The first thing to remember when visiting the Great Barrier Reef is that if you go, you should only consider environmentally friendly options. The natural wonders of this fragile marine world are under serious threat and struggling. However, if your heart is set, then there is a good chance you are in for one of the best trips of your life. This is the Great Barrier Reef in its own right.
Here at Travelmag.com, we bring you the best, eco-friendly tours of the Great Barrier Reef. Other factors we consider include price, travel time, itinerary and overall value for money. All prices are in Australian dollars.
Quality Great Barrier Reef Catamaran Cruises
From $175 per person
On your way to the first reef of the day, the crew of this luxury catamaran will select one reef from a list of 24 approved snorkeling sites to introduce you to the marine ecosystem you are about to witness. Here, you can snorkel or dive to fully experience the richest, most fragile and unique environment on Earth. For those with no diving experience, a 10-minute diving lesson can be obtained from a trained professional. Others prefer to bask in the sun on the boat. Lunch is served as a buffet, with more coral and tropical marine life on the way to the second location. End the whole experience with a drink at the bar on the way back to Hong Kong.
Full day tour of the Outer Great Barrier Reef with live music
Another great option, similar to the tour itinerary listed earlier, is to have local musicians on board to provide live music, making the return trip after a day of exploring even more special. For those who don’t have a scuba license but want to see the reef up close, there is an option to dive in a snorkel, although this experience comes at an additional cost. Lunch is served in the form of a barbecue (in true Australian style) and salads are also served.
Outer Great Barrier Reef Cruise and Sightseeing Helicopter Tour
To add to the sense of luxury, the trip was made on a state-of-the-art, modern ship that even has a computerized navigation system designed to reduce the chance of seasickness. The ship can seat 140 people, and the comfortable lounge and sun deck with padded loungers are great places to relax, read or chat with other passengers. Drinks and lunch are provided on board along with all the equipment and about 4+ hours of exploration and diving between two different reef sites. However, the biggest highlight of the trip is undoubtedly the 10-minute helicopter flight, which takes off and lands from a floating pontoon, allowing you to see more thrilling views of the reef from the air and back to the surface for snorkeling.
30-minute flight through the Great Barrier Reef landscape
Sometimes the best way to fully appreciate the magnificence of a natural wonder is to step back and witness it in its entirety. That’s what a scenic flight can do, uncovering the vast outlines of coral reefs and reef masses from the air. This scenic flight was conducted in a fixed-wing aircraft, with an experienced crew that swooped in and out from time to time to give the reef its full color. Highlights from the overhead view include Arlington Reef, Upolu Reef and Green Island.
Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling and Diving Cruise Luxury Catamaran
From 200 RMB/person
For those who want to get up close and personal with the Great Barrier Reef, there are few tours from Cairns like a snorkelling and diving cruise, and the 80-foot catamaran takes you to the reef with its own chef who prepares a hot and cold buffet that includes vegetarian options. There is a snorkelling platform on board and entry-level scuba diving for beginners, as well as two dives for qualified divers.