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GBR Non Swimmer Activity Recommendation(Ocean Walker vs Scooby-doo)

GBR Non Swimmer Activity Recommendation(Ocean Walker vs Scooby-doo)

Old Nov 11th, 2010, 08:45 PM
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GBR Non Swimmer Activity Recommendation(Ocean Walker vs Scooby-doo)

Planning first trip to Australia - understand it is the rainy season in January but still want to experience GBR. Objective is to have the "best" reef experience but do not snorkel or dive. We are trying to evaluate the incremental experience of optional activities (ocean walking, scooter) above and beyond semi-subs and glass-bottoms.

Any opinion on whether to do ocean walker (Quicksilver) or underwater scooter (Great Adventures) or both will be greatly appreciated. Great Adventure offer both activities but travel agent does not recommend "sea walker" from Great Adventures because venue for activity is Green Island (inner reef) which apparently is not as good as Quicksilver’s Agnicourt Reef(outer reef). Quicksilver only offers ocean walking ( also no glass bottom).

Trying to decide whether it makes sense to do both tours or just stick with one or either. Any insider perspective will be very helpful. Also read other postings in the forum around preference for smaller boats which might offer just the glass bottom but no ocean walking or underwater scooter - are we on the wrong path by trying to include the above optional activities and hence narrowing our options to the two big boats.

Any recommendations for best tours for non-swimmers, can base ourselves from Hamilton Island instead of Cairns as well but options from Hamilton appear more limited.
ordtraveller is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2010, 11:16 PM
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Hi Ordtraveller,
I am a non swimmer but have successfully snorkelled on the GBR. When I get my stinger suit I ask the hirer to include a noodle or a life jacket - the noodle works really well. I have done this on three separate occasions and I'm so glad I did. It's an amazing experience.

This doesn't exactly answer your question, I know, but I just thought I'd offer the info as you really don't have to be a swimmer to enjoy the reef. I know too, that there are a couple of posters here who are non swimmers who have also enjoyed snorkelling on the reef.

I cannot offer any information on the options you have mentioned as I have no experience with them at all. I hope you have a great holiday.
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Old Nov 12th, 2010, 11:25 AM
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I would urge you to try snorkeling, even if you are a non-swimmer. As Stormbird says, non-swimmers can snorkel if they wear a wetsuit (provides extra buoyancy) and use a flotation device. I have been on a number of small boats to the Outer Reef and I like Wavelength (out of Port Douglas) the best. They carry a maximum of 30 passengers and are really good with first-time snorkelers.
If you just don't feel confident enough to go snorkeling, I would definitely choose a boat which goes to the Outer Reef as opposed to the inner reef. I went to the inner reef Low Isles off of PD) with my kids on their first snorkel trip and we enjoyed it, but it was not nearly as impressive as the Outer Reef. If you want the "best" GBR experience, go to the Outer Reef.
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Old Nov 13th, 2010, 03:56 AM
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All reef operators I know of, and have been on about 20 of them out of both Cairns and Port Douglas are experienced with first time snorkellers - truly, its not hard, fins have amazing buoyancy and a whole lot more to make you feel safe and secure if you wear a wetsuit or a life vest and/or use a noodle, available on board.

If you stay in Cairns, look at Ocean Spirit to Michaelmas Cay, you snorkel off the sand of the cay rather than straight off a boat or pontoon, so you enter water gradually, just as from a very gently sloping beach. It also has a semi submersible. there's also a couple of other trips which take in Michaelmas Cay then other outer reef sites. Check Passions of Paradise or Sea Star.

I do agree with your travel agent about Agincourt Reef as against Green Island, but do you realise that you only get to walk on a platform with the sea/ocean walkers? And very expensive, Quicksilver out of Port Douglas is already almost $200 pp, another $140 or so for the ocean walker does make it super expensive, and if you're staying in Cairns you'll also be up for transfer costs to Port Douglas.
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