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GBR Snorkel Whitsundays vs. Port Douglas vs ???

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I'm planning our itinerary for a 13 day Australia trip. We plan to have time in Sydney, Melbourne and the great ocean road and travel up to the GBR.

We aren't divers, so snorkeling is how we'd see the reef. While we're keen to snorkel, enjoying a leisurely stay at a beach hotel and enjoying swimming and pristine water is just as important to us. An empty beach walking out to snorkel is a dream, a great boat tour would be nice too. We're willing to splurge on this portion of our trip, but would want the cost to be worth it.

So I'm looking for where we should head. Any opinions on each of these:
* fly up to Cairns and stay in Port Douglas (seen some nice hotels)
* stay on or near Lady Eliot island / Heron Island
* stay around / on one of the Whitsundays islands

Again, since we're not divers, it's unclear which might be best.


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