Posted on: December 17th, 2018 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
Visit the Great Barrier Reef Between June & July to Swim with Minke Whales
First recognized by scientists less than 30 years ago, the dwarf minke whale is both elusive and super friendly.
There is so much we don’t know about these whales despite their proclivity to search out human company.
Scientists don’t understand why, but these whales are extremely curious and will often spend hours swimming around snorkelers and divers, giving quite a show! They are known to follow a boat around for hours, stopping for a look at each new dive site.
When to Swim with Minke Whales
Minke whales are the most common of the great whale species, found in abundance throughout the world’s oceans. They are mostly found in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Antarctic Oceans.
They are found off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand between March and December, but the best time to see minke whales is in June and July.
Despite their wide reach, swimming with minke whales only happens in The Great Barrier Ribbon Reefs in Tropical North Queenland, Australia. The great thing about this is that minke whales in the Great Barrier Reef are very social and communicative. Expeditions out to the reef regularly report seeing multiple whales in one day!
These multi-day Liveaboard expeditions depart from Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. These expeditions visit unique reef sites each day, offering more opportunities to swim with these gentle creatures.
This is one of the only animal encounters in the world that is entirely on the animal’s own terms. When a pod is spotted, a rope is tossed into the water. Groups of up to 10 swimmers hold on to the rope and the whales can approach or leave as they like. The whales are very generous with their time and once a pod is spotted, its rare if someone on the boat misses out on the experience while waiting their turn.
Things to Know Before Swimming with Minke Whales
Being in the water with these majestic creatures is described as a life-changing experience. It’s common for people to emerge from the water crying, screaming or just plain speechless.
If you want to add this encounter to your Australia bucket list, here are a few things you should know!
1. Every Australian winter, the minke whales make their annual migration from Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef from May to August. Plan your trip between June to mid-July for the best odds of seeing a pod. Peak season is in early July.
2. This special experience might take a bit of effort and luck! Only a handful of tour operators have permits to swim with minke whales and you’re never guaranteed an encounter. Increase your odds of swimming with the genial giants by taking a 3-7 night Liveaboard Excursion. In June and July, you’ll have a 98% chance of encountering the whales. It is recommend that you pre-book your excursion.
3. If you’re not keen on spending nights at sea, you can take a day-trip out of Port Douglas. These day-trips have an encounter rate of about 18%. This decreases your odds quite a bit, but if you do encounter them, you will feel as though you won the lottery! Either way it’s an amazing day out on the Great Barrier Reef. These day-trips often give discounts for multiple days out on the boat and they usually end up at different dive sites each day. So, you could stay a few nights in lovely Port Douglas and increase your odds by taking multiple trips out to the reef without feeling like you’re doing the same thing every day.
4. If you go in July, you might even have a chance to see and/or swim with Humpback whales too!
5. You can contribute directly to ongoing research including photo-identification, behavior research and conservation efforts from your minke whale encounter.
6. Dwarf minke whales are the smallest of the baleen whales. Like Humpback whales, they have no teeth, but a series of baleen plates that they use to trap and filter the food krill.
7. There is still much to be learned about these whales. For example, they have never been seen feeding on the Great Barrier Reef so it is assumed that they feed in Open Ocean while in the tropics, but no one really knows!
8. They are one of the fastest whales. They can travel at speeds greater than 20 knots or about 23 miles per hour.
9. Minke whales seem to prefer snorkelers to divers. They tend to get closer to and hang around longer when humans are not wearing large air tanks.
Want a chance to cross this amazing experience off your Bucket List? Visit Australia with the help of a Destination Specialist at About Australia. We can make your once in a lifetime trip Down Under fun and easy!
Posted on: April 4th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
Forever a huge draw to Australia, seeing the Great Barrier Reef never fails to inspire a huge rush of emotions.
As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the reef is on the bucket list for nature-lovers and travelers alike.
But what is seeing the reef really like?
Are the colors and marine life as vibrant as you see in the postcards?
Is the reef still quite a sight to see?
Our clients weigh in on their Great Barrier Reef experience – and some unexpected surprises.
“We loved the helicopter ride at the reef because it gave us a feel for how large the reef is.”
Photo by: Sheri Hardin
With a scenic helicopter ride over the reef, Sheri Hardin was able to take in the immense size of the reef from a different perspective.
When you’re snorkeling up close to intricate coral gardens and gazing at the colors around you, it’s easy to forget the enormous size of the reef.
Made up of over 900 islands stretching over 1,600 miles along the coast of Queensland, the reef is approximately the same area size as Japan – and visible from outer space!
This means no two spots of the reef are the same – the marine and reef life in the northern part of the reef is different to that in the south.
But the reef takes on an entirely different look when gazed at from above.
The tantalizing blue waters of the reef blend into almost luminescent shades of turquoise – truly breathtaking to behold.
“I did not know snuba was available but was happy it was. It’s like scuba diving but you pull your tank above you.”
Sheri Hardin snuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns
Fascinated with the reef by air, Sheri wanted to go beyond snorkeling to get as up close to the reef as possible.
From glass bottom boats to semi-submersibles, she could easily see the reef without even dipping a toe in the water.
But Sheri felt a little courageous. Though scuba diving seemed daunting, she found the perfect balance with snuba.
With the help of marine biologists, tourism operators are always coming up with new, safe ways to see the reef.
