Islands of the Northern Torres Strait – Boigu, Saibai and Dauan

The three Queensland islands of Boigu, Dauan and Saibai lie close to the Trans Fly area of New Guinea and are Australia’s two most northerly inhabited islands. Their close proximity to PNG means these islands are some of the most exciting birding locations in Australia. The islands are also amongst the remotest in Australia, access is difficult and there is very limited accommodation making visits for more than one day problematic.

These rarely visited islands contain some of Australia’s most sought after and highly prized birds such as:

  • Red-capped Flowerpecker
  • Singing Starling
  • Collared Imperial-Pigeon
  • Coconut Lorikeet
  • Gurney’s Eagle
  • Uniform Swiftlet
  • Orange-fronted Fruit Dove
  • Ashy-bellied White-eye

In addition to these specialties we’ve seen Papuan Spine-tailed Swift, Zoe’s Imperial Pigeon, Orange-fronted Fruit Dove, Stephan’s Emerald Dove, Variable Goshawk, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Long-billed H/E, Garganey, House Swift, Pacific Swallow, Coroneted Fruit Dove and Long-tailed Honey-buzzard, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove and Blyth’s (Papuan) Hornbill.

Previous Trip Reports

The best time to visit these islands is like elsewhere, early morning and late afternoon. We anchor offshore in the lee of the island in our vessel Tropic Paradise and zodiac ashore each day. When not onshore we travel the protected coastline and rivers in search of the island’s specialties and PNG vagrants.

Our tours are held between January and April which is the peak time for birds moving between the islands and mainland PNG. Occasionally we’ll organise longer tours to visit other northern Torres Strait islands such as Dauan, Ugar and Darnley.

Prior to the tour there is accommodation on Horn Island which is the large island next to Thursday Island and home to the area’s main airport. Qantas fly twice daily to Horn Island from Cairns. The tours start when we board the airconditioned Tropic Paradise and conclude when we disembark. Once on board everything is supplied except alcohol, which we organise in the weeks prior to the tour.

Once you’ve met our skipper, crew and chef we depart Horn Island and travel a short distance to Little Tuesday Island for views of the range restricted Ashy-bellied (Pale) white-eye, before heading to the northern islands. Our itinerary on the northern islands is tide dependant and we could visit either Saibai or Boigu first.

Prior to departure we send out a trip bird list as well as ‘what to bring’ information. We do recommend having your Japanese Encephalitis vax prior to departure, although in recent years the advice is that it’s not essential.

Upcoming Tours

Our upcoming tours are in Feb/Mar 2026.  Please see our ‘Tours schedule‘ page and contact us if you require any further information.  Previous trip reports PDF’s are available to download.

Costs and Pricing

Tour Price From :
7 Days $TBA AUD (Twin Share)

What we’ve seen

blyths hornbill flying rb red
Blyth’s Hornbill

To date we have recorded:

Traversing the islands, anchoring offshore and travelling the island’s rivers and creeks, some of the species we’ve previously seen are:

  • Collared Imperial Pigeon
  • Coconut Lorikeet
  • Uniform Swiftlet
  • Singing Starling
  • Red-capped (Papuan) Flowerpecker
  • Gurney’s Eagle
  • Blyth’s (Papuan) Hornbill
  • House Swift
  • Papuan Spine-tailed Swift
  • Ashy-bellied White-eye
  • Variable Goshawk
  • Black-naped Tern
  • Zoe’s Imperial Pigeon
  • Great-billed Heron
  • Eastern Yellow Wagtail
  • Swinhoe’s Snipe
  • Stephan’s Emerald Dove
  • Pacific Swallow
  • Garganey
  • Coroneted Fruit Dove
  • Long-tailed Buzzard
  • Pink-spotted Fruit Dove
  • Orange-fronted Fruit Dove
  • Pinon’s Imperial-Pigeon