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Trip report: 3 reef snorkeling trips

Port Chester, New...
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Trip report: 3 reef snorkeling trips

We went to Australia at the end of May to fulfill our dream of snorkeling the GBR (we have snorkeled many times in many other places). We wanted to see the Outer Reef. My spouse gets seasick, so it seemed the Coral Princess would not be a good idea (actually, it turned out that the patch worked very well and maybe we could have done that. The downside of the patch was severe withdrawal symptoms when removed; still, worth it.) I investigated Lizard Island, but Cyclone Ita took care of that. I then decided PD would be the best place to take day trips from, and I think I was right, if for no other reason than it's a nicer place to be for 6 days than Cairns. I had looked for information comparing different trips without too much luck, so I hope this helps.

Note: All 3 boats have excellent crews, excellent equipment, and similar food and drink.

Sailaway: We arrived in PD from the U.S. on a Tuesday and took this boat on Wednesday because it is a shorter trip than the others. It is also a catamaran, so it's a smoother ride. It goes to the Low Isles, which is not the Outer Reef. There were two snorkels, one from the island and one from the boat. The one from the island was pleasant: one sea turtle, many fish, nice coral. The one from the boat was short with not as much to see. It was a good activity to get back to snorkeling when we were still recovering from the long journey, but it wasn't as good as our best experiences other places.

Poseidon: We went on the Poseidon on the last day it was family owned. The next day it became part of the Quicksilver company, so I don't know what has changed because of this. This boat has divers and snorkelers, with dedicated crew for each. It goes to the Agincourt Reef. The 90 minute trip out wasn't too rough, but it was boring. There were supposed to be 3 stops. The first was quite beautiful. It was cut short because of a medical emergency and the necessity to medevac someone. This also necessitated cancelling the second stop. We did have more time, though, at the second location, Reef 4, which was wonderful because it was more beautiful than we had hoped the GBR would be. The trip back was quite choppy and boring.

Wavelength: This boat takes only snorkelers. The 90 minute trip out was choppy, but it was smoother returning. This aspect of the trips are boring, but there's no alternative. The 3 snorkels on this trip were at Opal Reef and they were the best of the 3 days. The third snorkel was in an area called Fishbowl, and I don't have words to describe how exquisite it was. The variety of coral, the colors, the shapes, the fish.....it was like an alternative reality. We did not want to leave and the experience will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

I think I've covered everything, but I'd be happy to answer any questions. Happy snorkeling.

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Sailaway
Sailaway
1,410 Reviews
Port Douglas, Australia
Agincourt Reef
Agincourt Reef
970 Reviews
Port Douglas, Australia
Opal Reef
Opal Reef
357 Reviews
Port Douglas, Australia
Arlington, Virginia
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1. Re: Trip report: 3 reef snorkeling trips

Glad you enjoyed your snorkel trips. We've done the Sailaway trip (for our kids when they were first-time snorkelers) and the Wavelength trip (multiple times) and I think you gave a very accurate description of both

Thanks for posting as I'm sure this information will be useful to others contemplating snorkel trips to the GBR.

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Sailaway
Sailaway
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Port Douglas, Australia
Washington DC...
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2. Re: Trip report: 3 reef snorkeling trips

Thank you, this is interesting and very useful!

San Francisco...
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3. Re: Trip report: 3 reef snorkeling trips

Thanks for posting this report, dabbler. We will be there next year (September '15) and this kind of information is quite useful to our planning. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. We can't wait!

Christchurch, New...
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4. Re: Trip report: 3 reef snorkeling trips

Thank you for posting this; we've booked with Wavelength and Poseidon for an upcoming trip so it was good to read.

I'm a little concerned about the recent sale of Poseidon, because I know how stressful and disruptive the transition period can be for a business... hopefully though they're keeping the same staff on and not making too many changes to what works. We'll find out I suppose!

Langley, Canada
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5. Re: Trip report: 3 reef snorkeling trips

Thanks for your report describing the various options you did. I am now reconsidering and will probably book Wavelength for a second reef trip to get to the fish bowl. I am a snorkeler but hubby is not so we will also do Quicksilver. Do you have an opinion on how the Wavelength trip might be for someone that likely won't even get into the water?

Arlington, Virginia
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6. Re: Trip report: 3 reef snorkeling trips

I've been on Wavelength several times and I would say that if you are not going to get in the water, you are not going to have a very good experience on that boat. It's small (30 passengers max), so all you can do while everyone else is in the water is sit on the benches along the side of the boat and wait. It would be an expensive day of sitting around.

Nova Scotia
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7. Re: Trip report: 3 reef snorkeling trips

I think the Wavelength trip could tempt your hubby to try the water. The crew were wonderfully helpful. They had lifejackets and noodles to help with bouyancy. You just sit on the back of the boat and slide in.

My hubby is a reluctant swimmer and snorkeler and he said our day with Wavelength was the best of our five week trip down under. The crew helped him sort out how to snorkel and he had a great time.

Langley, Canada
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8. Re: Trip report: 3 reef snorkeling trips

I will ask hubby again about any interest in trying the snorkeling or even getting into the water to swim. He had a couple of near miss experiences in water and so has decided nothing is important enough to entice him in again. He is a good sport and is always open to coming along so I can do as much snorkeling as possible but I feel a bit guilty if there is nothing for him to do. This is why we are doing Quicksilver for one outer reef trip. I will see if he wants to do something on land and then I could do Wavelength on my own for a second outer reef trip. It sounds like seeing Opal Reef fish bowl is worth the second trip.

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Opal Reef
Opal Reef
357 Reviews
Port Douglas, Australia
Port Chester, New...
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9. Re: Trip report: 3 reef snorkeling trips

I think it would be boring. There's not much to see. You're in open water and not right on top of the reef so as not to damage it. I suppose if the person doesn't get seasick they could read or watch a movie on a device.

Langley, Canada
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10. Re: Trip report: 3 reef snorkeling trips

I have to comment on the integrity of Wavelength. I contacted them by email to inquire about whether their outer reef trip would be enjoyable for a non swimmer/non snorkeler. They responded to let me know that they didn't think it would be a very good experience and would suggest to use Quicksilver which included options of underwater viewing for the non snorkelers. I was impressed by Wavelength's immediate email reply and the fact that they were so honest and even recommended a competitor who would be better suited to provide a good experience for non swimmers. We are already booked with Quicksilver but I am planning to book with Wavelength too; probably just solo and hubby can golf or something else on land.