attracts millions of tourists every year with one of the main draw cards being
the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.
During our recent visit to Cairns, we went out to the Great Barrier Reef
and had a fantastic day with Sunlover Reef Cruises.
Cruises goes out to Moore Reef and provides a variety of activities which
allows people of all ages and swimming ability (even non swimmers) to
experience the reef.
quick rundown of all the various activities on board the Sunlover Reef Cruise.
come to the great barrier reef to snorkel and this is the main activity on the
Sunlover cruise. All the equipment you
need such as snorkels, flippers and life jackets are provided. During the journey to the reef, crew members
provide detailed instructions on how to use the equipment which is beneficial
for first time snorkelers.
At the reef
there is a large cordoned off area where snorkelers can go. The area also includes resting stations. There are 2 life guards on duty the entire
time to ensure everyone’s safety. The
water is calm, and there is a huge variety of coral and tropical fish to
explore. The coral and fish here is
spectacular, so be sure to bring an underwater camera because you will no doubt
want to take some photographs. I
seriously took a million photos!!!
loved how there is a large sitting platform from the Marine Base into the ocean -
this makes it super easy to get in and out of the water. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I
always feel really uncoordinated with flippers on and trying to get from a boat
to the water is never easy - so the platform is awesome.
wanting to learn a little more about the reef, a guided snorkelling tour is a
great option. We opted to do this during
our trip and loved it!
We had Ted,
one of the 2 Marine Experts onboard take us out for a 30-minute guided tour
of the reef. Ted pointed out a variety
of marine life such as clams, clown fish and showed us the various corals.
I am not the
most confident swimmer, so what I loved about the guided snorkelling tour is
that Ted has a floatie which we held onto and he just pulled us along as he
pointed out various things in the ocean.
This makes it ideal for young children or people who are not totally
confident in the water.
snorkelling tour is an optional extra.
non-swimmers or those not too keen on snorkelling the semi-submarine is a great
way to still get to experience the Great Barrier Reef.
Once you get
on aboard the Marine Base at Moore Reef, there is a large board with the various
times that the semi-submarine tours leave.
Tours go for 20 minutes and leave a few times each hour.
On the tour
you will get to see the same fish and coral that you see snorkelling, which is
great - but for me it is still not the same as actually being out in the ocean
Like the semi
sub marine tours, the glass bottom boat is another great way for non-swimmers
or those not too keen on snorkelling to still get to experience the great
times for the glass bottom boat tours can be found on the Marine Base on the same
sign as the semi-submarine tours.
join a glass bottom boat tour as we had already done the snorkelling, guided
snorkelling and semi-submarine, although it certainly is possible to have
enough time to do the glass bottom boat as well.
Now this is
an interesting activity. Whilst
seawalker helmet diving is somewhat similar to diving, you in fact don’t even
get your hair or face wet as you wear this helmet which allows you to breath
normally - apparently you don’t even need to be able to swim to do it. No prior knowledge or experience is necessary
- this is something I am certainly keen to try in the future.
Helmet Diving is an optional extra.
If diving is
your thing, you can even join an introductory or certified scuba dive out on
the reef. All equipment is provided and
there are only 4 people to a group with 1 instructor.
tour is an optional extra.
At the back
of the Marine Base, there are stairs that lead down to the underwater
observatory. This was a great hit with
Myla who went down a few times during our time on the reef. The
underwater observatory is very similar a large fish tank - there are constantly
fish swimming around - it is just magical to sit and watch.
The guys at
Sunlover have really covered off on ensuring there are activities at the reef
for all ages and ability and this enclosed pool is an example of this.
The pool is a
small enclosure which sits next to the Marine Base directly in the ocean, so kids, or
in fact anyone, can have a splash around feeling completely safe. It's only about knee deep and you even see a
few fish straight from the pool.
adventurous types, you are going to love the waterslide which goes from the top
deck into the ocean. We didn’t try this
out during our cruise - but there were heaps of guests on board having a blast
on the waterslide.
