Michaelmas and Upolu Cays National Park Tropical North Queensland

Photo credit: Photo: Maxime Coquard © Tourism and Events Qld

Things to do

    Go diving, snorkelling or just enjoy the beach at Michaelmas Cay, Queensland. Photo: Peter Lik, courtesy of Tourism Queensland.

    Go diving, snorkelling or just enjoy the beach at Michaelmas Cay, Queensland. Photo: Peter Lik, courtesy of Tourism Queensland.

    Birdwatching is a popular activity on Michaelmas Cay. Photo: © Queensland Government.

    Birdwatching is a popular activity on Michaelmas Cay. Photo: © Queensland Government.

    A roped off area for visitors protects nesting seabirds. Photo: Maxime Coquard, courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.

    A roped off area for visitors protects nesting seabirds. Photo: Maxime Coquard, courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland.

    Spend time enjoying the coral reefs around Michaelmas and Upolu cays. Photo: Jodie Bray.

    Spend time enjoying the coral reefs around Michaelmas and Upolu cays. Photo: Jodie Bray.

    Camping and accommodation

    Camping

    Camping is not permitted on either Michaelmas Cay or Upolu Cay.

    Other accommodation

    There is a large range of holiday accommodation in and around Cairns. For more information, see the tourism information links.

    Guided tours and talks

    Information about Michaelmas and Upolu cays is often provided by commercial operators on the way to the islands. Seaplanes are available but can only access Upolu Cay. For further information, see the tourism information links.

    Boating

    There are public moorings in the waters around Michaelmas and Upolu Cays 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.

    The Michaelmas Cay Locality (one nautical mile radius from the cay) is designated as a sensitive location under the Cairns Area Plan of Management and special rules apply. In this location:

    • Motorised watersports are prohibited.
    • Maximum vessel speed is 6 knots.
    • The operation of horns, loud speakers, public address systems or sirens is prohibited.
    • Vessels over 35m cannot anchor.

    Be aware that crocodiles can turn up anywhere in croc country, including tidal reaches of rivers, along beaches, on offshore islands and cays in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait, and in freshwater lagoons, rivers and swamps. Crocodiles are dangerous and attacks can be fatal.

    Fishing

    Michaelmas and Upolu Cays National Park and the surrounding marine waters are internationally significant and are protected in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Zones in the two marine parks—the Great Barrier Reef Coast and Great Barrier Reef—provide a balanced approach to protecting the marine and intertidal environments while allowing recreational and commercial use.

    The reefs and surrounding waters of Michaelmas and Upolu cays are in a Marine National Park (Green) Zone. These are ‘no take’ areas and all forms of fishing and collecting are prohibited. Check zoning information and maps before entering or conducting any activities in the marine parks.

    Viewing wildlife

    At least 23 species of seabirds have been recorded on Michaelmas Cay, with up to nine of those using the island for breeding. During summer months, when nesting is at its peak, up to 20,000 birds have been seen on the cay. Sooty terns, common noddies, crested terns and lesser crested terns are the main breeding species.

    Eggs, chicks and adults of some species can be viewed at close range from within the roped-off area on Michaelmas Cay between 9.30am and 3pm. It is very important not to disturb the birds as eggs and chicks are vulnerable to heat, cold, and predators such as silver gulls, if left unprotected. See the restricted access area notice (PDF, 2.3MB) for more details.

    See the description of the park’s natural environment for more details about the cays' wildlife.

    Snorkelling and diving

    Snorkelling and diving offer the chance to explore the coral reefs that surround Michaelmas and Upolo cays. These reefs support many species of fish and invertebrates. Know your own health limitations for safe snorkelling and diving—do not put yourself and others at risk and always snorkel or dive with a buddy so that help is at hand.

    Dangerous stinging jellyfish (‘stingers’) may be present in the coastal waters at any time, but occur more frequently in the warmer months. If you do enter the water, a full-body lycra suit, or equivalent, may provide a good measure of protection against stinging jellyfish and sunburn. Visit tropical stingers for the latest safety and first-aid information

    For more information on safe snorkelling and diving see staying safe.

    • There are currently no park alerts for this park.