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Willis Island spans over 1,500 feet long, which is only slightly longer than the ship itself. On one of our Great Barrier Reef cruises, you’ll cruise past Willis Island en route to Australia’s top destinations, such as picturesque Port Douglas, cosmopolitan Brisbane, or diving hot-spot Cairns. Wave to the meteorologists manning the island’s weather monitoring station—the island’s only sign of civilization—and keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife like Boobies, sooty terns, and nesting turtles.
One of the major draws of a cruise to Willis Island is the potential for rare animal sightings. Grab your binoculars and your camera for a close-up look at bird species like gannets, migrating crested terns, and the sacred kingfisher, to name a few. You might spot green sea turtles nesting on the shoreline, which can reach the size of up to three feet in length. Watch for jumping eels popping out from the deep blue waters of the Coral Sea.
As the only man-made structure on Willis Island, the Meteorological Bureau’s cyclone monitoring station sticks out in stark contrast to the rest of the island, which is a sparse collection of low grass and sandy shore. Each day, the weathermen unleash a weather balloon into the skies. Imagine what it’s like to live on such a remote island from the comfort of the ship.
Willis Island is part of the Coral Sea Island Territories, a mostly uninhabited chain of islands east of Cairns. Located on the outskirts of the Great Barrier Reef, Willis Island is also a destination for wildlife sightings and coral reef diving. The Meteorological Bureau weather monitoring station on the island has existed since 1921. It was established to track cyclone activity to warn Queensland, one of Australia’s biggest states. Willis Island is otherwise uninhabited, and today, the population is fewer than five people. The only humans that make their home on this tiny island—just 1,600 feet long and 490 feet wide—are meteorologists manning a weather monitoring station. From the ship’s deck you'll see thousands of seabirds such as Boobies, wedge-tailed shearwaters and sooty terns. Other highlights include a nearby coral reef and turtle nesting ground.