Cairns Snorkeling to Outer Reef?

Dec 8th, 2003, 11:34 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
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Cairns Snorkeling to Outer Reef?

Are there any good (read: small group, do go to outer, decent lunch) snorkeling tours that you can recommend that go to an outer reef out of Cairns? Friends that have been there say there are an overwhelming amount of choices and that it is difficult to choose! Any recommendations would be helpful! Also, is it best to book ahead? Can we just waltz up to one in the AM and sign up to go? We will be at the Hilton 2 nights - arrive after 8:00PM the first night so we may not be able to choose or sign up that night. Thank you!
QualMod is offline  
Dec 8th, 2003, 01:02 PM
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It is true that there is a bewildering variety of operators that go out to the GBR from Cairns. You can get on at the last minute, although you might not get on quite the boat you want (particularly a small one). We liked the "Fast Cat", which is by no means a small boat, but it was quite stable and well-appointed.

Al F.
ALF is offline  
Dec 8th, 2003, 10:24 PM
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Have been on them all and my favourite is Ocean Spirit to Michaelmas Cay. I keep saying this, and no, I don't have shares in the company! Have a look at - then look under Cairns. You can book online or ask the tour desk at the Hilton to do it for you - phone bookings close at 8pm It is wise to book in advance as sometimes it's completely booked out with charters. It's berthed very close to the Hilton so you don't need to worry about a pick-up.
pat_woolford is offline  
Dec 8th, 2003, 10:36 PM
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Sorry, meant to mention that Ocean Spirit is not small small - more like medium - but the important thing is that it doesn't overcrowd and there's plenty of space. It's nowhere near the size of the huge cats which have their own pontoons - some of the very small boats can be uncomfortable as you find yourself clambering over people all day.
pat_woolford is offline  
Dec 10th, 2003, 04:19 PM
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I wouldnt recommend leaving till the night you arrive, especially if you are wanting a smaller boat- as the smaller ones fill up the quickest!
Wavelength offer snorkelling tours out of Port Douglas, but do have a pick up service from Cairns. is their site. They are the only boat that do NOT take divers. They take snokellers. Their boat is around 16 meters in length (almost 60ft) so as you can imagine with only 30 people on board and two decks to choose from, there is PLENTY of room.
Whatever boat you choose, make sure it goes to the OUTER reef and not a cay. You will see much more diversity of fish and coral on the outer reef sites.
Port_princess is offline  
Dec 10th, 2003, 09:56 PM
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Hi QualMod.
Go to the search box at the top of the page and search the following two words.
Greg Lizard
You will find many many happy reports on exactly what you'r looking for.
Have a great time down under.
jess is offline  
Dec 11th, 2003, 11:47 AM
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If you can afford it, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you spend a couple of nights on Lizard Island. It is expensive, but everything is included and you can snorkel IN the Reef until your heart's content. Travel safely!
WhistleHappyTune is offline  
Dec 11th, 2003, 04:09 PM
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Michaelmas Cay is 22 nautical miles from Cairns - it's a sand cay on the inner edge of Michaelmas Reef which extends for approx 4 nautical miles east until you run out of reef. It's easy snorkelling off the sand cay to the surrounding reef and is also a seabird sanctuary. The outer edge of reef is where the waves break. Ocean Spirit has another vessel which goes to Upolo Cay and Oyster Reef which are not as far out as Michaelmas. Plenty of great snorkelling.
pat_woolford is offline  
Dec 13th, 2003, 11:55 AM
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i second pat's opinion. i have travelled all over the world and i rank my day on ocean spirit to moichaelmas as one of the best "travel days" i have ever had. we had such fun we wanted to break the bank and book it for our last day in the area,too, but they were sold out!
by all means AVOID green island. it was awful for snorkeling and average for a beach experience (that's what we were forced to do instead)...
Dec 13th, 2003, 02:17 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 35
We recently took a day trip to Lizard Island and had a great time snorkelling there, fabulous coral and fish and giant clams! We had the beach almost to ourselves (there are 23 beaches on the island), and a breathtaking flight over the reef and tropical Queensland (you might see the shipwreck on the reef!). We don't much like crowds or resorts, so we enjoyed the privacy of Lizard for a day, and avoided the mob scene of a large reef vessel. Greg at Daintree Air is ever helpful, send him an e-mail and he will be sure to reply ( Have a good trip!
clairdesol is offline  
Dec 13th, 2003, 04:56 PM
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Hi Hot & Sweaty - glad you enjoyed Ocean Spirit and agree with you about Green Island which has lost it's coral and has a 5 star Japanese owned resort. It's a shame you didn't try Frankland Islands instead - the locals say they are how Green Island was 30 years ago, when I can assure you, there was an abundance of coral and fantastic shells on sand after high tide. Haven't seen a shell there for years.

Have meant to mention before - for all those with time who are in Cairns before taking a reef trip - go to Reef Teach in Boland Centre, Spence St Cairns - every day except Sunday at 6.15pm. It's run by Paddy Colwell who is a marine biologist, dive instructor and a great entertainer - described as "Jacques Costeau meets Billy Connolly"
pat_woolford is offline  

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