As part of our Great Barrier Reef tour, my husband booked us a two night stay on Green Island, an Island in the Great Barrier Reef an hour ferry ride off the coast of Cairns, Australia. Cairns is an interesting spot unto itself, with high end shops like Louis Vuitton next to what seemed to be run-down bodegas and apartments. We hardly spent a few hours in Cairns but people really love it. I got the sense it was for the college/post college hostel crowd, but again, that was at first blush, and first blush was all we got.
Green Island only has one hotel, the Green Island Resort, which has lush accommodations and a gourmet restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The island itself also had a beach shack for day trippers, as well as a few shops with the typical sunscreen, sarong, and tank top merchandise. After boarding the ferry, with our lovely turtle green island sticker adhered to our luggage (it’s still there by the way), we were assured our luggage would make it to our room and were told where to check-in. We arrived mid-day and the island was already hopping.
Upon checking in, we were in a Reef Suite Room, with a spread of chocolates and fruit awaiting us upon arrival. To say that Steve and I mauled that chocolate is actually putting it delicately. The flourless chocolate cake was to die for, and for anyone watching the scene unfold, it looked less like honeymooners and more like Lord of the Flies with us trying to ensure every last crumb was consumed upon pain of death. The room was beautiful, with a king bed, private balcony, and a separate seating area, a true spot for newlyweds. After taking a moment to compose ourselves, we switched into our swimsuits and prepared to explore the island.
Raised boardwalk paths lead you through thick rain forest around the island in just under an hour, as well as to beautiful beaches with fewer tourists. And tourists, during the day, are plentiful.
Green island is a favorite spot for day trippers off the coast of Cairns, with many ferries arriving early in the morning, with the last ferry out around 5pm. The island is beautiful, with day trippers seeming to be the biggest detriment to the reef. The main beach on Green Island, patrolled by life guards, is incredibly close to the coral reef – you could walk to it, and in low tide many tourists stomped all over it. However, there were nooks and crannies throughout the island where you could snorkel away from the tourist crowd and see multiple different kinds of rays, beautiful turtles in the morning and in the evening, and reef sharks. The snorkeling there was beautiful, and we spent most of the time snorkeling and enjoying the natural resources around us.
When we weren’t in the water, we took a quick glass bottom boat tour around the reef and just relaxed in the sun. Steve kayaked while I read some magazines, and eavesdropped on the life guards. My favorite stolen moment was when a young woman asked a life guard if he could take her mother out on the surfboard to see the reef. Her mother couldn’t swim but wanted to see the fish anyway. He politely declined and after she walked away, he turned to his mate to say “WTF?” I laughed to myself and then went back to my magazine, thinking silly tourists.
When the tourists left, the island felt quiet, undisturbed, and completely at peace. The resort set up nightly sunset cocktail events, evening hikes through the rainforest, and a fish feeding frenzy. The first night we watched the fish feeding with all the other guests on the dock. There were sharks, smaller fish, and a massive grouper. My husband, ever the risk taker, decided the next night to watch with his snorkel on, under the dock. I was none too pleased, but he promised to be safe. Apparently watching this 80 pound grouper was a huge thrill, happy he didn’t turn into fish food himself, we changed for dinner.
I decided that this was the night I would try kangaroo meat. After feeding the adorable kangaroos at the Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat, I was torn. They were adorable animals! But they’re like the deer of Australia, and people eat venison back home, it should be fine, no? Well, the verdict? Kangaroo is delicious, and that’s all I’ll say on the matter.
Our two nights on Green Island were wonderful, and were the perfect end to our great barrier reef extravaganza. Our next stop, Noosa Heads and Fraser Island.