Cairns: Green Island with kids

Blue eyes in the stunning blue water surrounding Green Island Cairns

Having visited The Reef several times, I know there is a risk, despite it’s beauty, that the kids could get hot, tired and whiney spending a whole day on the water. And that the long boat trip required to reach the reef may result in those convenient on board sick bags being activated!

So, to experience a little reef magic while keeping our adventures both whinge and puke free, we choose a half-day trip to Green Island, just a forty five minute boat ride from Cairns Marina.

Sugarpuff is a little excited atthe prospect of a reef adventure

But assuming shorter will be better is a mistake and proves to have the opposite effect. The kids only start whining once we tell them it’s time to leave. And it’s understandable. Unlike some reef excursions, which are devoid of facilities for kids, and sometimes any facilities at all, Green Island has got it all going on. There’s an amazing range of activities and amenities to suit pretty much anyone.

The Jetty at Green Island Cairns

There are rainforest walking trails, sandy beaches, sheltered warm waters that are perfect for a paddle and offshore reefs for snorkelling on the pretty, rainforest covered coral cay. You’ll also find helmet diving, scuba, parasailing and Marineland Melanesia, a curious combo of aquarium, museum and croc farm.

Marineland Melanesia, a curious combo of aquarium, museum and croc farm.

If you should tire of all the nature you can also find boutique stores, a resort, a public swimming pool, cafes, a bar (duly noted by me) and an ice-cream shop (duly noted by the kids). And there is plenty of beautiful, blissful shade.

So much to see and do at Green Island Cairns

In fact, with arrows pointing to adventures this way and that, I don’t know where to begin. The kids, however, do not share my indecision. They just want in that beautiful blue water. And they want in now.

Approaching Green Island Cairns

The only problem is the numerous warnings that it’s stinger season. The kids can’t hit the water until they’re suitably protected from the nasty buggers. For those unfamiliar with Queensland waters, a stinger is another name for the Box Jellyfish. These vicious bastards can inflict searing pain, cardiovascular failure and death with a disdainful flick of their villainous tentacles.

But I’m not all that disturbed by this information because this is, after all, Australia. This is a country where an ecosystem of barren deserts, ocean rips and toxic plants seems designed to kill us. A country populated by an army of fierce creatures who all appear to want us dead. Seriously, even the freaking platypus is a poisonous bastard.

I digress. Back to those stingers. It is said that vinegar is the best way to treat a sting as it deactivates the nematocysts (stinging cells). This stops more poison shooting off from the potentially thousands of nematocysts in a tentacle. Fresh water does the opposite and can cause the the nematocysts to fire and increase the toxic load. While vinegar may lessen the severity of the sting, it won’t reduce the pain (which has been described as like being injected with boiling oil). And, irrespective of vinegar, it is still vital to go to a hospital and seek professional treatment.

Good times.

I explain this to the kids as gently as I can so as not to scare them. I fail miserably. Sugarpuff is alarmed and asks what stingers look like and how big they are, imagining a massive kraken-like sea monster. I reassure her that they are not that big, but realise that’s as much info as I can offer. There are dozens of jellyfish species in the water and I don’t know exactly how the stinger differs in appearance from a common or garden-variety jelly. But I am almost certain that they don’t come gift wrapped, despite the misleading name.

To play it safe we head straight to the snorkelling centre and get ourselves suited up like sea ninjas in stinger suits, which also double as protection against the blazing sun.

Sea ninjas! Suited up on their stinger suits ready to take on the water Green Island Cairns

As a suited up Raffles and Sugarpuff perform their best sea ninja moves by the waters edge, I’m fairly comfortable in the knowledge that Beyonce is wrong. These two are totally ready for these jellies … no matter how bootylicious they may be.

Underwater ninja at Green Island Cairns

It’s a good job too because snorkel-fiend Raffles swims head first into a pack of them.

Hmmm… I wonder what the collective noun for a group of jellyfish is? A Destiny’s Child of jellies? A twerk of jellies? Or are they just a school of jellies, like fish? Nope, Uncle Google tells me it is a smack of jelllyfish. No wonder they’re considered dangerous, the sneaky buggers might steal your snorkel and fins for their next fix. But once again, I digress.

