The diving and snorkelling off the coast of Port Douglas is a world class adventure of pristine reefs and tropical fish and corals galore. The great thing about diving here is that the sites are only an hour by boat to the outer reef, making this great for day trips. Liveaboards leave from Port Douglas and head north to Lizard Island where you’ll dive some of the most beautiful and secluded dive sites on the planet.
You’ll find a few centres dotted around the town, at the marina and a couple on the main street (Macrossan Street). Look for trips to the outer reef which is home to the best diving but can be weather dependent.
There are so many different sites and amazing things to see here that you’ll have to spend a good few weeks exploring the area. The sea life is so vast that you will have a surprise around every corner. With over 2300 different animals and corals, you won’t have any trouble seeing something special. An encounter with Minke Whales is the absolute highlight.
Some of the best dives in the area are at the Agincourt Reef. With around 19 dive sites it’ll keep you busy for a while and there are walls and coral gardens to explore. Nursery Bommie is a great dive where you can see barracuda, trevally and close to bommie there are loads of reef fish, crabs, stone and scorpion fish. Other sites here include The Wreck, Three Sisters, Horseshoe Reef and the Fish Bowl.
Barracuda Pass on the Opal Reef is great for giant clams, reef sharks and the loads of barracuda in the area which is how the site got its name. If you can get to a few of the Ribbon Reefs on the outer reef then it’s well worth doing but easier access is from Lizard Island. The best are Cod Hole to get up close and personal with the huge potato cod and Pixie’s Pinnacle for a photographer’s paradise.
There are sites for all levels of divers and if you discuss your interests and certification level then your dive centre will find the best sites for you. For a special adventure then get a liveaboard 200km into the Coral Sea and dive the Bougainville or Osprey reefs for absolutely phenomenal diving.
(By Kelly Luckman)
This quaint coastal town is 70km north of Cairns and sits in the amazing Douglas Region which includes Mossman and the Daintree Rainforest. It also fronts the Great Barrier Reef and is close to Cape Tribulation, making this a magical tourist destination for your next vacation.
The closest airport is the Cairns International and you can either hire and car or get a bus from Cairns centre. Your accommodation might also be able to organise an airport transfer for you.
Accommodation is quite expensive, so if you want to spend some time here then make sure you have a good budget. Dorm beds start at $20 a night, a simple double room for two people for about $90 up to deluxe spa waterfront resorts for over $200. If there are a few of you then hiring a private house or villa is a cheap option, a lovely 3 bedroom house with swimming pool and close to the beach is about $200 shared between 6 people is $33 each.
A trip to the world’s oldest rainforest the Daintree is a must. You can even stay in the eco spa lodge here if you have a few hundred dollars spare and really get the feel of the forest. It is about 1200 square km in size and is home to over 3000 different plant species, a third of the country’s mammalian species (13 of which are endemic to the area), a quarter of Australia’s frog species, a third of fresh water fish species and almost half of the species of Australia’s bird. If wildlife is your thing then this place will dazzle you.
Most tours of the area are over $100 a person but if you hire a car you can do it all yourself. Visit Mossman town and swim at the gorge, horse ride or kayak at the beautiful Cape Tribulation, take in some of the local Aboriginal culture, take a boat cruise or a jungle night trek for a special experience. The diving and snorkelling here is world class.
WARNING!!! This area is very dangerous and it’s very important that you speak to a local guide to stay safe. Both fresh and salt water crocodiles are everywhere in the area, be aware of the signs and do not under any circumstance swim in a river or the ocean if you are not 100% sure. Stingers (jellyfish) are severe here and when in season you must wear a stinger suit in the water or you will end up in very bad shape. This area is prone to flooding in the monsoon season so stay up to date with weather conditions. Be sure to use mosquito repellent with deet as dengue fever has been known in the area.
Don’t let this stuff scare you though, just be careful and ask around for information and you will have the trip of a lifetime in this gorgeous place.
(By Kelly Luckman)