Head 40 kilometres north east of Cairns and you are well and truly out on the Great Barrier Reef. Pick a good day and the snorkelling, diving and scenery is stunning. Pick a really good day and you’re literally in heaven and Upolu Cay is one of those spots worthy of a visit.
Standing as a naturally formed sand cay, Upolu Cay lacks any form of vegetation and is literally surrounded by stunning coral reefs and crystal clear, shallow waters. Due to its size and height above sea level, the cay itself is sometimes hard to find as it is completely covered by water at high tide, re-emerging and accessible again at low tide.
Although out on the reef, Upolu Cay is considered to be young in age, unlike some of its surrounding islands that were formed thousands of years ago. The dynamics behind the cay are quite interesting, starting its life as a sand bank and gradually increasing in size over time and still currently growing. With this continuous growth, the shape of the cay is also constantly changing, dictated by weather patterns and movements of the tides. Visitors are often quite intrigued by Upolu Cay, as it gives them the opportunity to witness the development of a cay in its early stages. Over time though, it is believed that the cay will be able to sustain vegetation, as it continues to grow and is constantly visited by birds, which are notorious for leaving droppings that contain plant seeds.
With regards to activities on the cay, you have a few options. As the cay is quite small, you have the opportunity to lounge around on the sand and take in the serenity, or you can hit the water. Swimming, diving and snorkelling should all be at the top of your list for exploring this amazing natural wonder, with great opportunities to encounter giant clams, graceful sea turtles, white tip sharks and some stunning coral species. The water depths range from very shallow along the shoreline to over 10 metres deep further on the outskirts of the cay, making it a versatile location for beginner to advanced for both snorkelling and diving.