One of these new ways rapidly gaining popularity is snuba, a perfect combination of snorkeling and scuba diving.
After strapping on her snorkeling gear, a snuba harness and light weight belt, Sheri was ready to go.
Breathing from a scuba mouthpiece through a long air line attached to a floating air tank, she explored the reef with ultimate freedom.
No need to come up for air, no heavy equipment weighing her down. No diving experience necessary and easier than snorkeling.
The best part was seeing those hidden sea creatures easily missed by snorkelers!
“The Barrier Reef was great…We were thrilled!”
Barbara McHuron on a helmet dive at the Great Barrier Reef
Although Barbara McHuron is terrified of the water, she was determined to see the reef in its full glory.
Glass bottom boats and semi-submersibles wouldn’t cut it.
After taking swimming lessons just for this trip to the reef, she was ready for a helmet dive.
Another fantastic way for non-swimmers to see the reef, helmet dives allow you to breath normally while walking among the fish and corals.
Once the crew secured the diving helmet on her, Barbara walked down the ramp steps to an underwater reef platform.
She was immediately greeted by curious fish as fascinated with her helmet as she was by them.
“Our favorite moment was when the crew did a fish feeding and the bigger fish came up to the barge.”
On her Great Barrier Reef excursion, Haley Olson and her husband were given stinger suits for protection.
Stinger season was approaching, and it’s much better to be safe than sorry.
This turned out to be a good call after all, as they caught glimpses of jellyfish floating by.
But with the impenetrable protection of their stinger suits and the abundance of marine life in the water below, they quickly forgot about these stingers.
With colorful tropical fish of different sizes and incredible coral formations, it’s easy to get lost in the underwater wonderland of the reef.
Even more amazing is when a gigantic blue fish swims up to you and refuses to leave until you pet him.
Who knew fish could be so social?
On the Great Eight list of the Great Barrier Reef, the curious Humphead or Maori Wrasse fish is known to swim right up to snorkelers and divers.
This large blue fish grows up to 6 feet in length and weighs up to 400 pounds – quite the friendly giant!
Excursions out to the reef often include a fish feeding. Among the hungry frequenters is a Maori wrasse, charming Haley with its friendliness and dazzling shades of blue and green.
“I immediately came back up from the water and cried!”
Photo Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland/Fabrice Jaine
After donning on her fins and snorkel mask, Gretchen Ibarra carefully lowered herself into the water from the reef pontoon. She couldn’t see any coral at first, as there was something blocking her view.
A giant, curious manta ray had made its way close to Gretchen for a quick ‘hello!’
Gazing at the manta ray for a few moments, she rushed back to the water’s surface, eyes filling with tears.
The crew immediately congratulated her – this was a moment many people only dream about.
Also slated as one of the Great Eight of the Great Barrier Reef, these majestic and harmless creatures are big bucket list items for snorkelers and divers. As shy creatures that keep mostly to themselves, manta rays remain a bit of a mystery.
With a wingspan of up to 22 feet, seeing these creatures up close is an incredible experience you just have to see to believe. It’s like seeing a small car just glide past you underwater!
You’ll find manta rays hanging out in the waters of Lady Elliot Island, Osprey Reef, Heron Island and Lady Musgrove Island. The best time to see them is during the Australian winter months in May and June.
“A lot of people say the Reef is dead, but that’s not true. The locals say it is on a slow recovery right now and is still quite the sight to see!”
Nicholas Culhane posing with a sea turtle.
Any fears Nicholas Culhane felt on his first diving trip were quelled by the extremely knowledgeable and outgoing crew onboard. His comfort was their utmost priority.
And as often happens – after his first dive, Nicholas couldn’t get enough.
But nothing could prepare him for the exhilarating rush when a sea turtle and 5-foot long reef shark joined him on a swim!
From parrotfish to clownfish to giant clams and reef sharks, the marine life he saw on the outer reef was plentiful and thriving.
More than 1,500 species of fish, over 300 species of molluscs, 30 species of whales and six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles call this reef their home.
Despite recent coral bleaching events affecting coral systems around the globe, the reef remains one of the healthiest and most protected reefs in the world.
Standard excursions out to the reef are joined by marine biologists who provide a wealth of information regarding the health of the reef and marine life.
In fact, tourism operators play an important role in managing its recovery and helping visitors learn about the reef.
Ready to See the Great Barrier Reef?
Arguably Australia’s most precious natural asset, the Great Barrier Reef is a must for any traveler visiting from around the world.
No matter the kind of person you are – whether you’re terrified of the water or can’t get enough – there’s a way to see the reef perfect just for you.
Glorious and packing unexpected surprises, the unparalleled diversity and natural beauty of the reef awaits.
Posted on: March 15th, 2017 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
The Great Barrier Reef is a mind blowing natural wonder. It’s truly one of the best places to visit in Australia. It spans over 1,200 miles and harbors one of the richest ecosystems on the planet with over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands scattered along its expanse. If you’re traveling all the way to Australia, you’ll want to visit the Great Barrier Reef in all its glory. This amazing video produced by David Attenborough gives you an idea of what it’s like to explore the reef, but nothing can really do it justice. It’s one of those things you have to see for yourself.