Raffles is so blissfully, stupidly enchanted by the jellyfish that he decides to hang about with them while they smack on by. I find this out only when he hands over the GoPro footage he and his dad shoot in their attempts to emulate David Attenborough.

Swimming amongst the jellyfish at Green Island shot on our GoPro

Luckily, unless he’s turned into a grinning water zombie, these appear to be of the non-lethal variety. Which is rather handy as I’m not packing vinegar or a body bag.

Sugarpuff, newer to snorkelling and still on high alert for kraken attack, stays in the clear warm shallows with me.

Raff & I exploring snorkelling at Green Island

While the boys swim further out around the coral bommies and under the Green Island jetty in search of turtles, we practise breathing with our snorkels. There’s also time for my wee treasure hunter to fill a bucket with coral and shells. Which of course are returned. We strictly adhere to the take nothing but photographs and memories and leave nothing but footprints school of travel philosophy.

Though the boys don’t spot any turtles on this occasion, they do spot a multitude of clams, sea cucumbers and colourful fish. Raffles is beaming on his return and full of typically boastful boyish tales of fish that were “this big”.

Time is ticking away, and the island is still waiting to be explored. We have to choose between a dip in the pool and a pit stop for ice cream/alcohol or a walk around the rainforest boardwalks. No prizes for guessing the winner here.

Ice Cream after a big morning on Green Island Cairns

Green Island proves to be an awesome spot for families. And with so much more still to explore, we’re planning to bring the kids back for a full fearless day of rainforest exploration, shark stalking, croc encounters, and jelly wrangling!

Are they afraid? Nah. Because they are Australian, after all, and here we breed our kids as fierce as the wildlife.

14 Comments on Cairns: Green Island with kids

  1. Silke
    June 18, 2016 at 5:08 pm (8 years ago)

    That’s a great write-up of Green Island. Good to know that there is a child-friendly option when visiting the reef. My kids can be a real pain, so I didn’t even consider this an option but the above looks fun. Love the jellyfish shot by the way! Love Cairns and the whole region, hopefully to return soon!

      June 19, 2016 at 8:57 am (8 years ago)

      IT’s so kid friendly Silke. So much to do and so beautiful.I highly recommend families spend a whole day!

  2. Emma
    June 18, 2016 at 7:55 pm (8 years ago)

    This blog post is too bootylicious for me, babe. I LOL’d a lot at this one

  3. Lorraine @Not Quite Nigella
    June 19, 2016 at 5:43 am (8 years ago)

    Hehe Raffles is such a brave kid! And they got so close to them! And hehe love the line from Bootylicious! 😛

      June 19, 2016 at 8:58 am (8 years ago)

      Hehe. I have it stuck in my head now.

  4. Kell @ Our Sense Of Adventure
    June 19, 2016 at 10:29 am (8 years ago)

    It looks like you had an amazing time. The kids as well!
    We will add this to our list of must do’s next time we are up that way. Great write up and amazing pictures!

      June 20, 2016 at 5:59 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks Kell, it’s a great spot for everyone.

  5. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    June 19, 2016 at 1:29 pm (8 years ago)

    Raffles is braver than me, that’s for sure! I’m adding Green Island to my list of places to go and things to do next time I’m up North! That photos are fab!

      June 20, 2016 at 6:01 pm (8 years ago)

      Thanks. It’s a beautiful spot, you should definitely check it out 🙂

  6. Ericka @ A Quiet Girl's Musings...
    June 19, 2016 at 10:45 pm (8 years ago)

    Your water photos are great. Aren’t GoPros the best? I enjoyed reading about your day trip to Green Island. Australia is such an intriguing place.

    June 20, 2016 at 6:01 pm (8 years ago)

    COuldn’t live without our GoPro! We’re hooked.

  8. Hugzillablog
    June 20, 2016 at 9:51 pm (8 years ago)

    Hahahhahhhaha I am such a scaredy cat. I’d be way too scared to swim and would have set up camp at teh bar instead.

      June 20, 2016 at 10:00 pm (8 years ago)

      Not so scary. The stinger suits are awesome and there are plenty of jelly free zones, though Raffles seemed oblivious to the other 200 zillion litres of water that weren’t chock full of them


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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