Destination Tips

How to Have the Best Great Barrier Reef Experience

Since I was a kid, I’ve been enamored with the Great Barrier Reef. I longed to see the colorful coral, the turquoise water and the majestic marine life in person rather than just on tv. GUESS WHAT?! I knocked this off of my bucket list yesterday!!

I’m a little embarrassed to share this with you, but I’m going to do it anyways. As a kid, I watched documentaries about the Great Barrier Reef while eating a big bowl of mac and cheese. This was my thing. After my mom pulled me away from the tv, I pretended to be a fish. This annoyed her to great lengths, but it provided me with a great deal of happiness. And clogged arteries from the mac and cheese, but I’m here and doing pretty well.

I’m so excited to share this post with you for a few reasons. First of all, I want you to see some beautiful photos of the Great Barrier Reef. It truly is majestic and I want to share its beauty with you. Second of all, we had the hardest time finding a company to use for our tour and what town we wanted to take the tour from. We spent days trying to figure this out and it wasn’t fun. After some arguments and a lot of stress, we found the perfect town and company. I want to share this information with you so you can easily plan your trip to the Great Barrier Reef.

Who’s cuter? Amos or the cuttlefish?

This post contains affiliate links to the products that I use and trust. This means that I might receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase using any of my links below. See full disclosure here.

I also want to disclose that the photos of the marine life that you see in this post are not taken by me. They are taken by Dave who was the photographer on board. Isn’t he insanely talented?! Be sure to check out his Instagram and Facebook! He posts captivating photos of the Great Barrier Reef while being informative. Aside from him being a stellar photographer, he’s a fantastic guy in general. He’s one of the main reasons why we enjoyed our tour so much. He also happens to be one of our favorite people we’ve met in our travels to 65+ countries this past year. 

Finally, I do not have a partnership with the tour company that we used. I love them so much that I’m recommending them to you. No strings attached.

What Town Should You Stay In?

We stayed in Port Douglas–a cute town on the Coral Sea in northern Queensland. You can visit the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, but Port Douglas is my recommendation. First of all, Port Douglas is wedged between two UNESCO World Heritage Sites–the Daintree Rainforest which is part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. Second, Port Douglas is a foodie’s heaven. You’ll find cuisines from all over the world and a variety of cafes and fine-dining restaurants. Finally, you’ll love the breathtaking scenery. Port Douglas is basically where the rainforest meets the reef. There is beauty everywhere you look–mountains, rainforests, creeks, beaches and more.

Where Should You Stay in Port Douglas?

I love Port Douglas because there are accommodation options for every budget. You can find apartments, hotels, resorts, holiday homes and villas. These can range from family friendly to adults only. We stayed in a luxurious Airbnb for a reasonable price just a few meters from the downtown area. Check out your accommodation options here.

How Do You Get to Port Douglas?

There are a few ways you can do this. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can fly into Brisbane and road trip to Port Douglas. Don’t forget to visit the Sunshine Coast! Warning–this drive is about 20 hours. If you’re not feeling super adventurous (I don’t blame you for not wanting to drive 20 hours), you can fly into Cairns International Airport and drive to Port Douglas. Search for your flight here.

How Do You Get Around Port Douglas?

The easiest way to get around Port Douglas to see all of the beautiful scenery around the area is by renting a car. There is so much to see and do around Port Douglas that you shouldn’t miss out on. Don’t forget to visit Cape Tribulation!

If you don’t want to worry about driving a car to some of the hotspots around Port Douglas, you can get a tour here.

Who Should I Use to Take Me to the Great Barrier Reef?

Glad you asked. SILVERSONIC! DUH! We ended up in Port Douglas on short notice and made some last minute calls to tour operators. Most of the companies didn’t have availability and the ones that did weren’t very helpful. Amos made one last attempt to call Silversonic and he hit the jackpot. Dolla dolla bills yall! Not really. But Nemo Nemo fishies yall! The agent on the phone was very helpful and answered all of our questions patiently. From that first conversation, we knew we made the right decision.

