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Cairns Islands Tours on the Great Barrier Reef 

The Frankland Islands offers visitors to Tropical North Queensland an unforgettably exclusive Great Barrier Reef dive and snorkel experience.

These islands set themselves apart from other reef tours in that there is only one reef tour boat able to visit this spectacular group of five breathtaking continental islands surrounded by fringing coral reef.

Normanby Island is the largest of the Frankland Islands, and is the destination for guests aboard the Frankland Islands Dive & Snorkel Tour for a full day Great Barrier Reef trip. The island boasts an abundance of plant and wildlife species, vibrant and colourful rainforest which is met by beautiful, unspoilt beaches and brilliant coral gardens which are home to tropical fish, giant clams and, most notably, green sea turtles; a popular calling card for Frankland Islands and a number one attraction for our adventurous divers and snorkellers.

With maximum daily passenger numbers of 100, and a high crew to passenger ratio, a Great Barrier Reef day trip to the Frankland Islands ensures you an intimate, personal and unforgettable tropical Island experience from Cairns.

Activities for the Day

Your Frankland Islands Cruise and Dive Great Barrier Reef adventure begins with guests being picked up from their holiday accommodation via air-conditioned coach (Northern Beaches departs 7 a.m. while Cairns City departs 7.30 a.m.) and transferred to the Frankland Islands departure point in Deeral, south of Cairns (an approximate 40 minute drive). Upon boarding, guests are offered complimentary morning tea including freshly brewed tea or coffee and biscuits, as the days adventure really begins.

A gentle and peaceful cruise along the Mulgrave River starts the day on a pleasing note. Frankland Islands cruise and dive is the only reef trip to include a river cruise in your day out so you can see the bio diversity of the rivers and maybe spot crocodiles in their natural habitat along the way from your safe position in the boat.

Mangroves shroud the calm waters teeming with wildlife while spectacular views of rainforest-clad hills loom in the distance. The Frankland Islands river cruise offers a tranquil and scenic start to the day, whilst also providing guests with the opportunity to enjoy the diverse range of Tropical Far North Queensland's scenery; an advantage which not all visitors to the Cairns region are lucky enough to experience.

When approaching the estuary head of the Mulgrave-Russell River, the islands of the Great Barrier Reef emerge spectacularly and almost instantaneously. This is truly a sight to behold. The five islands which make up the Frankland Islands rest atop the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, appearing as havens of emerald rainforest and foliage, golden beaches swimming amongst a sea of sparkling sapphire.

The ocean cruise takes about only 25 minutes yet provides guests with spectacularly endless views of the Coral Sea, Islands and Australian mainland.

The open water cruise from the mouth of the Mulgrave estuary to Normanby Island is the shortest offered in Tropical North Queensland, which is also ideal for travelers who suffer from sea sickness. Once the Frankland Islands Cruise and Dive vessel reaches Normanby Island, the boat is securely anchored and guests can begin to explore this tropical paradise at their own leisure.

Guests on board can choose, if they so wish, to separate themselves from the group, enjoying a peaceful and tranquil retreat. All visitors are offered beach tents as sun shelters to use as their own for the day, and are able to leave their belongings in these for easy access. There are also many packages available catering to individual tastes and budgets.

The 'All-Day Inclusive' package includes a guided snorkeling tour, tuition and snorkel equipment, a semi-submersible tour, guided island walk, lunch and morning and afternoon tea. The 'Full Day Cruise and Lunch Package' includes use of snorkelling equipment and tuition, morning and afternoon tea and lunch. On both the Full Day and All Day Inclusive packages Introductory and Certified Diving are available at additional cost.

The final Frankland Islands Cruise and Dive option is the Full Day Cruise and Introductory Dive Package which includes an Introductory Dive, morning and afternoon tea and lunch. All Frankland Islands Cruise and Dive package options provide unlimited enjoyment of the island and surrounding pristine coral reef.

***New To Frankland Islands***

Frankland Islands is definitely a fantastic full day Great Barrier Reef trip for families with recently added activities to please every family member.

