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 prices, the tour duration, the itinerary and the overall value for money. All prices are listed in Aussie dollars.
FROM: $175/per person
On your way out to the first reef of the day, chosen from the 24 sites that have been approved for snorkelling, the crew of this luxury catamaran will inform you about the marine eco-system you are about to witness. At the site it is possible to snorkel or dive down, experiencing the full majesty of one of the planet’s most abundant, fragile and unique environments. For those with no diving experience, it’s possible to get a ten-minute lesson in scuba from trained professionals. Other people prefer to kick back a sunbathe on board the boat. Lunch is provided in the form of a buffet on the way to a second location with more coral and tropical marine life. Finish off the whole experience with a drink from the bar on the way back to port.
From $165/ per person
Another great option, that runs along a similar itinerary to the previously-listed tours, involves live music on board provided by a local musician to make the return journey at the end of an active day of exploration that extra bit special. For those who haven’t got a scuba diving licence but wish to get a closer view of the reefs, there is an option to head under the water in a submersible, although this experience is available only for an additional fee. Lunch is provided in the form of a BBQ (in true Aussie style) with salads also available.
From $288/ per person
For an additional dose of luxury, this tour takes place aboard a modern, state-of-the-art ship that even has computer-guided systems that aim to reduce the chances of seasickness. Holding up to 140 people, the comfy lounge and sun deck with padded recliners makes for a great place to relax and read or chat to other passengers. Drinks and lunch are provided as well as all the equipment and roughly four hours-plus of time for exploring and diving, split between two separate reef locations. However, the undoubted highlight of this particular tour is the ten-minute helicopter ride that takes off and lands from a floating pontoon, giving you an altogether more thrilling view of the reef from the sky, before returning back to the surface to snorkel some more.
From $197/ 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 $200/ 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.