If you’re looking for Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling tours, you’ll have plenty of options.  Now you could spend literally hours researching your options. But if you want to save yourself time and you are looking for something more personalized with a certain level of comfort, then I’d suggest you look at a great family-owned company called Sailaway. But more on that later.

Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tours – The Calypso

If you don’t mind a larger boat, say with 65 plus passengers, the Calypso would probably suit the more budget focused traveller.  It’s important to note that the Calypso boat tour, includes both snorkeling and diving. In fact, the Calypso’s crew like to compare it to an “underwater bush walk”. Considering its size, it is easy to find your way around the Calypso.

And the crew are very accessible. To board this vessel, you only have to stroll down to the marina.  The marina is well within walking distance from a lot of the central Port Douglas accommodations. Like most of these tours, the boarding process is pretty straightforward.

Great Barrier Reef – Sailaway – catamaran

From my experience of tours throughout Australia and New Zealand, the smaller the boat, the better the experience. However, there are other tours with smaller numbers still.  The luxurious Sailaway Catamaran is by far the more indepth and comfortable option. With no more than 25 passengers, I’d definitely recommend this boutique experience.

The Calypso  – Safety procedures – what to expect

Back to the Calypso: You can’t help but be impressed with the professionalism of the crew. These guys are pretty serious about the safety of their passengers. Taking frequent head counts are the norm – just in case someone has decided to take a closer look at the water!  How comforting to know, that in an emergency, you have a capable crew to take charge. Having said that, we think it would have been helpful if the crew had used microphones. We sometimes missed out hearing their instructions.

Calypso crew

Don’t be alarmed when you are asked to remove your shoes as you’re boarding the boat.  This is standard procedure.  They go into a box and can be easily collected at the end of the journey. After settling in, you can chill out for a while. By the way, Tropical Port Douglas is perfect in the winter months between June and August. Check out Australia seasons. At this time, the days are still warm and balmy – perfect for the more active traveller.

The Calypso – Dive experience – what to expect

As I mentioned before, with the larger Calypso, you will get the option of snorkeling and diving. We decided to do both. I have to confess, I was a little nervous about this but the diving instructor was amazing. He gave every one the individual attention they needed. He was quite a big guy too – that certainly gave us confidence. By the way, all wet suits and other equipment are provided on-board. But of course, you can bring and use your own.

Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tours

Here’s Michael getting some well needed instruction.

Calypso diving Michael

First of all the diving instructor will work with you one-on-one. This first requires getting each person to get used to being underwater.  Novice divers need to get used to a different way of breathing the oxygen that’s been keeping him alive all their life. Maybe this is the definitive way of exploring the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a mysterious, beautiful world where you’re no longer a spectator.

Calypso Snorkel and bird

After the instruction session, all participants must read through a very important information sheet which they then must sign. Everyone needs to be able to communicate with the diving instructor.  And that means, being able to understand written English and being able to speak it.

The Calypso – Lunch

Believe me, diving makes you very hungry – it’s buffet time!

Calypso buffet

The buffet does provide plenty of variety. So that means plenty of meat and the salad and bread to go with it. While the food is nothing startling, it is tasty and fresh. The morning and afternoon tea consists of delicious little home-cooked slices and freshly sliced tropical fruit. You may think this brave and fearless man is quietly reflecting on life. Don’t be fooled, he’s only thinking about the next bread roll.

Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tours

Remember when I mentioned about all the passengers having to remove their shoes? They were all placed in large crates and I was a little concerned about having to sort through them to find mine. No worries. At the end of the journey, they were all laid out in perfect matching pairs on a large platform. It was a pleasant surprise. And just to round it all off, the crew line up in their uniforms to say goodbye to each passenger. That’s a pretty nice touch.

Some other blog to check out while up north:

Happy travelling the Great Barrier Reef.

4 responses to “Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tours”

  1. Jane Smith says:

    Another good experience by the sound of it – now… are you SURE this is work? Your selfless devotion to duty is commendable. J XXX

    • GuestNZ says:

      “Selfless devotion” hmmm, I like the sound of that. Could mean a pay-rise for moi. Believe it or not, these tours are essential for us to experience, before we can book them for our clients. Not all tours are created equal, believe me. I could tell you some stories….maybe I’ll leave that to another time.

  2. Jan Roberts says:

    Wow what an awesome sounding day and perfect conditions for it. Good on you Michael for giving the diving a go and a big up to you both for surviving the buffet on a boat – for me I discovered very quickly it is a no-no…….

    • GuestNZ says:

      Yes, glad Michael managed to resurface. I know how you feel about buffets Jan and I share your reservations, but I saw this buffet being prepared and was happy with the hygiene protocol being followed. Sorry you had a bad experience. It’s something you never forget.

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