GREAT BARRIER REEF SNORKELLING - ABSOLUTE BEGINNER

Mar 28th, 2007, 03:48 AM
  #1  
sv
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GREAT BARRIER REEF SNORKELLING - ABSOLUTE BEGINNER

Are there snorkelling trips for absolute beginners at GBR? Also, is it possible to snorkel wearing Contact lenses?
My wife is a non swimmer - is there anything to do for non swimmers on such a trip.
Thanks for any insights
sv is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 04:30 AM
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Hi,

I don't believe there are any trips advertising themselves as for "complete beginners". You would need to ask the operator of the trip whether they offer any training.

Suspect though that those that do offer training and some personal attention will be the smaller boats - the no frills sort. For your wife you would need a bigger operator - one that goes to a permanent pontoon on the reef and offers glass bottom boat trips, etc.

I could be doing the big operators an injustice here. Suggest you check out previous postings for recommended trips (all of which are with big, slick operations) and contact them to ask if any training is provided for newbies.

If it helps at all - as long as you are comfortable in the water you can easily become a surface snorkelling whizz in no time - as long as on your first time someone takes the trouble to explain the basics.

The basics are just a few golden rules. I could go on - but best learned in situ.

Don't know about the contact lenses. You can get masks with sight correction on some boats I believe. But they define sight correction as being short sighted. No good for someone like me (you?) who is long sighted.

It really is worth the effort, and when push comes to shove your wife could just savour being there - the sea; the colours; the food? She could take a good book and just enjoy.
chimani is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 04:49 AM
  #3  
sv
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Hi Chimani,
Thanks for the tip. The reason I asked is this is going to be a once in a life time trip and to go to GBR and not to snorkel seemed a crime. But the fact is both of us are not at all comfortable with water. Here in that part U.S where we are from, the only water we see is tap water!! My question was : Can Pool swimmers also do snorkelling without any experience? Abt contact lenses - My vision is quite bad without contacts.
sv is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 05:12 AM
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We went snorkelying in the GBR with Wavelength, which runs excellent snorkel-only tours (i.e., not scuba divers). Even though we had some experience, I certainly got the impression that they can accommodate people with no previous experience. They definitely have masks with corrective lenses. You could go to their website and send them an e-mail to ask them about going out wearing contact lenses. There are other companies that have glass-bottom boats and other things for non-swimmers. I don't think your lack of snorkelling experience should be a deterrent. You'll have a great time.
judilie is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 05:20 AM
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Yes, pools swimmers can snorkel! When I was living in Australia, a good friend of mine from the Midwest came to visit and she wanted to go to see the GBR. She had never been to any ocean before and, of course, had never snorkeled before. I took her to Port Douglas and we went out with Wavelength, my favorite reef company. (I've gone out with them about 5 or 6 times.) They are a snorkel-only boat, so their focus is on making sure you have a good snorkeling experience. They carry a maximum of 30 people, so they can give you more attention. My friend had the best time! She went back to Australia a couple of years later with another friend of hers and they did a 2-night liveaboard to the reef and she snorkeled all the time.
Just a couple suggestions for a first-time snorkeler: 1) Rent a wetsuit--it will give you added buoyancy and make it easier to snorkel. The boats generally rent them onboard for A$5.00, and 2) The ride to the reef can be rough, so if you are at all prone to seasickness, take something! The boats generally have something like ginger tablets onboard too, which work fine for me. But if you want something stronger, go the pharmacy before you head out to the reef.

Also, my husband snorkels with his contacts in and has never had a problem with it. The folks on Wavelength will show you how to wear a mask so that you don't get any water inside when you are snorkeling. Even if you do get water inside, you should be able to get it out without it affecting your contacts as it usually leaks in around the nose.

