Great Barrier Reef

Old Mar 9th, 2008, 10:12 AM
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Great Barrier Reef

So... we have booked our flights to Cairns and although we intend to see the hole area, one day will be dedicated to the Great Barrier Reef. Wavelength have been recommended but can we ask a few questions:
Is $185 dollars about average for a day trip to the reef?
Should we stay in Cairns or Port Douglas?
I understand that hiring a car is cheap in AUS so for four days would you hire a car or use public transport?
My wife will be worried about me swimming where stingers and sharks swim in th esame waters. What are the dangers in late May?
Many thanks for all your help.
SBeard is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2008, 02:55 PM
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I can't really help except to let you know that I have also booked wavelength to get snorkeling and am staying at Thala Beach Lodge in POrt Douglas because that's where Wavelength and Down Under tours both independently recommended (But I wanted to stay secluded among trees). I think they pick you up in Port Douglas for free but charge $25. to pick you up in Cairns. Why not spend a few hours looking through hotels and attractions in Port Douglas and Cairns and decide. Or since you know you are going with Wavelength, why not give them your hotel criteria and ask them which hotel meets it. Anyway, try to keep you post current eg add a few lines and every other day and eventually an Australian will answer (they are VERY nice,)Also it make help if you changed your subject line to Cairns or Port Douglas?
SkaiSW is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2008, 02:57 PM
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Hire a car. It will give you the flexibility you need.

Tell your wife not to worry, the sharks will eat the stingers & your life insurance is fully paid

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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 03:21 PM
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Yes, book tht car. You might like to stay a night or two on the Atherton Tablelands as that is the place to see the wildlife in the wild. If that is not your thing day trips might do.
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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 04:07 PM
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Late May is usually past marine stinger season but these are found near on coastal mangroves and near islands, not the reef. If in the slightest doubt, rent a lycra body suit from the boat, it'll protect from sunburn which is a far likelier danger. You may see a reef shark but they don't bother humans.

There's a bigger choice of reef trips out of Cairns than Port Douglas, however, as you mention in another post your wife doesn't swim. Not much in way of swimming skills are needed for snorkelling, but if your wife really needs to stay dry, a semi-submersible is far better than a glass bottom boat for coral and marine life viewing.

Semi-submersibles are fairly expensive pieces of equipment, so you'll pay a bit more for operations which include them. Out of Port Douglas, Quicksilver is the only choice; Cairns has Great Adventures which includes Green Island and outer reef; Sunlover; Ocean Spirit to Michaelmas Cay and Reef Magic. All go to pontoons on outer reef with exception of Ocean Spirit where snorkelling is from a natural sand cay on Michaelmas Reef. Reef Magic is the lowest priced at $165, takes fewer passengers than the other boats with pontoons and is a superb reef site. Neither Reef Magic or Ocean Spirit sneak in extra charges such as Environmental Management Charge or additional fuel levies and Ocean Spirit to Michaelmas Cay provides free transfers from and to accommodation in Cairns and its northern beaches.

Hope this helps.
pat_woolford is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2008, 04:20 PM
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PS - Quicksilver picks up from Cairns and its northern beaches for $16pp - $5pp from Port Douglas (if you're not within walking distance of marina).
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Old Mar 11th, 2008, 05:10 AM
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I am very touched by the amount and helpfullness of all the responses and will make sure that my wife's insurance is fully paid up before pushing her out of the boat into any oncoming stingers (love you dear...honest!)
I will have another bout of research over this weekend but thank you for all of your help, it is much appreciated.
SBeard is offline  
Old Mar 11th, 2008, 02:52 PM
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Important -SBeard please read below
From [email protected]

Good Morning Skai,

Thank you for your email.

With regards to our cruises, on the Michaelmas Cay tour the boat can
hold up to 150 people. There is adequate seating inside as well as out side the boat on the front and back decks.

When you arrive at the Cay we run a smaller boat which can hold up to
about 20 people from the main Ocean Spirit boat that you travelled over
on to the Cay itself. This way you can swim just off the Cay and not
have to worry about climbing up and down into a boat.

The Cay itself is also a natural bird nesting site, so there will be
areas that you can not enter, but the staff will advise you on this when you arrive.

We have staff who are positioned on the beach as well as staff in a
small rubber duck which patrols near the outskirts of the designated
snorkelling area, just in case any of the passengers get into a little
trouble and require assistance. They are also handy if you have
questions on things that you might have seen in whilst snorkelling and
the boat even offers guided snorkel tours if you would like to observe
the animals that inhabit our reef.

