Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef

Best of the Great Barrier Reef

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12 days
from
CHF11’843
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Culture
Suitable for:
Age 17+
Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Trip code: 
AAR
Ways to Travel:
Small Ship Cruises, Platinum
Activity:
Marine Wildlife
Max group size:
42
Min age:
17

Plunge into our planet’s most spectacular marine paradise, the legendary Great Barrier Reef.

Home to fish all colors of the rainbow, playful sea turtles and reef sharks floating lazily by, a trip to the Great Barrier Reef is unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced. Join this exciting expedition and unveil the hidden treasures of our oceans’ most legendary UNESCO World Heritage Site alongside marine biologist and expedition leader, Brad Climpson. Head off the tourist track to remote reefs, swim alongside curious minke whales, search for monitor lizards on Lizard Island, take in the spectacular Aboriginal rock art sites on Stanley Island and enjoy daily excursions with the option to snorkel or scuba dive.

Hailing from Sydney Australia, Marine Biologist Brad Climpson is the ultimate guide for your Great Barrier Reef exploration. Not only is the Great Barrier Reef a playground for Brad, but it’s also his laboratory, so he has an intimate knowledge of how complex reef systems work. His passion for the underwater world has taken him all over the globe where he’s perfected his underwater photography. Along with Brad, you’ll be joined by renowned divemasters and conservation biologists especially chosen for this voyage. Our team of expert leaders and lecturers serves to bring a comprehensive educational component to your adventure through lectures, guided excursions, and daily recaps.

Highlights

  • Join this brand-new expedition that reveals the underwater wonders of the legendary Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Come face-to-face with massive potato groupers at Cod Hole, and with luck, you’ll have the opportunity to swim with the curious minke whales that migrate through these waters.
  • Enjoy daily snorkel and dive excursions to explore pristine reefs far from the tourist track, including remote Osprey Reef.
  • Take nature walks on Lizard Island, keeping an eye out for Australian monitor lizards and a variety of seabirds. 
  • View fascinating Aboriginal art on remote Stanley Island.

Key information

  • 11 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 11 dinners
  • 42 guests
  • Small-Ship Cruise
  • 12 days land only
  • Countries visited: Australia

What's included

  • All gratuities
  • Accommodations in our hotel and on board the Coral Expeditions II as outlined in the itinerary
  • All onboard meals and group meals ashore, including soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner
  • Arrival and departure transfers on group dates
  • Services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows
  • All group activities and excursions
  • Landing and port fees
  • Medical expense coverage and emergency evacuation insurance
  • Scuba and snorkel equipment is available onboard if you prefer not to travel with your own gear

What's not included

  • Airfare from your home city/Cairns and Cairns/home city      Excess baggage charges
  • Airport arrival and departure taxes
  • Transfers for independent arrivals and departures
  • Passport and/or visa fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, alcoholic beverages (other than listed above), and other incidentals
  • Email/Internet/fax/telephone charges
Call for general departures:
056 631 86 64
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Itinerary

Cairns, Australia
to
Cairns, Australia
  • Day 1

    Cairns, Australia

    Arrive in Cairns and transfer to the Shangri-La Cairns for dinner and overnight.

    Accommodation: Shangri-La Cairns

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Cairns / Embark Coral Expeditions II

    The Daintree Rainforest is one of the most complex ecosystems on Earth, and you will spend a full day seeking out the region’s unique flora and fauna. At Cooya Beach, join members of the Kubirri Warra tribe for a fascinating tour of their private estate. Learn about ancient Aboriginal traditions as you explore beach, mangrove, coastal reef, mudflats, and tidal lagoons.

    Or, choose to take a ride along the Kuranda Scenic Railway, passing spectacular tropical forest, majestic mountains, cascading waterfalls, and dramatic gorges. Then visit the Kuranda Koala Gardens for up-close views of these adorable Australian marsupials, as well as kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and a variety of reptiles, including freshwater crocodiles.

    Embark the Coral Expeditions II in the afternoon and set sail.

    Accommodation: Coral Expeditions II

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Rachel Carson Reef

    Named after the famous American conservationist, Rachel Carson, this well-protected platform reef is the perfect site for your first check-out dive, or to practice your snorkel skills.

