Visit the world’s largest coral reef system and support conservationist efforts while you explore the coastline of Wunyami / Green Island.

We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Guru-Gulu Gungandji Nation, the traditional land of the Guru-Gulu Gungandji people who have occupied and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Highlights

  • Crystal clear reefs and tropical fish galore!
  • Knowledge that a portion of your ticket price goes to scientists working to conserve the reef
  • Sip on a cocktail (or few) once you arrive on Wunyami / Green Island

Exploring The Great Barrier Reef

You’ve heard of The Great Barrier Reef, and you’ve probably seen it on countless brochures: colourful underwater worlds, turquoise water, sky-reaching palms. It’s probably difficult to believe in the realness of it all, until you see it first-hand.

There’s nothing better than diving into crystal clear water with your snorkel on and spending hours following brightly coloured fish and stingrays around the seafloor.

You paddle in for a cocktail, maybe a nap in the shade, before meandering down the sandbank to follow the sea life again. This is the world’s largest coral reef system, and one of nature’s most breathtaking gifts. 

Snorkelling Wunyami /Green Island

Wunyami / Green Island, a mere 45-minutes from Cairns by boat, offers you a day to delight in the Reef. It’s a slow-paced, magic-filled underwater paradise, and a tropical island with all the necessities: white-sand beaches, a shower, and a bar.

To get there, head out to the island on Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises, which leaves from the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal at 9am and 11am Wednesday to Sunday. 

A half-day tour, which includes either a glass-bottom boat or snorkel gear and 2.25 hours on the island costs $99 per adult ($49.50 for a child).

The full-day tour, which gives you either a glass-bottom boat or snorkel gear and up to 5.5 hours on the island is the same price! We’d recommend the full day, especially if the weather is putting on a show. There are cafes, a bar and a pool on the island, so there’s no risk of going thirsty. 

Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises are also, importantly, committed to the highest level of environmental sustainability in their practices. They’re Advanced Ecotourism certified, a Green Travel Leader, a GSTC 2016 Member and Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef.

 

 

There are around 70 Aboriginal Traditional Owner groups with authority for Sea Country Management across the Great Barrier Reef, with Torres Strait Island Traditional Owner Groups also maintaining a connection. Before colonisation, these groups fished in the reef from outrigger canoes and much of the sea life, such as turtles and dugongs, plays sacred roles in Aboriginal dreaming. 

I’d heard about stingers in the region, and was feeling particularly anxious about the prospects of running into them when I went out on the boat. Thankfully, they weren’t about when we were visiting, they’re generally found in the water from November – May.

Be cautious when you’re swimming, but rest assured, if the risk is high, the beaches will be closed and you’ll be informed. Some like to wear wetsuits when swimming, to avoid stingers and sunburn, and these are available to rent from your tour operator.

Essential Gear

  • Swimmers
  • Water
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Snacks for the day
  • Motion sickness tablets for those who require them
  • A book (or similar activity) if you’re spending the whole day
  • Snorkel and fins are an option with your ticket, or you can bring your own

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

How To Get There

Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises leave from Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal. The boat trip will take around 45 minutes.

There are plenty of short walks on the island, but when you dock, you’ll be a five minute walk from snorkel hot spots.

Skill Level

Beginner

The deckhands on your boat will walk you through a map on the island, showing you places to swim depending on your swimming ability.

 

Explore Tropical North Queensland

 

Photography by @mitch.cox