Great Barrier Reef islands

You can camp on several islands in the Great Barrier Reef. Most are national parks and part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Seasonal closures apply to some islands and some activities are restricted or not allowed.

The islands are fragile and easily damaged by careless visitors. They are also a refuge for marine wildlife.

Be pest-free!

Our precious Great Barrier Reef World Heritage islands are among the most pest-free islands in the world. They need your help to stay this way. Please Be pest-free! (PDF, 573.6KB) , Be pest-free! video—YouTube before your visit.

Before you visit, please check that your boat, clothing, footwear and gear are free of soil, seeds, parts of plants, eggs, insects, spiders, lizards, toads, rats and mice. Be sure to:

  • Unpack your camping gear and equipment and check it carefully as pests love to hide in stored camping gear.
  • Clean soil from footwear and gear as invisible killers such as viruses, bacteria and fungi are carried in soil.
  • Check pockets, cuffs and Velcro for seeds.

Protect the islands and reefs when you visit:

  • Check the zoning information for restrictions on fishing and collecting shells. Spearfishing using scuba gear and collecting coral are prohibited.
  • Remove soil, weeds, seeds and pests from your boat, gear and clothes before moving to a new site. Wrap seeds and plant material, and place them in your rubbish.
  • Anchor in sand or mud to avoid coral damage. Preferably use a lightweight reef pick with plastic tubing over the anchor chain to protect the coral.
  • Protect the wildlife. Leave your pets at home.
  • Never get too close to nesting seabirds. If disturbed, seabirds leave their nests and their chicks can die of exposure or be taken by predators.
  • Stay on any walking tracks. You can injure yourself if you collapse a shearwater's nesting tunnel. You can also trap the baby bird. Please dig out the tunnel so the chick can escape.
  • Be very careful using lights on beaches during turtle breeding season (November to March). Use only fuel stoves for cooking. Fires can attract and kill turtle hatchlings.
  • If you go reef walking, disturb the animals as little as possible. Always replace any overturned rocks and don't touch any reef animals.
  • Feed yourself, not the seagulls! Seagull numbers are increasing on many reef islands and threaten the survival of other birds.
  • Use a fuel stove. Open fires are rarely allowed. Collect no firewood.
  • Don't throw it, stow it. Dumping plastic and other rubbish at sea is illegal and can harm or even kill aquatic animals and seabirds. Take all your rubbish back to the mainland.
  • If there are no toilets, bury human waste below high tide level. Never bury rubbish.

Protect yourself when you visit:

  • Be self-sufficient. Few islands have water or facilities. Take everything you need. Allow five litres of water a day for each person in your group.
  • This is a remote area and help is a long way away – Always tell others your plans, where you will be and when you are expected back.
  • Take extra supplies in case you get stranded by sudden changes in the weather.
  • Tides, currents and prevailing weather conditions can be dangerous - Never dive, snorkel or swim alone. Anchor boats securely.
  • Carry a marine band radio transceiver. Most sites are out of range for mobile phones.
  • Carry a hand-held EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or satellite phone. Register your EPIRB before departure. For further information on how to obtain and register an EPIRB or PLB contact the Australian Maritime Safety Authority on 1800 406 406 (business hours),or via email: EPIRBS and satellite phones can be hired from various outlets.
  • Be alert for sudden weather changes, particularly storms and cyclones. Be prepared to evacuate if necessary.
  • Wear a hat and sunscreen.