A rugged, thickly wooded, continental island 29km southeast of Cairns, most of Fitzroy is national park, with the exception of a recently reopened resort at Welcome Bay.
Craggy boulders border coral sand beaches, with star performer Nudey Beach rivalling Whitehaven for “most photographed” status. An inshore fringing reef provides an easy snorkel site off the jetty. Free public moorings provide refuge for private boat owners. Walking tracks crisscross the island, with the best a three-hour Lighthouse Circuit allowing stunning views to the outer reef on a clear day. A campground there is set to be reopened in the near future.
The previously ramshackle resort facilities have been razed and recently reopened as the 4.5 star Fitzroy Island Hunt Resort (www.huntgroup.com.au) after a $100m rebuild. Day-trippers don’t have access to the resort, though they’re welcome at the beachside pool and cafe.
A little further south and 10km offshore are the five islands of the Frankland Group National Park. Unpopulated and little visited, Normanby Island is one hour away from civilisation but may as well be on another planet. Snorkelling, diving and beachcombing on a far-flung island are the main reason to visit. Campers are welcome to bed down on Russell and High Islands.
Getting There: Boat transfer from Cairns for Hunt Resort guests, while day-trippers visit the Fitzroy Island with Raging Thunder Tours (www.ragingthunder.com.au). Day-trippers to the Frankland Group depart from Deeral on the Mulgrave River south of Cairns (www.franklandislands.com).