    Accommodation: Coral Expeditions II

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Ribbon Reef #3 / Ribbon Reef #5

    The Ribbon Reefs are long, thin strips of reef that form the outer edges of the Great Barrier Reef and lie on the edge of the continental shelf, an average of 30 to 60 miles away from the coast. Covered in colorful corals, these reefs attract a plethora of marine life, both large and small.

    Drop in for a sunrise dive at Steve’s Bommie, an isolated pinnacle which offers a wealth of macro life like anemonefish, nudibranchs, and pipefish; schooling trevally, batfish, snappers, and fusiliers; and large pelagics, most notably barracudas and white-tip reef sharks.

    After lunch, explore Ribbon Reef #5 on an afternoon dive, snorkel, or glass-bottom boat excursion. Discover a wealth of healthy corals including brain, staghorn, boulder, and mushroom, as well as colorful soft corals. The corals provide shelter for shimmering clouds of chromis and anthias, while shoals of fusiliers, trevally, barracuda, mackerel, sharks, batfish, and parrotfish can be seen cruising near the dropoff areas. Emperor angelfish, blueline demoiselle, hexagon grouper, bird wrasse, yellowmargin triggerfish, and slingjaw wrasse are other species frequently spotted in this area.

    Accommodation: Coral Expeditions II

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Lizard Island

    Beautiful Lizard Island was discovered by Captain Cook in 1770, and your morning begins with an optional hike to the highest point of the island, known as Cook’s Look, where the mariner attempted to find a path through the maze of beautiful, but deadly reefs. After breakfast, dive or snorkel among legions of colorful tropical fish and check out the giant clam gardens near the beach. Other activities include walking along the island’s powdery white-sand beaches, or hiking up to Chinaman’s Ridge, searching for goannas (Australian monitor lizards) and a multitude of birds, such as sunbirds, honeyeaters, pheasant coucals, and a variety of terns along the way.

    Accommodation: Coral Expeditions II

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Stanley Island

    Take a short walk to view several spectacular rock art sites on Stanley Island. The huge Yintayin, or “Ship,” rock shelter features images of ships painted in red and white ochre on the red sandstone—sailing ships rigged in the distinctive styles of the European lugger, the Macassan (Indonesian) proa, and a dugout canoe with a figure standing upright in it, hands outstretched.

    Spend the afternoon snorkeling or diving at a nearby reef.

    Accommodation: Coral Expeditions II

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Days 7-8

    Ribbon Reef #10 / Cod Hole

    Spend two full days exploring Ribbon Reef #10, which is famous for the large number of dwarf minke whales that migrate past the reef from June to July. With luck, you may have an opportunity to swim with these curious creatures—a simply amazing experience. However, please note, these whales are wild animals and sightings are not guaranteed.

    At world-famous Cod Hole, enjoy an unforgettable dive, where you’ll come face-to-face with massive potato cod, which often swim right up to inspect you with child-like curiosity. Other fish that can be found here include coral trout, sweetlips, triggerfish, and trevally.

    Accommodation: Coral Expeditions II

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Days 9-10

    Osprey Reef / Ribbon Reefs

    Conditions permitting, venture to remote Osprey Reef, a large submerged atoll with a shallow central lagoon. The most northerly and isolated of all the reefs in the Coral Sea, the almost vertical reef walls rise from a depth of over 6,000 feet and offer some of the best diving in the region. This pristine reef is home to colorful soft corals and is frequented by sharks and other large pelagics. As the ship return to Cairns, make a stop on a sand cay for sunset drinks with the local seabirds. Currents channeled by the reefs have created various sand cays that shift and change with the elements over time; they are typically surrounded by amazing reefs and provide calm, sheltered waters perfect for exploration.


    If weather and sea conditions do not allow for a visit to Osprey Reef, continue exploring along the protected Ribbon Reefs, where you will find a diverse array of marine life, including anemones, giant clams, hard and soft corals, turtles, and many types of Great Barrier Reef fish.

