Great Barrier Reef snorkeling

Old Jul 17th, 2005, 05:43 AM
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Great Barrier Reef snorkeling

We are planning to do snorkeling in GBR out of Port Douglas in a month or so and trying to decide among several companies. I get easily seasick, so we're also concerned about boats which are too small/bumpy (?). Finally, I heard that snorkeling-only boats are better.
We are currently considering:
a) Calypso (do they operate snorkel-only boats? are their sites not as good as other boats for snorkelers?)
b) Poseidon (heard a lot of good things, but how much better than Calypso or Wavelength are they; esp, if we are just snorkeling?)
c) Wavelength (boat is too small? maybe get sick?)
d) Quicksilver (I heard this is a cattle call...but is it more professional than the smaller boats? and least likely to get sick? How is snorkeling with them?)
At this point, we are heavily favoring Calypso. So, the more info/reviews anyone can provide on them, it would be quite helpful.
mindgame is offline  
Old Jul 17th, 2005, 07:23 AM
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As far as I know, Wavelength is the only all-snorkel boat out of Port Douglas. I have snorkeled with them 3 times and will be going with them again in August. It is a small boat, carrying only 25 - 30 passengers, but I like the personal attention that Wavelength can give this small number. I, too, suffer terribly from sea sickness, but I have found that it doesn't matter if I am on a small boat or a large one. Sometimes I have taken Dramamine, which I don't like because it makes me sleepy. On my last few boat trips I took ginger tablets and they did the trick with no sleepy side effect. You may also want to consider going out on a masted boat. This was recommended to us on our last visit to the Reef as the masted boats have less side-to-side motion which is supposed to be worse for those with sea sickness. It did seem to be a better ride for me, although I still took the ginger tablets. (Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of the company.) I would just recommend that you talk to several companies when you get to Port Douglas. The reputable ones will tell you truthfully what to expect and they don't want you to be seasick anymore than you want to be seasick. Happy Snorkeling--you'll love it!
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Old Jul 17th, 2005, 07:25 AM
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I cannot speak to most of those companies, as we only did a snorkel trip with Wavelength in March. It was fabulous. The crew was wonderful, and really took the time to show us the sights under the sea. It was a very personalized experience, and we even got to purchase a CD of the underwater digital pictures they took that day. I heard that Calypso is good, but focuses on the snorkelers have to wait for the divers to go out first. That was I cannot confirm, but since Wavelength is snorkeling only, it was perfect for us. They have been doing this for years, and have some of the prime snorkel sites. Good luck!
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Old Jul 17th, 2005, 07:27 AM
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all the boats you have listed offer great and enjoyable trips to the reef. The only snorkel-only boat is the Wavelength, however it is also the smallest of all the boats. Please remember, that there is more to the comfort of the trip than just the size of the boat. It also depends on the tides and how easy you get seasick. Lots of people take tablets against sea sickness and the boats usually offer them on the trip too (you should actually take them before you board the boat). If you want to be really safe, you would have to go on the Quicksilver which is the biggest one (350 - 450 people). It goes to a platform that is anchored to the reef, so quite stable. I wouldn't say that they are more professional than the others, just bigger. Of course they offer more conveniences than smaller boats, but you don't really need them while out there.
The Calypso offers snorkelling and diving at 2-3 different reefs during the day. The boat takes around 50 - 60 people and is quite spacious. What I like about the company is that it is a family run business. It creates a really nice atmosphere on the boat. Boat is OK in rougher sea.
Poseidon goes further north, to Agincourt reef. It is a little faster than some of the others. It goes to 2-3 different sites and takes snorkellers and divers. Takes around 50-60 people, is also OK in rougher seas.
Wavelength is the smallest of them with around 30 people max. They only do snorkelling on 3 different snorkel sites during the day. Boat not so good in rough seas. It is the best snorkelling trip available.
Calypso and Poseidon are pretty similar and offer good snorkelling.
If the weather is good, my first choice would be the Wavelength, they were there first and have great sites. Calypso actually uses some of the sites if Wavelength doesn't go there or they visit sites near them. Sometimes the boats are just a few yards away from each other.
All the boats offer good snorkelling and if you have never been out there, won't know the difference. You will enjoy your day.
To make a decision, you should check the weather forecast 2-3 days ahead of your trip and then book accordingly. Or you can book ahead of time and then cancel AT LEAST 24 hours in advance (check with operator) if the weather is not good.
My personal opinion: if the wind is higher than 20 knots it is too rough, snorkelling will be tiring. But that is my opinion, because I get sea sick very easy. You will find lots of people who will disagree on this, but you have to decide yourself.
If you want more info on tours, just visit:

