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About Green Island

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Getting there and getting around

Green Island jetty. Photo: Tamara Vallance, Queensland Government

Green Island jetty. Photo: Tamara Vallance, Queensland Government

Green Island is 27 km offshore from Cairns in North Queensland. Most visitors travel to Green Island on commercial charter boats from Cairns. Commercial charter boats depart from the Reef Fleet Terminal at the end of Spence Street. Travel time to the island varies between 50 and 60 mins.

Commercial helicopter and seaplane services also operate to and from the island. See the tourism information links for details.

Green Island offers safe anchorage for private vessels. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) provides a public mooring (blue double-cone shaped buoy) near the island. Refer to boating and fishing for more information.

A walking track provides access to the national park.

Wheelchair accessibility

Boardwalks and tracks throughout the national park and within the resort area are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.

Park features

Enjoy the beautiful beach on Green Island. Photo: Queensland Government.

Enjoy the beautiful beach on Green Island. Photo: Queensland Government.

Green Island is one of the most popular destinations on the Great Barrier Reef. This 12 ha island is a true coral cay formed over thousands of years by the build-up of sand and coral rubble deposited on the calm side of a platform reef. The island is covered in tropical vine forest which supports an array of birds and insects. The surrounding coral reef is home to many kinds of corals, clams, fish, stingrays and other reef life. Green and hawksbill turtles may be seen offshore.

The island and reef are part of the traditional sea country of the Guru-Gulu Gungandji Aboriginal people. They know the island as Wunyami. Today the Guru-Gulu Gungandji people maintain a close connection with the island.

Green Island has been a popular tourist destination for more than a century. The island became a national park in 1937, a marine park in 1974 and part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area in 1981. The surrounding waters form part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park and are within in the Scientific Research (Orange) or Marine National Park (Green) zones. Today the island, reef and beaches are managed together as a recreation area. Green Island is predominantly national park but has other leases for tourism, research and management purposes.

Read more about the nature, culture and history of Green Island National Park.

Camping and accommodation


Camping is not permitted on Green Island.

Other accommodation

The Green Island Resort provides luxury accommodation on the island adjacent to the national park.

Things to do

The boardwalk on Green Island. Photo: Queensland Government.

The boardwalk on Green Island. Photo: Queensland Government.


Boardwalk (grade: easy)

Distance: 1.3 km return

Time: Allow about 50 mins walking time

From the jetty and resort area, a boardwalk provides access through the forest of the national park to the south-east beach. Learn about the plants, animals, culture and history of the island from signs along the way.

Picnic and day-use areas

Several picnic areas are provided for visitors. Toilets, showers, telephones and food outlets are provided within the resort for day visitors.

Boating and fishing

Green Island provides safe anchorage for private vessels. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) provides a public mooring (blue, double-cone shaped buoy) near the island. This is a ‘C’ class mooring and is for use by monohull vessels up to 25 m and multihull vessels up to 22 m. This mooring must not be used in wind speeds of 35 knots or greater. Between the hours of 7 am and 5 pm a vessel may occupy the mooring for a maximum of 4 hrs. If a vessel picks up the mooring on or after 3 pm it may remain on the mooring overnight and is not required to vacate the mooring until 9 am the next day.

Anchoring within 50 m of a mooring is not allowed in Locality 3 of the Cairns Area Plan of Management. Motorised watersports are not allowed in the Green Island locality.

Please ensure you follow these best environmental practices when anchoring:

  • Carry enough chain, or chain and line, for the water depth.
  • Anchor in sand away from corals and seagrass beds.
  • Motor towards the anchor while retrieving it. If the anchor is stuck, motor the vessel above and slightly ahead of the anchor before retrieval.

Green Island National Park and the surrounding marine waters are internationally significant and are protected in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Zones in the two marine parks—the Great Barrier Reef Coast and Great Barrier Reef—provide a balanced approach to protecting the marine and intertidal environments while allowing recreational and commercial use. Fishing is not allowed in waters surrounding Green Island as they are within the Scientific Research (Orange) and Marine National Park (Green) zones of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park.

For more detailed zoning maps and information see Great Barrier Reef zoning information.

Viewing wildlife

Green Island offers visitors the chance to experience a tiny, tropical island on the Great Barrier Reef close to Cairns. A stroll along the boardwalk will reveal forest birds and insects. Wandering the beach, look for seabirds and, on the water's surface, turtles. View the reef, either by snorkelling or from the comfort of a glass-bottomed boat, and see numerous fish, corals and other invertebrates of the Great Barrier Reef. With more than 35 species of seabirds, 28 species of forest birds and a surrounding reef rich in marine life, Green Island visitors will truly feel close to nature. See the description of the park's natural environment for more details about Green Island's diverse island and reef life.

Other things to do

A patrolled swimming area is provided on the northern side of the island near the beach hire hut.

Snorkelling is not supervised and you enter the water at your own risk. When snorkelling, seek advice from the lifeguard about safe locations on the day.

Activities such as snorkelling, diving and other watersports are also provided by the resort. Hire of watersports and snorkelling equipment, lockers, towels and umbrellas is available through the resort and beach hire hut. Commercial attractions on the island include the world's first underwater observatory and Marineland Melanesia Crocodile Park.

For more information see the tourism information links.

