Whether you wish to observe or dive in, there are a multitude of ways to experience the majesty of this natural living wonder. Are you adventurous, confident in the water or prefer to stay dry and observe? How long do you want to spend snorkelling?
- This overview will help you decide which Great Barrier Reef cruise is best suited for you…
- Reef Activity Platforms
- If you’re travelling with your family, be sure to ask about Family Fares.
- Look for tours that are accredited with Advanced Ecotourism Certification. These tour companies are committed to the ongoing conservation of our World Heritage environment.
REEF ACTIVITY PLATFORMS
Sometimes referred to as a pontoon, multi-level reef activity platforms moored permanently at the Outer Great Barrier Reef provide a spacious, stable base to enjoy a wide range of reef activities in all weather conditions.
- Suitable for all ages to experience the reef at your pace!
- Ideal for families, non-swimmers and swimmers/snorkellers to introductory divers seeking the widest range of reef experiences.
- Suitable for experienced certified divers travelling with family / non-divers.
- For passengers that don’t want to spend all day in the water, or even get into the water at all, there’s great inclusions to experience the reef from a semi-sub and underwater observatory, or optional helicopter tours.
- For those susceptible to motion sickness, large, stable platforms and spacious modern catamarans provide the most stable base from which to enjoy your day.
Quicksilver Cruises is the pioneer of Great Barrier Reef cruising and they depart daily on the spacious high speed wavepiercer catamaran from Port Douglas to an exclusive platform on the renowned Agincourt Reef. Here, special reefs known as ribbon reefs run parallel to the Continental Shelf. These ribbon reefs are recognised as the most pristine ecosystems in the reef’s environment.
With Quicksilver guests get to enjoy snorkelling, semi-submersible tours with commentary, viewing from the underwater observatory, marine biologist presentation and a delicious hot and cold buffet lunch – all included in the day. This is Australia’s most awarded reef cruise. Marine biologists conduct guided snorkel tours and you can also try the unique Oceanwalker helmet dive which is an ideal way to see the underwater world up close and personal – perfect for non-swimmers or if you are a little unsure about scuba diving. Scenic helicopter tours are also available.
From Port Douglas, the most accessible Great Barrier Reef island is Low Isles with a handful of companies offering daily tours to visit this uninhabited island paradise.
The corals are very close to the island which makes snorkelling an easy and enjoyable experience. The lagoon is home to over 150 species of corals and abundant marine life and is a significant turtle habitat. On the island itself, thatched umbrellas offer shade to relax under.
- Suitable for all ages, couples and families seeking a relaxing tropical island experience
- If you’re not comfortable in deep water, you can snorkel direct from the beaches or wade in the shallow crystal clear waters.
Wavedancer is a 30 metre luxury sailing catamaran that visits Low Isles daily, taking one hour to sail from Port Douglas. It offers great value with plenty included – snorkelling equipment, guided snorkel tour with our marine biologist, glass bottom boat tour, buffet lunch and marine biologist guided island walk. A shuttle operates between the island and Wavedancer throughout the day.
Low Isles is a historic part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Named by Captain Cook in 1770, the cays were the site of the first extensive scientific study of a coral reef anywhere in the world in 1928, and their landmark lighthouse has greeted visitors since 1878. Low Isles and the historic lighthouse were registered on the Commonwealth Heritage List in June 2008 in recognition of their place in Australia’s cultural and Indigenous heritage.
If you are planning on spending some time in Cairns, about an hour south of Port Douglas, Green Island is another easily accessible and beautiful Great Barrier Reef Island. We recommend Great Adventures Reef and Green Island Cruises.” It’s also home of the eco-sensitive Green Island Resort.
ADVENTURE – DIVE & SNORKEL
Fancy scuba diving or adventure snorkelling the largest living organism in the world?!
Day trips depart Port Douglas daily to visit multiple reef sites so you can experience up to 3 different reef ecosystems in one day.
- An exciting day best suited to people who are confident in the water. This is an active day as you visit up to 3 different Outer Reef sites.
- Ideal for certified divers seeking to experience multiple dives at different high quality reef sites.
- Suitable for snorkellers and introductory divers.
Silversonic is one of the newest custom-built dive and snorkel catamarans based in Port Douglas. You’ll spend 5 hours at the reef visiting 3 different reef sites. This vessel operates with a unique roaming permit and has the most exclusive permits at Agincourt Reef with each spectacular site chosen for visual and ecological diversity suited to the day’s conditions. Silversonic is also one of the few vessels in Port Douglas with a permit to swim with Minke Whales. The peak season to encounter these inquisitive whales at Agincourt Reef is from July to September.
Another great bonus travelling aboard Silversonic is that it is the only dive and snorkel vessel in Port Douglas equipped with a computerized ride control system to help provide a smooth trip to your outer reef destination. With seating for over 130 (including outside seating), passenger numbers are limited to no more than 85 so you are guaranteed a highly personalised day.
If you have a little more time and are a certified diver with a thirst for adventure, liveaboard dive trips spend from 3 nights up to a week at some of the world’s most pristine dive spots. Spirit of Freedom will take you to the famous Cod Hole and Ribbon Reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. Their 3 day liveaboard option includes a return flight from Lizard Island over the reef!