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About Hope Islands

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Getting there and getting around

East and West Hope islands are 8–10 kilometres offshore, approximately 37 kilometres south-east of Cooktown and 22 kilometres north-east of the nearest settlements of Ayton and Wujal Wujal. Access is via private vessels or with permitted commercial operators, and is only possible in fair weather. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology. The islands are within a day's sailing from Cairns and are an important stop over and anchorage for boats heading to and from Lizard Island and beyond.

Snapper Island is also within this national park and is located 80 kilometres south of East and West Hope islands. For information on getting there, see Snapper Island.

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities or tracks on the Hope Islands.

Park features

Hope Islands National Park is made up of four islands, East and West Hope islands, Struck Island and Snapper Island. East and West Hope islands are low-lying cays, formed in two different ways. West Hope Island is a shingle cay formed from piles of loose shingle (coral debris). Only hardy plants, such as mangroves, sea purslane and native Chinese lantern, grow on such cays. Conversely, East Hope is a typical sand cay, developed by currents and waves depositing fine reef sediments. Beach almond and red coondoo grow in the centre of East Hope Island, while sea trumpet, silverbush and nickernut grow around the edges.

Several species of sea and woodland birds breed on the islands. A colony of pied imperial-pigeons (Ducula bicolor), numbering in the thousands, has been recorded on the Hope Islands, and West Hope Island is a significant seabird-nesting site. These islands are considered among the most important bird-nesting sites in the northern Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The islands are part of the traditional sea country of the Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people, who continue to hunt, fish and collect in the area. Lieutenant James Cook named the islands in 1770 when he struck a nearby reef. The reefs around the islands have also claimed a number of other ships in the past.

Read more about the nature, culture and history of the Hope Islands National Park.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

There is a bush camping area on East Hope Island. Camping permits are required and fees apply.

See essentials to bring for further information and observe minimum impact guidelines when visiting this island.

There are no camping areas or facilities on West Hope Island or Struck Island.

Camping is also permitted on Snapper Island.

Other accommodation

There is a range of holiday accommodation in and around Cape Tribulation and Cooktown. For more information see the tourism information links below.

Things to do

These scenic islands are suited to visitors seeking nature-based experiences such as birdwatching and fishing.

Walking

There are no walking tracks on the Hope Islands. Visitors can walk the beaches around the perimeter of the islands. Access through the interior of the islands is not encouraged—the fragile vegetation is easily damaged.

Guided tours and talks

There are no guided tours to the Hope Islands. Fishing charters to the reef and waters surrounding the islands may be available. See tourism information links for further information.

Picnic and day-use areas

The campground on East Hope Island doubles as a day-use area with picnic tables and a pit toilet provided.

Boating and fishing

Boating and fishing around the Hope Islands are popular activities. Please follow the zoning regulations, catch and bag limits and other guidelines listed below.

Be aware that estuarine crocodiles can occur in the waters around island national parks. Remember, your safety is our concern but your responsibility—always be croc wise in croc country.

Boating

There are public moorings in the waters around Hope Islands National Park. Moorings reduce coral damage from anchors and provide safe and sustainable access to popular reefs and islands. They suit a variety of vessel sizes and are accessed on a first-come-first-served basis. Time limits may apply during the day, but all mooring are available overnight between 3pm and 9am. Learn more about moorings and responsible anchoring and see maps and mooring locations.

Motorised water sports, such as jet skiing, are prohibited around the Hope Islands.

Fishing

Fishing is subject to marine park and fisheries restrictions. The reef and waters surrounding the Hope Islands are zoned Conservation Park (yellow). This permits limited line recreational fishing of one hand-held rod/line per person and one hook per line, and trolling no more than three lines per person and up to six hooks combined total per person. Bait collection is allowed and any oysters gathered must be consumed immediately on site.

Although spearfishing (snorkel only) is allowed in the waters surrounding the islands, spearguns are only allowed on the islands if they are stowed in a dismantled state.

Take only enough fish for a feed—remember bag and size limits apply. For details of bag and size limits for popular fish species see Queensland Fisheries.

For more detailed zoning maps and information for State waters see Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park and for Commonwealth waters see Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Viewing wildlife

The numerous seabird and woodland bird species mean that the Hope Islands are excellent for birdwatching. The islands are an important breeding ground for pied imperial-pigeons, which spend the summer months nesting on the islands, and large raptors such as ospreys and white-bellied sea-eagles.