Hope this will help
myaustralia is offline  
Old Jul 17th, 2005, 07:39 AM
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in regards to longhorn55, I totally agree and Ginger is great for sea sickness. There is a sailing catamaran that goes out called Synergy (takes only 12 people) and one that goest to Low Isles from Quicksilver. Low Isles is an option if the weather is too rough for the Outer Reef.
In regards to cmack:
Totally agree what you say about Wavelength. The story with the divers is true, but that is the same on all boats that take divers and snorkellers. Usually the divers go in first because they have to put on all their equipment and need all the space on the deck. But usually the companies offer a reef talk or snorkel instructions while the snorkellers wait. I would not consider this a disadvantage.
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Old Jul 17th, 2005, 05:45 PM
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If you're really inclined to seasickness and the weather is rough (as it very well could be in a month or so, it certainly is now) take your Dramamine, Kwell or whatever the night before the trip and another before boarding. Too late once you're on the boat.
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Old Jul 17th, 2005, 05:47 PM
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Went with Posiedon a few years ago and they were pretty good. Last year we opted for Quiksilver as the seas were very rough. Very few were sick on the Quiksilver but we heard some horror stories from the other, smaller boats. Although a bumpy trip out, once out on the reef it was very calm. The Quiksilver site is excellent for snorkelling. There'sd also plenty of space on the pontoon, showers, etc. Although they take loads of people, I never felt crowded.
I'd use them again if its rough. If calm, I'd probably give Wavelength a try.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2005, 10:47 AM
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Just went on a Wavelength outing last month. It was not a great day, about 25 knots, and I don't have sea legs. I took the pills & was OK. I would highly recommend Wavelength because of the individual care and attention they gave. They even took us on a snorkeling tour & explained what we were seeing, which I think was really nice. We did not want to be apart of the cattle call & did want to only go with snorkelers. Hope you have fun!
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Old Jul 22nd, 2005, 05:09 PM
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Be aware that if seas are really rough, all reef trips will be cancelled, including Quicksilver, as it was yesterday. Gale force winds from Torres St to Cairns, slowly abating, and much damage to Clifton Beach next to Palm Cove due to high wind, king tides, heavy rain. At this time of year you often need more than just a few days to wait for a good reef day - its been really bad now for several days and although wind is lessening to some 20knots that still won't be for several more days. And 20knots is not exactly a millpond.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2005, 08:14 PM
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I would take a lot of notice, in Pat is saying. Some months ago, my wife & I visited the town of 1770, a went out to lady Musgrave Island, on the southern Great Barrier Reef. I always take my travelcalm tablets to prevent seasickness. As we booked the trip the day before, the booking agency in 1770 were telling all the people to take something for seasickness, as they were experiencing 2.5-3 metre swell, and almost gale force winds.
As soon as we left the river mouth of 1770, bang came the rough seas & wind, at times, the steel built catamaran cruiser, was almost airborne bow, with a resounding crashing sound, as it came down. At Lady Musgrave, you enter a lagoon, with dead smooth water, and it made up for the trip out. The trip back was better, as we weren't driving into the south easterly swells. The captain told us later, that if the swells/wind were any greater, he would have cancelled the trip.
Unfornately, there were people on the boat, who didn't take their seasickness tablets, and boy weren't they green around the gills, with a few vomiting on the way out.
So, if Pat is advising of seasickness medication, take good notice of her remarks.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2005, 03:01 AM
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i get seasick too mate, talk to Port Douglas Reef Charters. they put me on the right boat and i didnt get sick

im sure they can answer all your questions.

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Old Aug 2nd, 2005, 10:25 AM
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Don't buy into the argument that snorkel only boats are better. Most of the day boats out of PD are primarily snorkel oriented.

If anything, the handful of divers on most small boats likely get a lesser expereince than if they were on dive-only boats.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2005, 11:24 AM
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We did the Quicksilver 2 years ago and can highly recommend it. There were alot of people but it wasn't a problem. The snorkeling from their site was excellent. I get motion sick very easily and didn't have any problems.

I would recommend, if you can, to fly out to Quicksilver by helicopter. This is AWESOME! You get a totally different perspective when flying above the reef. Hope this helps.
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