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Green Island tours from Cairns

Sometimes you stumble across places that are so beautiful, and so secluded, it almost doesn’t even seem real. This is the splendid dilemma we have with the majestic Green Island which sits out in the open water, not too far away from Cairns.

It’s a place that maintains a real sense of serenity even after all these years and while flocks of tourists are expected to descend upon Queensland in the future, Australians are determined to maintain the purity and style associated with this wonderful place.

A spell down by the Great Barrier Reef is never just a quick flyby visit and as a result, there are many different spectacles to be seen and appreciate. So today, we’re going to focus on the very best Green Island tours from Cairns.

How long does it take to reach Green Island from Cairns?

The small issue of there being no major land transportation between the two destinations is a small and insignificant problem thanks to the decades of time which has been spent on putting together the best overall experience.

There’s a whole fleet of boats and catamarans that will be able to whisk you off from Cairns to Green Island, which is marked by a decent 27km journey. This trek shouldn’t take much longer than 30-40 minutes, but we definitely wouldn’t recommend trying to swim there.

What is the typical itinerary of a day tour to Green Island?

From city to sea, the majority of travelers will be picked up from a pre-selected location in the city - as is the case with all Green Island tours from Cairns.

There’s a lot of freedom to be had with a full-day tour like this because tourists can choose to make it as relaxed or as intense as they’d like. Tea and lunch is usually provided as part of the tour but quenching your thirst at the bar can also be an open option for those who’d like a special drink.

There are a parade of specific activities that we’ll come onto later on in the piece but one of the most popular options is a pretty simple one - sitting back on the white sand beach and just enjoying the view.

After witnessing all of the marine life on display, you’ll be transported back to the mainland.

Sailing Tour

The average sailing boat heading out to sea can stretch to heights of 16-meters and beyond, with a certain exclusivity that only allows 25 individuals on board at any one given time. Out here there’s nowhere to hide away and there’s nothing but the water ahead of you - with paradise feeling as if it’s within touching distance.

Helicopter Tour

Helicopter flights offer up the opportunity to get an exquisite overhead view of as many reefs as you could hope for, but we’d argue this is also one of the very best ways to take in Green Island. With in-flight commentary from the pilot and guaranteed window seats for those who book in advance, this is like something straight out of a fairy-tale.

Snorkeling Tour

Heading to any part of the Great Barrier Reef without snorkeling should be viewed as a sin, especially within the context of Green Island. There are many tours where hours upon hours of time have been set aside for strapping your snorkel on and exploring, and while scuba diving is also popular, the shallow waters make for perfect snorkeling conditions.

Are there any combo tours including other places to visit?

Green Island tours from Cairns are always going to create some buzz, but that doesn’t mean there are nearby destinations that shouldn’t also be checked out - with these three beauties being lovely examples of that.

Arlington Reef

There are Reefs here, there and everywhere surrounding Green Island but one of the biggest of all is the Arlington Reef. This spot is around 40km away from Cairns and is incredibly shallow, but remains submerged even when the tide is low. Because of this, the coral growth is strong, giving Arlington the distinction of being one of the Great Barrier Reef’s great hopes for the future.

Michaelmas Cay

A quick glance out over the open water will probably open up the possibility of seeing Michaelmas Cay from afar - and what a spot it is. Renowned for is diving and 50 shades of blue colour palette, the Cay is a known spot for spotting sea turtles, birds and all sorts of water creatures from the minute you arrive until the moment you depart.


Turning a one day trip from Cairns into a two-day escapade is the best way to see as much as possible in this part of Queensland. Kuranda is a bit further afield but there are one or two tours that include a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed mountain village of Kuranda with a guaranteed drop-off and pick-up on this 48-hour roller-coaster.

Travel tips

  • Be sure to pack your swimmers because even if it’s not your outright intention to hop into the water, the crystal blue shine glaring up at you from below is so often too alluring for most folks to handle. Sitting on the boat is nice and everything, but feeling the sun and sea hit your back can serve as the perfect moment of synchronized joy.
  • Do some research beforehand on the thousands of years’ worth of history that rest within the reefs and the Island itself. It can be easy to see this as little more than a gorgeous holiday spot when in reality, there are so many aspects of Australian culture to be found in this hub of intrigue and fascination.
  • Some tours may have charges associated with using lockers to hold your stuff while you go on an island adventure. If necessary, bring a bag that’ll be used to hold personal possessions and any extra items of clothing - and maybe even a bottle of water or two in the boiling temperatures.