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Green Island Vs. Fitzroy Island

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Tue 05 Dec 2023

Green Island is generally better for swimming and snorkelling, whereas Fitzroy Island is better for hiking and adventure. However, both tropical islands off the coast of Cairns are absolutely stunning and have plenty to offer travellers! If you’re struggling to choose Green Island or Fitzroy Island as your next day trip from Cairns, we’ve curated this detailed comparison of both islands so you can decide which island is best suited for you. 

aerial view of rainforest and beach on Fitzroy Island

Fitzroy Island

Green Island Vs Fitzroy Island - Which Is Better?

Green Island and Fitzroy Island have a lot in common, from pristine beaches and coral reefs to rainforest bush walks and family-friendly activities. Both are easily accessible from Cairns by ferry as well. But for those wondering whether Green Island or Fitzroy Island is better, it depends on what you’re looking for. We’re going to compare the size, travel times and costs, and the features and activities of each island. This will help you compare both destinations and choose the ideal day trip from Cairns. 

girl snorkelling next to a colorful coral reef on Green Island

Green Island

What is the difference between Green Island and Fitzroy Island?

The main difference between Green Island and Fitzroy Island is size and geography. Green Island is smaller, flatter, and has shallower waters. Fitzroy Island is larger, more mountainous, and has slightly deeper water off of its beaches. Both islands have amazing snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, bushwalks, resorts, consistent ferries, and activities like glass bottom boats, kayaks, scuba diving, and more. Here is a breakdown of the differences between Green Island and Fitzroy Island so you can better understand how they vary. 

girls looking out at the beach on Fitzroy Island

Fitzroy Island

Size

Green Island is about 12 hectares. It’s technically a sand cay, and the only one with rainforest growing on its surface! Because Green Island is small, you can walk everywhere in a short time and all the trails traversing the island are easy and flat. It only takes about an hour to walk around all of Green Island. 

Fitzroy Island is much larger at about 339 hectares in size. Its surface is more rugged and mountainous, so the trails around the island vary in elevation. The landmass was once part of the Australian mainland but slowly separated over thousands of years. You can't walk around the entirety of Fitzroy Island because the terrain is dense and rugged, but there are a handful of trails that traverse the island and take a few hours each. 

aerial view of Green Island surrounded by coral reefs

Green Island

Snorkelling

Both islands have flourishing coral reefs offshore and you can experience some incredible snorkeling and diving. It’s tough to choose which island has better snorkelling, so just know that you’ll see some gorgeous marine life on both islands. Sea turtles on the Great Barrier Reef love to hang out around the islands because they can munch on the sea grass, so you have a decent chance of spotting sea turtles off both Green Island and Fitzroy Island. Green Island is a bit closer to other Great Barrier Reef sites as well so you can book a combined island and reef snorkelling tour

man snorkelling with a sea turtle near Green Island

Green Island

Hiking

In terms of hiking, Fitzroy Island has better trails and viewpoints. Because there are mountains and slopes on the island, you can find a greater variety of trails including some steep, challenging hikes. The hike up to the Lighthouse is one of the best hikes on the island! You’ll find yourself at the top of a forested mountain peak with panoramic views of the Coral Sea and surrounding islands. 

Green Island has some leisurely walking trails that offer a more peaceful experience. The island is mostly flat, so you won’t get much elevation on Green Island’s trails but you’ll get to immerse yourself in the lush rainforest. If you want to go for an easy walk with young kids, Green Island has some nice options. 

Fitzroy Island rainforest and mountains and coastline

Fitzroy Island

Beaches

Both Green Island and Fitzroy Island have picture-perfect beaches. Complete with soft white sand, warm sapphire water, and vibrant green vegetation, you can have the ultimate beach day on either island. Fitzroy Island’s beaches are pretty rocky so you may want to wear footwear instead of exploring barefoot. Fitzroy Island is home to Nudey Beach, one of the best beaches in Queensland! Even this gorgeous beach is quite hard underfoot until you get close to the water.

