When Pad and I were in Australia, one of our major highlights was the snorkelling trip we took from Cairns, to The Great Barrier Reef.
Beforehand though, whilst planning the trip, I had so many questions I needed answers to.
– Which company should we sail with?
– Which town is best for taking tours from?
– What should we wear?
– Is there anything the tour won’t provide that I should take with me?
– How long does it take?
I literally knew nothing about all these things and had to do so much research to figure all this stuff out. Hopefully this blog post will answer all those questions for you, and then some.
Which town / city should you use as your Barrier Reef base?
Pad and I took our tour from Cairns – but to be honest if we were to do it again, I’d stop in a different town and take a tour from somewhere a bit nicer – like Noosa or the Whitsundays. Cairns isn’t overly great, so if you can choose a town that you can actually enjoy during the following days when you’ve finished the tour.
The following places all have Great Barrier Reef tours going out of them (either by boat, or for the further afield towns, like Noosa, by seaplane):
Cairns, Townsville, Airlie Beach (and Whitsunday Island, Hamilton island, etc), Mackay and Noosa.
My personal recommendation would be to stop on Hamilton or Hayman Island (expensive – but holy crap, so gorgeous) and then do a reef trip from there, you could even fly to the reef via seaplane. When we head back to Oz on our honeymoon next year, this will be our plan.
Which company should I go with?
We sailed with Tusa Dive, and it was fantastic, they were seriously great. Our trip was on a stormy (very windy and rocky) day and they really took care of us, and made sure everyone was comfortable. I’m a very confident swimmer, but for the less confident swimmers out there I imagine the weather and roughness of the water would’ve been a bit daunting. But they made sure everyone got in, and totally enjoyed the experience.
A few other companies worth looking at are;
In terms of price, you should be looking at around $100 – $200 (Australian Dollars) for an all day snorkelling tour. If you’re diving the price will go up steeply.
Here is us looking all happy and reefy….
What is included in a tour?
This will vary depending on which company you opt for, but if you’re going on an all day snorkelling or diving tour, you’ll usually get the following things included…
– Snorkel mask
– Wetsuit or stingray suit (you will usually always have to wear these, just to protect you from getting stung by sting rays or jelly fish)
– Any floatation devices if needed
– Lunch, snacks and drinks
– Instruction if necessary
It’s always worth checking on the company website though – as they’ll be able to tell you exactly what’s included and what to expect.
A few extra things I’d recommend taking with you;
– Seasickness tablets (and take one with your breakfast before you set off too)
– An under-water camera (you can buy cheap ones from Amazon for like £30 now, or alternatively, you can rent an expensive one or GoPro from most tour companies)
– A few extra towels (because one is never enough!)
– Something to read, there is a lot of waiting around at times, so this is crucial