If you're staying in Cairns a day trip to Green Island is a perfect family outing. Green Island is a coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef located about 30km off the coast from Cairns.
There are a couple of different day trips available with different departure times, meal options and activities. The trip we choose left the marina at Cairns at around 8.30 am and it was a 45 minute ride on a fast catamaran out to Green Island. The catamaran has food and drinks available and plenty of room to move about with seats both inside and outside.
The base package included snorkel and flipper hire but everything else was extra (there are other packages available with lunch included). The cost was a reasonable $84 per adult and $42 per child (June 13). Optional extras include a glass bottom boat trip, snorkel excursions and scuba training and diving. Our package also included use of the island swimming pool.
Green Island beach. image © Kids Holidays
Once we arrived on the island we had a quick look around at the shops and food options and the pool before picking up our snorkeling gear and heading off to the beach. The beach area has chairs and umbrellas available for hire, otherwise there's little cover and depending on the time of year this could be an issue. The beach is good if you haven't snorkeled before or if you just want to have a swim. To see some decent coral and fish you probably need to get at least a hundred metres off shore and even then it's not the best coral you'll see. If you really want to experience good snorkeling you're probably better off doing an outer reef tour. But for families the beach at Green Island is ideal with shallow water and a sandy beach.
After a morning on the beach it was time for lunch and there are plenty of reasonably priced options to choose from. There's a burger and grill shop, a hot and cold buffet and al la carte dining at the Emeralds Restaurant. The Reflections Pool Bar serves cold beverages and there's an ice cream shop for the kids. There were plenty of tables to sit at (watch out for the birds taking your food). The pool is available to visitors (at least on the tour we did) and was a good place to cool off after lunch. There are also some other shops to check out including some clothes shops and the dive shop.
Crocodile habitat Green Island. image © Kids Holidays
The self guided eco walk is a popular way to see the island and takes you to a number of locations that reflect the history of the island. It's just over 1km in distance through the national park forest and takes around an hour to complete. The information centre can provide you with a map of the walk.
After lunch we had a spare hour so we decided to check out Marineland Melanesia Crocodile Habitat on the island. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the day with some of the best crocodile feeding action we've seen and all at close range. You need to go at feeding time to get the best experience - make sure your cameras are ready as the crocs launch themselves metres into the air - as good as a croc experience as you will get anywhere (there are other things to see here but the crocs are the highlight). There are two shows daily and the cost is around $18 for an adult and $8 for kids.
This is a great day out for the family at a reasonable price. You can pick from half day tours to the full day but you really need a full day (and more) to experience all the island has to offer. For more info check the Green Island website.
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