There are a multitude of ways you can launch your reef adventure. Take the traditional route and dive or snorkel the reef, or stay dry on a glass bottom boat, scenic flight or adventurous sail. Maybe even find a more unique way to explore the reef on your own terms. Read more for your guide on exploring the Great Barrier Reef.
Snorkeling and diving
Don your mask and fins and get up close to the dazzling kaleidoscope of corals, sea turtles, rays, sharks and tropical fish of every color. Snorkeling is the cheapest and most popular way to have an aquatic adventure you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
A Day Trip on a Reef Cruise
One of the best ways to dive or snorkel the reef is to hop aboard a boat excursion. These are great because they take you out to 2 or 3 exclusive dive sites along the outer reef. All boats offer snorkeling, most offer diving for certified divers and a few even offer introductory dives for those who want to try out diving for the first time on the reef. Our favorite operators depart from Cairns and Port Douglas. If you want to make it out to famous dive sites like the Ribbon Reefs on a day-trip, you have to depart from Port Douglas. It’s a great town to stay in, but only a short transfer if you’re staying Cairns. These full day excursions tend to include lunch, snacks, snorkel gear, lycra suits and a guided snorkel tour with a dive master. Scuba diving and gear brings additional costs. Different boats offer different experiences. Some take you out to a single location with hundreds of other people, some offer a more exclusive experience and others go farther out into more remote locations to cater to the more experienced. Talk to an About Australia Destination Specialist to select the right one for you.
The best diving sites are located further from the mainland. Famous dive sites like The Ribbon Reefs with Cod Hole are best encountered on a 3 day Liveaboard. If you want to dive both the Ribbon Reefs and the remote and amazing North Horn at Osprey Reef, you’ll need to take a Liveaboard for at least a week. For the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience, embark on a 14-Day expedition. During these trips, you can swim with Minke whales (June-July), see Humpbacks (August – October), dive during a shark feed (totally safe, we swear!) and visit some of the most immaculate coral reefs in the world.
Liveaboards generally only offer diving to certified divers, but snorkelers are often welcomed at a discounted rate. Snorkelers on Liveabaords are normally accompanying their diving partners. We wouldn’t recommend it otherwise. There are usually only a few dive sites that will work well for a snorkeler on a 3-7 day liveaboard trip.
For astonishing diving or snorkeling, consider staying on a Great Barrier Reef island. Our favorites are Heron Island, Lizard Island, Elliot Island, Fraser Island, Hamilton Island, and Orpheus Island. Famous diver and documentarian, David Attenborough, has named Heron Island and Elliot Island as a few of his favorite dive sites. So, you’ll be in good company! A stay at most of these islands offer the added bonus of enjoying an all-inclusive resort. Most offer free use of snorkeling gear and motorized dinghies. From these islands, a diver easily take a short boat ride with a small group to a number of amazing dive sites. Snorkelers can see the reef right off the beach or venture further on their own reef bound boat. Your About Australia Destination Specialist can find you the best deal possible.
Luxury Snorkeling Experiences
If you really want to treat yourself, try out a day-cruise or luxury catamaran tour in the Whitsundays. These small group tours offer exclusivity and comfort all while sailing around some of the most beautiful islands in the world. The ship will drop anchor and you’ll jump into the turquoise water to snorkel among the big sea turtles, anemone and schools of colorful fish. Most excursions around the Whitsunday Islands include a visit to the famous Whitehaven Beach. This long white-sanded beach stretches over four miles along the coast of Whitsunday Island. Unlike most beaches, Whitehaven is made up of 98% pure silica which gives it a bright snow-like complexion. The sand is a fine grain with a soft velvety feel. It also doesn’t retain heat very well, so you won’t burn your bare feet on bright sunny days. It’s the most photographed beach in Australia. You can clearly see why.
See the Reef without Getting Wet
If swimming isn’t your thing, you can still see the Great Barrier Reef without submerging into the depths of the South Pacific.
Glass Bottom Boats
Glass bottom boat tours are a great way to admire the underwater beauty of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Most boats are designed to accommodate as many people as possible while still allowing everyone a clear view of the tropical life thriving below them. Some boats come with tour guides who provide detailed descriptions of the different type of coral and marine life. If you have the opportunity, take a night tour to see the coral really come to life after dark. There are great glass bottom boat tours operating out of Airlie Beach, Cairns and Port Douglas. Some also offer scuba diving and snorkeling excursions which makes them a perfect option for mixed company.
Reef HQ Aquarium
Reef HQ houses the largest living coral reef aquarium. The building itself is quite small when compared to other aquariums, but the live ecosystem sets it apart from other aquariums you’ve seen. It’s a great introduction to the reef as friendly guides explain about the reef in an educational and entertaining manner. Be sure to stop by the turtle hospital.
Fly Over the Reef
Behold the sheer magnitude of the Great Barrier Reef by taking to the sky and seeing the reef from above. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to fly over the reef while on your Australia vacation. From the Whitsunday Islands, you can take a flight out to Hardy Reef to snorkel, hang out in a semi-submersible, check out the underwater observatory or chill on the deck and get a massage. After, take the scenic view and fly over Heart Reef. Or skip Hardy Reef and soar over the heart of the Great Barrier Reef from any one of the Whitsunday Island resorts. Helicopter rides and scenic flights are also available from Cairns and Port Douglas. Stay at a resort like Lizard Island or Orpheus Island and a low-level flight over the reef is par for the course. You’ll be awed by the stunning beauty of the maze of reefs weaved together to form this natural wonder.