  • Sea-Doo, is an underwater scooter and is available to anyone depending on your swimming abilities and height - no minimum age. Take advantage of this optional extra and zoom around the Great Barrier Reef. A Sea-Doo hire goes for 30 minutes
  • Helmet diving is now available on Frankland Islands day trip. Please note you must be 16 and complete a medical questionnaire. Helmet diving is a fun way to explore the waters around Frankland Islands. Helmet diving requires a minimum of 6 guests so book now and your optional extra will be reconfirmed closer to your travel date.
  • Stand up paddle boards and Sea Kayaks, another activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Please note you must pre-book the above optional extras to avoid disappointment as spots are limited.

The cluster of Frankland Islands in itself is a protected national park, the native habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna. Sea birds are prolific on the island, and the Frankland Islands are a well known nesting ground for both common and endangered varieties of birdlife. The Normanby Island nature trail is the ideal way for visitors to gain insight into the immensely astounding natural beauty of the island, and the easy 20 minute circuit offers guests the opportunity to enjoy rocky outcrops, dense tropical rainforest, coastal vegetation and mangrove communities. There are a range of rock pools that are home to a variety of wildlife, and many forest and marine creatures can be sighted on the easy nature walk throughout Normanby Island.

The guided island walk and informative environmental commentary is truly an opportunity not to be missed. Delivered by a Marine Biologist or Marine Naturalist, these guided walks are informative, descriptive and interactive. You will see and hear about things you probably would have walked straight past or not even seen. Guides entertain their visitors whilst educating them, once again providing a Great Barrier Reef experience paralleled by no other.

The coral gardens of the Great Barrier Reef which surround the Frankland Islands are those of the most untouched in the entire world. Experienced snorkellers and certified divers will appreciate the pristine patch of coral reef surrounding Normanby Island, and with guidance can experience the deepest depths of the Coral Ocean. Travellers who prefer sun and sand will find delight in the sun-burnt shores of the island - soft sand, tall coconut palms fringing dense rainforest, combined with an abundance of wildlife, create an idyllic tropical island environment.

Nervous swimmers and first time snorkellers and scuba divers will also appreciate the calm, shallow waters lapping the shores of Normanby Island. This is the perfect sanctuary to gain confidence and experience the Great Barrier Reef.

However, for those wanting to experience the wonders of the reef without getting wet, or if you are afraid of the water and its sea creatures then a semi-submersible tour of the reef is available. The semi-submersible runs periodically throughout the day, ensuring those that don't swim still enjoy an up-close-and-personal encounter with the Great Barrier Reef. The semi-submersible boat seats 30 passengers in comfort, and the unique vantage point under the surface of the water offers spectacular views - just as if you were snorkeling!

A tropical cold buffet lunch is served under the canopy of the forest trees on Normanby Island and includes cold meats, seasonal salads, freshly baked bread and sumptuous prawns plucked fresh from the Coral Ocean. There is no better location to enjoy lunch alfresco at your own leisure than on the shores of the Great Barrier Reef. After a full day experiencing the rainforest, reef and beaches of the exotic Normanby Island, guests embark on the return journey to Cairns. A 3 p.m. departure from the island allows guests to appreciate the tropical Australian scenery bathed in the late afternoon light as they reminisce about their Great Barrier Reef experiences. By 4 p.m., travellers holidaying in Cairns will arrive at their accommodation, and by 4.30 p.m. for those staying on the Northern Beaches. The perfect way to spend the day - book your Frankland Islands Cruise and Dive Great Barrier Reef experience today!

Reef, Rainforest and River - Frankland Islands Cruise and Dive - Great Barrier Reef Day Tours - Inclusions

