Port Douglas Snorkel/Dive Company Suggestions?

Old Jun 2nd, 2002, 08:35 AM
  #1  
Mike
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Port Douglas Snorkel/Dive Company Suggestions?

I was told Poseidon was one good company with small boats and helpful staff. We are looking to snorkel and probably do a few beginner dives. We plan to go out on the reef at least 4 or 5 days and would like to try a few different companies. Suggestions?
 
Old Jun 2nd, 2002, 05:29 PM
  #2  
Matt
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We used Posiedon and were very happy with the service. You want to make sure the boat is big enough to get you to the Reef in a reasonable time, but no so big to feel like a tour bus.
If you're spending a few days on the Reef, why not investigate one of the Live Aboard operators, where you sleep out on the Reef.
 
Old Jun 2nd, 2002, 08:28 PM
  #3  
Kay
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Mike,
we went out on a reef trip with Quicksilver last year and were very happy with them. The catamarans are huge and hold about 300 people but it didn't seem like that many people. The pontoon on the reef is well equipped and there are lots of activities to keep you occupied. We found the day just flew. It does take a while to actually get to the reef, so the bigger boats are best in that respect, as they are quicker. Quicksilver have a few different boats, aimed at day trippers, snorkelers, divers etc. They have an office at the marina in Port Douglas, which is where all the Quicksilver boats leave from. If you stay in Cairns, you get bussed up and back which takes about 1-2 hours each way.
Kay
 
Old Jun 2nd, 2002, 11:01 PM
  #4  
Pete
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We used Wavelength (snorkel only). Small boat of about 30 people max. Can visit 3 reefs in one day. Lunch on board, marine biologist. We had a great trip. We also have done Quicksilver, and there can be a ton of people...you're somewhat confined to a swim area with the other 300 people in the water...with the smaller boats you're usually the only ones at the particular reef...true, the smaller boats are slower, but the experience much better (my opinion). Good luck
 
Old Jun 2nd, 2002, 11:14 PM
  #5  
Mina
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Hi Mike:

Here is a link to my trip report that I posted on this forum.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessages.jsp?fid=3&tid=1330474&numresponses=8&start=0&searchText

I compare my experience on both the Poseidon and Quicksmart (a smaller boat operated by Quicksilver). I like the Quicksmart boat better (it was slightly bigger and more comfortable). Also, if you are planning to go multiple days, you may get a discount on Quicksmart. I got 10% off on my return visits with them.

Another good dive operation recommended by others is Haba. I've heard the Quicksilver boat is nice for families since there is a pontoon. But I've also heard that the reef isn't as pretty there...all those people in the same spot day in and day out...I would imagine that causes some wear and tear (although there are boats out on all the "good" reefs often as well!)
 
Old Jun 4th, 2002, 09:02 PM
  #6  
Caro
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Hi there, I worked at the Radisson Reef Resorts In Port Douglas and I was the Supervisor and Dive Specialist there. I live in Port Douglas and I am also a certified diver.
Poseidon is geared more towards the certified diver, they take 77 people and visit three reefs. 7 years ago Poseidon had a small boat and only took 20 people to the reef.
If you want to do a first time or intro dive then i would suggest Calypso. They go to three reef sites and take 48 people. Their boat is brand new and huge. Al the gear is very good quality and they have a good mix of certified divers, snorkellers and intro divers. The day is very relaxed and because there are not a lot of certified divers (like Poseidon) they do not rush.
All operators offer a 10% discount if you travel with them more than once. if you want to do a day just snorkelling, then Wavelength are the best. When boats take divers, the snorkelling is usually ok... but do the maths... divers spend more money and need to be at least at 12 metres depth... snorkellers are on top of the water...most dive/snorkel operators look at snorkellers with a view to upgrade them to an intro dive..(an extra 70 bucks for a tank of air)
Try a day with Wavelength and a day with Calypso. I would steer away from Quicksilver.. it is a huge japanese owned company... when in Australia support the Australian companies. Haba is ok, but they only go to two sites... three is better then you see a greater variety of reef types. I have been on all the boats, you will get recommendations from other tourists, but bear in mind they may have only been on one or two boats.
Also while in Port Douglas, take a day to visit Low Isles. It is a coral cay just off the coast and is very different to the reef. I would suggest Raggamuffin and Shaolin for Low Isles.
As regards travel time... true the bigger Quicksilver boats do travel faster... but the big boats have to use Agincourt reef so it takes longer to get there. Quicksilvers travel time one way is 1 hour and 45 mins. Wavelength and Calypso only take 1.5 hrs as they go through the reef to the more pristine sites. Both these boats also have a roving permit... Quicksilver uses the same site everyday.. 450 people to the same reef everyday... remember coral is like a garden...the more people that got through it the more wear and tear it suffers.
Live aboard boats are good but I would suggest they are more for the certified diver than the intro diver.
If you need any further help, feel free to email me.
I can tell you about restaurants, rainforest tours, accomodation.. anything
Cheers
caro
 
Old Jun 6th, 2002, 05:33 PM
  #7  
Jim
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Caro, excellent post. I am planning my second trip to PD. I actually went out with Poseidon and had a great time. I am going to check out the other companies you mentioned on my next trip. I would never go with one of the bigger companies I can only imagine how worn out the reef must be that they visit.

What are your favorite excursions in the area? I have already done the rain forest. Any cool day trips you would recommend?

Also, any hotels you like? I stayed at Treetops last time. I would like something within walking distance of town this time and say in the $150-200 Aust. price range.

