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.