Things to know before you go

Relax under the umbrellas on Green Island. Photo: Queensland Government.

Relax under the umbrellas on Green Island. Photo: Queensland Government.

Essentials to bring

Preparation is the key to a safe and enjoyable visit. Make sure you bring:

  • protective clothing, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun
  • suitable shoes for walking on rough surfaces
  • insect repellent to avoid mosquito and sandfly bites.

Opening hours

Green Island National Park is open all year round; however, visitors should check weather conditions as the island may be inaccessible if strong wind warnings, gales or cyclonic activity prevent commercial charter boats from operating. A ranger is based on Green Island but there is no staffed office. An information counter is provided at the resort.

Permits and fees

Permits are required for commercial or organised group activities. Contact us for further information.


Domestic animals are not permitted on Green Island National Park.

Climate and weather

Green Island National Park has a tropical climate. In summer the daytime temperatures average 30 °C with high humidity and rainfall. From April to September the days are cooler and less humid. Despite the steady south-easterly trade winds, this is usually the best time to visit.

For more information see the tourism information links.

Staying safe

Please enjoy a safe visit to Green Island.

  • Wear a hat and sunscreen and avoid the sun in the middle of the day.
  • Wear sunscreen and cover up when you are swimming or snorkelling.
  • Avoid touching coral when snorkelling as it can be extremely sharp, easily causing cuts and grazes.
  • Take care on the boardwalk—it can be slippery in wet conditions.
  • Be aware of tidal movements on the beach and take care on slippery rocks.
  • Dangerous stinging jellyfish (‘stingers’) may be present in the coastal waters at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. A full-body lycra suit or equivalent may provide a good measure of protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. Visit marine stingers for the latest safety and first-aid information.
  • Know your own health limitations for safe snorkelling—do not put yourself and others at risk and always snorkel with a buddy so that help is at hand.

For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

Looking after the park

Many people visit Green Island each year so it is important to minimise your impact. Terrestrial and marine plants and animals depend on us to keep land, ocean and beach areas clean.

  • Do not feed fish or birds, as they can become aggressive towards people.
  • Do not collect shells or coral as they are protected.
  • Do not litter—plastic litter can harm wildlife if eaten or if they become entangled.
  • Do not leave cigarette butts in the sand—they can kill wildlife if swallowed and they do not break down.
  • Anchor only in sand—anchoring on coral is prohibited. Use the marine park mooring buoys if possible.
  • Avoid touching, kicking or standing on coral as it is easily damaged. When snorkelling, rest only on sand.
  • Do not disturb buoys or other markers placed by researchers—they are vital to scientific research.

Be pest-free!      

Our precious Great Barrier Reef world heritage islands are among the most pest free islands in the world. They need your help to stay this way.

Before you visit, please check that your boat, clothing, footwear and gear are free of soil, seeds, parts of plants, eggs, insects, spiders, lizards, toads, rats and mice.

Be sure to:

  • Unpack your camping gear and equipment and check it carefully as pests love to hide in stored camping gear.
  • Clean soil from footwear and gear as invisible killers such as viruses, bacteria and fungi are carried in soil.
  • Check pockets, cuffs and Velcro for seeds.

While you are on the islands, remove soil, weeds, seeds and pests from your boat, gear and clothes before moving to a new site. Wrap seeds and plant material, and place them in your rubbish.

Everyone in Queensland has a General Biosecurity Obligation to minimise the biosecurity risk posed by their activities. This includes the risk of introducing and spreading weeds and pests to island national parks.

See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

Park management

The flora, fauna, landscape and seascape of Green Island and the reef are protected for the enjoyment of visitors and the conservation of nature. Green Island, including the foreshore and reef within one mile of the low water mark, was gazetted as national park in Queensland in 1937. The rest of the surrounding reef was declared a marine park in 1974. This area was included in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in 1975 and, in 1981, the extraordinary value of the Great Barrier Reef was further recognised with the listing of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The public areas of Green Island and reef were declared a recreation area in 1990. The recreation area includes the national park, the public esplanade (managed by the Cairns Regional Council), and the surrounding marine park to a distance of 1.6 km beyond the reef edge. The jetty and navigation channel are managed by the Far North Queensland Port Authority

QPWS administers the recreation area under the Recreation Areas Management Act 2006 for the purposes of nature conservation and nature-based recreation.

The Green Island Recreation Area and Green Island National Park Management plans (PDF, 840K) guide the management of the island. QPWS staff are assisted by Guru-Gulu Gungandji Traditional Owners to ensure that cultural heritage and native title policies and guidelines are met.

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

In June 2006 an MoU was signed by QPWS and the Guru-Gulu Gungandji Aboriginal Corporation (GAC). This formed a partnership to address the sustainability of traditional, reef, maritime harvesting activities and continuation of cultural practices on Green Island National Park.

The MoU identifies the need to:

  • recognise the right of GAC to provide advice on levels of cultural appropriateness in management of land and sea country
  • provide adequate opportunity for GAC to be involved in research and monitoring on country (i.e. input into permit application processes and possible employment/training in successful projects)
  • investigate the possibility of establishing a small restricted access area on the national park for cultural activities.

Tourism information links

Cairns & Tropical North Visitor Information Centre
51 The Esplanade, Cairns QLD 4870
Phone: (07) 4051 3588

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
17 March 2016