Thirty something girl, originally from Sydney but Brisbane is home now. Eats, drinks, socialises, watches art-house, studies the stars, and loves music. I'm a professional copywriter and editor. Hearts writing things.
Published April 15th 2014
Luxury without the price tag
If you're dreaming of an island getaway, have you considered Fitzroy Island in North Queensland? It's a little piece of paradise in Australia's very own backyard! Fitzroy Island is fringed by the stunning UNESCO world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef and is easily accessible from Cairns Marina by 45-minute fast cat.
Fitzroy Island Resort—the only resort on the island—is eco-friendly as it's nestled in beautiful rainforest and set against a backdrop of soaring hills and alluring green-blue sea. The complex has 99 rooms comprised of different accommodation types. There is also a contemporary-designed swimming pool and spa with swim-up bar, two restaurants, a general store, an indoor movie theatre, an arcade games room, a dive shop, a beach shack, and a turtle rehabilitation centre. The only other accommodation on the island is a small grassy camping area.
We were sold on the 'Romance on the reef' package priced at just $450 per couple. This special deal—which we were pleasantly surprised was valid on weekends—included return ferry transfers for two between Cairns and Fitzroy Island, deluxe accommodation in a one-bedroom sea-view suite, a bottle of sparkling wine, a three-course dinner for two (with a choice of anything from the a la carte menu), and a buffet breakfast for two.
At Fitzroy, you can unwind by the pool and sip a fruity cocktail at the swim-up bar or, if you prefer more active fun in the sun, hire a stand-up paddleboard, canoe, kayak or snorkelling equipment, or go scuba diving or jumping on the water trampoline. The temperate water is magnificent all year around but beware of stingers (Irukandji jellyfish) which are prevalent in the waters of the Coral Sea between October and May. The beach shack, located on the main beach, hires snorkels, flippers, various watercraft and full-head stinger suits so you can kit up appropriately.
[ADVERT]The best way to explore the island is to do the Summit walk which weaves its way up to a lighthouse overlooking Little Fitzroy Island then on to the highest mountain. It's a fairly steep incline but I can promise that the view from the summit is well worth it. There is also a shorter walk called the Secret Garden walk if you prefer a less strenuous walk.
Book a seat on one of the many glass-bottom boat tours that operate daily to see the coral lying mere metres from shore; however, I recommend picking a day with decent water visibility. You also have the option of a night glass-bottom boat tour (depending on demand), or go along to the fish-feeding sessions off the main beach.
A visit to the turtle rehabilitation centre is a must as it was by far the highlight of my stay. The centre is run by caring volunteers who nurse injured turtles back to health, later releasing them into the wild. The turtles are housed in swimming pools; and the tour guide who took us on a tour of the centre was very knowledgeable and able to satisfy my turtle curiosity. The cost of the tour is $7.50 per person, which is all but a small donation that is invested into this great program.
Some of the adorable turtles being nursed back to health at the turtle rehabilitation centre
The two restaurants on the island are Foxy's Bar and Cafe—which is a casual eatery with a couple of pool tables and regular live music—and Zephyr's restaurant, which is in contrast more of a fine-dining experience and where the buffet breakfast is served.
While Fitzroy Island may not be considered quite as exotic as some other island destinations, its affordability, superb location and good range of activities and facilities make it hard to look past.