Day trip to Green Island, Great Barrier Reef ex Cairns

by | Last updated May 29, 2024 | Queensland | 14 comments

If you are wanting to experience the Great Barrier Reef, then look no further than going on a day trip to Green Island Queensland. I have been lucky enough to visit Green Island when I was a teenager with my family and then recently with my own family. So if you are visiting Cairns in Far North Queensland, a day trip to Green Island should be on your list. Visiting the island is one of the best things to do when on a Cairns holiday.

In the post I am taking you for a day visit to Green Island ex Cairns. It is one of the best things to do when visiting this part of Australia. So whether you are visiting Cairns on holiday or as part of your big lap of Australia, here is how to visit Green Island for a day.


Where is Green Island?


Green Island, Wunyami country is around 27km (17 miles) from Cairns in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef. It is culturally important to the Guru-Gulu Gungandji Aboriginal people and their traditional sea country. And it is also a very integral spot, being a bit part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Site with the island and the reef being protected.


Why Visit Green Island?


With so many islands in the Great Barrier Reef, why visit Green Island? Out of the hundreds of islands Green Island is different as it is the only one with a rainforest growing on top of it. Being formed over six thousand years ago, it is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, both on land and in the surrounding waters.


Best time to visit Green Island


You can visit Green Island off Cairns all year round but your visit may be disrupted due to weather. Yep, during the cyclone season in Queensland that runs from November to April, sailings to the island may be cancelled at short notice. Even without blue clear sky, there is plenty to see and do on Green Island. 


How long to Spend on Green Island?


Most visit Green Island on a day trip from Cairns. But if you would like to spend longer, there is an eco resort you could book in to. Check out details and to book your room for the Green Island Eco Resort here.


How to Get to Green Island


The only way to get to Green Island is by boat taking some 45 minutes. And there are a number of boats that go there every day, mainly on tours. You could have a helicopter ride that will take you over Green Island and other parts of the reef. You can book a trip to Green Island once you are in Cairns. Or purchase a tour online beforehand. I’ve listed a number at the bottom of this post. 


What to See and Do on Green Island


Green Island is a nature lover’s paradise with gorgeous white sandy beaches, incredible marine life and a lush rainforest to explore. Even though Green Island is a small island, there are plenty of things to keep you occupied while visiting. It will be up to you whether you want to kick back and relax on the beach or be active snorkelling and swimming and walking through the rainforest.


Underwater Reef Viewing on a Glass Bottom Boat Tour


Green Island Glass Bottom Boat.with people looking through the glass at the marine life below.

looking down through the glass at the marine life below on a glass bottom boat at Green Island


Don’t fancy getting wet! Well you don’t have to, as you can discover the Great Barrier Reef from the comfort of a glass bottom boat. This is a very popular thing to do while visiting Green Island. You simply sit on the boat and look through the glass bottom to see the underwater world below. I really loved doing this and I was lucky enough to see lots of coral and even a turtle swimming by. It is a perfect activity to do when visiting Green Island for all ages. There were a number of families with young children on my boat all excited to see the beauty of the reef unfold beneath us.

Snorkelling & Scuba Diving


people snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef at Green Island.

one of the best things to do on a day trip to Green Island is to snorkel – @greenislandcairns


Snorkelling is one of the most popular activities to do when visiting Green Island. It provides a great chance to get up close and personal with the vibrant marine life. My family chose to do some snorkelling and we saw many colourful fishes, a sea turtle or two and some eye-catching corals. If snorkelling, ensure you are wearing reef-safe sunscreen. We hired our snorkelling gear from the shop.

Most go snorkelling on their day trip to Green Island from Cairns, but there are opportunities for scuba diving. Green Island is a great place to roam about the seafloor seeing unique plants, marine mammals, countless fish and corals.

You can hire fins, masks and snorkels from the Dive Shop on the island. Also full lycra suits in case there are stingers in the water. You can also snorkel and dive on the island in the selected areas.



For an above water sea-based activity, hop aboard a canoe or kayak and cruise around the coastline. You can hire these from the Dive Shop on the island.


Relax at the Beach


beach beds on a secluded beach on Green Island.

relax at the beach – @greenislandcairns


Green Island’s white sands are perfect for lazing away the day on. And if you have kids, they will love playing in the sand and running in and out of the water. You can swim between the flags in the patrolled area on the beach to cool off on a hot day. If planning to relax for the day on the beach you can hire beach umbrellas and sun lounges in this area.


