Your 2019 island inspiration: Where reef meets rainforest

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Jo Jukes kicks back on Australia's best beach and discover an eco-resort dedicated to keeping the Great Barrier Reef's welfare and tourism in balance.

Jo Jukes 19 November 2018

Ever dreamed of sipping from a coconut while being castaway on an (almost) deserted island on the Great Barrier Reef? 

Say hello to Fitzroy Island; an idyllic island playground only a stone’s throw from the Australian mainland, and yet a world away in time.

Situated 30km off the coast of north-east Australia and within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, Fitzroy Island Resort offers a guilt-free way for eco-conscious travellers to tick this iconic Aussie experience off their bucket list. 

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Eco-resort Fitzroy Island sits within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area

What’s it like at Fitzroy Island Resort?

Surrounded by cerulean waters and spectacular coral beaches, Fitzroy Island Resort is the quintessential island paradise. But getting your toes wet isn’t the only appeal, 97% of this jungle oasis is National Park, making it one of the few places in the world where reef meets rainforest.

The rooms

This 99 room eco-luxury resort offers Insta-worthy ocean views on one side and secluded tropical rainforest on the other.

All of the suites are sleek and modern with sophisticated timber furniture, air-conditioning, a plasma TV and mini fridge. A Grecian-inspired ensuite marble bathroom is furnished with a decadent shower to rinse the sand from between your toes after another day in paradise.

The views

As the locals will tell you; the views are ‘ripper!’ Start by taking the short rainforest walk to Nudey Beach to discover why it’s been crowned 2018’s ‘best beach in Australia’. Despite the misleading name, the only white bits on display at Nudey Beach are the stretches of immaculate ivory sand.

The inland summit walking trails were laid when Fitzroy Island was used as a military base during World War II. Naturally, the resulting lookouts provide the island’s premier views over the coral sea, surrounding islands and towards the velvety green peaks of the Australian mainland.

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Take a 45 minute ferry ride from Cairns to reach Fitzroy Island

The menu

Zephyr restaurant offers al fresco dining overlooking the beach, nestled amongst lush tropical gardens. In true Queensland style barefoot dining is the norm. It's the only a la carte restaurant on the island so book in advance to nab a table outside on the shaded terrace. It's the perfect spot to watch the gaggle of day trippers depart, leaving you with nothing but the rustle of palm fronds, the tinkling of waves on coral and a front row seat to a spectacular island sunset. 

Standout dishes include baked Tasmanian Atlantic salmon doused in a mouth-watering citrus butter sauce.

The bar 

Rest aching post-hike feet at Foxy’s bar and sip on a well-deserved ‘Summit Survivor’ cocktail; it's a refreshing blend of lychee liqueur, lime, apple and mint.

Foxy's bar opens onto the beach - snag a table facing the ocean at dusk for stargazing and you might even spot a cloud of red flying foxes (nocturnal fruit bats) venturing out for their nightly adventures.

The service

Once you’ve come out of the initial coconut-rum infused languor head to the island's dive centrewhere friendly staff are on hand to help pick from the activities on offer; including glass bottom boat tours, kayaking, snorkelling, scuba-diving or a walking tour of the island.   

For adventure seekers, scuba diving is a must. Float in crystal clear water through an enchanted forest of vibrant corals; while the cast of Finding Nemo curiously glide alongside you including clownfish, manta rays and sea turtles. 

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Discover a huge cast of marine wildlife under the waves in the Coral Sea

The sustainability bit

Fitzroy Island Resort is making waves in eco-tourism, particularly for its VIP residents at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, the island's volunteer-run sanctuary for sick and injured turtles. The waters surrounding the island are also home to the Great Barrier Reef's first offshore coral nursery and the resort is an avid supporter of the Reef Restoration Foundation.

And there's no plastic straw for your Piña Colada, Fitzroy Island Resort has replaced all single use plastic with eco-friendly alternatives

Three reasons to book

  • Get up close with the island’s friendliest locals in the daily turtle tour and learn more about the importance of marine conservation.
  • The secluded pristine waters directly off the beach are teeming with vibrant corals and colourful fish; perfect for snorkelling, swimming and scuba diving.
  • Fitzroy Island Resort is one of the closest island accommodation offerings in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, making it easy and convenient to reach.

Where is Fitzroy Island Resort?

Fitzroy Island Resort is the only resort on Fitzroy Island and is easily reached by a daily 45-minute ferry transfer from Cairns in north Queensland.

Wifi? Available from reception for a fee
Dog friendly? No
Child friendly? Yes

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