Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas

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#1
Scottsdale, AZ
3 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Hi,

We will be in port Douglas for two days and I a want to go snorkeling with my kids (10 and 8) they are a little scared of sharks and Jellies but are excited to see all the coral and fish. Where would be the best place to go? Is the outer reef safe? A recommendation for companies would be great. I want to see the best stuff. Thanks
#2
Sydney Aus
1,139 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Snorkel only... wavelength and book ahead

yes the reef is sfae and the operator suggested is very safety aware
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#3
Australia
18 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
Make sure you do it! My daughter was only about ten when she did it. It was for her sister's wedding! Yes after the reception on a huge catamaran a lot of guests took a dive. My daughter snorkelled. She still raves about how fantastic it was and it was a grey day with a reasonable swell. We have snorkelled in St John, Dominica, New Caledonia and Vanuatu and other fantastic places. I was a bit nervous because of the weather but it was well worth it. Last time we were there the trip was cancelled due to extreme weather. Have a great time. They'll remember it forever.
#4
111 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
Originally posted by Cancerrph
Hi,

We will be in port Douglas for two days and I a want to go snorkeling with my kids (10 and 8) they are a little scared of sharks and Jellies but are excited to see all the coral and fish. Where would be the best place to go? Is the outer reef safe? A recommendation for companies would be great. I want to see the best stuff. Thanks
I agree with the Wavelength recommendation. They provide noodles and wet suits which help with flotation. Although Wavelength provide crew to assist new snorkellers and keep careful safety watches, you will need to be active in the water with your children if they are likely to be nervous. Usually there are three sites. At the first the new snorkelers are the focus and there is usually a guided snorkel path. Large (children eating) sharks do not frequent the warmer waters of the outer reef. If your children are not confident in water where they cannot stand up, you could try a trip to the Low Isles, snorkelling off the beach. Coral at Low Isles is not the best stuff. That can only be found on the Outer Reef. The colours and variety are so absorbing that it is hard to retain any fear.
#5
Melbourne, Australia
1,081 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
Quicksilver is a good option with kids - they have a large pontoon (platform) moored in the middle of the outer reef (Agincourt Reef), and there is great snorkelling, good buffet lunch, an underwater submersible that goes all day, and noodles, wetsuits etc provided. It is a big operation with quite a lot of poeple, but its a large boat, large platform with enough room for everyone.
Some of the other operators use smaller boats, but then you are on the boat all day when you're not in the water. You go in a smaller group, but depends what you prefer.
For most of them you can book on the day, and they leave from the Port Douglas Marina.
#6
Nova Scotia
1,497 Posts
Joined Sep 2003
We used Calypso in March/April. Loved it! Great experience right from the catamaran. They provided stingersuits and noodles, etc. We made three stops, with great snacks and lunch provided. Great captain and staff.

We also did two platform snorkel options...first one stank horribly...second one was better but very crowded. Would take Calypso again in a heartbeat!
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#7
Arlington, Virginia
2,238 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
I've been to Port Douglas 5 times and snorkeled with a variety of providers. Our "go-to" company is Wavelength and we have snorkeled with them on each of our 5 visits. I think they are the best at what they do--provide a snorkel-only trip in a small boat (30 passenger maximum) to the Outer Reef.

BUT....that may or may not be the best choice for your family. On our first visit to Port Douglas, our kids were 12 and 9 years old and had never snorkeled before. The 12-year-old was a confident swimmer, but the 9-year-old was not. We decided to take them on a trip to the Low Isles first to give them a chance to snorkel off a beach as opposed to snorkeling in deep water at the Outer Reef. Also, it gave us the chance to explore the island so we weren't snorkeling the whole time. While the coral, as reported by Murgat, is not the best, it is still acceptable and you will see plenty of fish and, perhaps, even sea turtles. We went out with Sailaway and they had a glass bottom boat ride included which I did with my son and he really liked that. Both kids ended up enjoying the snorkeling and did it so well that we did a trip to the Outer Reef with Wavelength a couple of days later.

AND....while I'm not a fan of the big boats that go to fixed pontoons (too many people for my tastes), they do offer amenities which appeal to families--glass bottom boat rides, semi-submersible rides, underwater viewing platforms and a larger area to spread out (Wavelength does not have that luxury.) If you want to go to the Outer Reef, but you don't think your kids will want to be in the water the entire time (as you would do on Wavelength), then a boat like Quicksilver may be a good choice for you.

SO...it all comes down to a few factors: 1) confidence of children in water, 2) amount of time kids are likely to want to be in the water, 3) desire for more amenities than just snorkeling, 4) deep water (Outer Reef) vs. beach snorkel (Low Isles), and 5) small boat vs. medium boat vs. large boat. There's no one "best" choice of boat--you just have to choose what's best for your family.

(Also, since you only have 2 days in PD, I would not wait until you get there to book, especially if you are going out with one of the smaller boats. Book your trip in advance and hope for good weather. BTW, when are you going?)
#9
Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia
101 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Originally posted by Cancerrph
Thank, anybody have experience with Haba?
We went out with Haba in 2008. The 2 sites we visited were good but I would have preferred Calypso or Poseidon. Haba crew weren't that friendly and the boat was crowded.
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