If you fancy yourself an angler, fishing on the reef is a must. Cairns and the Ribbon Reefs are probably best known for trophy black marlin fishing. About 30-50 miles off the coast lies a very special stretch of ocean called “Marlin Mecca” where more “granders” (100lbs or more) are taken than all the other combined fishing water in the world. Billfishing aficionados can try their hand at catching the big one every year late September through December. Lizard Island is the only land-based operation that offers access to “Marlin Mecca”.
There is also great light tackle fishing on select areas of the reef. Take a charter from Cairns or stay on a Great Barrier Reef Island for access to nearly every species of Pacific game inhabiting the ocean just adjacent to the reef and the continental shelf. It’s a great experience for fishing enthusiasts, offering some of the fastest game-fishing in the world.
Unique Reef Experiences
Looking for something a little more “out-of-the-box”? Maybe you aren’t a very good swimmer but you really want to explore the reef. Try one of these awesome tours.
Seawalking/ Helmet Diving
A helmet dive is a perfect way for non-swimmers to explore the reef like pro divers. It’s quick and easy too. You start with a quick briefing. Then, you’ll don a large space-suit type helmet and you’re ready to go. A guide will take down about 6 people at a time. Jump into the water and hold on to metal tubing as your guide takes you around the ocean floor. You’ll be completely surrounded by colorful fish and coral and you won’t even get your hair wet. Children as young as 12 can participate, so it’s great for families. You can embark on this unique diving experience from Cairns or Port Douglas.
Another great option for people who don’t want to scuba dive the reef is a tiny 3-person submarine. Two people, guided by an experienced pilot can explore the underwater world of the beautiful coral and exotic marine creatures without traditional scuba gear or training. Tours depart from Fitzroy Island, just a 45 minute boat ride from Cairns. There is always a safety diver trailing the sub while your experienced diver and submarine pilot doubles as a tour guide, providing vivid descriptions of the surrounding sea life and corals. This is a really fun and super safe way to see the Great Barrier Reef!
Are you ready to start planning your visit to the Great Barrier Reef? Check out some of our Great Barrier Reef Deals below, request a custom vacation quote or phone us toll free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).
Posted on: September 21st, 2015 by Melissa Maxwell No Comments
Add these to your SCUBA Diving Bucket List
From the Great Barrier Reef in the east to the majestic whale sharks in the west, this list of the best underwater experiences in Australia will have you itching to get down under for an amazing dive adventure. Lucky for you, there’s never been a better time book a trip to Australia.
Dive the Great Barrier Reef
There’s no way around it. If you’re a diver, the Great Barrier Reef needs to be on your bucket list. It’s the biggest reef system in the world with over 2,900 reefs and 900 islands stretching 1,429 miles. That’s massive! It’s filled with nonstop underwater action and is perfect for divers of all levels. It’s overflowing with all manner of aquatic life; 380 species of coral, over 2,000 species of fish, 4,000 species of mollusks, 500 species of seaweed and 6 of the 7 kinds of sea turtles.
Stand where the reef meets the rainforest
Ok, so it’s not an underwater experience, but it’s worth a mention! Australia is home to the only place in the world where Two World Heritage Sites meet. The Great Barrier Reef meets up with the Wet Tropics of North Queensland, a group of rainforests with the highest concentration of primitive flowers plant families in the world, at Cape Tribulation and the Daintree rainforest. This majestic site offers a glance into what the world was like when dinosaurs roamed the earth. (Along with really great diving close by!)
Dive Ribbon Reefs
Just outside of Cairns, in the northern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll find the Ribbon Reefs. The ten reefs, simply named Ribbon Reef 1 through Ribbon Reef 10, stretch for more than 50 miles along the edge of the continental self and offer legendary diving for all levels of experience. There’s even really great snorkeling!
As you explore the Ribbon Reefs you are also likely to find everything from large Maori wrasse to leopard morays, playing clownfish to large aggregations of batfish, bommie to whitetip reef sharks, and uncountable species of anemonefish.
Dive in June or July and you’re almost guaranteed to swim with a Minke whale.
Some great dive sites include: Challenger Bay, Steve’s Bommie, Acropolis, Cod Hole, Lighthouse Bommie and Snake Pit.
Come Face to Face with a Giant Potato Cod
Found in “Cod Hole” (Ribbon Reef #10) these giant grouper are extremely friendly and accustom to being hand fed. Find them off the coast of Cairns, Australia or Lizard Island on the North End of the Great Barrier Reef.
Take a Live-aboard out to North Horn, Osprey Reef for an amazing shark frenzy experience. The North Horn of Osprey reef is a unique diving landscape with the reef starting 16 feet below the surface, sloping to 131 feet and then making a vertical drop to around 1,312 feet. It feels like an oasis of life in the middle of a desolate sea and deep sea creatures are known to stop by for a visit. It’s a place where 2 ocean currents converge and a place famous for it’s shark dives.
Silvertips, grey reefs, grey whalers, white tips and even hammerheads come to the site for an easy meal. When the dive operators drop the bucket, the intensity of the free-for-all reaches a fiver pitch. The sharks are accustomed to this feed and ignore the divers as they tear into their meal. You’ll get a nice adrenaline rush, without much actual danger.