  • Take a maximum of 100 people to the stunning part coral cay/part continental Normanby Island
  • Is the only commercial operator licensed to visit the island
  • Is the only Reef Day Tour that includes a River Cruise, Reef and Island experience
  • Morning and afternoon tea
  • Tropical buffet lunch served on the beach
  • Snorkel equipment and tuition
  • Semi-submersible tour
  • Guided Island walk (including an opportunity to interact with the large variety of marine life found in our rock pools - they're like naturally occurring touch tanks!)
  • Guided snorkel tour
  • Introductory and certified diving available at an additional cost
  • Shortest open water crossing to the Great Barrier Reef in North Queensland
  • Guests board the boat at Deeral landing; Mulgrave River (approx. 40 minutes drive south of Cairns), River Cruise (approx 25 minutes), Open Water Crossing to Frankland Islands (approx 25 minutes)
  • Staff to customer ratio is a maximum of 9:1
  • All purchases are made on an honesty system throughout the day so passengers do not have to exchange money for drinks, souvenirs or cameras etc

Frankland Islands Cruise and Dive Options:

Full Day All Inclusive Package:

  • A maximum group of only 100 passengers
  • Guided snorkeling tour, snorkelling equipment and tuition
  • Reef and Island interpretation by a Marine Biologist or Marine Naturalist
  • Coral viewing tour from our semi-submersible or glass bottom vessel
  • Guided Island Walk and informative environmental commentary
  • Use of a protection suit
  • Morning and afternoon tea
  • Fresh tropical lunch (includes prawns)

Full Day Cruise and Lunch Package:

  • A maximum group of only 100 passengers
  • Use of snorkelling equipment and tuition
  • Morning and afternoon tea
  • Fresh tropical lunch (includes prawns)

Full Day Cruise and Introductory Dive Package:

Full day cruise and lunch plus an introductory dive

Frankland Islands:

  • Frankland Islands comprise five islands - High, Normanby, Mabel, Round and Russell
  • Normanby is the largest of all the Frankland Islands
  • Normanby Island is National Park and totally uninhabited and undeveloped
  • Normanby Island a fantastic Great Barrier Reef experience - a great diversity of Marine life including regular sightings of giant Green Sea Turtles, Octopus as well as a large variety of soft and hard corals and giant clams
  • Frankland Islands lie 10 km offshore from the mouth of the Russell-Mulgrave River and 50 km south of Cairns

What to Bring

  • Hat
  • SPF 15 or greater Sunscreen
  • Swimmers
  • Towel
  • Comfortable shoes for beach combing
  • Shoes may get wet on boat transfers to and from the island
Amazing photo of Nemo the Ocelaris or False Percula Clownfish on Frankland Island

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Great Barrier Reef Tours | Frankland Islands Cruise & Dive
  • Location: Deeral Landing on the Mulgrave River
  • Duration:

    9 hours (approx), that's 4 hours on the island

An exclusive Great Barrier Reef island tour with only 1 boat per day and only 100 guests on the island. The ultimate relaxing reef trip for snorkellers and scuba divers. This is one of Cairns favourite reef trips. Morning and Afternoon Tea, Tropical Lunch (including Prawns), Protection Suit (Summer Only) River Cruise with Commentary on the Mulgrave River, National Park and EMC, Use of Snorkelling equipment including tuition or Coral viewing glass bottom boat tour (you can also include both options)

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Bianca B

25 Aug 2012


What a beautiful Island! I swam with 2 turtles! The guided snorkelling tour was so informative as well as the guided island walk. A very relaxing national park Island to chill out on and only one boat heads there each day.

Michael Roxas

16 Jun 2012


Incredible Reef Trip. THANKS!!!

Kaylie Rummery

07 May 2012

Western Australia

Thank to your tour desk team for recommending Frankland islands to me. It really was the sort of island experience I was looking for. I wanted to get away from the crowds and find my own bit of beach and relax. I did some snorkelling and saw some really massive turtles. Such beautiful, magestic creatures. The island itself was quite fun to explore as well, there are some really nice rock pools on the far side of the island. I would really like to come back on day and maybe pay to camp on the other island, that would just be an incredible trip.

Kara Marland

23 Apr 2012


My family loved Frankland islands. It was really good for my two boys the water got gradually deeper so I felt comfortable with them swimming/playing in the shallows. The glass bottom boat and semi-sub were were great giving us a chance to see the reef deeper out where I wouldn't have been able to take the boys. I would definitely recommend booking the all inclusive package because the tours of the island and the water are worth it. It's with a marine biologist, whose really nice and lets the group touch things like starfishs etc. All in all it was a wonderful day. Thanks heaps.

