The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s most magical marine environment. The largest living structure on earth, it is made up of more than 400 kinds of corals and is home to 1500 species of tropical fish, plus whales, dolphins and turtles. Among the many day trips, here are three options.
Ocean Spirit offers a full day adventure on a stable motor catamaran to the bird sanctuary of Michaelmas Cay. Guests snorkel right off the beach, perfect for families and people who are new to snorkelling or who are not strong swimmers. A marine biologist gives a video presentation and there is fish feeding plus the chance to take a reef tour in a semi-submersible boat. You can also try an introductory dive.
Reef Magic offers a full day trip on a fast, stable catamaran to a pontoon at Moore Reef. Activities include semi-submersible tours, glass-bottom boat tours, snorkelling, fish feeding and an onboard marine biology presentation. There's also an underwater observatory and a kids' swimming enclosure. The snorkel platform opens into a clear, shallow lagoon, perfect for beginners. As well as introductory and certified scuba dives, you can try helmet diving (in which you walk on the ocean floor without getting your head wet), guided snorkel trips and scenic helicopter flights.
Great Adventures departs Cairns on a stable catamaran for a full day or half day trip to Green Island National Park. The closest reef destination to Cairns, Green Island is also home to a rainforest. There is something for everyone here, including snorkelling, a glass-bottom boat tour, swimming at the beach and island pool and a self-guided eco island walk. Other offerings include diving, parasailing, scenic helicopter flights and the Marineland Melanesia Crocodile Habitat, where you can hold a baby croc and see Australia’s largest captive crocodile. You can combine this with a trip to Reef Adventures’ pontoon on the Outer Reef.
Go shopping for local crafts at the Cairns Night Markets before enjoying an adventurous menu featuring native game, herbs and seafood at the contemporary Ochre Restaurant.