Selfie with a Maori Wrasse (Humphead Wrasse)
This large personable fish can be found on reef slopes and lagoon reefs on The Great Barrier Reef. They are one of the few fish that eat the reef’s toxic arch enemies. With their large lips, comical eyes and friendly personalities they make great selfie buddies!
Swim with Sea Turtles
Swimming with sea turtles is a dream come true for many divers. The Great Barrier Reef is home to 6 of the 7 species of turtles in the world. One of the best places to swim with sea turtles (Green and Loggerhead) is from Heron Island. The reef surrounding Heron Island is also home to around 60% of the 1,500 species of fish and 72% of the coral species found on the Great Barrier Reef.
Visit November – March for turtle breeding season.
Dive the Great Barrier Reef and you are almost guaranteed to find him.
Swim with whale sharks, Ningaloo Reef
You don’t even have to be a diver for this one but an Australian aquatic wish list wouldn’t be complete without the majestic whale shark. Don’t worry, whale sharks don’t have teeth. For this amazing experience head to Ningaloo Reef on the Coral Coast in Western Australia between mid-March and the end of July. Not only will you swim with the whale sharks, but you’ll see an abundance of reef life such as manta rays, dolphins and turtles.
Spot a Dugong
The seawater cousin of the manatee, the Dugong or sea cow can be found on the Coral Coast of Australia. Shark Bay and Ningaloo marine parks supports about 10% of the world’s population.
Cage Dive with Great White Sharks
You won’t find Great Whites on the Great Barrier Reef so the adventurous types should head to Port Lincoln in South Australia to catch a charter and cage dive with the sharks. The pristine waters off Neptune Islands make it one of best places to see sharks in their natural habitat. The cages keep you from becoming dinner.
Scuba with a Leafy Sea Dragon
These interesting creatures can be found hiding in the kelp leaves and seaweed off the coast of southern and eastern Australia. Many divers travel to Australia only to find that the leafy sea creatures are tough to spot. Make sure to ask your destination specialist about the best places and times to see the elusive Leafy Sea Dragon.
Traveling to Australia for a dive trip is on nearly every diver’s Bucket List. Have you had the opportunity to experience it?
Luckily, there’s never been a better time to travel to Australia.
Posted on: August 18th, 2015 by Lexie Cargile No Comments
Are you looking to soak up the sun on warm, salty beaches or go “under the sea” for some incredible scuba diving? Australia lends itself to some of the best scuba diving in the world. With over 27,000 beaches and being home to the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef, it’s not surprising it’s a scuba divers and beach lover’s dream destination; the crystal clear waters are magnificently mysterious and provide out-of-this-world experiences. We have compiled a list of top Australia vacation spots, and the most popular and iconic beaches & dive locations; no matter your diving background, there are quintessential locations for everyone to explore.
The northeast region of Queensland yields the most diversity for travelers. Queensland is home to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Heron Island, Lizard Island and Brisbane, making it an ideal region for those looking to combine the best beaches, scuba diving, and a touch of urban culture.
The Great Barrier Reef is the most iconic scuba diving and snorkeling location in the world. The reef is surrounded by 900 islands and spans across 1,400 miles, roughly the size of 70 million football fields. You will come face-to-face with the world’s most unique and vibrant aquatic life.
Heron Island, one of the reef’s luxury resorts, allows you to fully experience the tranquility of the reef and all of its wonders. The leisurely island experience focuses on exploring the beauty of nature and leaving the hectic outside world behind.
Lizard Island, an exclusive Great Barrier Reef resort, accessible only by plane, is located directly on the reef. It is perfectly secluded from the world with private beaches you can unwind on and escape the “touristy” areas of the reef, as well as indulge in private, luxury spa treatments and 5-Star cuisine
True or False? Great White Sharks can be found on the Great Barrier Reef. FALSE. The reef’s waters are too warm and shallow for Great Whites; the most common shark found on the reef is a reef shark. These smaller sharks are extremely docile due to the warmer waters and the large amount of fish in the area, leaving you with nothing to worry about.
Cairns, the closest mainland entrance to the reef, is a tourism powerhouse with pristine beaches and an array of activities. PADI also rates Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef as sites for the World’s Best Big Animal Dives. In addition to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns also has the World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest, where you can embark on an award winning Skyrail Cableway tour across the rainforest and national parks for the “world’s most beautiful rainforest experience.” You can choose from over 600 tours a day, including: guided reef walks, scenic helicopter flights, glass-bottom boat & submarine tours, beach adventures, and fishing & sailing.
If you’re looking for a really authentic scuba dive experience, Cairns has various liveaboard divetrip operators that venture across the reef’s greatest dive spots for 2-7 days, where you can dive or snorkel between breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday.
Port Douglas & Cape Tribulation are the perfect mixture of beach and scuba diving. You are still close enough to the Great Barrier Reef to scuba dive at your leisure, but far enough away from everything where you can lay out on white, sandy beaches and relax without the hustle and bustle of an urban city. Cape Tribulation is the only place in the world where two Natural Wonders of the World meet – the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest.
Brisbane serves as a hub of Australian experiences for those with a short amount of time, and also provides easy access to the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast & Hinterland- breathtaking beaches, adventure theme parks, the Australia Zoo (home of the Crocodile Hunter) and incredible rainforests. While in Brisbane you can explore the South Bank Parklands – a great place to take the kiddos, lay out at Kodak Beach – Australia’s largest man-made inland beach/pool, ride a “River Cat” (ferry) across the rivers, and shop ‘til you drop at the Brisbane Mall.