Finally, the drawback to Wavelength for your wife is that there are no activities for non-snorkelers. She could either take a book and enjoy the weather or get in the water and paddle around the boat. But I'll bet she'll be willing to give snorkeling a try once she sees how much fun and how easy it is.
longhorn55 is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 04:36 PM
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For total beginners recommend Ocean Spirit to Michaelmas Cay, out of Cairns. Here there's a semi-submersible (better than a glass bottom boat) and the easiest snorkelling from a sand cay, just like entering water gradually from a calm beach. Rather than going straight in to ocean from side of boat or pontoon. Have spoken to many who say they're nervous in water and swear they'll just take the semi, 90% of them end up snorkelling after they see how easy it is. This sailing motor catmaran has the highest ratio of crew per passenger of any day trip and they're experts at guiding first time snorkellers. Just because a boat takes a small amount of passengers doesn't automatically mean there is more attention from crew. Michaelmas Cay is also a world-renowned seabird sanctuary - the nesting area is roped off and visitors use the sandy beach away from the birds.

I know plenty who snorkel with contact lenses and have never lost them, its a good idea to keep water out of your mask though. Not that you want water in your mask anyway, Ocean Spirit's crew will advise on how to avoid that. Ocean Spirit and the better reef boats provide prescription masks for a small charge, mentioned in above post. A wet suit will give you more buoyancy for sure, a life vest even more; but under normal conditions you should find your fins will keep you afloat fine.

Ocean Spirit is licenced to carry 200 but never takes less than 150 and sometimes a lot less. This sounds a lot, but compare with Quicksilver out of Port Douglas which can take 450. Its a lovely boat with spacious decks and even 150 soon disperse out on a large area of reef, some snorkel well away from boat, some around the sand, others are out of sight diving and some are touring about in semi-submersible. Also serves the best lunch (has its own chef and galley) of any comparably priced reef boat and includes - free transfers from and back to accommodation anywhere in Cairns or northern beaches, and no extra charges for "fuel levy" or reef environmental tax.
pat_woolford is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 04:39 PM
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One day will learn to edit - should have said Ocean Spirit to Michaelmas "never takes more than 150". Sorry.
pat_woolford is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 05:58 PM
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Last June we used Synergy 11 out of Port Douglas .Takes no more than 12 passengers , had close supervision of people in the water , assistance for guests , used goggles with optemetric lenses for those with glasses and had excellent wet suits , snorkels etc . It is more expensive than most but had excellent lunch morning and afternoon teas with drinks at cost. It was about A$235 a person. Sent friends on it as well who were very happy . None of us are experienced snorkellers and we were quite happy and felt safe .We drove from Palm Cove to PD but they do have a pickup service at a cost .
JohnFitz is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 07:29 PM
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We took Ocean Spirit at Pat's suggestion, and it was ideal.

My 80+ aunt, who can't swim, attended their snorkel class and was there peering through her goggles (and giggles) like the rest of us.

I hired the prescription goggles (can't remember how much) and they were fine.

Submarine thingy is quite good, too.
margo_oz is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 08:47 PM
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My first time snorkeling they had inflatable vests which was helpful (although I am a swimmer) because it was deep water. I think the snorkeling from the beach would be ideal. Then your wife could know how deep the water was and could stay in the shallows until she felt confident. Let her know that the salt water increases your bouyancy a great deal. Also, make sure that you have DRY snorkels, so the water doesn't go back down the tube so you have the confidence to breathe and not be fearful that you'll breathe in water. Please encourage her to give it a try, the underwater world is so peaceful and colorful and facinating, your nervousness goes right away and you feel wonderful being a part of nature. BTW, my husband snorkels with contacts and never has a problem. Good luck and you'll love it!
Sally in Seattle
SnRSeattle is offline  
Mar 29th, 2007, 07:52 PM
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I am a very poor swimmer, so when I snorkel I always wear a life jacket. Alternatively, on a very recent trip to the Whitsundays the company who provided our stinger suits, snorkels, flippers etc (after I enquired about flotation devices) also gave me a pool noodle. I am not at all interested in diving below the water's surface - I'm just happy to float on top and the noodle worked a real treat.

