PLAY THE DAY, YOUR WAY!
Another beautiful day to spend out on the Great Barrier Reef. If it's right on your doorstep... how can you resist?!
Experiences out on the reef can vary with many different day trip options to choose from. This time I was embarking on a different adventure to the usual reef boat. I was to visit an activity platform out at Agincourt Reef (off the coast of Port Douglas) that is stable and doesn't move... like a little island. On the platform you have a variety of activities that involve getting wet and believe it or not, even staying dry! This is a wicked option for people who are in a group or family that have different wants and needs out of their reef trip.
I drove up to Port Douglas in my little 'ole car from Cairns (a 1 hour beautiful coastal drive). This pontoon is right out on the Continental shelf (at the "drop off" if you are a Finding Nemo fan). The awesome thing with this day trip is it leaves Port Douglas Marina at 10am... woo hoo! Sleep in! This totally suits those staying in Port Douglas, on holiday and not in a rush to get anywhere. Those coming from Cairns can get Quicksilver's shuttle service (for an additional cost) departing Cairns CBD around 8am, which isn't so bad. You can drive yourself as I was as well and enjoy one of the top 10 coastal drives in Australia.
Image of the platform from above, taken from Quicksilver's website.
Image of the platform from above, taken from Quicksilver's website.
The platform from the water showing the viewing areas. Photo on the G16 hired from Calypso.
The Quicksilver fleet of boats vary in size depending on demand but are very comfortable roomy fast cats with seats indoor or out. After checking in to the Quicksilver shop at Port Douglas Marina to collect your boarding pass you make your way to the boat. There, you meet the staff and fill out the appropriate paperwork for your activities such as snorkelling or scuba diving, guided snorkel tours (advanced or beginners) Ocean Helmet Walk and scenic helicopter flights (snorkelling is included where as the rest are an additional charge).
I was to partake in the advanced snorkel tour so I was to fill out the paperwork for that, met the guides, found out were and when it starts and was ready to rock! I think I got amped too early... hold on Tara, we still have to travel out to Agincourt Reef first! Better find a seat and get settled for the ride.
Ocean Walker... great for non-swimmers. Photo by Tara Reynolds.
1.5 hours later we were at our destination... pretty darn fast! Strait away, I was in my wet suit, hire camera at the ready (thank you Calypso once again!) snorkel mask and fins in hand and rearing to get amongst that blue!
It was a cooler day and slightly choppy, I was feeling the oceans "freshness" as I descended the stairs onto the lower platform to put on my fins. Thankfully with the platform you can take your time to enter and exit the water and the seat makes it easier to put on your gear.
The advanced snorkel tour was with a Marine Biologist who is allowed to lead you outside of the pontoons designated swimming zone.....YES! This is a great option for those wanting to be a little more adventurous and explore. We hung with a Green Sea Turtle, saw loads of Nemos in their Anemones, a Giant Buffalo Parrot Fish (one of my faves), regular Parrot Fish and many more. One of my favourite moments was watching the "Farmer Joe Fish" perform his little magic trick. This fish likes to maintain a clean, clear of debris patch of sand. With our guides demonstration, she dropped a little coral on his patch. He wasn't having any of that! Swiftly the fish removed the foreign coral off his patch to the side. Hilarious!
Check out the link here to see a little video of him>>>
Up close, we held a tiny Blue Starfish, Mushroom Corals and colourful Stag Horn Coral. Our guide was informative and friendly and the tour lasted over 1 hour (us poor locals feel the cold at this time of year so that was long enough).
Advanced guided snorkel tour. Photo's by Tara Reynolds.
The sun was now out in force to thaw me out whilst I ate lunch al fresco on one of the Pontoons many deck areas. There was an abundance of food with many options to choose from... you don't go hungry that's for sure! 2 hot dishes such as a spicy beef and a spicy chick pea & vegetables stir fry served with rice along with fresh prawns, an array of salads (including rice noodle seafood salad suitable for gluten free requirements, garden, potato, coleslaw to name a few) fresh sliced fruit with cold water and cordial to drink. You can buy a beer or wine at an additional cost.Some of the many options on offer for lunch! Photo's by Tara Reynolds.
While I was snorkeling other activities were also taking place including the semi-submersible tours. After finishing lunch and a quick few photos of the pontoon and the beautiful colours of the reef it was time to board the last tour. I have been on a few semi-sub tours before at various locations and they are very good, this one was no exception. Informative friendly guide who talked on coral species, fish species and turtles. We saw 3 turtles (which never tires... the kid in me is always excited when I see one) visibility was great and the reef was in good condition. The left side of the boat tended to see more reef than my right side.... Tara's top tip is to either get a seat to yourself or sit on the left to see the most! Such a great inclusion to your day and a safe "dry" way to see what's below the surface for those not snorkeling or diving.
Once back on the platform the horn eventually sounded meaning it was already time to go, time went so fast! This is a great reef option for those not wanting an extremely long tiring day. In the 3 hours out on the platform you literally "play the day your way". You want to snorkel? Go for it! Don't want to get wet and don't swim? Check out the underwater observatory and take the semi-sub boat tour. Quicksilver's Platform is a great way to see the reef however you like it and how comfortable you feel. There is something for everyone in the family or solo person, like me!
Oh.... and one more thing... I always enjoy a little tipple on the return boat journey back to land (who doesn't?!) and as it turns out this was just the ticket for the majority of the upper back outdoor deck on this day! This boat is one of the very few that will serve you actual real wine (not goon, boxed wine) in an actual glass! That image is forever burned into my mind, seeing the people around me, glass in hand, all relaxed with a smile on their face. They were having the perfect end to their perfect day. And that alone put a big grin on my face.
Thanks to Quicksilver for having me!
For more information visit Quicksilver's website on>>>
10:00am - 5:00pm (From Port Douglas Marina)
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