We can arrange for a pick up from the Thala Beach Lodge which would be
an extra cost on top of your tour price. The Michaelmas Cay cruise is
$189.00.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Regards
Erin
Reservations
Ocean Spirit Cruises.

-----Original Message-----
From: [email protected]
[mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Monday, 10 March 2008 10:07 AM
To: reservations
Subject: Enquiry from Web Site
Several questions (need help!)

This would only be my second time snorkeling, and the first time the
boat was parked by land and we simply waded out to where we could stand.
I am currently booked with Wavelength but people on Fodors.com told me
it would be too difficult for me. (I am also 50 yo, somewhat obese and a
weak swimmer. I really want to go snokeling though. The people on
Fodors.com told me to contact you. Can you help? Do I need to cancel
Wavelength and book with you? This would be in the first few days of
August.

2). Do you pick up at Thala Beach Lodge? If not could a taxi bring me
in the early morning?

Please advise. Thank-you so much!
SkaiSW is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2008, 10:57 AM
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Definately hire a car and if I had to stay someplace, it would be Port Douglas...and then you can go north to the Daintree area...Mossman Gorge or all the way up to Cape Tribulation (or beyond!)....world heritage are up that way. IMO, I found there was not a whole lot to do in Cairns (although you shold go to Kuranda if possible) We did Wavelength and loved it....our kids were 5,8,11 when we went and they did great....we went to 3 different reefs and felt very comfortable..they had a "biologist" on board that helped describe what we were seeing. We also have done Quicksilver, but that's a different experience...much more commercial, but they have a huge floating dock on the reef, so you can get out of water, use bathroom, buy food, etc. Depends on what you are looking for. We've stayed at the Sheraton in Pt Douglas (nice, but expensive) and I think the name was Beach Terraces apartments which was very close to the beach and town...a good location for us.
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Old Mar 14th, 2008, 09:16 PM
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If I had to pick between staying in Cairns or Port Douglas, I'd say Port Douglas hands down (and I've stayed in both).

I thought the shuttle service between Cairns airport and Port Douglas was great, reliable, and pretty cheap considering it is a 1 hour drive between Cairns and Port Douglas. Yes, you can drive around the area on your own if you have a car, but we hired a semi-private jeep guide to take us through Daintree and up to Cape Tribulation. It was only 4 passengers in the jeep. Having a guide to point out the local flora and fauna is pretty nice - especially when he showed us a rather lethal spider out in the Daintree that was doing a nice job of blending in with the plants.

As far as stingers and sharks, I don't think you have much to fear in May (wear a stinger suit if it makes you feel more comfortable). I'd worry more about the Salties. While in Port Douglas, we found out from the locals that a very large female Saltie had decided to crawl across the beach at night and had parked herself INSIDE the stinger net that is supposed to protect swimmers from box jellyfish. The wildlife experts came and got her out of there, but it made me think twice about swimming in a "protected" area.
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Old Mar 15th, 2008, 07:47 PM
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For those who may be wondering, a "saltie" is an estuarine crocodile and beaches in FNQ are often closed for swimming in summer due to their appearances. Palm Cove, Holloways and Trinity Beaches of Cairns were also closed many times this summer, when the male crocs go searching for a female. A stinger net is not designed to be of any protection, crocs can just walk in from the beach. Although its pretty unusual when they have the whole beach at their disposal.

Cairns city council has built an enormous saltwater lagoon beside its harbour, both stinger and crocodile proof, so people can enjoy a swim at the hottest time of year with no worries.
pat_woolford is offline  
Old Mar 16th, 2008, 10:20 AM
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I'm not saying I'm against swimming in a protected area...but after the saltie incident, I'd just wait until I see at least a dozen other people swimming in the area BEFORE I ventured in. They can be the Saltie bait - I prefer not to be.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2008, 06:35 AM
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Ceidleh, no-one with a shred of nous is going to be saltie bait on patrolled beaches in FNQ as beaches are closed for swimming if a crocodile is about. Unless tourists are incredibly stupid and choose to swim where there's a warning and "beach closed" sign; warnings are in about 6 languages, pic of a crocodile with jaw open, teeth everywhere.

But this did not stop a few tourists I once saw at Trinity Beach, one of Cairns' northern beaches. There was the sign, with people swimming right in front of it. Lifesavers rushed down and asked why they'd ignored sign and they said they "thought it was a joke".

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