Great Barrier Reef Places


Port Douglas


Norseman. Long-established MV Norseman is one of the best game-fishing boats on the Great Barrier Reef for novice and experienced anglers alike. Head out to the best spots on the reef's edge on a 60-foot, purpose-designed, high-tech vessel to fish for large pelagic species including Spanish mackerel, tuna, wahoo, and the elusive giant trevally. Closer in, find sea perch, mangrove Jack, red and spangeled emperor, and coral trout. It's A$215 for a full day (bait, equipment, instruction, refreshments, fuel levy, and reef taxes included; rod and reel hire is A$45 per day). Port Douglas accommodation transfers are free; it's A$45 for transfers from Cairns or the northern beaches. Closehaven Marina, Port St., Port Douglas, QLD, 4877. 07/4099–6668.

The Silver Series: Silversonic. High-end catamaran Silversonic whisks visitors to three pristine dive-snorkel sites on Agincourt Reef, known for its high-visibility waters. There, you can spend five hours amid spectacular corals on the edge of the Coral Sea trench, with turtles, rays, tropical fish, large pelagic species, and, in season, the odd Minke whale. Cruises run daily, weather permitting; the tariff includes a "tropical smorgasbord" lunch, morning and afternoon tea, free Wi-Fi, snorkeling, and gear; guided scuba dives cost extra. Coach transfers from local accommodations are included in the cruise fare; transfers to and from Palm Cove, the Northern Beaches, and Cairns are available for a surcharge. Port Douglas Marina, 1 Wharf St., Port Douglas, QLD, 4877. 07/4044–9944. Full-day snorkeling cruise, A$208; scuba diving A$35–A$65 (1 dive), A$55–A$120 (2 dives), A$75–A$80 (3 dives), A$6 reef tax/admin.

Wavedancer. The palm-fringed Low Isles have a rich history, but the main attractions lie underwater. The surrounding coral gardens shelter a wealth of marine life, including bright parrotfish and "Nemos," giant clams and green turtles. When you tire of snorkeling, you can join a glass-bottomed boat tour, marine biologist–guided shore stroll or heritage walk (on which you'll visit the island's lighthouse, circa 1878, and learn about the Low Isles' pioneering role in coral-reef research), or relax and soak up some rays. Quicksilver's day cruise on 98-foot sailing catamaran Wavedancer whisks you from Port Douglas to the Low Isles in less than an hour, allowing plenty of time for snorkeling, sunbathing and strolling; the rate includes all snorkeling gear, reef presentations, supervised snorkeling (including guided expeditions), glass-bottom boat tours, a tropical buffet lunch, morning and afternoon tea, and transfers from Port Douglas accommodations (and, for a fee, from further afield). Bring a towel, hat, sunscreen, swimsuit, and shirt (to avoid sunburn), cash to buy bar drinks and souvenirs, and a credit card for underwater cameras and extra tours. Departs from Port Douglas Marina, 1 Wharf St., Port Douglas, QLD, 4877. 07/4087–2100. A$167 cruise; A$6 EMC/admin charge, A$10 Pt. Douglas transfers, A$ Cairns/Nthn. Beaches transfers.

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