Michael Barnes

18 Mar 2012

Luton, England

Fantastic Trip! I got to explore three very different eco systems. The first being the chance to see a crocodile natural habitat in the estuary. The second being the tour of the island I particularly enjoyed the tour of the rock pools and getting to see and hold a starfish. and of course the reef itself is so beautiful. I didn't have a lot of time in Cairns and I really feel that this trip gave me a really nice overview of the area. I tried snorkelling for the first time and was very impressed I saw a small turtle and a stingray. I took a gazillion photographs to take back home. Everyone will be very jealous. Frankland islands is just beautiful I would recommend it to anyone. All the best, Barnsy

Jake Marsh

21 Jan 2012


Thank you to the staff for a wonderful day out. The island was everything promised to us.

Melanie Fields

05 Dec 2011


I have been to many of the island off of Cairns and Franklands is my favourite. The coral is better and there was far more marine life. The best bit about it, is that there are less people. I must have counted about sixty people the day I went, so my partner and I could go off on our own and find a secluded bit of beach.

Marcia Williams

11 Nov 2011


Thank you to the ladies in palmcove her recommended frankland islands. I had the best day in the sun and saw so many turtles.

Heidi Sternberg

08 Sep 2011


I went out on a choppy day and I get easily sea sick. I chose the island specifically because it was such a short distance from the land and it certainly made the difference. we were there so quickly i barely had time to notice I was on a boat. And while swimming the island actually protects snorkelers from the rougher winds. I would recommend this to people like myself who were not born to be sailor's.

Djerami Callope

26 Jun 2011

Torres Strait

I saw so many turtles and a stingray. The coral was stunning and water was so clear. This was the ultimate reef experience and I would recommend it to anyone. Excellent service by the staff and delicious food.

Kate Evans

15 May 2011


Best trip out to the Reef. I was really nervous about going out on a boat, because I get really bad sea sickness. But the trip out was so calm and short, only like 30 minutes out there. I saw a crocodile in the river as we were leaving. Kool! And the island is so pretty, the water is so clear and there is so much to see. I could live there! thanks to the crew :) such a good day out.

Joe Denton

14 Mar 2011


Thankyou thankyou thankyou to my friendly guide at the tour specialists for recommending Franklands to me. It was such a quick trip across to the island and then my wife and I got this feel of being on a secluded spot of beach. It was so clean, a very personal tour and the staff were brilliant.

Mikhail Dostoevsky

27 Feb 2011


Thankyou to the staff on Frankland Islands for allowing me to see the Great Barrier Reef in the best possible way. The island is magnificent and the ocean surrounding it is full of marine life. I could find all the colours in the rainbow on the ocean floor. Certainly a once in a lifetime experience, and definately an unforgettable one. 'Spasiba' meaning thank you all the way from russia.

Jordan Smith

10 Feb 2011


Frankland Islands is the most awesome way to see the reef. I got to swim with two turtles and watch one come up for air, it was all kinds of incredible. After backpacking for so long, it was such a nice day just to relax on the beach and go for a snorkel as and when I felt like. Its my holiday and they let me do it my way. Thank you to the crew for the many laughs and food, such good food.

Lilly Radcliffe

09 Feb 2011


WOW! this trip lived up to every expectation that I had about the Great Barrier Reef. I am a keen environmentalist and I was very proud of the way Frankland Islands is being maintained. It honestly is the most pristine, untouched group of islands. I am so very happy with quality of service I recieved. I would recommend this day out to everyone.

Dawn James

24 Jan 2011

Gold Coast

Wow, What an amazing day. It was so relaxing and the weather was brilliant. Thanks to Pia for looking after us so well and helping to keep our daughter occupied. So natural and so peaceful we loved this trip and recommend it to our friends. I could not believe it when I was swimming next to a turtle WOW !!!

Blythe Rallo

19 Dec 2010


Lots of turtles, marine life and colourful corals! Frankland islands is a deep water island, therefore the corals are able to grow properly. Don't miss out on the semi-submersible tour and the guided island walk!