Seabirds nest on the ground, on rocky outcrops and in vegetation. Avoid nesting seabirds at all times. Chicks and eggs are vulnerable—they are easily destroyed by heat, cold and predators if left unprotected.

  • See the description of the park's natural environment for more details about the Hope Islands' wildlife.

Things to know before you go

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, 574K) before your visit.

Essentials to bring

Preparation is the key to a safe and enjoyable visit to the Hope Islands. Make sure you bring:

  • drinking water
  • rubbish bags
  • a fuel stove or gas stove for cooking
  • protective clothing, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses
  • suitable shoes for walking on rough surfaces
  • a comprehensive first-aid kit
  • insect repellent.

Opening hours

Hope Islands National Park is open all year round.

Visitors should check weather conditions, as the islands may be inaccessible during strong wind warnings, gales or cyclonic activity. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Permits and fees

Camping is permitted on East Hope Island. A camping permit is required and fees apply. A tag with your booking number must be displayed at your campsite.

Camping permits must be obtained prior to travelling to East Hope Island.

  • Book your East Hope Islands campsite online.
  • If you cannot book online, see camping bookings for other options.

Permits are required for all commercial activities or group functions within the park.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted on any of the islands within Hope Islands National Park.

Climate and weather

The islands within Hope Islands National Park have a tropical climate. In summer, the temperatures and humidity are high. From April to September, the days are cooler and less humid. Visiting in the cooler winter months is recommended. Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology or for more information see the tourism information links below.

Fuel and supplies

As you need to be self-sufficient when visiting any of the islands within Hope Islands National Park, you will need to bring fuel and supplies from the mainland.

For more information see the tourism information links below.

Staying safe

To enjoy a safe visit to Hope Islands National Park, please:

  • always carry drinking water when walking or out in your boat
  • be aware of tidal movements and take care on slippery rocks
  • know your own health limitations for safe snorkelling—do not put yourself and others at risk, and always snorkel with a buddy
  • wear sunscreen and cover up when you are walking, swimming and snorkelling
  • dangerous stinging sea jellies (marine stingers) may be present in the water around the Hope Islands. They occur frequently between October and May.
  • be aware that estuarine crocodiles can occur in the waters around island national parks. Remember, your safety is our concern but your responsibility—always be croc wise in croc country.

For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

Looking after the park

  • Everything in the park, living or dead, is protected. Please leave everything as you found it.
  • Camp only in the sites provided. Camping permits are required.
  • Never remove vegetation for firewood or clear vegetation for campsites.
  • Avoid bird-nesting areas and stay clear of roosting birds. Take heed of island closures and restrictions during the seabird-nesting season.
  • Never attempt to feed birds, fish or other wildlife—it is prohibited as it can affect the health of wild animals.
  • Avoid touching, kicking or standing on coral.
  • Lighting of fires is prohibited, however, gas stoves are permitted.
  • Firearms are prohibited in the national park.
  • Take out everything that you bring on to the islands, including all of your rubbish. Disposing of garbage in the marine park is prohibited.
  • Minimise your use of soaps and detergents as they can affect water quality.
  • Use toilet facilities provided to avoid the spread of bacteria.
  • Regularly check clothing and shoes for burrs from Mossman River grass (Cenchrus echinatus). This plant is considered a pest and if burrs are found please dispose of them in the composting pit toilet provided at the campground.

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, 574K) before your visit.

Before you visit, please check that your boat, clothing, footwear and gear are free of soil, seeds, parts of plants, eggs, ants and insects (and their eggs), 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 for seeds in pockets, cuffs and hook and loop fastening strips, such as Velcro.

While you are on the islands, 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.

Everyone in Queensland has a General Biosecurity Obligation to minimise the biosecurity risk posed by their activities. This includes the risk of introducing and spreading weeds and pests to island national parks.

See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

Park management

Hope Islands National Park is managed by Queensland Parks Wildlife Service to preserve the highly significant natural and cultural values of the islands while also providing and managing a range of visitor settings.

The reef and waters surrounding the islands are protected within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The reef and intertidal area surrounding the islands are managed under the provisions of the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Complementary management of waters adjacent to these islands is vital and continued close co-operation between QPWS and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is essential.

The national park is managed in accordance with the Hope Islands National Park Management Plan (PDF, 471K).

Tourism information links

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
24 January 2018