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Travel bucket list idea:

Dive & snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef

  • Queensland, Australia

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 18 March, 2024

This vast coral reef system, comprising almost 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands, stretches for over 1,600 miles off Australia’s eastern coast – it’s so vast it can be seen from outer space.

It supports an astonishingly rich biodiversity, including 30 species of whale and dolphin, 1,500 species of fish, 125 species of shark and ray, and six species of sea turtle.

Shark, Holmes and Osprey reefs regularly rank among the world’s greatest dive spots. All three are accessible from Port Douglas on liveaboards – but they’re too far away for day trips.

The majority of the reef’s treasures, though, are found just a couple of metres below the surface, meaning this magical underwater world is accessible to snorkellers and glass-bottomed boats as well as divers.

Logistics

Price from: £140
Minimum age: 4
Age suitable: 8+
When: All year around
Duration: 1 day

Getting there & doing it

Multiple operators based in or near Port Douglas’s marina offer a wide range of dive and snorkel trips.

As the nearest fringes of the reef are least two hours offshore, excursions leave at first light and last all day. Overnight or multi-day trips offer a package of varied dives, such as reef, wall and night dives.

Children aged 4 and over can join snorkelling tours, and under 14s  will usually get a discount.

Seaplane flights offer an alternative – and exhilarating – way to access and appreciate the vastness of the reef. Planes touch down for snorkelling and picnics on remote coral cays.

When to do it

Trips out to the reef run daily all year round. Start times vary by tour and operator but will depart at first light and return at the end of the day. For the best underwater visibility dive between August and December.

Stinging jellyfish are a problem in these waters from October to May, but most commercial dive boats carry stinger suits to protect divers from this threat.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Calypso Outer Great Barrier Reef Cruise from Port Douglas

  • Port Douglas

Explore the very outer Great Barrier Reef in luxury and style with Calypso. The custom designed vessel will take you to Agincourt or Opal Reef, both regarded as some of the most significant sites on the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkeling is the easiest way to experience the reef or try an introductory dive, no experience required. For the advanced divers, certified diving is available. Let Calypso take you to the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef and explore the rich and diverse coral gardens.

Price A$267

Min age 0

Rating 4.86 / 5 [1120 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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ABC Snorkel Charters Port Douglas Snorkelling max 12 passengers

  • Port Douglas

We actually get in the water with you and take you snorkelling 6 guests to 1 in water marine expert guide creating an informative personal experience Only 12 passengers on our ABC boat We visit all the Outer Reefs from Port Douglas

Price A$490

Min age 7

Rating 4.99 / 5 [914 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Quicksilver Outer Great Barrier Reef Snorkel Cruise from Port Douglas

  • Port Douglas

Great for beginners, non-swimmers and first-time visitors to Tropical North Queensland cruise to Agincourt Reef from Port Douglas. You can watch fish feeding, go on a snorkeling expedition, try scuba diving, view the coral and marine life on a semi-submersible submarine, and enjoy a tasty buffet lunch.

Price A$298

Min age 0

Rating 4.54 / 5 [494 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Great Barrier Reef Sailing & Snorkeling Cruise from Port Douglas

  • Port Douglas

Set sail from Port Douglas for a day of snorkeling and relaxing on the Great Barrier Reef’s Low Isles. The sheltered white sands are surrounded by tropical waters filled with fish, turtles and coral for pristine off-beach snorkeling, just moments away from Low Isles . This smaller cruise is limited to 33 passengers, ensuring good company and helpful assistance from the crew. A buffet lunch is included, along with a reef interpretation sail in a glass-bottom boat with an expert marine biologist as your guide

Price A$300

Min age 0

Rating 4.86 / 5 [451 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Silversonic Outer Great Barrier Reef Dive and Snorkel Cruise from Port Douglas

  • Port Douglas

See the Great Barrier Reef's coral and marine life on this full-day trip from Port Douglas. Whether you are a snorkeler or a scuba diver, experienced or a novice, this snorkel and dive cruise from Port Douglas is the perfect day out on the Great Barrier Reef. Visiting three different dive sites you'll discover the abundant marine life and diversity of coral which the Great Barrier Reef is world-famous for. The friendly crew will be happy to answer any questions you have throughout the day. The boat features full bar facilities, fresh water showers and expansive sundecks overlooking the Coral Sea. A tropical buffet lunch will be served between sites, along with morning and afternoon tea.

Price A$289

Min age 0

Rating 4.80 / 5 [353 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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