Snorkelling Great Barrier Reef Port Douglas – is an experience like no other. Luckily, there are a number of day cruises to suit every budget. And the same goes for the level of luxury you require. The Aquarius, is a beautiful 62ft Catamaran with a high degree of comfort. Actually, this is the tour we probably enjoyed the most for our Port Douglas stay. You don’t get to rub shoulders with a lot of people. In fact, there are no more than 23 passengers at any time. Sometimes there is a lot less and there’s a lot to love about that!

Aquarius luxury day cruise – Great Barrier Reef

Passengers do get a lot of space to themselves.  You can loll around to your heart’s content on the modular lounge suite which is built into the vessel.  There’s really nothing better than sailing the Great Barrier Reef under blue skies.


After boarding the Aquarius, the boat sets out for the Low Isles. The Low Isles is actually a very small and gorgeous island.  What really adds to its beauty, is the beautiful white beach that surrounds it. However a highlight for a lot of travellers, would have to be the marine life here. Imagine being able to swim with green turtles! For some of us, this is a unique and out-of-world experience.

Snorkelling Great Barrier Reef Port Douglas – What to expect on the Aquarius

If you choose a more, shall we say, boutique option, like the Aquarius, you will get to enjoy the professional service that goes with it. On the day we sailed, the Aquarius crew did everything they could to make us feel pampered.  In fact, nothing was too much trouble for Skipper Andy and Hostess Jo.  And when it comes to all things of the Great Barrier Reef, these guys pretty much know it all.  In fact, they get asked some tricky questions and they’re able to answer them all. Now there is an added bonus – the crew understand very well, the male obsession to try their hand at the helm.  For onlookers, it was comforting to see that the Skipper was always near to supervise.


It’s always quite reassuring to see the constant checking that these crew member do.

Snorkelling sailing Port Douglas4

Why choose the Aquarius to sail the Great Barrier Reef?

So what sort of people are attracted to a boutique experience like this? Well for starters, you will probably be well travelled.  There is no doubt that this is a ‘couples’ environment, so honeymooners and discerning travellers can really appreciate it.  But ultimately, it has to suit so many of us that just want to stress less for a while. So as you can imagine, there is a very reason why this cruise is not suitable for children under the age of 16.


What is included?

The Aquarius doesn’t actually land on the beach – it’s simply not deep enough. Instead, the anchor is dropped a short way out from shore.  Once the anchor is dropped, all the passengers are transferred to a  boat with a glass bottom.  This turns out to be perfect for seeing the marine life sailing beneath. Before any snorkelling begins, here’s a safety talk, which is pretty standard for most sea cruises. Fortunately, all the equipment is supplied. That will save you from having to pack flippers and wet suits into your suitcase. There’s a last check to make sure every guest has their snorkel, mask and mouthpiece checked. Its at that stage, adjustments can be made.

Snorkelling Glass Bottomed boat

Now some of us are not confident swimmers.  But don’t worry, you won’t miss out.  A crew member will have you latching onto a large rubber ring and then will pull you along with a rope. I’d add at this point that the crew are incredibly fit. I was one of those less confident swimmers and appreciated how Jo took her time. Whenever she saw anything of interest – like the gorgeous Cleaner Wrasses, she’d point it out.

Snorkelling Low Isles

learning interesting stuff

You do learn some interesting stuff on this tour.  As we were being towed along on our rubber ring, there were some big fish swimming underneath us. Jo explained that fellas were waiting for the Cleaner Wrasses to remove their parasites and dead skin. The down side to that, is there there is an impostor among the Cleaner Wrasses. These impostors burrow through the gills of the trusting fish. They quite literally help themselves to chunks of flesh, before swimming off.

I have to say, it was quite a thrill to see these Black-tipped reef sharks – yes we swam among them – and they’re harmless.  In fact all the sharks in these waters are totally harmless and are known as the ‘puppy dogs’ of the ocean. They’ll actually shy away if you approach them.

Low Isles Marine life

Sailing the Aquarius – Low Isles Guided Walking Tour:

If you really want to devote yourself to snorkeling, you can remain in the water.  However, there is an added option of being to take a leisurely guided walk. Can you believe the size of this clam shell!

Snorkelling Low Isles Clam

There are a number of highlights to see on this beach walk.  One of these is the giant lighthouse and the first one to be built in Northern Queensland. There’s a well kept grave here. The wife of the first light-keeper actually died only 2 weeks after arriving here. We spend a quiet moment at her grave.

Low Isles Lighthouse

As you walk through the bush, you can’t help but notice the abundant bird life.  Some of them have huge nests. After the walk, you’ll head back to the beach to once again enjoy it’s sparkling waters.


Its at this stage, we’ve all built up a pretty healthy appetite.  On tours like this, you can be quite justified in expecting a great lunch. For those brave and confident swimmers, you can snorkel all the way back to the Catamaran. On the day we went, only 2 volunteered for this.  The rest of us took the glass-bottomed boat back to the Aquarius – it was a great chance to see more marine life. I counted 6 large green turtles in the space of 5 mins!


Lunch on-board the Aquarius:

On tours like this, you won’t find the usual rude suspects elbowing their way to the buffet table. A lunch like this one, is an an experience to be savoured. The food is beautifully laid out and includes succulent fresh prawns and other quality products. I have to say, that it was the dessert table that seduced me.

Snorkelling Port Douglas lunch

The cheesecake squares are insanely delicious and you won’t get fruit any fresher than this – its a melt-in-your-mouth experience. But after all, we are in tropical Queensland, so no lunch is complete without freshly cut fruit:

Snorkelling Aquarius lunch

You won’t find any sense of rush or time passing on this cruise.  You may want to just stretch out around the boat and just zone out.  But you can do more snorkelling around the boat.  After lunch, I found that chilling out was the best option. Pity I didn’t notice that curious fish.

Snorkelling and Sailing Port Douglas6

Passenger participation

There are some of us that just want to kick back and close our eyes. The sound of water gently slapping against a boat, is so calming.  But if you really want to get involved, the crew will accommodate you.  There are travellers out there who have always wanted to get actively involved.  You’ll find that the Aquarius crew are very happy to supervise.  Take it from me, this always seems to generate a lot of fun and laughter.

Snorkelling and Sails Port Douglas7

There is another tour that the Aquarius offers and that is the sunset cruise.  Although you will have a much shorter cruise time, what you will have, is a rare chance to sail into a golden sky.

Happy Snorkelling Great Barrier Reef Port Douglas!

4 responses to “Snorkelling Great Barrier Reef Port Douglas”

  1. Jan Roberts says:

    wow what a wonderful sounding trip. No wonder it sounds like your favourite trip. That lunch looks to die for on its own let alone the whole wildlife/marine life. Awesome – so jealous, again!!!

    • GuestNZ says:

      I’ve waited all my life to swim among turtles and beautiful Angel fish. It really is such a privilege to be part of their world for a while. Ok, the dessert table was so darn awesome!!

  2. Jane Smith says:

    That looks fantastic – sounds like my kind of trip. Andy and Jo look like they work hard to give everyone a great time – and then another group in the evening – but what a wonderful place to work hard. Another stand-out trip by the look of it.

    • GuestNZ says:

      Every now and then you find a sailing tour that’s a bit more special. Sure you’ll pay more, but it’s worth it, especially if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The crew of these tours are often very interesting people who have lived extremely adventurous lives.

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