I think I can totally understand your wifes situation but it would be a terrible shame for her to miss out - I am always a bit trepidatious before I try to snorkel but I am just ever so glad that I made the effort afterwards.
stormbird is offline  
Mar 30th, 2007, 05:36 PM
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I think I can help you out here SV.
We went on a tour to Lizard Island with Greg from daintree air out of Cairns.

We snorkeled all day just off of the beach where you have the choice of staying in the ankle deep water or you can make your way out to reefs in deeper water if you want.
The ocean gradually gets deeper as you walk away from the beach which makes it excellent for beginners. They provide vests and suits if you want them.

We swam with big sea turtles in water which was knee deep and were surprised at how many fish were in the shallows. There are giant clams all through the reefs with thousands of fish all over. It was just as though we were swimming in a fish tank.

Greg is very helpful and really knows his stuff in the ocean, I reckon your wife would have a ball even if she decides to stay in the shallows.

I have contacts as well which did not present a problem at all.

Contact with Greg is via his web at daintreeair.com.au


jacksonjacko49 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2007, 07:06 PM
  #13  
sv
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Thanks Jacksonjako. How expensive was this ?
sv is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 02:28 AM
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Significantly more expensive but if you have the $$'s go for it - about AUD$600 compared with April 1, 2007 price for Ocean Spirit at AUD$189. Am not sure if its still the case but there used to be about AUD$100 to be saved if booking out of Australia, something to do with GST on the flight component out of Cairns for the trip.
pat_woolford is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 01:48 PM
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SV , We booked a package tour with them that took us into the out back and included tours, flights, accommodation etc. The Lizard Island component was advertised at $590.00 AUS.

We would definitely do it again in a heartbeat. Seeing a couple of hundred mile of the outer barrier reef was worth that alone.
jacksonjacko49 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2007, 10:09 AM
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An additional suggestion: Reef Teach in Cairns (http://www.reefteach.com.au/)is an informative and entertaining way to prepare for your trip to the GBR.
judilie is offline  
Apr 1st, 2007, 12:10 PM
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If you have ever suffered from asthma or any similar condition, don't tell them.

I suffer from an allergy to animals and was bad when I was a child 274 years ago. When asked the question I stupidly mentioned it and they wouldn't let me dive.


Honest is not the best policy in this case.

Muck
Mucky is offline  
Apr 1st, 2007, 10:30 PM
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Mucky, that would have been an introductory or resort dive for uncertified divers (certified would have passed a medical examination by a doctor), where questions are asked about medical history, ie, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy, etc. sv is just asking about snorkelling here - agree that the questionnaire about medical history before being allowed to take an intro dive sounds a bit tough, but that's Queensland Diving regulations. Considering the size of the GBR and the amount of visitors a year, they do a first class job with passengers' safety. You can lie on the form, I once had two middle aged and overweight male guests both suffering with diabetes on same reef trip, one lied on form and was allowed to dive, the other told the truth and wasn't. He was furious about telling the truth and as it happened the lying one suffered no problems. But it could have been a different story, plenty of medical emergencies happen on reef and there's talk now of introducing a medical questionnaire for snorkellers over a certain age.
pat_woolford is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 01:20 AM
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I know what you mean Pat and your quite right, safety of divers has to be paramount.
This was for an uncertified dive off Brisbane.
However the fact that I do not have a problem unless I am by a dog or a cat really made me wish I had said nothing.

I thought the questionnaire was a tad over zealous and I really felt disapointed.

I am a former international swimmer and feel that the risk to me from doing anything in the water is no more than anyone else.

However I respect the job the guys were doing and I understand why it happened.

So I went snorkelling around the wrecks instead, almost as good fun.



Muck
Mucky is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 03:55 AM
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I can check this tomorrow Mucky, but I think that as long as you have a doctor's certificate to say that you once suffered with something like asthma, which is often a childhood affliction, is no longer a problem, all will be well. Of course, you weren't to know that in advance, and in your case I think I'd have answered "no". But crew has to follow rules and has no authority to make exceptions.
pat_woolford is offline  

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