Sydney, located in New South Wales, is Australia’s number one travel destination. It is worldly famous for the Sydney Harbor, the Sydney Opera House, and some of the highest rated beaches in the world; our two favorites include Manly Beach & Bondi Beach. The critically acclaimed beaches are the perfect sandy getaway with views that stretch as far as the eye can see, and offer world-class surfing, friendly locals, an incredible seafood.
Port Lincoln, also known as the “Sea Food Capitol of Australia,” sits along the shore of the Boston Bay in South Australia and is a thrill-seekers paradise. You will have the opportunity to swim with sea lions & tuna, go game fishing, or take the plunge, if you dare, and cage dive with Great White Sharks. Unwind after all of the excitement with some retail therapy at one of the countless boutiques, or dine in at one of the exquisite restaurants.
Kangaroo Island, another South Australian treasure, is home to the extremely unique leafy sea dragon which can ONLY be found in Australia; it is a scuba-divers dream to dive with something so rare and fascinating. In addition to Australia’s favorite land animals – kangaroos, sea lions, and koalas -all these remarkable creatures are what make Kangaroo Island special. You can marvel at these Aussie natives in their natural habitat and explore the wonderment that Kangaroo Island holds, above and below the water.
Ningaloo Reef is located along the coast of Western Australia, and is a World Heritage Listed site. You’re able to dive with whale sharks (seasonal), snorkel through incredible coral lagoons, and watch dolphins, manta rays and humpback whales migrate (seasonal). You can explore several different national parks as well as off-road through sand dunes – another great stop on an adventure travelers bucket-list.
Australia has over 27,000 beaches – that’s a new one to visit everyday for 27 years. We’ve made it easy on you and listed the top 5: White Haven Beach, Turqoise Bay, Cable Beach, Burleigh Heads Beach, and Manly Beach. For a full list of the best beaches in Australia click here.
Similarly, Australia has just as many fantastic dive and snorkel sites, the top 5 include: Cod Hole on the Great Barrier Reef, Flinders Reef, Fish Rock Cave, Lord Howe Island, and Ningaloo Reef.
Annual seasonal events among these locations include: turtle watching, whale watching, festivals & events, and birding which add a little bit of special Australian culture to your adventure. We can accommodate to include any of these seasonal events to personalize your trip even more.
or Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-3592877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).
About Australia Reviews
Rating of Average of 4.88 on a total of 51 Ratings
Down under was above expectations!
Thanks, Darin, for the wonderful trip you designed for us in Australia. We had a blast! The hotels were right in the middle of things, the tours were amazing and first class, and if I needed advice you were right there for me. I would not have been able to plan this trip without you because you had been to Australia and you knew just where to send me, and in the style I wanted.
Great value for the price
The paper work including what to do pre trip was great, Australia is a long way so Ana extended my return an extra 10 days so I could have more time with son and visit Tasmania. For my return next year I plan on using their services .
Best Vacation Ever
Everything was perfect for our trip. Everything I wanted to see and the package Chris put together was perfect. It was action packed but got to see everything we wanted to see. Working with About Australia was smooth and an easy process. Chris spend a lot of time putting the package together and we couldn't be more pleased. All the hotels were in great locations for us to visit the sites. C(...)
Sunset Camel ride
Making dreams come true. My trip to Australia was amazing and worry free
knowing About Australia had made all the arrangements for an adventure of a lifetime
Thanks a million
Australia was amazing!
Marissa really helped us plan the perfect vacation. She was always available by phone or email, even sometimes after hours. I had a lot of questions and made some changes, and she was very accommodating. We were visiting our son who is attending the University of Newcastle for a semester. We stayed in Sydney and Newcastle during our trip. Some of our favorite things were the sunset cruis(...)
Too Much Continent and Too Little Time
The trip was incredible. People were unbelievably friendly. Enjoyed the peaceful serenity of Port Douglas. Am very glad we opted for Douglas instead of Cairns. Meridian Hotel was great. Four Mile beach is a must see (sunrise is fantastic) and be sure to climb Flagstaff Hill. Great Barrier Reef trip was ok, but opting not to go into the water was a mistake. Be sure you can tread water or(...)
Fantastic Honeymoon! About Australia took care of everything, all we had to do was have fun!
We really enjoyed the tours that we were scheduled for. The guides on all the tours were excellent, they were all knowledgeable, a lot of fun, we enjoyed chatting with everybody.
Great Knowledge and Execution Made for a Great trip
My husband and I heartily recommend About Australia. Although I had done a great deal of research myself, it was wonderful to have these pros take over the details of day trips, accommodations, flights, transfers, and car rental. They put us in hotels that were wonderfully located but met our budget requirements. All three weeks of our Aussie adventure came off without a hitch.
This trip was AWESOME and exceeded my expectations!
Going to Australia and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef has been #1 on my "Bucket List" since I can remember! All the stars fell in line this year, so we decided, "This is it...we're going!"
About Australia came highly recommended to us by some friends who LOVE Australia (and are going again with them next year for the 5th time!!), so we contacted them to check them out and get the bal(...)
