Guide to visiting the Cairns Area Plan of Management for recreational users

The area offshore from Cairns, Port Douglas and Cooktown is renowned for its beautiful coral cays and islands, and for the relatively close proximity of spectacular outer edge reefs. The reefs and islands support a range of wildlife including dugong, dwarf minke whales, seabirds and green turtles.

The Cairns Area is one of the most highly visited regions of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The Cairns Planning Area extends from the Ribbon Reefs in the north to the Frankland Islands in the south. It includes all offshore reefs and islands in the Cairns and Port Douglas area. Lizard Island is also part of the planning area.

Zoning applies to this area to help protect the animals, plants and habitats of the Cairns Area. In addition, the Cairns Area Plan of Management is in place to help manage human activities and minimise disturbance to the many unique plants and animals that live here.

What you need to know about the Cairns Area Plan of Management

A range of management tools are used in the Cairns Area so visitors can enjoy their favourite marine activities while protecting the natural environment. Rules relating to motorised water sports, anchoring, mooring and vessel/aircraft restrictions are in place to protect locations and species vulnerable to high levels of use.

Maps and zoning information for the Cairns Area

Zoning is a way of ensuring that many different activities are able to co-exist in the Marine Park without conflict. This section answers your questions about zoning in the Cairns Area and provides useful zoning maps and activity guides for download.

Enjoying the Cairns Area

Find out more about the variety of exciting recreational opportunities available in the Cairns Area, including boating, wildlife viewing, daytripping, fishing, spearfishing and camping on local islands.

Further information on islands managed by both the Queensland and Australian Governments is available here. Tips on how to look after our beautiful marine environment are also provided.