When my friend Felicity Loughrey told me she wanted to write a guest blog post about Fitzroy Island, my response was, “Where’s that?” She told me it’s the best resort you’ve never heard of, and that it’s good enough to bring the grandparents.
There are plenty of blogs (like this one!), articles and websites about how to travel with babies, toddlers and teens. A big shout out to Baby on Holiday, an Australian family travel website that not only has advice but everything you need to Bugaboo it to paradise and back. But what about traveling with grandparents? Specifically, your parents.
I have two sons, age six and eight, and we’d already been to Fitzroy Island in Far North Queensland once before. (Fitzroy is the tropical resort you’ve never heard of but should visit.) I decided to take the trip again, but this time with my parents. And you know what? It wasn’t bad.
My parents are baby boomers (they think they’re young but they’re getting old). Dad whistles Lady Gaga at breakfast but he’s following his CSIRO Total Wellbeing diet at the banquet.
In a study commissioned by Holiday Inn, psychologists found the perfect holiday is within four hours travel time of home. To get to Fitzroy Island, it’s a 3-hour flight from Sydney to Cairns and then a one-hour ferry ride to the island. Perfect!
The trick is timing your flight with the ferry service. If it works, it’s great. If you get delayed chances are you’ll be in a hotel in Cairns overnight. (Do not stay at the Hotel Cairns. We stayed there. Broken door handles, cracked glass in the bathroom, incomprehensible kitchen set up.)
Once on the island, it’s a grandparent paradise. There’s a kind of unspoiled nostalgia to the place. There really isn’t much to do but read books, swim and go for walks. There’s a cinema in the resort that shows family-friendly flicks and there are fish to feed on the jetty. There’s Scuba diving and snorkeling. I spent quite a bit of time peeling and eating North Queensland prawns with my mum. (My Mum wants me to mention that this is the first place she’s stayed with Teletext (subtitles on the in-room flatscreen). She really liked it.)
Apart from the resort and an abandoned aquaculture farm (Dad loved checking out the old pumps and huge fiberglass tanks from the other side of a chainlink fence) the rest of the island is a national park. That means bushwalks!
There are four hikes on the island. On the first day, we walked to the no-longer-in-use lighthouse. It took over an hour and is rather fiercely uphill to begin with. You walk through rainforest and then come up through the clouds into scrubby bushland. From the lighthouse, the view across the Coral Sea is breathtaking.
There’s another walk to the island’s summit which is recommend for experienced hikers. I just went with Dad. There’s a smaller rainforest walk that we explored with the children and there’s a walk to Nudey Beach (don’t stress, you won’t see your parents naked. Not a nude beach).
And yes, there are the beaches. The stretches of water in front of the resort are gentle, protected bays. There are trees on the edge for shade to read a paperback and you can glance at kids and grandparents galumphing on a trampoline at sea. My favorite activity was arranging the fossilized coral on the beach, taking photos and explaining Instagram to my mum. (“It’s like Facebook, but for photos”). Fitzroy is a very Instagram-able destination, grandparents included.
WHAT TO PACK: Water shoes. The coral beaches will murder your feet. Buy them online before you depart or at tourist shops in Cairns.
Discount Disclosure: Felicity received a discount from Fitzroy Island in exchange for reviewing it, but is free to write whatever she wants.