Special management arrangements
Some places in the Cairns area have special values, such as nature conservation and scientific use values. Special management arrangements are in place to protect these areas. These are set out in the table below.
|Cod Hole locality|
|Low Island locality|
|Mabel Island, High Island and Round Island|
|Normanby Island (Frankland Islands group)|
*Please note these are managed under Queensland legislation
Motorised water sports
These activities may disturb other users of an area. Motorised water sports are generally not permitted within 500 metres of the reef edge. Hovercraft may be used at Lizard Island Locality 2.
For a full list of locations where motorised water sports are not permitted, refer to Schedule 4 of the Cairns Area Plan of Management.
View Responsible Reef Practices for motorised water sports.
Anchoring and mooring in the Cairns area
No Anchoring Areas and reef protection markers
Some reef areas are particularly vulnerable to anchor damage. You can help protect these vulnerable reefs by observing designated No Anchoring Areas (refer to table below). These areas are often marked by reef protection markers, which are white, pyramid-shaped buoys with a blue Marine Parks label.
When visiting a reef or bay that has a No Anchoring area:
- You may enter No Anchoring areas when approaching or leaving moorings or beaches. You cannot anchor inside a No Anchoring Area or inshore of the line of buoys, however vessels may access and anchor on the beach when conditions allow.
- You cannot attach your vessel or aircraft to a reef protection marker.
No Anchoring Area locations in the Cairns Area
|Marked No Anchoring Areas (shown by reef protection markers)|
|Lizard Island (Watsons Bay and Anchor Bay)|
|Unmarked No Anchoring Areas (no reef protection markers present)|
|Cod Hole Locality|
Refer to the Cairns area Plan of Management for further details.
Please ensure you anchor with care outside the line of reef protection markers.
Please note: you may not anchor within 50 metres of a mooring or 200 metres of a pontoon in the Cairns Area, except at the following locations:
- Cape Tribulation Bay Locality 1
- East Hope Island Reef
- Green Island Reef Locality 1
- Lizard Island Locality 2 and 3
- Low Island Locality
You can use public moorings at a number of sites to help protect fragile reefs in these areas. Public moorings are blue bee-hive shaped buoys with a colour-coded band that signifies the ‘class’ of the mooring.
There are five classes of mooring, and you must ensure that you use a class of mooring that is suitable for your vessel and the weather. The relevant vessel length and wind conditions are displayed on the colour-coded band and marked plastic tag attached to the pick-up line.
Public moorings have been installed at the following sites in the Cairns Area:
- Cod Hole
- East Hope Island
- Flynn Reef
- Green Island
- High Island
- Lizard Island (Mermaid Bay and Watsons Bay)
- Low Island
- Michaelmas Cay
- Milln Reef
- Normanby Island
- Norman Reef
- Russell Island
- Snapper Island
- Upolu Cay
- Vlasoff Cay
Periodically, some of these moorings may be out of commission or occasionally unavailable when being maintained. If a mooring is damaged or missing, please report it to the Queensland Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing.
Privately owned moorings have been installed by regular users of an area, including commercial tourism operators. Private moorings are not generally available for public use. The moorings are private property and you must have the owner’s formal permission to use them.
View Responsible Reef Practices for anchoring and mooring.
Tourism in the Cairns area
The Cairns area attracts more visitors than any other region of the Great Barrier Reef. A wide variety of tourism experiences are accessible in this area, including day and overnight sightseeing tours to the reef, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing charters and swimming with whales. Cruise ships also frequently visit the region.
You can choose a high standard tour, which are tourism operations that are ecologically sustainable and are helping to protect and present the Marine Park to a consistently high standard.