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snorkel reefs

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23 posts
98 reviews
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snorkel reefs

different boats go to different reefs. which do you think are better to visit for snorkeling michaelmas cay,paradise,norman,saxon,or hastings? thanks for your time

Buderim, Australia
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1,089 posts
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1. Re: snorkel reefs

None of the above. Go to the outer reefs - the best IMHO is Agincourt reef out of Port Douglas which is a marine park unlike many others. See links for GBRMPA maps and reef trip tips.



cairns, australia
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2. Re: snorkel reefs

Some of the reefs off Cairns do offer great snorkelling, but I would also recommend trying a boat out of Port Douglas as there are a couple that offer smaller tours for snorkellers only.

Try Calypso's snorkel only vessel, max 38 pax and 3 sites visited.

I've never been on this trip (I'm a divemaster who worked on the reef out of Cairns for 1 year) but I've heard good things about Calypso, and if you are serious about snorkelling and don't want to get stuck on an enormous day boat filled with divers, snorkellers and a hundred or so other passengers, this could be a good option. I think there are also a couple of other operators who offer small snorkel only tours, do some research or see Calypso site here:


Perth, Australia
11 posts
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3. Re: snorkel reefs

There are several zones within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Theses zones are : General Use Zones , Habitiat Protection Zones ,Conservation Zones , Buffer Zones , Scientific Research Zones , Marine National Park , Preservation Zones , State Zoning and Estaurine Conservation Zoning.

Michaelmas Reef , Norman Reef , Saxon Reef Hastings Reef and Agincourt Reef are all within the Marine Park and are zoned as such. They all form part of the Outer Barrier Reef.

However some would argue reefs such as Spur , Onyx , Nicholas and Hope reefs which are a few hundred meters East of the Michaelmas Reef , Norman Reef , Saxon Reef Hastings Reef are the Outer Barrier Reef. These reefs however are deeper and not suitiable for every day tour boats to visit.

There is very little difference in the snorkeling between all of these reefs. The quality of your swim is determined by the tides , the time of day , the debth , the wind , the position of the moon , the time of the year , the number of people on the reef , the amount of use the reefs have recently received , damage from events such as cyclones , heavey rain , currents etc etc

The debate about reefs off Port Douglas and Reefs off Cairns has been debated for years between operators from both places. At the end of the day there is very little difference. As the crow flys all of these reefs are very close together.Its just that Port Douglas is a 55 minute drive North of Cairns. The geographical distance is such that you could jog it in a strait line in a couple of hours.

The frequency and variety of marine life you see will be determined by Number 1 . your abillity to swim quietly No 2. The number of people splashing around you . No 3. The length of time you spend in the water.

In manny case the fish are feed which keeps them coming back each day to the same place just like your cat returns to the same place for a drink of milk in the morning.

Some fringing reefs and many of the inner reefs have fantastic brightly coloured corals and an abundance of marine life just as good or in some cases like Lizard Island or Forbes Island better than much of the outer barrier.

To answer your question , try to choose a bright sunny day with as little wind as is possible although the trades do blow relentlesly from April through to November along the East Coast of Australia. If your have no choice to swim on the reef other than a day which is not ideal , make the best of. Stay in the water as long as you can and keep your eyes open. Buy a snorkel and a mask before you go to the reef and practise placing your head under water.

Many people spend most of the day learning how to breathe and feel comfotable with the equipment and therefore miss the good stuff

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4. Re: snorkel reefs

We found the tour office staff very useful when booking a trip as they asked about our swimming abilities, type of activity we wanted (snorkelling, scuba diving etc) and what we wanted to see. They then made a number of recommendations and also gave us good advice about the best day (wind strength etc). We are not great swimmers and found Michaelmas Quay more than met all of our needs but this was really for beginers.

5. Re: snorkel reefs

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