Great Barrier Reef – our travel family TOP PICKS
Of course, snorkeling was the hot and fun point of our adventure in the Great Barrier Reef, but the rest of the day would spare for us spectacular experiences as well. By far the most surprising of them was the Glass Bottom Boat Tour.
We first queue for the semi-submersible tour (the queues are formed even half an hour before the scheduled times). We realize too late that we have lost precious time: semi-submersible is a boat with a half-submerged submarine, but unfortunately we have not seen too many corals or fish as we would have wanted.
Instead, the glass bottom boat increases the odds of enthusiasm and deserves all the attention. It takes us away from the pontoon, where the coral gardens are seen so close by the glass windows underneath us, that sometimes we have the impression that we will hit them and sink with everything. The captain, a kind of story pirate with long hair and a red beard, a funny and very skilled navigator, proves that we have no cause for concern.
During this tour, we see very close the great diversity of corals, pink, white, green and blue, fish in all colors and sizes, white jellyfish and huge, huge shells on the ocean bottom.
TOP PICKS – our family travel preferences during the Great Barrier Reef tour:
- The water of various turquoise nuances, pure and warm, where we snorkel and swim, with rest and exploration stations (the white squares floating);
- The different shapes and colors of living corals we have seen (over 400 types) even one meter below us in some places;
- Friendly and bold fish banks (over 1500 species) in all shapes, sizes and colors, swimming near or underneath us;
- The children’s pool on the pontoon, a place enclosed by strong nets in which the seawater and smaller fish enter; the boys adored it and had fun when we, the parents, venture out somehow further from the pontoon to explore;
- Glass Bottom Boat Tour (much better than the semi-submersible tour, in our opinion);
- Marine Life Touch Tank, a seawater tank where pontoon naturalists introduced some aquatic creatures and we could hear explanations about marine life and touch sea cucumbers, sea stars, shells etc;
- Tasty buffet lunch including shrimp, hot dishes (chicken wings, chicken curry, rice), salads and tropical fruits (but hey, who had time to eat when we had so much fun during our reef activities?);
- Free wifi aboard the ship (a great catamaran with air conditioning).
Other optional items (which we did not buy because we were already overwhelmed by the current experience but which we will certainly try out next time – God helps to be next time at the Great Barrier Reef!) are:
Seawalker Platform Helmet Diving ($ 145 per person) – You put on a helmet on your head that provides you with the oxygen you need to go on the spacious underwater platform and get in touch with the reef and underwater life. Ideal for those who do not know how to swim.
Introductory Lesson in Diving ($ 139 per person) – led and accompanied by qualified instructors.
Certified Diving ($ 89 per person) – Experienced divers can explore the reef from the stable pontoon in a variety of cool locations, quality equipment and professional instructors.
Guided snorkel safaris ($ 45 per adult, $ 30 per child) – a personalized journey deep into the Great Coral Barrier with a professional marine naturalist (this was Pablo, a cute and well-informed Spanish who also held the lesson Underwater aquatic life experience at Marine Touch Tank Experience).
Helicopter Flight ($ 160 per person) – during a 10-minute panoramic flight, you have an overview of the blue waters and the vast reef, the largest living organism on the planet.
EXTRA TIP: Reservation systems and information on the internet give this tour as a one-day tour, but we only spent about 4-4.5 hours at the reef and about 2-2.5 hours on the catamaran round trip, so about 7 hours.
If you want, you can also read the third part of the article, The Great Barrier Reef – 10 SMART TIPS, but also our experience with good and bad Cairns – a lovely tropical resort, gate to the Great Barrier Tours Of the Corals, but also to other tropical islands where we would have liked to stay, or a description of our stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Cairns.