Day trip scuba dives

Old Dec 23rd, 2004, 01:39 PM
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Day trip scuba dives

I've finally decided to visit Australia in the april/may period (thanks to the advice in this forum)and will be accompanied by a non-diving buddy.
Can anybody make suggestions on where I could stay in the GBR area to make day trip scuba dives to good dive sites without excessive boat travel time in and out.
I have the impression that Lizard island is a good choice but there are probably others.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2004, 04:28 PM
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I have never been to Lizard Island, Sabre, but everyone who has posted about it has given it rave reviews. I'm racking my brain to recall a single negative comment, and I can't. If you do a word search here at Fodors you'll see what I mean. It's pricey, but most people say that if they could afford it they'd go there in a heartbeat.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:34 PM
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sabre - to save time going back and forth to reef, why not take a liveaboard? They cater to non-divers as well, so your buddy would be fine. Tusa Dive's Spirit of Freedom does a 3 day 3 night north of Cairns to Cod Hole(near Lizard) and Ribbon reefs - superb diving and snorkelling. A one way flight over reef from Lizard back to Cairns or vice versa is usually included in trip. Spirit of Freedom isn't a daggy old dive boat, its well appointed, takes only 28 passengers, and has just had a refit. A day trip alone just snorkelling Cairns-Lizard will cost you about $500AU - if you stay at Lizard Island resort it will cost heaps.
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Old Dec 24th, 2004, 05:23 AM
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Last month I took the Reef Encounter (www.reeftrip.com) overnight - 5 dives in 2 days. It is probably one of the less expensive ways to do this; the Compass Cruise boat going out and back looks pretty old and used, but the Reef Encounter boat is very nice. We transferred back to the other boat about 1Pm and did some snorkelling off the "Breaking patches" reeef before returning to Cairns.

There were 2 of us, but my wife didn't scuba - just snorkelling. It cost $700A. I understand the boat also has "shared bunk rooms" accomodation for those who want a more economical option?

From Cairns, just about anything is a 2 to 3 hour cruise to get to a good spot on the reef. I don't know about other places, but that's about normal. its about 40km or more to the first parts of the reef.

If I recall, last year's day trip (Reef Magic) was something like - on the boat at 830, at the reef about 10:30, 1 dive, lunch and move to another spot, another dive and some snorkelling. Head back to Cairns about 3:30 or so. Overnight will give you a bit more time.
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Old Dec 24th, 2004, 08:01 AM
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The Cairns/Port Douglas area is closer to the GBR, than points further south. We have taken day diving trips out of Townsville, Cairns, Port Douglas, and the Whitsundays. It is true that it may take between 1-2 hours to get to a good location, but the boats are fast and comfortable, and, face it - no matter what you do, you can only take two dives of any duration each day.

I'd suggest staying in Port Douglas, which isn't as busy as Cairns, then select from any number of boats that head out each day. I am the only diver in my family, so when we all go, it is always on a primarily snorkel-trip boat. This seems to work great for me, as there are commonly at most a handful of OW divers in our party - we leave the snorkelers behind and have gone to some marvelous dive sites in our small group.

Of course, you can stay closer to the GBR on places like Lizard Island too.
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Old Dec 28th, 2004, 01:40 AM
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Thanks a lot for the advice.
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Old Dec 28th, 2004, 01:58 AM
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Hi Sabre, with a liveaboard you can actually have more than 2 dives a day because night dives are included. Just one example of many out of Cairns, - the aforementioned Spirit of Freedom - 10 dives in 3 days including 3 night dives. That's just their Cod Hole and Ribbon Reef trip - there's a 4 day/4night Coral Sea trip visiting isolated reef systems - sharks and larger pelagics - undersea pinnacles and sheer walls rising from thousands of metres. Or you can take a 7 day/night trip which incorporates both with opportunity for 24 dives.
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Old Dec 28th, 2004, 07:30 AM
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sabre: Scroll down the message list for the one titled "Review of Heron Island Resort". Heron would certainly be near the top of my GBR list, along with Lizard. Bird activity will be less in April/May and weather should be great.
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Old Dec 28th, 2004, 11:28 AM
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Hello Sarbe, We did the Lizard Island Day Tour with daintree. The day was the hightlight of our vacation.

The reef was the best we ever seen, the marine life was awesome as was the flight to and from the Island.

We flew to Lizard over one hundred miles of the GBR and then low over the mountains and rainforetsts on the way back to Cairns.

We had over 7 hours on the Island to enjoy the beaches and magnificent clam garden which is a huge coral garden full with giant clams.

Contact them at www.daintreeair.com.au

Barb.


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Old Dec 28th, 2004, 11:20 PM
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sabre - to answer your original question - Tusa Dive is the longest established dive company in the area - the boats are fast, max 28 passengers, and you're on the reef within 90 minutes from Cairns on their day trips. Tusa also operates Spirit of Freedom liveaboard. www.tusadive.com For day trips Tusa has permits to visit 21 different reef sites and the best 2 or 3 of day are used. The choice is determined by tide and weather conditions and snorkellers are welcome. For day trips Tusa picks up at door for all accomodation houses in Cairns and northern beaches, up to Palm Cove.

MD - Reef Magic used to be fantastic value but its changed its whole operation. From moving from reef to reef as it did in the past it now has its own fixed pontoon (apparently due to tourist demand) and price has increased significantly. It also now offers scenic helicopter flights from the new pontoon with underwater observatory and children's swimming enclosure, etc.
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Old Dec 28th, 2004, 11:38 PM
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Forgot to mention - to get maximum out of any snorkel or dive trip you should definitely pay a visit before your trip to Reef Teach, in Cairns - every evening except Sunday - 6.00pm. Paddy Colwell there knows everything there is to know about the reef and the dive schools now all include this session in their training.
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