature and leave it the same way you found it.
Do not collect souvenirs – Avoid collecting natural souvenirs such as shells or seeds. Take only photos and memories with you.
Respect the flora and fauna – Don’t touch, pick up, feed or otherwise disturb the wildlife, and avoid making loud noises. If an animal seems agitated by your presence, carefully move away. Stay on marked paths and don’t tread on any vegetation or snap off any branches.
Do not litter – Take all rubbish with you, including food scraps. Many islands are uninhabited, so take extra care as there won’t be any bins. Take an extra moment to pick up any rubbish along the way, even if it isn’t yours.