Low Isles

Low Isles is made up of two islands, Woody Island an uninhabited coral/mangrove island and Low Island, a sandy coral cay typical of the Great Barrier Reef.  Low Isles is located 15 km (8 nautical miles) off the coast of Port Douglas and is an ideal spot for an inner reef adventure and island experiences.  Low Isles is a protected coral cay and with strict visitor restrictions, you will enjoy your island paradise with only a small number of other guests. Here you will find an abundance of sea life and coral and is the home of a large population of turtles.

Things to do at Low Isles

Port Douglas tours to Low Isles offer a number of options to suit the most discerning traveller.  Sail or motor from Port Douglas on a full or half-day excursion, and for those looking for a luxury, some boats offer ‘adults only’ experiences and small passenger numbers.  However if you are travelling with kids, you will not miss out – the island is perfect for young children and visitors who enjoy having land close by when swimming. Snorkelling right off the lagoon beach is easy and a great place to sea life! Low Isles has also been a research station since the late 1920’s and is still the site of significant research for the Great Barrier Reef. Spot the abundant sea life and corals while snorkelling, on a glass bottom boat tour, or from above while on a Stand Up Paddle boarding tour. Go to Low Isles.
If you are on a full day tour to Low Isles, you can come ashore, swim in the lagoon bay and see the active lighthouse. You can explore Low Island and learn about the island’s history and natural environment. Walk around the island and along paths that contain historical and wildlife information. The island has 2 resident caretakers who not only look after the functioning lighthouse, but collect data on migrating bird populations. The island also houses a museum, with historical information and relics of the past.
The English explorer, Captain James Cook, recorded the existence of theses islands in 1770 during his voyage of discovery to Australia. He described Low Island as “a small low island”. It was officially named Low Isles in 1819. Low Isles is an important indigenous cultural site for both the KuKu Yalanji and Yirraganydji aboriginal tribes. The sea country of both groups overlaps at Low Isles.

A lighthouse was built on the coral cay in 1878. There was a continuous presence of lighthouse keepers on Low isles up until 1993, when the lighthouse became automated.

Between 1926 – 1929 Low Isles was the site of the first detailed scientific study of a coral reef anywhere in the world. The expedition, led by Dr C.M. Yonge aimed to study the life processes of coral and of the formation and maintenance of the reef. More than 20 renowned natural scientists spent up to 13 months at Low Isles. Results from the expedition were published by the British Natural History Museum in six large volumes. The expedition created a set of base line data, which is invaluable today for comparison with modern research, in order to study change on the Great Barrier Reef.

For more information and history on Low Isles, we recommend visiting the Low Isles Preservation Society website.