Understanding the movement dynamics of marine fish provides valuable information that can assist with species management, particularly regarding protection within marine protected areas (MPAs). We performed an acoustic tagging study implemented within the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, Australia, to assess the movement patterns, home range and diel activity of snapper (Chrysophrys auratus; Sparidae); a species of significant recreational and commercial fishing importance in Australia. The study focused on C. auratus movements around Cabbage Tree Island, which is predominantly a no-take sanctuary zone (no fishing), with an array of acoustic stations deployed around the island and adjacent reefs and islands. Thirty C. auratus were tagged with internal acoustic tags in November 2010 with their movements recorded until September 2014. Both adult and juvenile C. auratus were observed to display strong site fidelity to Cabbage Tree Island with a mean 12-month residency index of 0.83 (range = 0 low to 1 high). Only three fish were detected on acoustic receivers away from Cabbage Tree Island, with one fish moving a considerable distance of ~ 290 kms over a short time frame (46 days). The longest period of residency recorded at the island was for three fish occurring regularly at the site for a period of 1249 days. Chrysophrys auratus displayed strong diurnal behaviour and detection frequency was significantly higher during the day than at night; however, there was no significant difference in detection frequency between different hours. This study demonstrates that even small-scale protected areas can benefit C. auratus during multiple life-history stages as it maintains a small home range and displays strong site fidelity over a period of 3 years.