If you are visiting Queensland, Snorkelling Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas is a must-do. Luckily, there are a number of day cruises to suit every budget. And the same goes for the level of luxury you want. Sailaway is a family-owned business that offers a more luxurious tour of the Great Barrier Reef. Their focus is on 1st class serve and very importantly, small group numbers. Imagine having your own Marine Biologist on-board, and you are half-way there.  Yes, with some of their tours, an expert like this will be on-board ready to share their passion of the Great Barrier’s marine life.

You can chose the tour to best suit you:  premium sailing and snorkelling experiences to Mackay & Undine Coral Cays. Incidentally, with this option, Sailaway is actually the only operator from Port Douglas who has access to visit Mackay and Undine Cays. And we all know what that means – you will get the whole area to yourselves.

Sailaway cruise options- Great Barrier Reef

Snorkelling Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas - Sailaway cruises

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. And the best season for this tropical Queensland experience is between May and October.

Snorkelling Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas - Low Isles cruise

You are also in for a treat, if you choose the Low Isles tour. The Low Isles is actually a small but gorgeous island. But 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 there. Imagine being able to swim with green turtles! Having done it myself, believe me, this is an experience like no other.

Snorkelling Great Barrier Reef Port Douglas – What to expect with Sailaway

If you choose a more, shall we say, boutique option, like Sailaway, you will get to enjoy the high level of service that goes with it. There is a definite ‘pamper’ feel on this sailing trip. The crew are well prepared to answer even the most difficult of questions and they’re able to answer

Why Sailaway to cruise the Great Barrier Reef?

So what sort of traveller is attracted to a boutique experience like this? Well for starters, you will probably be well travelled.  As there is a no-children policy, you will be in an adult environment – a factor that honeymooners and life-stylers can really appreciate it.  But ultimately, it suits those of us looking to chill out for a while, away from the stresses of every-day life.

Snorkelling Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas - Great Barrier Reef Marine Life

What is included?

The Sailaway vessel 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.

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.

Snorkelling Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas

Sailaway – 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 Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas - guided island tour

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.

Snorkelling Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas - 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 Sailaway:

On tours like this, you won’t find the usual rude suspects elbowing their way to the buffet table. You will get the kind of lunch 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 Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas - Sailaway luxury cruises

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 Sailaway crew are very happy to supervise.  Take it from me, this always seems to generate a lot of fun and laughter.

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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