The Great Barrier Reef in Tropical North Queensland is home to some of the most incredible and unique marine life in the world. Countless species of corals, fish, whales, dolphins, crustaceans, star fish and sea birds all call this incredible natural wonder home.
Visitors to the Great Barrier Reef come from far and wide to see both the incredible natural structure of the Reef as well as its inhabitants. And while it’s amazing to see any of the Reef’s creatures in their natural habitat, there is one sea animal that is most requested – and that is the majestic sea turtle.
While sea turtles call oceans all over the world home, the Great Barrier Reef is actually home to six of the world’s seven sea turtle species, including the Flatback Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Leatherback Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, and the Green Turtle.
While there are plenty of places to possibly spot sea turtles at the Great Barrier Reef – if you want to be in with one of the best chances of seeing spectacular sea turtles, there is no better place to try your luck than at Fitzroy Island.
Keep reading to learn more about Fitzroy Island and why it’s the best place for you to spot sea turtles!
A little bit about Fitzroy Island
Located in the waters of the Coral Sea, right in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, Fitzroy Island is a tropical island escape. It feels a million miles away, when in reality, it’s only a short 45-minute ferry ride from Cairns.
The island itself is 3.3 square kilometres in size and is almost entirely covered by a National Park. Often referred to as the place where the rainforest meets the Reef, Fitzroy Island offers visitors incredible sights to see and explore, like walking trails and beaches, as well as a massive range of activities and experiences.
Fitzroy Island is an amazing place for visitors to the Cairns region to immerse themselves into the Great Barrier Reef. Perfect for both day trips and longer stays, the island has a resort with accommodation options to suit all budgets, as well as a restaurant, café, and an activities centre where you can hire equipment for water sports and organise tours.
Why Fitzroy Island is the perfect place to see sea turtles
So, what makes Fitzroy Island the best place to see a sea turtle up close? Well, there are many different ways you can see them. Let us tell you all about the different ways you can see a sea turtle!
Discover the turtles out in the wild
For those who want to see a sea turtle in their natural habitat, Fitzroy Island is the perfect place to give it a go. The island is fringed by the beautiful Great Barrier Reef – you can literally be up close with the coral gardens of the Reef only metres from the shore.
The location of Fitzroy Island, in combination with the huge amount of water activities on offer to visitors, means there are so many different ways you may be able to discover the sea turtles at home.
One of the most popular way for visitors to Fitzroy Island to try their hand at spotting a sea turtle is by snorkelling the surrounding waters of the island. The waters of the Coral Sea are warm all year round, and you can make your way into these tropical waters right from the shores of Welcome Bay and Nudey Beach on the island. Not only might you see one of the amazing creatures for yourself, but you can also discover the colourful coral gardens, giant clams, and spot some of the many fish that call the Reef home.
Visitors to the island can hire snorkelling equipment, including masks and stinger suits from the Fitzroy Island Sports Hub, and you can either head out in the waters alone, which is safe to do as the waters surrounding the island are very gentle. Or you can take part in guided tours.
Snorkelling the waters surrounding Fitzroy Island is not the only way you might see a majestic turtle in the wild, some of the other way you may be able to spot them include:
Meet the turtles at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre
While you can take your chances to see if you can spot a sea turtle in their natural habitat, when you’re on Fitzroy Island, you can also guarantee that you see a sea turtle up close by visiting the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.
The Turtle Rehab Centre is a must visit when you’re on the island, because not only will you see sea turtles for yourself, but you can also discover and support the incredible work this volunteer run organisation is doing.
The Turtle Rehab Centre is dedicated to the rehabilitation of sick and injured sea turtles. Unfortunately, sea turtles are seriously endangered and threatened by a number of different factors, both natural and human induced. At the centre they treat turtles who have been tangled and caught in nets, attacked by animals, hit by boats, ingested foreign bodies and substances, infections, and diseases.
Luckily, the incredible work done at the centre means that many sea turtles are cared for and returned back to their natural habitat once they are well enough. The centre also works with turtles at all stages of life from hatchlings all the way to adult turtles.
While caring for sick and injured turtles is incredibly important, it’s not the only amazing thing that this organisation does. They work hard to share knowledge in the interests of turtle rescue, research, and rehabilitation; they raise awareness about the issues faced by marine turtles; and they promote sustainable practices to help with marine and turtle conservation.
When you visit the centre, you can enjoy an informative turtle talk and tour of the centre, and you may meet and even feed some of the current patients at the centre. A worthwhile experience when you’re on Fitzroy Island, or even in the Cairns region, if you plan to visit the centre, make sure you book ahead, because it’s an extremely popular destination.
Visit the sea turtles at Fitzroy Island today
If seeing a sea turtle is on your bucket list, you can’t go past Fitzroy Island. Not only do you have the chance to see a marine turtle in their natural habitat, but you can also discover the incredible work of the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on the island.