Fitzroy Island National Park
For the nature lover who wants a day that includes forest and swimming there is nothing better than a day tour to Fitzroy Island National Park. Located just 25 km from Cairns the island may be reached by private boat or ferry services that depart from the Reef terminal. The rugged 339 hectares sized continental island is the exposed portion of a mountain top, a part of a submersed mountain range. The island is surrounded by a fringing reef. Fifteen hectares of the park has been leased to commercial activities, primarily the Fitzroy Island Resort at Welcome Bay.
Swimming And Snorkeling
The activities available on the island are all nature orientated with swimming and snorkeling at the two safe beaches being the attraction for many of the visitors. Welcome Bay and the Nudey Beach are the two swimming locations. Both offer crystal clear waters, calm conditions and a wide range of corals and marine life. The majority of the visitors stay around the Welcome Bay area. Nudey Beach is a short walk away about 1.2 km round trip taking about 25 minutes each way. The walk is along the coastal woodlands, passing huge granite boulders and into a section of the tropical rain forest. Emerging from the tree line the hiker is rewarded with a white sand beach and perfect swimming conditions. You can bring your own snorkeling gear or rent it on the island.
The Fitzroy Island Resort Dive and Activity Center is the place to arrange guided shore dives in Welcome Bay. Full rentals gear is available to certified divers. Those who are not a certified diver may take a Resort course at the center. Kayaks, some with glass viewing ports, and stand up paddle boards are also available at the activity center.
A very popular optional activity on the island is Sea Kayaking. Kayaking is available in Welcome Bay but the best option is the three hour guided tour of the island. The guides will take you around to some of the small coves on the island that are only assessable by water. Most often the tour includes a trip out to the nearby Little Fitzroy Island where you can have your packed lunch, snorkel in the clear water and hike up to the lighthouse for unforgettable views. The tours are morning departures so you will have time in the afternoon to enjoy the other attractions of the island.
During WWII, Fitzroy Island was used for coastal defense, and a few trails were created to lead to observation post. Those trails are used today for hiking into the interior of the island. These trails are the only portions of the island that visitors may hike. In most places the vegetation is too thick to penetrate. There are very few mammals on the island with reptiles being at the top of the food chain. As you hike the trails of the National Park be on the look out for these reptiles. They may not be hard to spot. A type of lizard called the Major Skink averages 39 cm or about 15 inches long. While the yellow-spotted monitor (Varanus panoptes ) is about 1.2 meters long just about 4 feet. They will often sun themselves on a log until their body temperature reaches about 32°c, then go look for food.
The Fitzroy Island Resort is the only commercial facility on the island. There is also a small campsite in the National Park, management of the park’s camping facilities is by the resort.