Review of "Green Island, Green Island, Great Barrier Reef"

published 22/03/2007 | Looby5
Member since : 09/11/2003
Reviews : 56
Members who trust : 17
About me :
Pro Good value, lots to see
Cons Beach was a bit dissapointing
very helpful
Is it worth visiting?
Transport links
Family Friendly

"Green & Great"

The Great Barrier Reef from the semi sub

The Great Barrier Reef from the semi sub

Many months ago during the long and bleak English winter one of my friends asked me if she could come over to Sydney to spend some at my place. She'd just gotten over a nasty illness and was looking for some sunshine and some R&R. I always love seeing friends from home so I said that she was more than welcome to come but I couldn't guarantee the weather in Sydney in March. It's our Autumn and although it should be pretty warm and nice, beach weather is possible but not guaranteed. We started to discuss taking off up the coast for a week during her stay, that way I got to have a holiday and spend some proper time with her as well. She was happy with this and I promptly booked a couple of flights to Cairns on the far north Queensland coast.

We stayed in a small resort town called Palm Cove, about 30 mins north of Cairns which was lovely. Being in such close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef it would have been almost criminal not to go and have a look but my friend and I had different ideas of what we were looking for in a reef trip. I was looking for a boat trip with some snorkelling, I wasn't too bothered about doing a dive but I thought a snorkel was a must. My friend on the other hand is not a big fan of snorkelling or diving and she was looking for maybe a glass bottom boat or something of that nature. I was confidant we would find something that would meet both of our requirements so I went and spoke to our very helpful receptionist at the resort and amongst some others she gave be a flyer for Big Cat Cruises to Green Island.

Green Island was formed by a build up of sand on a coral cay. Over the years, between the birds and the wind, the seeds of the rainforest plants on the mainland became deposited in the sand and over many thousands of years (about 6000) became rainforest. Now it's a stunning tropical island resort 45 mins from Cairns by boat. The island covers about 37 acres and takes about 40 minutes to walk around. The island is part of the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef national park and contains 126 species of native plant and a great many species of unusual bird life, in particular wading birds are common with their long bandy legs and long beaks.

The main reason Green Island appealed to us was that the tour we selected offered a range of activities during the day meaning that my friend and I could both do the things we wanted but still spend most of the day together. We were collected from our apartment about and boarded the Big Cat 'Reef Rocket' in Cairns at 10.45 for an 11am departure. The trip over was pleasant and we were given vouchers to exchange for either snorkelling equipment and a stinger suit (more about the suit later!) or a glass bottom boat trip. We also had a voucher for lunch on arrival and a voucher for a trip on a semi sub - a partially submerged vessel with glass sides. All vouchers were included in the price.

When we arrived at the island we headed straight to the 'Big Cat' boat moored just along the jetty for a buffet style lunch. There were the usual cold meats and salads but there was also a vegie lasagne and a nice beef curry. We had a bit of everything and it was all really good. After lunch we went for a walk around the island, it really is a tropical paradise, with turquoise waters lapping at the beach. The beach was actually not that fantastic the sand is more beige than white and has the tendency to be somewhat shingly in places but non the less it looks the part. After our lap of the island we went inland and discovered the main resort hotel on the island, we didn't go in but it looked great and has a five star rating. There was a 25 meter pool that all guests are welcome to use, both people staying on the island and us day trippers. There is a bar next to the pool with lots of free loungers and chairs and there are a couple of shops nearby, selling the usual touristy souvenirs. There is a photo shop and an information point that is attended throughout the day. There is also a boardwalk through the rainforest with information along the way about the plants and wildlife which was really nice.

At 2pm my friend and I went our separate ways, she went off to do her glass bottom boat thing and I went for a snorkel on the reef just off the beach. One of the unfortunate things about swimming in the tropical waters of the North Queensland coast at this time of the year is that it's full of deadly jellyfish, and I do mean deadly. There are two particularly nasty types, there's the Box jellyfish, which is about the size of your hand with long tentacles that inject a neuro toxin into you, giving you not much time to get to the hospital for a good dose of anti venom. Although those little blighters are horrid, at least you can see them, the other type, just as deadly are called eracanji (not sure on the spelling but pronounced irr ic anjie) they are about the size of the base of a small saucer but here's the killer, they are totally translucent. Now you might wonder why on earth I'd want to get in the water with those fells lurking about and this is where the stinger suit comes in. (The jelly fish are known as stingers here). I found a quiet bit of beach and shimmied into the bright blue lycra suit that covers your whole body, hands, feed and head. I scurried in to the water as fast as I could so no one would see. Many people had them on but I really did look a site. In my opinion anyone who is not extremely athletic has any business at all wearing an all in one lycra suit! Especially not in bright blue. Needless to say there are no photos.

When I finally got in the water it was well worth it. The reef is amazing, with myriad colours, shapes and sizes of coral and so many different types of fish. The most notable thing I saw was a giant clam which was about the size of a coffee table and opened and closed as I watched. I swam around for about 45 mins them made my way back to the jetty for the semi sub trip. This was quite similar to the glass bottomed boat trip only in this the sides are glass. We headed out and our guide threw some food over and all kinds of fish enveloped us, some a good size too. The biggest was probably a huge stingray which brought back thoughts of the late great Steve Irwin who actually died just along the coast from here. Even to feed the fish here people, including tour groups need permission as Green Island is part of Great Barrier Reef National Park and is heritage listed and therefore all flora and fauna is protected. The semi sub lasted about half an hour and I did see a lot more different types of fish than I had snorkelling. After we were done with the semi sub we ambled back to the bar where we had a beer and waited for our 5pm sailing back to Cairns.

The cost of this fantastic day was a very reasonable $150AUD or about 62 quid. That included pick up from our apartment in Palm Cove, lunch and all the activities I've mentioned. The stinger suit had a $6 deposit to cover cleaning charges.

The trip back was calm and we found our coach and were transported back to our accommodation almost immediately.


Green Island is a fantastic experience, perfect for a day trip. I'm not sure there would be enough going on to stay for a week although the resort hotel looked very nice, and the spa facilities look very good but it really is the only thing there other than what I mention above. There are four sailings a day to Cairns so going there would be an option but why not stay in one of Cairn's very good hotels and visit Green Island? That would be my preferred option anyway. I wholeheartedly recommend Green Island as a daytrip in it's own right or as a great way to experience the Great Barrier Reef.

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Comments on this review

  • casnz published 21/11/2007
    Sounds wonderful, I did a boat trip to the reef but now I see i have to go back and go to green island !! ~ cheers, christine
  • mightymuffin published 12/05/2007
    I'm so sorry I have no more E's left to give you for this review as it well deserves one! PLease message me and I'll do this when I get some more - for now I'll rate VH xx
  • oldwasp published 25/04/2007
    This sounds fantastic was going to give you an "E" but none left. Will pop back to rerate. If i forget leave me a message to remind me. Cheers enjoyed the review lots.
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Product Information : Green Island, Green Island, Great Barrier Reef

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Listed on Ciao since: 23/08/2005