Things to do at the Frankland Islands

Visit the Frankland Islands on a day trip from Cairns and you’ll find plenty of activities to keep you entertained! Things to do at the Frankland Islands include snorkelling and scuba diving, our famous island walk, swimming, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

Read on for our full list of Cairns island day tour activities to enjoy.


Grab a snorkel and explore the healthy, fringing reefs which surround the Frankland Islands group.

Even if you’ve never been snorkelling before, you can snorkel the Great Barrier Reef on a Frankland Islands day trip. Our friendly instructors will help you with your gear, teach you some handy snorkelling tips and guide you into the water. Flotation devices will keep you safe – just hold on and float along in the warm tropical waters, while our guides show you the wonders of the reef.

You can snorkel straight off the beach, or join our adventure snorkel safari, starting on the western side of the island and drifting back over through gorgeous multi-coloured coral gardens full of turtles, anemonefish, eels and more.

Find out more about Frankland Islands snorkelling

Frankland Islands snorkelling diving turtle


The quality of the coral reefs surrounding Normanby and neighbouring Mabel Island in the Frankland Islands group is as good as any outer reef dive site. Certified divers can explore them and find turtles, schools of barracuda, rays, sharks, nudibranchs and a wide variety of tropical fish. Manta rays visit the islands over the winter months.

Find out more about diving at the Frankland Islands


With warm, clear water and sheltered conditions most of the year, the Frankland Islands are great for swimming. In fact, during the hottest summer months, a channel around the islands keeps the water from getting too warm, like it can be at some other Cairns beaches. So the water’s always a comfortable temperature – refreshing, but warm enough to laze in the shallows or paddle about on an inflatable to your heart’s content.

Cairns beach Frankland Islands

Relaxing on the beach

The Frankland Islands are the perfect place for a relaxing Cairns island day trip. Close your eyes, soak up the warm sunshine and listen to the waves murmur as they wash onto the beautiful soft white sand. That’s right, Normanby Island has a gorgeous sandy beach for you to enjoy! However, we do recommend bringing shoes if you’re joining us for the island walk, as there are areas of coral shingle and rock.

Exploring the island

A day at the Frankland Islands is different from other Cairns island day trips, because you’re visiting a national park. There are no resorts, no bars, no overpriced commercial kiosks and no crowds. What we do have is a team of passionate experts, headed by our trained marine biologists and Master Reef Guides, ready to show you around the island on a relaxing and entertaining walk.

Stroll around Normanby Island and discover the secrets of its tidal pools and tropical rainforest. Even the sand here is fascinating and different from anywhere else on the reef!

Kayaking and paddleboarding

For a change of pace, enjoy the beauty of the tropical island scenery from on board one of our kayaks or stand up paddleboards. Paddle along the beach, looking down through the crystal-clear waters as you glide over coral outcrops and watching the fish flit about.

Use of our kayaks and paddleboards is included in the full day tour. If you’re a transfer-only visitor, they’re available to hire.

Kids’ Treasure Hunt

There are plenty of things to do for kids on our day tour. Snorkelling, swimming and exploring on our island walk are all great children’s activities at the Frankland Islands. We also offer a special pirate-themed kids’ treasure hunt. Kids can grab a map of the island and explore its natural highlights while they search for pirate gold!

Frankland Islands kids activities treasure hunt

Bird watching

The Frankland Islands are a haven for coastal and seabirds, including several rare species. The little tern, beach stone-curlew, pied imperial pigeon and crested tern all nest here. If you’re a keen birdwatcher, our Master Reef Guides can help point you to some sites of interest, depending on the time of year.


If you’ve always wanted to spend the night on a deserted tropical island, now’s your chance! Camping is not allowed on Normanby Island, but you can get a permit to camp on nearby Russell Island. You’ll need to arrange this with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. Once you have your permit, talk to our reservations team. We’ll organise to transfer you to the island at the end of your Normanby Island day trip, and pick you up again the next day.

Want to camp on Russell Island? Get in touch.

Come and see for yourself

Find out more about the Frankland Islands – or better, yet, book a day trip and try out all our activities yourself!

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook or Instagram for stunning pics, updates and special offers – and tag #franklandislands to be featured.

© Frankland Islands Reef Cruises 2022

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