Day Tripping to the Great Barrier Reef
I’m lucky enough to to live in Port Douglas, with the world famous Great Barrier Reef right on the doorstep. To be honest, I wish that I could make the most of it even more, but reef trips are pretty expensive (but worth it). I’ve been to the reef twice. The first time was last year, just before I moved to Port Douglas, and I was on holiday here with Conor and his family. Of course we had to go and see the reef whilst we were here so we went to the Low Isles with Wavedancer. The second time was just this week – for Conor’s birthday I treated him to a day trip to the outer reef with Sailaway.
I can’t stress this enough – it may be expensive but it’s so worth it to snorkel over vibrant corals, alongside an array of tropical fish and even turtles. I was honestly just amazed each time.
As I mentioned, our first trip was with Wavedancer last year. I think it cost us around $200 per person, and this included morning tea, lunch and snorkel hire. Pick ups from the hotel were extra. The boat was lovely and the staff were friendly. We were lucky enough to go on a beautiful day (that time) so the boat ride was pleasant too.
The boat pulls up to two islands (the low isles) and you can opt to go on a guided snorkel tour of the area or do your own thing. I find that time passes soooo quickly when I’m snorkelling – is that just me? So after the guided tour it was time for lunch, which was a delicious tropical buffet. After lunch you could choose to do more snorkelling, laze around on the island, see the marine life from a glass bottom boat, and take a walking tour of the island. I chose to continue snorkelling and I was the last one out of the water. I saw turtles, reef sharks, and lots of different fish as I floated along. The visibility isn’t as good at the low isles as it is at the outer reef, however there are some perks to going here. We chose this spot because one member of our group isn’t a confident swimmer, so we thought he would be more likely to swim from an island than to jump off a boat. Also, if he decided he was done with swimming (which he did), then there are other things to do rather than just sitting on a boat.
On the way back to shore we enjoyed reasonably priced drinks from the on board bar and relaxed on the deck as one of the crew played guitar, which was a lovely end to the day.
As I mentioned, a few days ago Conor and I went to the outer reef with Sailaway. Last year we did a sunset cruise with them and we really like the company, so that’s why I chose them from the many options. I tend to think of Sailaway as the more luxurious option, and indeed the boat was big, beautiful, and very new, and the crew were excellent. They only take small groups which I really liked too. We were greeted with morning tea and coffee, as well as muffins and pastries.
Sailaway are the only company to go to this particular spot on the outer reef, which is a fantastic place to snorkel. It takes longer to reach than the low isles but I think it’s worth it. We went on a very windy day so the sea was rough, but the crew were so good at taking care of people who were feeling seasick. It started to rain just as we arrived, and we had the option of taking the smaller boat to a lovely little island before we started snorkelling. Some people chose not to because of the rain, but since we were going to get anyway I decided to and I’m glad that I did – it was beautiful.
When we started snorkelling, those who were less confident snorkellers went with one guide, whilst the rest of us went with a different one on a little tour of the are. The visibility was really good, although apparently it’s usually even better. The corals looked amazing, and there were SO many different types of fish – Conor even found Nemo. We were lucky enough to see a huge turtle and I swam alongside him for a couple of minutes before leaving him alone. Apparently they see at least one turtle at this location most days.
After an hour or so in the water we had lunch, which was a delicious tropical buffet, then we went snorkelling again. This time we had the option of being dropped off a little further away so that we could explore more of the area, so I decided to do that. I loved exploring and seeing more fish. However, as I mentioned earlier, time flies when I’m snorkelling and all too soon it was time to get back on the boat. We enjoyed afternoon tea and coffee with a side of little cakes before heading back to shore.
Unfortunately it was another bumpy ride, but I imagine it was more comfortable on this lovely big boat in these conditions compared to being on one of the smaller boats. The crew brought different snacks around, like cheese and crackers, and fruit as we headed back which was nice.
Conor and I both had such a good time on both of these boats, so I would definitely recommend either of them. I already can’t wait to get back out on the reef, although I imagine it will be at least a few weeks before I can go again.
I will leave you with this – don’t ignore what’s right on your doorstep – I know people who have lived here their whole lives and never been to the reef, and I imagine quite a few of us are guilty of ignoring amazing things to do in our own town. On that note, I’m out, but I’ll be back next Sunday with a brand new post. At the end of the month I’m doing some travelling down to Airlie Beach then back up to Port via Magnetic Island. I would love to live blog the trip but I’m not sure how realistic that is – I may just have to update you after. Anyway I will let you know. Til next time!