Pearl farm

Where to go

Torres Strait

The Isolated Beauty of the Torres Strait

Blessed with coral reefs, deserted beaches and pockets of rainforest, the 274 islands of the Torres Strait off the tip of Cape York are a fascinating mix of culture, breathtaking scenery and WWII history.

Roko Island Pearl Farm in the Torres Strait
Roko Island Pearl Farm


There are few relatively undiscovered places left in the world, yet one of them starts just off the coast of Tropical North Queensland. The Torres Strait Islands are impossibly beautiful and virtually untouched, a series of stepping stones reaching from Cape York towards Papua New Guinea.

Torres Strait Islands scenic flight with Nautilus Aviation
Scenic flight with Nautilus Aviation


White beaches, volcanic peaks covered in forest and rocky islets emerge from turquoise water teeming with dugongs, dolphins, sea turtles and giant marlin. The northernmost fringes of the Great Barrier Reef lie to the east, although you’ll find none of the crowds that exist further south.

Island Stars Dance Troupe performing on the beach at Prince of Wales Island in the Torres Strait
Island Stars Dance Troupe performing on Prince of Wales Island


It’s a region with a rich history, dating back 70,000 years when the first Torres Strait islanders migrated from the Indonesian archipelago. The people are still intrinsically tied to their ancient culture and each of the islands’ small communities has their own distinct practices, beliefs and customs. Practices they share include colourful dance, distinctive masks and headdresses, traditional carving and modern printmaking.

Green Hill Fort on Thursday Island
Green Hill Fort


Less than 20 of the islands are inhabited and just a few permit visitors, including the administrative capital, Thursday Island. The island is tiny (about 3 sq km) and there are just two sleepy main streets and a handful of hotels. In the late 19th century, it was a bustling pearling hub with hundreds of ships and divers based here. More than 600 Japanese divers are buried in the island’s heritage-listed cemetery. You’ll also find one of Australia’s oldest military fortifications on the island, Green Hill Fort, built in 1891.

Torres Strait Eco Adventures fishing tour
Torres Strait Eco Adventures fishing tour


On the more remote islands, tourism is almost non-existent. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get around – friendly locals will be happy to take you out in their dinghies to fish in hidden coves or invite you to join them for a celebratory meal; or take to the skies on a scenic helicopter flight.


  • During World War II, 5000 troops and airmen were stationed on Horn Island, which was the second most-attacked location in Australia after Darwin. Visit the Torres Strait Heritage Museum on the island to uncover its fascinating and little-known military history.

  • See historic artefacts and contemporary works from local communities at the award-winning Gab Titui Cultural Centre. The centre promotes only ethical sales of Indigenous work and supports some 70 artists across the islands.

  • Visit a modern working pearl farm at Roko Island, a private island just off the mainland that produces high-quality Australian South Sea pearls. Take a tour of the farm, see pearls being harvested and buy jewellery made on the island.

  • The fishing on the islands is exceptionally good. Throw a line in off the wharf at Horn Island, or take one of the many available fishing charters in search of coral trout, sail fish, mackerel, golden snapper and red emperor.

  • The Torres Strait Islands can be tricky to get around, so plan ahead with flights and inter-island transfers, book accommodation in advance and carry cash, as banking facilities are limited.

Discover More

Learn more about the individual islands, their unique communities and the region’s fascinating history – and explore the untouched tip of the Great Barrier Reef.

Getting here

  • Skytrans aircraft on tarmac

    By air

    Skytrans connects Cairns with the main communities on Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands and offers the most diverse route options. Qantaslink offers daily return flights from Cairns to Horn Island.

  • Peddels ferry service on water

    By boat/ferry

    Peddell’s Ferry offers transfers from Seisa to Thursday Island as well as providing island tours by bus on Thursday Island. Private boat charters are also available. McDonald Charter Boats and Rebel Marine/Torres Strait Tours offer ferry services between Horn Island and Thursday Island.

  • MV Trinity at sea

    By ship

    Take the cargo ship MV Trinity Bay to the tip of Australia. You’ll cruise 1,000km along the Great Barrier Reef on a vessel destined for the azure-blue waters of the Torres Strait Islands. A stunning, unique, bucket-list experience like no other. Why not put your 4WD on the vessel heading north, and drive back to Cairns through Cape York – an untamed wilderness that has to be seen to be believed.

  • By helicopter

    Multiple scenic and fishing tours are available from Seisa, Cape York to the islands of the Torres Strait with Nautilus Aviation, and Helitours North Queensland. Private charter services are also available.

    #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

    What do the locals get up to in #CapeYork when it rains? Keep watching to find out 🤔🌴

🎥 @lauren.fisher._ #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia 

[ID: Group of friends travelling to a beach in Cape York on a small boat. The beach has red dirt cliff faces and clear waters. There is small waterfalls running off the cliff.]
    It might be raining, but that doesn't mean you can't splash about in the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon! (what are you scared of getting wet?) 😉

Did you know that the fish sculptures at the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, by Torres Strait Islander artist Brian Robinson, are modelled on smaller fish usually woven with palm leaves in traditional Indigenous artwork 🐠🌴 

#Cairns is the perfect place to spend the day on your next tropical holiday - quirky markets, incredible food & luxury stays, this is where your holiday begins ☀️🌊 
​📸 @aquilina_nikki #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #seeaustralia #thisisqueensland 

[ID: person facing their back to the camera while swimming in the water at the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon (swimming pool) in front of fish sculptures]
    Ever wondered what it’s like to fly over the @gbrmarinepark at @lizardisland? 🐠✈️

🎥 @swaindest #exploreTNQ #exploreCairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia

[ID: aerial video from the window seat under the wing of a small plane with views of bright blue water off the coast of Lizard Island in Cape York and the Great Barrier Reef]
    Tropical North Queensland in the rain is certainly a sight like no other! ☔🌿

📍 Babinda Boulders 

🎥  @dinakardanny #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR

⚠️ Remember to obey any warnings and stay away from out of bounds areas, including the Devils Pool section of the creek.
    Visiting @portdouglasdaintree soon? Here’s how to fill your day in Port Douglas 🌴🐠

#exploretnq #explorecairnsgbr
    Wondering what to do on your next holiday in Cairns? We’ve got you covered! 🌴✈️

📍 Barron Falls, Josephine Falls & Millaa Millaa Falls
📍 @fitzroyisland 
📍 @cairnswaterfalls 
📍 Great Barrier Reef 
📍 @cairns_aquarium 

#exploretnq #explorecairnsgbr
    Brb, busy falling for Nandroya Falls 🌴🩵

Found just a 1.5 hour drive from Cairns, this stunning waterfall is one of our favourites (and if you've been there, we're sure you can understand why!) 🙌

📍 To get here, head south from Cairns along the Palmerston Highway. The waterfall lies just a short hike through the rainforest 🤩🌿

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    Get your heart racing with this 5 day adrenaline itinerary! 🤸🌴 #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR


    Book now and save $100 on tours

    Are you visiting Tropical North Queensland soon? Take advantage of our Tropical Dollars and get $100 off tours and experiences* when you book through Experience Oz! Use code TNQ100

    *Min spend $200. T&C’s apply. Travel by 21 June 2024.