Lizard Island Attractions
Lizard Island (area 21 sq.km; highest point 368m) is a remote and isolated island and the most northerly island in the Great Barrier Reef with many facilities for visitors. It lies only 15km from the outer reef. The island was given its name in 1770 by Joseph Banks, the botanist with Cook's expedition, after the large but harmless monitor lizards he found here. After running aground on a coral reef Cook stayed near present-day Cooktown for some weeks while the Endeavor was being repaired and then spent a day on Lizard Island looking for a passage out of the reefs to the open sea. There are flights to the island from Cairns. There are no regular boat services from the mainland, but boats sailing from Cairns to Thursday Island also take passengers. There are good anchorages on Lizard Island for boats of all kinds (Watson's Bay, Blue Lagoon). There are magnificent beaches, excellent for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving, in this almost completely unspoiled part of the reef. Lizard Island was scheduled as a national park in 1939, as were the other small islands in the group in 1987. Camping (with permit) is allowed almost everywhere. The Lizard Island Research Station was established by the Australian Museum in Sydney in 1974, with finance from private foundations. It has accommodation for visitors, mainly scientists and students. There are a number of walking trails on the island, including one to Cook's Look, from which there are superb panoramic views extending to the outer reef. Fishing enthusiasts from far and wide come to Lizard Island between September and December to fish for black marlin.