Thanks!
 
Old Jun 9th, 2002, 03:52 PM
  #8  
Caro
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Hi there, Treetops is nice...but it is a way out of town. I would highly recommend The Boathouse, Hibiscus Gardens, Verandahs, Mowbray by the sea, regal on Macrossan, and Freestyle apartments.
Enjoy
caro
 
Old Jun 9th, 2002, 04:19 PM
  #9  
caro
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Oh sorry forgot to give u some ideas for other things to do.
Depends on what you enjoy, horseriding on the beach at Wonga beach is nice, rafting is a blast, low isles is a must,you can do a kangaroo,waterfall and rainforest adventure with personal adventures,sea kayaking to snapper island, parasailing, jet bike tours of the river and four mile beach,enjoy a day being pampered at Sanctum for massage and well being (probably the most divine and decadent facial I have ever had), ballooning can be fun. The possibilities are endless.
Best places to eat in town are Sardis Italian, Salsa Bar and Grill, and On the Inelt Seafood Restaurant. On the Inlet do a grouper feeding daily at 5.00. The groper weighs around 250 kilos. Quite a sight. I love the inlet...sit there with a bottle of wine and a bucket of fresh prawns, look over the water to the mountains and watch the yachts sail by..brilliant.
Hope you enjoy Port as much as you did last time
Cheers
 
Old Jun 10th, 2002, 05:22 PM
  #10  
Deloris
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Yuck..the Quicksilver sucks!!!You can get rough water and cloudy visability while attempting to snorkle around a pontoon. Sound fun? From Port Douglas and Palm Cove, the reef is too far out (2 1/2 hrs) and you are at the mercy of all kinds of things, including 300 shipmates.
See that area for the land tours, very interesting rain forests and by all means go to Wild World in Palm Cove to feed kangas and hold koalas & baby crocks.The bird and crock shows are fun too. Go to an island to do your diving. You won't have to share your beach with crockodiles and toxic box jelly fish.
We go back in September and that's our plan.
 
Old Jun 13th, 2002, 06:38 AM
  #11  
Bethany Lee
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My husband and I just got back from a trip to Australia and we stayed on a liveaboard called the Nimrod. We were VERY happy with the crew, the food and the dives. This is a liveaboard boat so you stay on the boat for 4 days 3 nights. We got 13 dives in in that time and it was absolutely spectacular. I would have to say though that although you could definately see a lot just snorkeling, SCUBA is definately the way to go. If you're planning to SCUBA, get certified before you go so you don't waist time on the vacation doing your check out dives. Have fun! Australia is wonderful!
 
Old Jun 13th, 2002, 08:35 PM
  #12  
Jim
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Hi Caro. I was looking for Shaolin on the Internet and it looks like their web site no longer exists. Are they still in business? I would like to look into booking a low isles tour with them.

Thanks,

Jim
 
Old Jun 16th, 2002, 09:05 PM
  #13  
caro
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Shaolin is under new management. They are operating out of Port Douglas.
You can book the tour or check the boat out when you get to Port Douglas. They berth at the Marina Mirage... right in front of Fiorellis Restaurant.
Have Fun
 
Old Jul 6th, 2002, 02:07 PM
  #14  
Debbie
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Caro or anybody else, what do you think of Rydges Reef Resort (the old Radisson). Also any opinions on Dunk Island.

Thanks
Debbie
 
Old Jul 7th, 2002, 02:44 PM
  #15  
caro
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Hi there, the Rydges Reef resort is a large property which is about 4 klm out o town. There are nice pools there and really lovely gardens. You can catch a bus from the resort into the town.
Dunk island is nice, but the coral there is not as good as the reef off Port Douglas. If you want to enjoy the island feel and swimming off the sandy beaches you will enjoy it.
Cheers
caro
 
Old Jul 7th, 2002, 09:36 PM
  #16  
Anita
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Caro, your advice on diving and snorkeling boats was just what I needed. Very helpful info. and advice!
I think we've decided to spend two weeks in North Queensland instead of one for year 2003. We'll spend one week at the Marriott in Palm Cove and the other at either the WorldMork in Cairns or at Novotel Palm Cove Resort. I'm considering more the Novotel in Palm Cove rather than the WorldMark in Cairns, only because it's closer to Port Douglas and I keep hearing "Always take Port Douglas over Cairns". Do you agree? (These are exchange resorts which we'll use.)
Also, read that the best time to snorkel the reef is July or August---less rain and cloudiness in the water and no box jelly fish. Do you agree? I know the water is a little cooler, but it's still tropical, right? Is the box jelly fish only by shores during certain months and never out by the reef? We've snorkeled with jelly fish before in Mexico---didn't bother us too much, but prefer not to, especially the deadly box jelly fish.
Appreciate your info.! Thanks! Anita
 
Old Jul 8th, 2002, 11:11 AM
  #17  
Leslie
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Hi,
Wow, what a lot of useful information on this thread! I'd like to add a couple of questions too.

Deloris had mentioned in her post, "Wild World in Palm Cove to feed kangas and hold koalas & baby crocks.The bird and crock shows are fun." Is this a better spot to go instead of the Rainforest Habitat in Port Douglas which sounds the same?

Also, regarding the snorkeling boats, I would like to try it, only have done it once but I am also traveling with a senior adult who won't be going in the water. I understand that Quicksilver only goes to one reef and is very crowded but I've heard they have an underwater observation deck for those who do not snorkel. Any reccommendations? Do other boats have this?
 
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