The Great Barrier Reef in Northern Queensland is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1981. Due to pollution and bleaching, the reef is in a bit of trouble. When I, therefore, had the chance of snorkeling at two different locations during a snorkel safari I jumped at the chance. If I had known that there would be a storm and that the weather was going to be choppy, I might have reconsidered…. But there was no way out.
So, in this post, I will take you along my very interesting ocean safari to two different reef sites (Mackay and Undine Reefs) at the Great Barrier reef and I will show you what wonderful world lies underneath the rough ocean.
Great barrier reef snorkeling
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system, with over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometers. It beginning at the tip of Cape York Peninsula in the North of Queensland and extending down to Bundaberg in the south. The reefs are home to countless incredible ocean creatures, from sharks to Nemo fishies, they all can be found living in and around the reef.
You do not have to dive in order to see these incredible scenes. There are many amazing snorkeling tours that will allow you to experience the beauty of the reef!
The best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef is from June to October. This peak season offers some key advantages for travelers. On average the temperature hovers between 15 degrees and 26 degrees (so with a wetsuit that is doable) But because of the low rainfall, waters are ofter more clear, so you will have better snorkeling conditions.
great barrier reef tours – ABOUT OCEAN SAFARI
The Ocean Safari is run from Cape Tribulation (in the Daintree Rainforest) and offers half a day snorkeling tours. They go to two different reef sites (Mackay and Undine Reefs). In total, you swim for about 2 hours and you have the opportunity to see turtles, stingrays, lots of parrotfish and much more. It includes all snorkeling equipment and a personalized snorkel instruction
Underneath you will find the prices of the tours and some extras as per October 2019:
|Sunsuit/Wetsuit Hire||$ 8|
|Prescription Mask Hire||$ 15|
GETTING TO THE REEF
If you are planning to book this trip, then expect to go back to the basics. I am no boat expert so to describe this boat I would say it’s a rubber dingy with a hard bottom. There is a U-shaped bench at the back, which they say was less choppy than sitting at the front. There they had 4 rows of 2 seaters as well. The maximum amount of people they take on the trip is 25.
Because of the rough sea, we were given a wetsuit as well as ponchos. Which was very needed!
The trip to reef number 1 took about 45 minutes and was not fun. We had a small girl crying from fear, which was really sad.
Our first stop was Mackay Reef. You enter the reef by ‘gracefully” jumping off the boat. After a bit of a mishap with my flipper (I lost one), I was up and running. The boat docks a bit away from the reef in order to not damage it. After a couple of kicks with the flippers, I ended up over the reef.
Because the water was quite choppy, it was a bit murky! But even though the rough waves were stirring up some of the sand, I was still able to see amazing colorful coral, parrotfish, rays, clownfish, moon jellies and so many other beauties I can’t even name!
Underwater photography is not as easy as it sounds, so I hope you like the pictures I was able to get.
After about an hour’s swim, we ‘gracefully’ entered the boat by a side ladder.
The next reef, Undine Reef was only a couple of minutes from this one.
This reef is home to a couple of turtles, lots of large corals and plenty of impressive fishies. Unfortunately, I missed out on the turtles, but pretty much everyone else on the boat was able to swim with them.
I did see one, when we were on the boat, that thing was a beast! Impressive dude!
The reef at Undine is a bit deeper. Where MacKay Reef was a lot shallower so there was more sand that got disturbed by the big waves, this reef is deeper and therefore calmer. It consists of large rocks that have coral developed on them over the years.
I loved the combination of both reefs. I think if you would go to one, it might be a bit ‘boring’ by having two reefs, even though they were pretty close to each other, they were still quite different.
REVIEW OF OCEAN SAFARI
This is the second time I have travel to the Great Barrier Reef. The first time I went from Airlie beach on a full-day tour with Cruise Whitsundays. In my humble opinion, I would say that Ocean Safari is more for the adventurous traveler, this because it is so much more back to basics. You are on a small boat and don’t really have any facilities. I like that you go to two different reef sites, so you get to see different scenery after a while. I also liked that it was half a day!
However, if you like a bit of comfort and if you are a bit afraid of jumping into the ocean, then I suggest you go with a more organized tour like the one I did in Airlie beach. The boat is more luxurious and you have more facilities onboard and you even have a platoon, which makes getting into the water a lot easier.
So if you don’t need luxurious (and you can handle a bit of wave) then you can join the Ocean Safari.
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