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Best day trips to Barrier Reef?

lu8
Melbourne, Australia
5 posts
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Best day trips to Barrier Reef?

Is it best to book these through your hotel or is it cheaper directly? What is the cheapest tour operator ?

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gk
Brisbane, Australia
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2,280 posts
55 reviews
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1. Re: Best day trips to Barrier Reef?

I don't think you'll get a discount booking through your hotel. Port Douglas has more expensive reef tours than Cairns, but the cheapest I could find are:

Wavedancer to Low Isles: $126 pp

SilverSonic to Outer Reef: $157 pp

There's an environmental management charge of $5 pp as well.

Cairns has a budget day tour from Compass Cruises for $80 pp so it may be worth your while to transfer down to Cairns if you want to keep costs down.

http://www.compasscruises.com.au/

Destination Expert
for Adelaide, South Australia, Kangaroo Island
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3,572 posts
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2. Re: Best day trips to Barrier Reef?

if you have time on your hands.. I'd recommend heading down to the dock and looking at the boats yourself... talk to the operators and get a feel for the way they do things. You'll know instantly which tour is right for you. We eschewed the large touristy catamarans which travel daily to their own pontoons, choosing to go with a smaller boat 40-50ft or so, which provided a much more personalised service. www.habadive.com.au

If you are a competent snorkler/diver/swimmer a smaller boat will be able to take you to a variety of spots depending on conditions. All personal choice I guess but after watching the I would pay a little more for better service on a smaller boat if I were to go again... we were in a group of 8 and all agreed that it was the better way to go.

lu8
Melbourne, Australia
5 posts
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3. Re: Best day trips to Barrier Reef?

Thanks for all the suggestions!

lu8
Melbourne, Australia
5 posts
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4. Re: Best day trips to Barrier Reef?

I had a look at Wavedancer and Silversonic but I don't want to do any diving myself....is there others?

Daintree
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349 posts
16 reviews
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5. Re: Best day trips to Barrier Reef?

You don't have to dive. All offer snorkelling, or you don't even have to do that. If you simply want sightseeing and no water activities Quicksilver is great as it goes to a pontoon with Semi Submersibles. Also Low Isles is a nice option (inner reef island, operators offer snorkelling, glass bottom boat tours)

All prices are the same in Port Douglas no matter where you book. Obviously if you book at your hotel you can add the charge to your room account.

lu8
Melbourne, Australia
5 posts
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6. Re: Best day trips to Barrier Reef?

Great thanks for the info!

Cairns, Australia
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2,838 posts
11 reviews
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7. Re: Best day trips to Barrier Reef?

I suggest to go to outer reefs. You come so far so may as well go the extra few k's. Like going to Sydney and not seeing the bridge!

Compass in Cairns is the cheapest as mentioned by GK. They go to two set locations as opposed to the more expensive options in Port that go to three sites and may be able to pick from 20 different sites. So you do get more for your money and spend more time in the water though Compass does get you out there.

All seem pretty good, Wavelength popular with snorkellers but is pricey. Posieden seems popular with divers so not sure if the sites they visit favour divers or not. Confusing to choose, so keep it simple, choose destination (outer reef best imo) and budget and do what fits.

I book direct in the vain hope if more do that the prices may come down one day.

GBR
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138 posts
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8. Re: Best day trips to Barrier Reef?

When it comes to reef trips - you get what you pay for.If you want cheap then expect a slow boat ( 10 knots ), inner reef destination , diesel fumes , and no frills facilities and staff - you will probably find that with the fine print everything is extra to pay for such as meals , drinks , snorkel equipment , lycras, reef tax , fuel tax etc.

Port Douglas has a diverse choice of reef operators that cater to everyone - snorkel , dive , small groups , large groups , 34 ft to 120 ft.

All are reputable with no dodgy back yard operators.

Look at the local tourism site www.pddt.com.au

As one guy said before - go and check them out at the Marina - all are back in by 430pm.

By booking direct you will be kept up to date with any specials or standby rates ( if they apply )

Also read the fine print of inclusions to get a better idea of what the day will finally cost.

Local boats include - Poseidon , Calypso , Aristocat , Haba , Wavelength , Quicksilver .- for the Outer Reef .

Low Isles - is more your sail boat , then there are fishing boats and private charter boats.

Destination Expert
for Adelaide, South Australia, Kangaroo Island
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9. Re: Best day trips to Barrier Reef?

Well said ! That's exactly right... book cheap get cheap and really if you are coming all this way I have to advise that don't take the cheap option... We here in Australia can find it relatively easy to return but if this is your big trip to OZ then do it the right way and return home with the best memories possible. IMO you want to get to the outer reef on a reasonably large but not massive boat, one which offers snacks and a nice lunch with everything (equipment, suits, ) included...the type of boat with a big open top deck which is ideal to wander around on so that you can mix and mingle with other guests or simply relax during the journey. most of the local operators offer this service and have boats like this... as I said earlier.. wander the docks .. talk to people who have returned from their day out on the reef and the operators themselves, then make the decision.

Boston, Mass.
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913 posts
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10. Re: Best day trips to Barrier Reef?

Was in Port Douglas the middle of November and took the Poseidon Cruise and was completely satisfied with the crew, equipment and 3 reef sights. www.poseidon-cruises.com.au

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