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Reef trip, totally confused

UK
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15 posts
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Reef trip, totally confused

My wife and I will be in Cairns at the end of Augusta and plan to go on a Great Barrrier Reef trip. I have looked at previous posts on this forum and many operators websites but am now confused as there are so many operators/choice. What we want is a day trip where I can take introductory dives and my wife can snorkel with an operator that takes small groups, we do not want any of the "fancy" extras like glass bottomed boate reef paltforms etc.

Can anyone help advise us.

Thankd

Cairns, Australia
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1. Re: Reef trip, totally confused

Hi, yes well we get confused too and we live here.:)

There has been positive feedback on Silverswift recently and it seems to fit your criteria. I have not been on them but the reefs they go seem very good.

http://www.silverseries.com.au/swift.htm

They take maximum of 80, not sure if you consider this small group or not.

gk
Brisbane, Australia
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2. Re: Reef trip, totally confused

That's who I wouls suggest as well.

Ottawa, Canada
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3. Re: Reef trip, totally confused

I'm confused too! Going to Cairns for a week in August. Thinking of visiting a nearby island for a day to see if I like snorkelling (thinking Low Isles or Frankland Islands) and then I'll book another trip to see the Outer Reef.

susie7338
5 posts
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4. Re: Reef trip, totally confused

From memory just about every single reef trip boat offers snorkelling and first time dives.

I think nearly all of the operators have a maximum of about 100 people going.

I went on Compass which is the cheapest boat available. Bit of a rocky trip out to the reef but I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

Cairns, Australia
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2,838 posts
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5. Re: Reef trip, totally confused

Compass was good for the budget traveller, however last I heard it was out of service for the forseeable future.

Melbourne
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6. Re: Reef trip, totally confused

Just back from 10 days in Cairns. We were recommended by a local to go on the Reef Magic tour.

My teenage son did the introductory dive. They only take 4 people out on each dive. He thoroughly enjoyed it and the guide was very friendly.

I had never snorkeled and in fact am quite afraid of things swimming in the sea. HOWEVER, I did get in and snorkel and enjoyed it immensely. The snorkeling gear and life jackets were included in the tour price and you dont have to swim far to get to the coral and fish. You can pay extra (around $35) to get a guided snorkel tour but I dont think you really need to).

Lunch was plentiful, very fresh and delicious.

This tour has 5 hours on reef, whilst others dont.

Most tours include such things as glass bottom boats and underwater viewing platforms.

Hope this helps.

Cairns, Australia
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39 posts
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7. Re: Reef trip, totally confused

RG1953

The reason there are so many operators is that the reef is so vast. Over 2000 individual pieces of reef, spread over 2000 km of the Queensland Coastline.

Most visitors to the reef go from Cairns and Port Douglas because the reef is closest to the coast in that area.

Here are some options

http://www.aristocat.com.au

http://www.silverseries.com.au/

http://www.habadive.com.au/

These all get away form the crowds, islands and platforms, visiting more isolated pieces of reef, where the coral is better

Cairns, Australia
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8. Re: Reef trip, totally confused

Compass is having a re-fit and should be back in the water in a couple of weeks. $89 for day, if you don't mind a slow chug out to reef. No fancy extras at all.

Mission Viejo...
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9. Re: Reef trip, totally confused

We took Sliverswift out of CNS at the beginning of July. It fits the OP's needs perfectly. The boat is fast and they get to and from the reef in about 80 minutes. They carry 60 pax, and our trip was about 50/50 divers and snorkelers. The tour goes to 3 different sites (exact location depending on seas, weather, visibility, and recent sightings) and spends about 1.5 hours at each site. Their goal is maximizing your time in the water without the glass bottom boats, pontoons, etc.

Regardless of which tour you choose, take the guided snorkel tour (free on Silverswift). The guide pointed out things we would have missed. Some tours have complaints about divers having priority over others but we never felt delayed or hindered. They do a good job of shuffling groups for rest periods, lunch, etc. Their lunch was excellent considering it was pre-prepared and they have healthy and veg choices on their menu.

If you plan to intro dive, I recommend getting an OK note from your doctor before you travel. We were not allowed due to minor problems that cleared up some years ago. Because it was within 10 years, they apologetically said no, but suggested we could go another day after getting the OK from the clinic in Cairns. Later a diver told me Queensland standards are unusually stringent. We were disappointed at first, but saw the intro dives stayed in a group near the boat. We felt we were seeing more snorkeling and didn't feel we missed anything.

Other suggestions- Check into waterproof camers, various places rent and sell them in CNS. We did fine with a one-use underwater camera. Also hotels frown on taking their towels on to the reef; buy an inexpensive towel at one of the many gift shops in town. You can even give it away later if you don't want to pack it.

UK
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10. Re: Reef trip, totally confused

Many thanks for all your inputs we are going to go with Silverswift, is it better to book in advance or wait until we are there in case of inclement weather, what will the weather be like at the reef at the end of August