Australia Travel Guide | Fitzroy Island Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Excursion from Cairns

australia travel guide: fitzroy island great barrier reef snorkeling excursion from cairns

Our second day in Cairns, Australia, was the best we had there, weather-wise. The torrential downpour had lessened to a spritz, but the water was so choppy that some poor souls on board were seasick. The excursion to Fitzroy Island was very laid-back. It included the boat ride to the island, snorkel gear rental (including stinger suits, because it’s jellyfish season), a boxed lunch, a glass-bottom boat ride, and stand-up paddle boards, too.

Australia Travel Guide | Fitzroy Island Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Excursion from Cairns

A steady rain fell nearly nonstop all day, but because we were doing water activities, it didn’t bother us all that much. It was merely unfortunate that we weren’t able to go snorkeling on the other side of the island, the side that wasn’t accessible by foot, because the boat wasn’t running; we also couldn’t do the glass-bottom boat tour because the water was too choppy. It was a little bit of a bummer, but it wasn’t enough to ruin our day by any stretch. Instead, we made use of the stand-up paddle boards. I had only paddle-boarded once before, on the smooth lake waters in northern Michigan, so doing it out on the choppy ocean water presented an interesting challenge. The hubby fell quite a bit (poor thing, it was his higher center of gravity, he swore), but I managed to stay up more often than not. I enjoyed myself. 🙂

Australia Travel Guide | Fitzroy Island Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Excursion from Cairns

A little advice if you plan on doing a similar excursion to Fitzroy Island: Wear water shoes, or, at the very least, some flip-flops. The beach—such as it is—is comprised entirely of bleached bits of coral reef. It makes a lovely tinkling sound with each wave that crashed upon the shore, but it’s hell on bare feet. I hadn’t worn appropriate footwear when we went, so we ended up buying a pair of flip-flops from the one and only convenience store on the island. There’s also a bar and grill on the island, with nice views of the water, in case you’ve got a little time you’d like to while away. We had about an hour between the time we finished paddle-boarding and when our ride back to Cairns, so we grabbed a couple of fruity drinks and relaxed while we waited.

What with it being Christmas Day and all, I was a little concerned that we would have a hard time finding places to eat dinner that night, but I needn’t have worried. The Esplanade was bustling with activity that night. I had a hankering for Thai food, so we ate at Iyara By Sakare, a loft-like restaurant with a veranda and views of the ocean. It was one of the best meals I had in Australia—and we had a lot of excellent food there. I got the Gai Takrai, marinated grilled chicken with lemongrass, peanut and tamarind sauce. The white rice on the side offered a hint of coconut—yum.

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