    Accommodation: Coral Expeditions II

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Cairns / Disembark / Atherton Tablelands

    Disembark this morning and journey overland to the Atherton Tablelands, a fertile plateau with several stands of protected rainforest. On nature walks, search for a variety of wildlife among the giant trees, such as musky rat kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos, and 12 endemic bird species. Along the pristine shores of Lake Barrine, you may spy eastern water dragons, bearded dragons, and saw-shell turtles. Check in to the Shangri-La Cairns for dinner and overnight. Or, choose to search for nocturnal species on an optional spotlighting excursion, returning to Cairns in the late evening.

    Accommodation: Shangri-La Cairns

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Tour Ends

    Board your independent flight to your home City.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Australia

All nationalities except New Zealand require a visa for Australia. British, most EU passport holders, Canadian and US passport holders can apply for an electronic visa online. For British passport holders this is done through www.australia.org.uk.

Vaccinations

Australia

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

Meals will mainly be provided on board the ship. Should you have any dietary needs, please let us know on the Personal Information Form, and we will do our best to prepare for them. Unfortunately, kosher meals cannot be accommodated

Is this trip for you?

This tour is operated in partnership with our sister company Zegrahm Expeditions. As such the departures are not exclusive to Exodus and groups may be a mixture of Exodus, Zegrahm Expeditions, and other clients. This trip is booked through Exodus and you will receive the same award winning customer service that you would expect. Zegrahm Expeditions operate with the same core principles used by Exodus and champion the benefits of small group travel.

Our Great Barrier Reef expedition focuses on the underwater wonders of the region and is only recommended for intermediate and advanced divers (and snorkelers). You will need to be able to climb into and out of the dive boat while wearing your dive equipment. Temperatures in Queensland during July average in the low to high-70s°F. Water temperatures will average in the low-70s°F (wetsuits will be available on board, but we recommend bringing your own for best fit and comfort). Thanks to the absence of human activity in the area, visibility is good year round. The sun can be intense in the Southern Hemisphere, so be sure to bring adequate sun protective clothing and head-covering.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
056 631 86 64
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Coral Expeditions II

Purpose-built for cruising the Great Barrier reef the 42-guest Coral Expeditions II is the ideal size to access the very best dive and snorkel sites in the region. Refurbished in 2015, public spaces include a spacious lounge, small library, single-seating dining room, and a large sun deck. A fleet of Zodiacs are available for water sports and landing on remote shores, while a glass-bottom boat offers a chance to view the underwater wonders while staying dry. All ocean-view staterooms feature an en suite bathroom, individually controlled air-conditioning, and ample storage space.

GENERAL

  • Three decks of passenger facilities.  
  • A Deck – sun deck, small library, and lounge with bar.  
  • B Deck – guest staterooms.  
  • C Deck – guest staterooms and restaurant with bar.
  • Stairs (no elevator) service all decks.
  • Coral Expeditions II allows bridge visits, contingent upon weather and navigation conditions.
  • Smoking is permitted in designated areas only.

STATEROOMS

  • All staterooms have ocean views, en suite facilities, storage space, hair dryer, and individual air-conditioning control. Electrical outlets are 220 - 240 volts and take Australian-style slanted, flat-pronged plugs.
  • B Deck has Category 3 and 4 staterooms that range from 151 - 162 square feet and feature a picture window and either double or twin beds.
  • C Deck has Category 1 and 2 staterooms that range from 141 - 151 square feet and feature a picture window. Category 1 staterooms feature two twin beds, while Category 2 staterooms feature either a double or twin beds.

DINING

  • The main restaurant can accommodate all guests at one seating. When weather permits, meals can also be served on deck.
  • Most diets can be catered for on board, but special dietary requests must be made in advance.   
  • Afternoon tea is served in the lounge and coffee and tea are available 24 hours a day.

SERVICES

  • Coral Expeditions II carries Zodiacs and a glass-bottom boat.
  • Public spaces include a sun deck with lounge chairs, library, small shop, indoor and outdoor dining areas, lounge, and two bars.
  • Coral Expeditions II is fully stocked with a wide range of snorkels, fins and masks (to fit all sizes), and shorty wet suits, along with all the necessary scuba equipment.
  • The Australian dollar is the currency used on board. Ship accounts can be paid by traveler’s check or Visa, MasterCard, Diners and American Express.
Call for general departures:
056 631 86 64
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]