What Is Included in My Tour?

  • You’ll be transported to and from the reefs in an ultra sleek vessel that features ride control for a smoother trip.
  • You’ll visit three reef sites where you can snorkel and dive totaling around five hours collectively at the reefs.
  • The tour starts at 8:30 a.m. and you return to Port Douglas at 4:30 p.m.
  • The price includes a coach transfer to and from your accommodation in Port Douglas.
  • Lunch is included. You’ll also receive morning tea, coffee and muffins. Enjoy afternoon tea and coffee with cake, fruit, cheese and crackers.
  • You don’t need to worry about bringing equipment with you. Masks, snorkels and fins are included for snorkeling. Diving equipment and wetsuits are also included. The suits are lycra which protects you from abrasions and sun damage.
  • In-depth briefings are included at each site for divers and snorkelers.
  • You’ll have lifeguard supervision.
  • The vessel is air-conditioned and includes spacious sundecks.
  • Changing rooms and showers are also included.
  • Drinking water is included.
  • Seasickness medicine… Thank goodness.
  • If you’re a weak swimmer, don’t worry. Lifejackets and pool noodles are available.

How Do Snorkeling and Diving Work?

Unlimited snorkeling is included in the price of the tour while dives are an additional charge. You don’t have to be an experienced diver though. They offer introductory dives where you can dive alongside an experienced instructor. There were several people on our tour who had never dived before. They all said that the instructors were very patient and helpful. You will still have an instructor if you’re a more skilled diver.

However, you’ll have a little less supervision as you’re more skilled and you’re partnered with someone else from the tour. It’s okay if you’ve never snorkeled before either. The instructors will watch after you to make sure you are okay and they are available for guided tours. All in all, the instructors make you feel very comfortable and safe no matter your skill level with snorkeling and diving.

What Will My Day Look Like?

I’m certain that their schedules are subject to change, but this is roughly what our day looked like:

  • 7:30 a.m.: Check-in begins. You’ll receive boarding passes and directions to get to the vessel.
  • 8:15 a.m.: Boarding begins and breakfast is served. You will fill out safety and medical paperwork.
  • 8:30 a.m.: Vessel departs and snorkeling and diving briefings begin. The photographer will also give you a short briefing. (He’s in the water throughout the day taking photos of everyone. You can purchase the photos on the return journey).
  • 10:00 a.m.: Arrive at the first dive site.
  • 11:30 a.m.: Depart first dive site to go to the second dive site.
  • 11:45 a.m.: Arrive at the second dive site. Lunch is served.
  • 1:15 p.m.: Depart second dive site to go to the third dive site.
  • 1:30 p.m.: Arrive at the third dive site. Afternoon tea and snacks are served.
  • 3:00 p.m.: Depart third dive site to go back to Port Douglas. Dive details are available for log books. Photos are available for viewing and purchase.
  • 4:30 p.m.: Arrive at Port Douglas.

What Do I Need to Bring?

  • Swimwear
  • Towels
  • Extra change of clothes
  • Sunscreen (preferable marine/reef friendly since you are visiting the Great Barrier Reef)
  • Diving certification card
  • Cash/credit card to purchase additional dives, drinks, or photos
  • GoPro to capture the astonishing views
  • Adventure pants!

Overall Thoughts About Supersonic

If it wasn’t already obvious, I highly recommend this company to everyone looking to visit the Great Barrier Reef. The crew is excellent, organized and informative. The guides have an incredible amount of knowledge and ensure everyone’s safety. In addition to ensuring your safety, the guides teach you a lot about the areas you are visiting. Also, the timing is very punctual. Overall, we had a fantastic day and a very memorable experience!

Have you visited the Great Barrier Reef? If so, what was the most memorable part of your experience? Let me know in the comments below.

I hope you found this article to be helpful. Don’t forget to pin it for later!



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