The first thing to keep in mind when taking a tour to the Great Barrier Reef is that only environmentally friendly options should be considered, if you go at all. This fragile natural wonder of the marine world is under serious threat and struggling. If your heart is set on going however, then you are highly likely to be in for one of the most remarkable tours of your life. It’s the Great Barrier Reef’s very own catch-22.
Here at Travelmag.com we bring you the very best, environmentally conscious Great Barrier Reef tours from Cairns. Other factors we have taken into account are the number of days, the itinerary and the overall price and value for money. All prices are listed in Aussie dollars.
FROM: $550/per person
This is the big one, not only exploring the reefs, but also the rainforest and the city too. Ride the impressive Kuranda Scenic Railway between Kuranda and Cairns past tropical rainforest and cascading waterfalls. Next day, exchange the rails for the waves and take a five hour cruise to two reef destinations where you will have the chance to snorkel and get a much better view of what goes on below. Finally swap waves for air with a 30 minute helicopter ride over the expansive system of cays and reefs to get a true picture of its magnificence.
From $395/ per person
When one UNESCO-listed natural marvel is not enough, you need to temper it with a second, and that is just what this two day tour from Cairns offers. The first day starts out on a cruise to the reefs and includes a free introductory scuba diving lesson that is ideal for beginners. The next day sees a trip out to Daintree Forest, which at 135 million years old is the oldest continuously living forest in the world.
From $212/ per person
Take a catamaran out over the surf to a pontoon moored up on the reef. This will be your base for the day, where you can enjoy a buffet lunch, buy drinks, shower and change into the appropriate swimwear, ready to take a dip in the ocean and snorkel above the teeming ocean floor. If you’d prefer to stay dry there is also an included excursion in a glass bottomed boat, which unveils the underwater world, and possibly provides a view of turtles, clownfish and manta rays.
From $160/ per person
Sometimes the best way to fully appreciate the magnificence of a natural wonder is to take a step back, in order to witness it in its entirety. That is what taking a scenic flight can do, unveiling the sprawling mass of reefs and cays from the air. This scenic flight takes place in a fixed-wing plane, which heads out with an experienced crew at times that allow for the optimum colours of the reefs to shine. Highlights seen from above include Arlington Reef, Upolu Cay and Green Island.
From $174/ per person
For those with a desire for an up close and personal experience of the Great Barrier Reef, few tours from Cairns can beat the snorkel and dive cruise. The 80 foot catamaran that takes you out to the reefs has its own on-board chef to prepare and hot and cold buffet, which includes vegetarian options. There are snorkel platforms on the boat and introductory scuba dives for beginners, along with two dives available for certified divers.