Ocean Safari on the Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas
Imagine this, snorkelling in untouched Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which also happens to be the LARGEST living thing on Earth and visible from outer space. This incredible ecosystem is filled with some impressive species such as fish, starfish, dolphins, sharks and our favourite, turtles. What makes this part of the world so special is the 600+ types of hard and soft coral – it is really breathtaking.
We joined an Ocean Safari ride to experience this for ourselves and we were not left disappointed.
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Packing for Tropical North Queensland
You definitely need to be prepared for your trip to FNQ (Far North Queensland). There are a few essentials in my mind, one of which is, of course, mosquito repellent! Click here for a printable packing guide for your trip.
What is an Ocean Safari?
This half day tour will take you out to the Great Barrier Reef by boat (and it’s a fun boat, driven by 700hp engines where you can sit on the sides and enjoy the ride!) and you snorkel at both Mackay Reef as well as Undine Reef.
The tour departs from Cape Tribulation Beach and the boat ride is around 25 minutes. The afternoon we went out was overcast and there was a bit of rain about, but you could still make out the rainforest in the background as you are swimming at the reefs. There is something spectacular about being where two UNESCO world heritage sites meet.
With a maximum of 25 passengers, you will have plenty of space to snorkel on the reef without being surrounded by heaps of other people.
Your skipper and Eco Host have heaps of information they share with you about the area and marine life.
Jenna first read about this company on the back of our Cape Tribulation map we picked up from our hotel in Port Douglas. They had a picture of a turtle and she instantly said, I have always wanted to swim with a turtle – let’s do this! Next thing you know, we’re booked on a tour!
We arrived at the check-in area, had a bite to eat at the Turtle Rock Cafe and then completed the medical questionnaire and were given our stinger suits. Click here to find out why you need to wear a stinger suit.
Once we were all ready to go, we started the 500m walk down to the beachfront where we were greeted by Brett, our skipper and Georgia our eco host. They were our guides for the afternoon! As we headed out, Georgia made her way around speaking with everyone and getting to understand what we all want to achieve out of the afternoon.
On the reef
When we got to the reef and were anchored up, Brett gave everyone a demonstration on how to use the snorkel and goggles and the different ways of getting out of the boat – you can either go down the ladder or off the side!
Then, the sun peered through the clouds and we were rewarded with this incredible turquoise coloured water!
This is Jenna concentrating on how best to not fill your goggles up with water!
Within seconds of getting into the water, we saw turtles – two of them! It was amazing. They are so beautiful and the experience was one we’ll never forget. It’s a huge bucket list item ticked off our list!
There were reef sharks and stingrays swimming about as well as a large number of beautiful marine life. Jenna also really liked the electric blue starfish that seemed to be everywhere.
After our two swim spots, it was time to head back to Cape Tribulation. It was a bumpy ride back in with pretty good swells. It made for an enjoyable fun ride back that’s for sure.
NB: There is a dry box for you to put towels, cameras or anything else you don’t want to get wet in which is handy.
The crew found this teddy bear out on the water, they rescued him and he is now their mascot!
Where is it located?
Ocean Safari Tours depart from Cape Tribulation. If you’re staying in Cape Trib, you can arrange for a pickup service with the company, otherwise, if you’re like us and staying in Port Douglas, you just meet at the Turtle Rock Cafe / Ocean Safari Office before the tour starts.
Cape Tribulation is about a 2-hour drive north from Port Douglas.
How long is the tour
In peak season they run two half-day tours, a morning and an afternoon one. The morning tour check-in is 8:00 am and returns back to the cafe at around 12.30pm. The afternoon check-in is 12:00 pm and departs at 12.30pm.
It is important to check in on-time. If you’re going in the summer months, you will need to wear a stinger suit which is provided. More on that further down!
What if it’s raining?
It doesn’t matter about the rain – you’re going to get wet anyway! We were booked on Friday afternoon, but our tour was cancelled as there was a lightning storm out over the reef so it was unsafe to go out there. We were put on the afternoon tour the next afternoon and it was a little rainy but otherwise good! A bit of rain doesn’t hurt anyone 🙂
How much does it cost?
As at January 2018, adults cost $145 and children $94. If you’re travelling as a family, they have a special rate of $436. Click here for a list of current prices.
Included in the tour price is the following:
- 2 hours of snorkelling at two reefs – Mackay and Undine
- All snorkelling equipment (goggles and flippers)
- Stinger suit in the summer months
- Personalised snorkelling instructions – first timers welcome!
- Unlimited information about the reef and marine life by your skipper and eco host
- Complimentary bus transfers (if you’re staying at Cape Tribulation)
What about the stingers?
In the summer months, you will be provided with a stinger suit to avoid the Irukandji and Bx jellyfish. If you want to wear a suit during the winter months, you can hire these at check-in.
Do you have travel insurance?
Before travelling, make sure you get a travel insurance policy – you never know when you might need it! Click here for information on travel insurance, what company we recommend and a link to get an instant quote.
If you’re looking for alternative accommodation to either save some money or share with friends or family, click here for information on Air B&B ($50 discount on your first booking), hotel price comparison websites etc.
“You don’t have to be rich to travel well.” – Eugene Fodor