Between 12 pm
to 1.30 pm a delicious buffet lunch is served. I am not sure if the same food is served each day, but on our cruise, we
had chicken penne, beef curry, prawns, bread rolls, a variety of different
salads and fruit. There was plenty of
food and it was yummy!
I liked how
they served lunch over the period of 90 minutes so not everyone was trying to
eat at the same time. Lunch is served on
the boat, which is moored up against the Marine Base throughout the entire time at
the reef. This gives you the option of
eating your lunch on the boat or taking it out onto the tables and chairs on
the Marine Base.
You can even
fly over the great barrier reef from the Marine Base with a scenic helicopter
flight. We were so lucky in that when we
flew into Cairns we had some magnificent views from the airplane of the Great Barrier Reef - so I can only imagine how gorgeous it must look from the
Helicopter Flights are an optional extra.
At 2.45 pm
Marine Experrt Pablo took the kids to a large tank on the Marine Base where we
had a sea cucumber and star fish. Pablo
told the kids all about these sea creatures and their important roles in the
ocean. The kids especially loved being
shown where the sea cucumber and star fish bums were!
after the touch tank, Pablo took the kids to feed the fish. During the fish feeding he continued teaching
the kids about the marine life. Pablo is
a wonderful guide with so much enthusiasm and passion for the marine life.
For those who
prefer an island base to experience the Great Barrier Reef from, Sunlover Reef Cruises provides the option for passengers to spend the day at Fitzroy
Island is located only 45 minutes from Cairns and passengers are dropped off
before the boat continues to Moore Reef.
Whilst I have
not been to Fitzroy Island, the view of the island from the boat as passengers
were dropped off, was absolutely stunning! This looks like a gorgeous island to spend the day at, and it’s definitely
on my list for next time.
5 hours at Fitzroy Island and can take part in activities such as rainforest
walks, snorkelling, diving and kayaking. Food is available for purchase at the Fitzroy Island café.
Reef Cruises is very well organised and all the staff both at the check in
terminal and on board the boat are very friendly.
As soon as we
arrived at the terminal there was someone telling us where to go to check in
and how to reach the boat. Once onboard
the boat there was plenty of instructions about how the day was going to go as
well as safety instructions and information about the various optional
activities people could join. I really
liked how the information was given out in a variety of different languages.
The boat is
very comfortable with 3 levels and both inside and outside seating. Inside is super comfortable with lounge type
plenty of crew members onboard helping people or providing information.
to and from the reef takes about 90 minutes and parts of it can be quite rough,
so it is recommended to take sea sickness pills (these can be purchased onboard
if you don’t have your own). We took sea
sickness pills once we boarded and were fine, but there were several
people sick onboard. The crew are well
prepared though with sick bags.
You get to
spend 4 hours at the Marine Base and we found this plenty of time to do all the
activities we wanted to do as well as have some down time.
We had a fantastic
day on the Sunlover Reef Cruise and would highly recommend it.
We spent 1
night before and 1 night after our tour on the reef in Cairns at Hides
Hotel. Hides Hotel Cairns is a fantastic
budget family friendly hotel in a central location perfect for seeing
everything in Cairns and within walking distance to the Reef Fleet Terminal.
We stayed in
a family room which had a queen bed and 2 singles. Often in family rooms, particularly in budget
hotels, the space is so cramped, but this was lovely and spacious, as was the
bathroom. There is no bath in the
bathroom, but there are additional taps down low in the shower for washing
also has a small pool, whilst nothing fancy it's perfect for families.
breakfast of toast, cereal, boiled eggs and tea and coffee is included which is
served on the hotel’s lovely old veranda.
the road from the Hides Hotel is Woolworths, which was great for us as we
always purchase snacks to take out and about with us during the day. There is also a range of family friendly
cafes and food courts nearby.
nothing fancy about Hides Hotel Cairns, but for the price and location, I doubt
you will find a better option.
Written by Thrifty Family Travels, who traveled with Sunlover Reef Cruises and stayed at Hides Hotel Cairns in July 2017.