Amazing vacation! Bucket list trip!
Chris was great at helping me plan my trip to visit my daughter in Australia while she was studying abroad. We had 2 weeks and a tight budget! He was great at accommodating me. We decided on Cairns, Sydney and Melbourne. The only hiccup was the transfer from Melbourne airport to hotel. The company called con-x-ion (I think that’s how it’s spelled) had the smelliest van I have ever been in. Th(...)
About Australia was amazing to work with making this a vacation of a lifetime! I would highly recommend their services to anyone wanting to travel to Australia. The itinerary was great. The hotels we stayed in were not only wonderful, but were located in super convenient in relation to exploring the cities we were in. Any questions or concerns i had were immediately addressed. Customer servic(...)
Being "Down Under" was a top experience!
Ana did a great job! In less than 3 weeks we saw the top spots ob Australia's south, middle and north. Everything was well organized, just showing the voucher and we could pass.
Mindi van Gemeren
Best trip ever
My daughter and I had an amazing time Down Under thanks to About Australia. Our hotels were wonderful and located perfectly in order to explore more of the cities we were visiting. All of the recommendations before we left were extremely helpful. It made a last minute trip into a relaxing vacation.
David & Judy Dunn
Celebrating a two decade anniversary in Australia
We engaged with About Australia (Darin Hendry) nine months ago for a recommendation on an itinerary for a first time visit and 20th anniversary trip to Australia.
From the beginning the guidance, interaction and ultimate proposal was spot on.
The 2-week journey offered an exceptional variety of terrain, climate and experiences. First stop the Tablelands, rainforest, then beach town, the(...)
Robert & Jo-An Ferris
About Australia (Joanne) did a great job working with us and customizing our trip. It was what we wanted. We certainly saw the bush and outback several times. We found animals in the wild besides at sanctuaries and Steve Irwins Zoo. We believe we saw the real Australia and not just cities. The train trips were what we expected and then some. When they stopped and let us off it was very (...)
Recent Australian trip was an excellent adventure!
The trip of a lifetime for us. All the arrangements worked out beautifully. The accommodations were excellent. All the transportation arrangements happened as expected and we were extremely pleased. Loved all the included tours and those that we chose to do on our own. One day at the Great Barrier Reef, the next at the Rainforest. We especially loved the city of Cairns. Truly one of the best(...)
Overall A Positive Experience
Booking through About Australia made the trip very easy. It was nice not to worry about finding accommodations and flights and they provided good recommendations for each location. I would use the service again. I did feel that we spent too much time in some places and not enough in others, but that likely kept flight costs down.
My only concerns were that two of the accommodations didn't (...)
About Australia made it easy to plan our trip to Australia and included everything we needed, ensuring we did not miss any of the most popular attractions. We absolutely loved our trip and are already talking about going back.
We have traveled all over the world. Never have we had a trip so well planned. By the third day, we were checking our itinerary and asking ourselves, “what’s the next adventure?” Everything went like clockwork. Hotels, flights, transfers, tours, all were on time and more than we expected. Our only disappointment was having to come home when it was over. Thank you, About Australia, for plannin(...)
Linda and David Cole
We had a fantastic experience. Knowing it may be our one and only chance to see down under, we squeezed in as much as possible in 2 weeks. We went to Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland (Tasmania) and New Zealand. The flights, tours and all airport/hotel connections all went off without a hitch. We scheduled many tours but our favorites were the Feeding Frenzy at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Tasman(...)
This trip was amazing!!!
Tyler planned an amazing trip to Australia and New Zealand! Everything went smooth from the time we left Newark until we landed back home in Newark. The flights were great, the transfers went smooth, the accommodations were lovely and the excursions were awesome!! Any issues we had were out of everyone’s control and handled appropriately
I would recommend About Australia to anyone who (...)
Such a well rounded first class adventure
Virgin Australia made the lengthy flight enjoyable.The hotel, Breakfree, was in the heart of town, spacious clean comfortable room and front desk staff bent over backwards to assist us with all kinds of requests. The tours were informative and fun. We had time to do a few things on our own, like having dinner at the top of Sydney tower our last night. On the Blue Mountain tour, we even had an(...)
Mark Williams by
Thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
Wonderful trip!! Just two issues.
In cairns our pickup to airport for trip to sydney was not organized well. The driver picked us up too late and had 6 additional stops! Claudia and I ran to checkin and there was a long line. So she went to priority and I went to service desk. The service desk checked us in. We were lucky to make the flight due to our quick thinking. Also, we were not that pleased with the location of (...)
Overall, everything was good
Accommadations were excellent except at the Short Stay Apartments where we were required to walk to another of ther properties— The Australis—which was quite difficult for us to get to with all our luggage. I think it was the one at Kangaroo Island that also wasn’t a good experience because of having to climb 2 flights of stairs to get to the room. The trip to the Great Barrier Reef on the Qu(...)
This was the best trip of my life hands down. I was afraid that since I was saving so much money I would be getting a lesser quality trip, but I was pleasantly surprised!
It was amazing,
It was amazing, the experience was well worth the cost.
Awesome trip, can’t wait to do another!
Absolutely Fabulous! Highly Recommend!
The entire experience was amazing! From booking in the short time we had, to the surprise of such a great value and then when we were there, we could not believe how wonderful everything was...from the hotels, to the excursions to the flight and transfers. Absolutely flawless, best value and would highly recommend Marissa and About Australia again! Thank you so much for a wonderful experience!
