The Outer Great Barrier Reef - Cairns, Australia. The Reef is Yours!
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Q. Where do you depart from and what are the departure/return times?
A. Both boats depart from the Marlin Marina (Finger D), in Cairns, which is located directly behind the Shangri-La Hotel & Pier Shopping. Boarding is at 8:00am sharp, and the boats return at approximately 4:00-4:30pm on the last day.
Q. What days do you depart?
A. Santa Maria departs on Mondays & Fridays for 3 days/2 nights. Coral Sea Dreaming departs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for 2 days/1 night. Both boats are also available for private charters for any trip duration (min 2 days). Please enquire for private charter rates/availability.
Q. Where do you go?
A. Normally we visit the outer reefs from Cairns, approximately 45-50 KM from Cairns – reefs such as Thetford, Flynn, Milln, and Moore. Click here to view just some of our dive/snorkel sites. On occasion if there are stronger winds, we may go out to the reefs near an island, closer in to Cairns, and more sheltered in certain conditions.
Q. How many people do you take on your boats?
A. We take a maximum of just 10 passengers on both boats, along with 3 crew members, and go out on our regularly scheduled charters with a minimum of 4 passengers.
Q. How many different dive/snorkel spots will I get to go to?
A. Normally on the 3 day trip you will get to about 2-3 different reefs and 1-2 different reefs on the 2 day trip. At each of the reefs there are also many different & unique dive/snorkel locations that we move around to. We go to the best spots for the day, depending on the weather and conditions, which also help determine how many different sites we are able to visit on each trip.
Q. What about the stinging jellyfish I have heard of? Can I still go diving/snorkelling?
A. The more dangerous jellyfish (stingers) are generally not found at the outer reefs where we go. They breed in the estuaries and are found mainly on the shoreline. We provide wetsuits and/or protective Lycra suits as a precaution, at no extra charge. The “jellyfish season” is from around Nov – April, and most beaches have protective net enclosures to swim in during this time.
Q. Do you provide all of the diving and snorkelling gear?
A. Yes, we provide snorkelling gear as well as a wetsuit or Lycra suit, all at no extra charge. All of the required dive gear is included in the price of a dive. You do not need to bring any gear of your own, unless you want to (sometimes people prefer to bring their own mask/snorkel, but it’s not necessary).
Q. What if the weather is bad, do you cancel?
A. We do not cancel for rain, and normally even if it is raining in Cairns it will typically be sunny out at the reef or there may be quickly passing showers. On occasion may need to cancel a trip is there are strong winds forecasted. In the case of a cancellation due to weather, we will either give a full refund or work with you to get you booked on an alternate trip, if at all possible.
Q. What about seasickness, and will the boat move around a lot once it’s stopped?
A. If you have a tendency to get seasick or aren’t quite sure, we recommend that you visit your pharmacist and get seasickness preventative pills or something similar. We do also sell seasickness pills onboard, but tablets are a preventative and should be taken just prior to departure.
Generally the reef itself provides protection, and it is normally fairly calm out at the reef. It just depends on the winds as to what the conditions are like on the way to/from the reef. At high tide you will generally get a bit more “rolling” of the boat whilst moored up and with low tide, not as much.
Q. I am a certified diver, but my partner just wants to snorkel. Can we both enjoy your trip?
A. We offer both diving and snorkelling at all of the sites we visit, and there is never a time where you can’t participate in either activity, so it’s an ideal trip for both snorkeller and divers alike.
Q. I am certified, but have not been diving for awhile. Will someone be able to dive with me?
A. One of the 3 crew members is a Dive Instructor, who can go through a refresher with you as well as provide guided dives, if you like (it’s just an extra $5 per dive for a guided dive).
Q. I have never dived before but want to try it. Do I need to have any experience or prior certification?
A. We offer Introductory Dives, which require no prior experience or certification. The Dive Instructor will go through some theory with you as well as some exercises in the water (mask clearing, removing of the regulator) and then go down with you for a guided dive to a max depth of 12 metres. We take a maximum of just 2 Intro divers at a time on the first dive, so it is very safe and personal (most other companies take a max of 4 divers at a time).
Q. What is the minimum age to participate in an Introductory Dive?
A. 12 yrs, unless accompanied on the dive by an OW certified parent or guardian, in addition to the Dive Instructor, and then the min. age is 10 yrs.
Q. Do I need to bring a medical certificate to be able to dive?
A. Australia, and particularly Queensland, has some of the world’s strictest regulations and safety & medical standards when it comes to diving, which help to make it one of the safest places in the world to dive. You will be required to fill out a Medical Questionnaire onboard. Certain conditions automatically preclude people from participating in an Introductory Dive, without getting a Dive Medical Exam and getting a “Fit to Dive” Certificate from an Australian doctor (or one who conforms to the Australian Standard AS4005.1 Compliance). One common condition, among others, is asthma. Click here for more information and/or please ask us if you have any questions or concerns.
Q. How long do I need to wait to fly after diving?
A. It is recommended that you allow 24 hours between diving and then flying. The last possible dive normally finishes at about 11:30am on the last day. (There is no time limit required between flying and then diving).
Q. May I bring alcohol onboard?
A. Yes, we have a BYO policy (bring your own). No glass bottles are permitted (i.e. cans of beer or a cask of wine or a bottle decanted into a suitable container, etc.). Please keep in mind that we are limited for space, and there is no consumption of alcohol allowed whilst participating in water activities, so bring only small quantities, please.
Q. Is there somewhere that we may store extra luggage?
A. Yes, as space is limited, we ask that you please bring just a small overnight bag for the boat (soft backpack type, without wheels are best, if possible). If you are checking back in at the same hotel before and after the cruise, normally they will store your bags for you. If not, just pack separately for the boat, and we will take your extra ones and store them in our office for you and bring them back upon the boat’s return.
Q. Can you pick me up from my hotel/accommodation?
A. Yes, we offer transfers within the city of Cairns for an additional $10 total per booking for either a one way or return (roundtrip) transfer. Please let us know at least 24 hours ahead of time if you would like to schedule a transfer.
Q. Is there somewhere that I may park a car while I am on the boat?
A. The closest parking garage is in the underground car park at the Shangri-La Hotel/Pier Shopping. The next closest garage is near the Hilton Cairns Hotel, which is a few minutes’ walk to the marina. Both offer overnight (paid) parking.
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