Marineland Melanesia Crocodile Habitat


Who would have thought there would be a crocodile habitat on Green Island! See the largest croc in captivity amongst 50 different crocs at Marineland Melanesia. See these impressive creatures up close and personal and learn more about the marine life that surrounds Green Island.  You may even get the chance to hold a baby croc! There is an entrance fee for this. Get details and pricing here.


Go Shopping


On Green Island there are numerous resort shops where you can pick up a souvenir or two to remember your time on the island.


Walk around the island


Dearne, sister found a shell in the waters around Green Island.

On our walk around the island, my sister found this beautiful shell in the water shallows


There is a self-guided nature walk around Green Island that starts close by the Beach Hire. There are plenty of interpretive signs giving you detailed information about the formation of Green Island, plants, wildlife and marine life. It is an easy short walk so most can easily access it. On the walk around, check out the small secluded beaches and discover Green Island and its importance to the reef on the boardwalk.


Eating on Green Island?


If you are wondering if there are cafes and restaurants on Green Island, well, you are in luck. Even though you could bring your own picnic lunch, you can enjoy cafe-style lunches at the Canopy Grill. For a la carte dining try Emeralds Restaurant. Coffee, teas, milkshakes and sandwiches are available at Lite Bites. Cocktails, drinks and snacks are available at the Reflections Pool Bar. So at least you know you won’t starve on this island paradise in the Great Barrier Reef.


Extend Your Stay and Stay Overnight


If you want to spend a night or two on Green Island, you can stay at The Green Island Resort. This eco-resort has 46 luxury air-conditioned suites with private balconies with either rainforest or pool views. Check out the resort and to book your stay here.


What to Take for a Day on Green Island


For your day on Green Island, take beach related items and dress appropriately.

  • if planning to swim or snorkel, take a towel, swimmers and a set of dry clothes. Snorkel and scuba diving gear can be rented from the dive shop on the island.
  • for walking around the beach, wear reef safe sunscreen, sunglasses, hat and clothes to help avoid sunburn.
  • a jacket – as it can get breezy on the boat over and back to Cairns.
  • Sea sickness tablets if you tend to not travel well on the water – as it can be rough sometimes.



Organise Your Trip to Green Island


You can book tours to Green Island from Cairns, but so you don’t miss out, you can book online – here are some tours through GetYourGuide.

Full Day Trip to Green Island

Full Day Trip to Green Island Snorkelling

Green Island Half Day Morning Cruise

Green Island Half Day Afternoon Cruise

Fly & Cruise Green Island


Are You Ready to Visit Green Island?


I hope you include a trip to Green Island on your itinerary when visiting Cairns and surrounds. My family really enjoyed our day on this island in the Great Barrier Reef. We loved seeing the reef from the glass bottom boat, walking around the island and dipping our toes in the water.

Green Island Pin showing finding shells in the water, glass bottom boat and Green Island.


  1. Sierra

    Your narrative and pictures of this island are beautiful!! That eco hotel you recommended looks amazing as well. Can’t wait to get to this part of the world to check out Green Island!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      I’m sure you will love it when you get to this part of the world.

  2. Jennifer Record

    I would spend all day on the beach..stunning water~ thanks for the inspiration

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yes, very easy to spend the day on the beach at Green Island.

  3. Felicia

    I would love to visit the great barrier reef. I had no idea I could pair that with visiting a rain forest too! Sounds beautiful, thanks for sharing.

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yes, Green Island is a surprise just waiting in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef – hope you can visit one day!

  4. Maggie

    I would love to see the Great Barrier Reef! This island looks so fun and peaceful and great for families. The crocodile habitat sounds really cool too.

    • Sharyn McCullum

      The Great Barrier Reef is one of the highlights of visiting Australia – and Green Island is a fabulous island in the middle of it which offers heaps to do. I hope you can get there one day!

  5. Sonia

    We haven’t made it to the Green island yet. The snorkeling, kayaking, and a crocodile habitat look like good reasons to visit.

    • Sharyn McCullum

      It is surprising that such a small island has so much to do.

  6. Terri

    It has always been a dream to visit the Great Barrier Reef since my son scuba dives! The turquoise waters are luminous. Great pics.

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Your son would definitely love the Great Barrier Reef then! I hope he gets to scuba here.

  7. Shreya

    I just moved to Australia and I have yet to visit! The water looks so blue and clear, so stunning!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      If you have just moved here, hopefully you will have plenty of time to visit Green Island, the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns and surrounding areas. It is a beautiful part of Australia.


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About Me

Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Sign shaped like a big white wave with Sharyn McCullum On the Great Ocean Road.

G’Day! Sharyn here, an Aussie loving discovering Australia. Let me show you around so you can discover Australia too.  Read my story here.

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