Had a great time. Perfectly Scheduled, not great Hotels. Glad we didn't stay in Cairns 4 nights.
We had a great time, everything happened as planned. No issues there.
The hotel in BroadBeach was great. Hotel in Cairns was old but do able. The hotel in Sydney was not good.
Luckily we changed the plan to stay 3 nights in Cairns and 3 nights in Sydney instead of 4 nights in Cairns. That would have been a big mistake. 2 nights in Cairns would have been enough.
We added a Blue Mou(...)
We had a great first time trip to Australia. Darin and About Australia were great to work with. The sites we visited were fantastic. The hotels were excellent. The day trips and operators were first tier. Everything about the trip went smooth and was above expectations. Well Done!
Chris & Angie England
It was am amazing trip that covered a lot of the country. Only regret was we were running out of time and would have liked to spent more time in each location. Do your study before you go, the instructions in the voucher help but the little things you can miss make it important to study and plan.
This was my first time using About Australia and I was extremely happy with their services. They did an excellent job. Everything was just perfect. The transportation, the hotels, the locations was all spot on. My sisters and I were very pleased. I highly recommend anyone visiting Australia and New Zealand to use About Australia. Thank you so much Marissa for everything you did to make our va(...)
A trip of a lifetime!
What an amazing experience. The accommodations and extra excursions we did were wonderful. The only thing I would have changed was I wished we had a little more time in Sydney (it was more like a very long layover rather than a visit to the city). Ana was wonderful and helped us plan a trip I will always treasure!
Enjoyed the trip!
We really enjoyed our Australia vacation, especially our visits to Sydney, Melbourne, and Port Douglas. Everything went smoothly - no problems with travel arrangements, and the accommodations were comfortable and spacious. Our snorkel/scuba trip to the Great Barrier Reef was wonderful. Thanks to About Australia for helping us plan the trip of a lifetime!
It was amazing
Really wonderful trip. Everything was arranged ahead of time. All hotels were great. The tours were lovely, including the optional daintree dreaming tour. Well, well worth the money
Great Ocean Road
A most excellent vacation as a result of working with Marissa Stroud! Perfect accommodations, wonderful tours, and accommodating flights with Virgin Australia.
Everything and more
About Australia and About New Zealand planned our honeymoon amazingly! From listening to the activities we desired to do while there, to ensuring those happened, and arranging all our flights and accommodations, About Australia was great to work with. Our visas were secured and all our travel documentation was provided, which made traveling a breeze! And we had a lot of traveling to do in the(...)
It was an awesome vacation except for the 24 hours of traveling(LOL).
The hotels were great but made you pay for WIFI, the US does not make you pay for it.
I would definitely recommend to everyone.
Keith & Sandra Holleman
Heading for the dive into the Great Barrier Reef
About Australia and Christopher Reeh set up the most amazing vacation for us. If there was a rating above 5 stars, we would place these travel experts into that category.
Traveling to New Zealand and Australia had been on our wish list for awhile and putting trust in Christopher with our travel plan destinations was the best decision we could have made.
Thank you for the memories.
Darin Hendry nailed it!
The trip you helped me put together for my clients was absolutely perfect!
Thank you so much!!
Everything went exactly as planned. There were 5 of us and every hotel room every activity and every shuttle was on time and perfect! Our trip could not have gone better!
I wrote as soon as we got back, but the email did not go through. You did a superb job of booking everything! The trip was perfectly smooth. Both Australia and New Zealand are beautiful and the people are kind. We snorkeled, zip lined, walked, went on planes, trains, gondolas, boats and ferries. We attempted to do every activity and site available and I think we succeeded! Thank you. (...)
Karen S. Anders
Six weeks; No hassle; Greatest experience ever
My boyfriend and I (both 72 years of age) have just returned from a six-week, custom-tailored, independent trip to Australia and New Zealand.
We started talking about this trip over a year prior to our departure date. After my initial 2.5 hour telephone conversation with Christopher at About Australia, I knew we had found the perfect "partner" on whom we could depend to help us with all(...)
The accommodations were wonderful and the excursions were amazing and informative. Thank you for some amazing memories
Great trip. Everything was perfect. Thanks Darin for all your help. You did a great job.
The koala hug was worth the trip!
I was particularly pleased with how smoothly all the transportation and tour arrangements went. We never had a problem or question about shuttles and everyone was expecting us when we arrived. The trip was fantastic and I wish it could have been longer.
Amazing all-around experience!
The trip that Ana put together for us was nothing short of spectacular and exceeded our expectations which were high. As we traveled from Sydney to Hamilton Island to Byron Bay and back to Sydney we were able to enjoy all the sites and activities we planned and then some! We were privy to some “insider tips” which added so much to our trip. We highly recommend AboutAustralia and plan on using(...)
Great trip. Loved every moment of it. Just what I wanted and more.
Koda Boulton was the one who helped me and she's was amazing even with all my questions and my unfortunate criminal background. Still got in with no problems and had a great itinerary set up. Couldn't have seen Australia in a better way than that. Strongly recommend About Australia. Good price too! Flexible.
Steve and Peggy
This is the 1st Australia trip, we already thinking going back!
This is the 1st Australia trip, we already thinking going back!