Frankland Islands National Park
An unspoiled natural paradise on the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef’s Frankland Group National Park is an archipelago located 10km offshore, about 45km south-east of Cairns. The group’s five continental islands (Normanby, High, Russell, Round and Mabel) are part of the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
All the islands are uninhabited and surrounded by healthy fringing reefs, full of hard and soft corals, giant clams, schools of fish, turtles, rays and more. Dugongs and whales are often sighted here, and during the months of May and June, manta rays visit the shallow fringing reefs around the islands where you can see them above and below the surface.
High, Normanby, Mabel, and Round Islands were declared a National Park in 1936, to protection the natural environment. The surrounding waters were included in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in 1983, ensuring the conservation of the marine ecosystem. Today the islands are highly regarded as a leading example of marine management.
Normanby Island in the Frankland Islands Group provides some of the best snorkelling of all the islands near Cairns thanks to its unique geographical location. It rises from sea level, peaking at 20 metres high. It’s a continental island, which is home to rainforest vegetation, as well as coastal species. Cool water channels surround the islands, keeping sea temperatures cooler during the hot summer months.
The islands were named by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770, in honour of two 18th-century sailors, Lord of the Admiralty and his nephew, both named Sir Thomas Frankland.
A lighthouse was built on Russell Island in 1929. Today, bush camping is available on Russell Island and High Island, which must be booked in advance. Camping on Russell Island can be arranged by getting a permit from the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science with transfers offered by Frankland Island Reef Tours.
Frankland Group National Park
Fun facts about this beautiful national park
The Frankland Islands Group was once part of a coastal mountain range, which was separated from mainland Australia by an increase in sea levels over 6000 years ago.
200 species of coral can be found around Normanby and Mabel islands (out of 600 total species in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park)
The islands are home to sereval species of endangered rare fauna such as the green turtle, hawksbill turtle, spectacled flying-fox, and beach stone-curlews.
There are two rare jewel-blue sea anemones right off the beaches on the north and west sides of Normanby Island, where you'll likely see some resident clownfish hanging out at home!
Could not have been happier with our day. Great guides, easy down river trip and across to the island with stunning views. The island itself was beautiful and incredibly isolated, it was a small personal tour that was highly enjoyable. You should definitely do the guided snorkel tour if you do the day trip
Perfection! Having the option of semi sub tour, sup, snorkelling on your own, snorkel safari in group, island tour, beautiful lunch and an ideallic island setting is superb for a family wanting to explore Great Barrier reef and not be stuck on a boat the whole day. Swimming above coral, colourful marine life, fish and swam with turtles! Would love to go again! Thank you crew we have wonderful memories.
It was am amazing experience! I got picked up by a coach in the morning, the coach was well ventilated, drove for about an hour in that until we hour to the ferry. The boat trip was about an hour long too where I saw beautiful sights of nature! They provided free drinks and snacks both ways in the ferry and lunch was also included in the island! They can provide something for every dietary requirement, including vegan.
What a hidden gem this tour was. Beautiful island, river cruise and great reef. Nice small group. Had the island to ourselves. Knowledgeable, friendly crew. Fabulous value. Will definitely be recommending this trip.
Highlight of the holiday!! Can’t recommend enough: we were picked up outside our hotel in the morning, drove to the boat where we had a great trip down the Mulgrave river before another 30 min on the sea and we arrived at the island. Variety of activities available from free snorkelling in a watched boundary and a snorkel tour a bit further out, to a semi-submersible and rainforest island tour where you can see in rock pools. The semi-sub was a little murky so if you enjoyed the snorkelling tour, I’d carry on on your own, as it’s what you saw before, but less clear, but if you’re not comfortable snorkeling, then it’s a great alternative to see the corals.
Excellent day tour to a great little island. Crew were wonderful and provided an overall fabulous experience. Suitable for most all ages/abilities and can do as much or as little as you like. Highly recommend.
Very well organized. Staff was amazing!! Something for everyone. You had your choice of snorkeling, glass bottom boat, kayaks, sup, guided nature walk ( totally amazing and interesting!) and there was even a treasure hunt for young kids. Food and snacks were great as well! Highly recommend!
Had a great day out on Frankland Island Reef Cruises. You can do as much or as little as you want on the island so perfect if you want to snorkel and spend lots of time in the water or just sit on the beach in the sun listening to the birds. The boat trip over is pretty short so good if boat travel isn’t your thing. Semi-sub trip is great if you are not a confident swimmer or fan of snorkeling. The information is interesting and while not crystal clear its a good reminder the reef can survive & flourish but we can do lots to help in our everyday life. Loads of food for lunch and afternoon cheese & biscuits was a great way to finish off the day. Highly recommend this trip
We can throughly recommend this small, relaxed all-inclusive reef tour.
The crew were amazing, the snorkel safari the best we’ve ever been on in clear, calm waters seeing beautiful corals, fish and turtles close up. Semi sub tour of the island, guided walk, use of paddle boards and kayaks and amazing food all included. A really great day out.
Thanks to all the crew. You worked so hard all day and were fun, helpful, friendly and very informative.
What an amazing day out in frankland Island.
Would highly recommended this trip – one of the best snorkelling I’ve done and its guided. if your not the best swimmer you can just walk straight into the crystal clear water and still see lots of amazing stuff.
The submarine was brilliant, got to see loads.
The island walk was very educational and saw some very unique things.
Great staff, great food. Overall amazing day out would highly recommend 🙂