12 secluded beaches and islands to explore off the coast of Port Douglas

luxury cruise great barrier reef

From secluded sand cays to thriving dive sites, Tropical North Queensland’s pristine ocean is your playground aboard Morris Nautical’s superyachts. All good adventures need a starting point, so let’s dive in off the coast of Port Douglas.


Catch a few sand cays 

The Great Barrier Reef is dotted with sand cays; small islands formed by sand build up. But not all sand cays were created equal. We’ve picked five of the best to chart a course to. Mackay Reef is 50 km off the coast of Port Douglas and plays host to a few premium snorkelling pockets – including one nicknamed ‘turtles’. At Sudbury Cay, you’re perched in the heart of an epic snorkelling system due west of Fitzroy Island. Vlasoff Cay hides away north of Green Island and is beloved by romantics looking for the perfect spot to pop the question. On Michaelmas Cay, you’ll share the sand with migrating seabirds. The protected sanctuary is also a National Park, with scrub for the birds to settle into. Just 30 kms northeast of Cairns, Upolo Cay peeks up from the reef at low tide in a swirl of white sand.

Sudbury Cay

Sudbury Cay

Dive time 

For divers, the Great Barrier Reef is top of the bucket list and the Ribbon Reefs, along the outer edge of the continental shelf, have more than 10 dive locations worth ticking off. There’s the famous Cod Hole, home to its namesake jumbo-sized potato cod, Steve’s Bommie, rising up from 30 metres deep to 5 metres, and the appropriately named Wonderland, a large coral mound teeming with marine life.

Cod Hole

Cod Hole


Island adventures 

Looking to cruise to a tropical island and bliss out for a few hours? Lizard Island does barefoot luxury at its best. Fitzroy Island has the best of both worlds – ocean and protected rainforest – for you to explore. The Low Isles are just 15 km north east of Port Douglas and are a great entry point into the inner reef.

Low Isles


Fit for a fish

If fishing is on the agenda, you’ll find Princess Charlotte Bay at the base of Cape York and it will not disappoint. Famous for barramundi and bottom fishing, it has river systems alongside reef and shelf spots where you’ll find sportfish aplenty.


Whether you want to find a beach, or the day’s catch, yacht life is the good life when you’re in Tropical North Queensland. Find out more here

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