Green Island has a few lesser-known beaches but they are all stunning. On Green Island, all the beaches have shallow waters that are perfect for young kids and families. There is even a lifeguarded beach, where there are no lifeguards on Fitzroy Island. Fitzroy Island’s beaches have a bit of a steeper drop-off so they are more suited for confident swimmers. 

golden sand beach with turquoise water and rainforests

Nudey Beach, Fitzroy Island

Resorts and Facilities

Green Island and Fitzroy Island both have a high-end resort with accommodations, restaurants, bars, shops, and luxury amenities. Because Fitzroy Island is larger, the resort offers more varied accommodation options including private bungalows and camping. But both islands have a few different dining options including sit-down restaurant, casual eateries, and places to get cocktails and coffees. Both resorts also have basic day-use facilities like toilets, showers, lockers, and first-aid stations. Green Island has a swimming pool open for day visitors, whereas the Fitzroy Island resort pool is only open for resort guests. 

Someone looking at a Green Island resort sign

Green Island

Other Activities and Attractions

In addition to snorkelling, hiking, and resort amenities, both islands have additional activities and attractions. Green Island is famous for its Marineland Melanesia Crocodile Habitat & Gift Shop. This family-owned crocodile park has fascinating reptiles as well as unique tribal gifts and souvenirs.

Fitzroy Island's main wildlife attraction is its Turtle Rehabilitation Center. You can visit this nonprofit organisation to learn about sea turtles and the process of healing and protecting these beautiful creatures. However, visits to the center are limited and they may book out quickly so be sure to enquire in advance. Spots are usually reserved for Fitzroy Island Resort guests, so you'll have a better chance of getting in if you stay at the resort. 

Canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and glass bottom boats are available on both islands as well. Green Island also offers sea walking, parasailing, scuba diving, and scenic flights over the Great Barrier Reef. So it just depends on which activities you're most interested in!

aerial view of fitzroy island beaches and waters

Fitzroy Island

Is Fitzroy Island or Green Island better for kids?

Based on the info we’ve just covered, Green Island is better for kids because of its flat surface and shallow waters. There aren’t many hazards on this beautiful island as all the beaches are safe and kid-friendly. You can still have a blast with kids on Fitzroy Island, but Green Island is better suited for young ones. Also note that Green Island has much better accessibility for prams and wheelchairs. 

Fitzroy Island is better for adventurous travellers! The epic mountain hikes and deeper, coral-filled waters make for some incredible hiking and snorkelling. There is more surface area to explore and slightly more rugged scenery, however the terrain is not very pram or wheelchair friendly. But there are gems on both Green Island and Fitzroy Island for families and travellers of all ages.

mother and child walking on the beach on fitzroy island

Fitzroy Island

Green Island vs. Fitzroy Island Price

It's about the same price to get to Green Island or Fitzroy Island from Cairns. Both islands are easily accessible with direct ferry transfers that depart Cairns daily. Here is a price comparison for full-day ferry transfers from Cairns to Green Island or Fitzroy Island:

So you'll spend about the same amount of money to visit Green Island or Fitzroy Island from Cairns. For a package that includes ferry transfers, snorkel gear, and a glass-bottom boat tour, prices are still reasonable and similar between both islands. 

Sunlover Fitzroy Island Ferry pulling up onto shore

Sunlover Fitzroy Island

So which is better, Green Island or Fitzroy Island?

To recap, Green Island is better for young kids and families due to its shallow waters and flat terrain, whereas Fitzroy Island is better for adventurous travellers due to its variety of hikes. But both islands are truly beautiful and you can enjoy snorkelling, swimming, hiking, and other fun activities on both islands. Ferries are relatively affordable to both Green Island and Fitzroy Island, and both islands have luxury resorts where you can extend your stay.

Green Island has slightly more tour options, such as combined Great Barrier Reef tours, sailing tours, and combined scenic flight tours. Both islands have cool attractions as well such as the Crocodile Park on Green Island and the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on Fitzroy Island. But you definitely won’t regret a visit to either island while you're staying in Cairns!

Sailboat cruising around the reef next to Green Island

Ocean Free Green Island Sailboat

Ready to plan your visit to Green Island or Fitzroy Island while you're staying in Cairns? 

Live chat with our local travel agents or call us at (07) 4082 7470 if you have any more questions about these amazing destinations or Cairns in general. 

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