In Travel

Island Life: The Best Great Barrier Reef Islands For Total Seclusion

Craving a mid-year break? A visit to a remote tropical island could be exactly what’s in order. The gentle lapping of waves, the rustle of wind in the palm trees, and the fact that barely anyone else is around, there truly is nothing more calming.

Fortunately for Australians, we don’t have to travel too far to find them. When it comes to off-the-beaten-track tropical islands, our country is fringed by some of the world’s best. But it’s those up north that are particularly special – not to mention warm year-round.

Here, we round up some of the best Great Barrier Reef islands. Some are day trip-worthy, others deserve an overnight.

Fitzroy Island

great barrier reef islands

Image: Monica Dombrovskis

Considering how convenient Fitzroy Island is to get to from Cairns – it’s a 45-minute ferry ride – it’s surprising how unknown among Great Barrier Reef islands it’s remained. Though it did get some notoriety in 2017 when its Nudey Beach was voted best in the world by beach expert Brad Farmer.

After snorkelling in its turtle-teeming waters either at Nudey or Welcome Bay, hike to its summit. Reward yourself with a cocktail at beachside bar Foxy’s before taking the ferry back.

Green Island

great barrier reef islands

Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Also just a 45-minute ferry from Cairns, Green Island is more frequented by tourists than Fitzoy, but still relatively under-the-radar. The island is a 600-year-old coral cay, and is the only cay in the Great Barrier Reef with a rainforest growing on it.

Spend your time here strolling through rainforest, lazing on white sand or donning a high-tech helmet while Seawalker diving. After an aerial view? Consider parasailing or a scenic helicopter flight.

Don’t want to leave? Stay at Green Island Resort. A stay here includes ferry transfers from Cairns, as well as organised activities like live fish feeding demonstrations, island walks and star gazing.

Vlasoff Cay

The only uninhabited island – or rather, cay – on this list, Vlasoff Cay is still more than worthy of a mention. A white sand cay smack bang in the middle of swirls of blues and greens, it’s a popular favourite for locals to boat to. But for visitors and a truly luxurious experience, it can be reached by chopper.

The two-hour experience will see you swooping over the Great Barrier Reef to then land on the cay for a champagne breakfast and snorkel before hopping back aboard to fly back to Cairns.

Dunk Island

Image: Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Mention Dunk Island and long-time Cairns locals get a wistful look in their eyes. The island was once a popular holiday spot, but after Cyclone Larry and Cyclone Yasi ravaged it one after the next, it never quite recovered.

Today, the island can be visited in the day by catching a Mission Beach Water Taxi across from the mainland, about two hours south of Cairns. Enjoy nature walks, picnics and swims. Back on Mission Beach, keep your eyes peeled for cassowaries – they’re only native to Tropical North Queensland.

Lizard Island

With just 40 villas and suites and only resorts guests allowed access, Lizard Island is as secluded a Great Barrier Reef island as you can get. All bookings here are all-inclusive with charter plane transfers and all meals – at restaurants Salt Water, Driftwood and Marlin, as well as private picnic opportunities on any of its 24 beaches – included.

For a very special splurge, book The Villa. Set atop a cliff, The Villa comes with two bedrooms, an open-plan lounge and dining area, and an 8-metre plunge pool.

Bedarra Island

Like Lizard, Bedarra in the Family Islands group is reserved for resort guests only, and because of that, totally remote. In fact, its tagline is ‘When you simply do not wish to be found…’.

The resort can hold up to just 14 guests in its 10 villas, meaning there’s a good chance you won’t see a single other soul when you wander its 45 hectares of tropical rainforest. Food here is focused on high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients, as well as on beautiful presentation. Villas all blend with their surroundings – perched and nestled into rainforest and all boasting sea views.

(Lead image: Lizard Island / supplied)

Published 31 May, 2019