Green Island

Green Island is a very popular coral cay 27 km offshore from Cairns, located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park World Heritage Area, that is the most visited offshore coral island of north Queensland. It is one of 300 sand (coral) cays on the Great Barrier Reef, but it is the only one with a rainforest.

Though protected by National Park status, this small (12 ha) coral cay has been a popular tourist resort for more than a century. It became a national park in 1937, a marine park in 1974 and part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area in 1981. Today the island, reef and beaches are managed together as a recreation area.

This island is a true coral cay formed over thousands of years by the build-up of sand and coral rubble deposited on the calm side of a platform reef. The island is covered in tropical vine forest which supports a diversity of birds and insects. The surrounding coral reef is home to many kinds of corals, clams, fish, stingrays and other reef life. Green and hawksbill turtles are seen offshore. There are no natural freshwater springs on the island - all vegetation relies on rainwater and a small freshwater lens located under the island.

Green Island was named by Lieutenant James Cook on 10 June 1770, either because of the appearance of the coral cay's vegetation, or more likely, after Charles Green, who was an astronomer aboard the Endeavour at the time. The local Gungganyji language group of Aborigines knew it by another name - Dabuukji, being ".. the place of the hole in the nose". This is most likely because the island was used as an initiation site for the boys of the Gungganyji, whose initiation was marked by the placement of a hole in the nose.

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How to get there

Green Island is 27 km (45 minutes) from Cairns across the Coral Sea. A variety of travel options are available, such as those from the catamaran operator Green Island Adventures. The island is suited to single day visits, or for longer stays using the facilities of Green Island Resort. Guided tours are also conducted to the island daily from both Cairns and Port Douglas. Daily tours operate from Green Island to the outer reef where there is a permanently moored pontoon from which diving, snorkelling and swimming activities on the reef are conducted.

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