Board the Coral Expeditions II small ship for an afternoon departure from Cairns. While departing Cairns and cruising Trinity Bay, there is time to settle in and discover “home” for the next four nights. In the evening, join the crew and traveling companions on the top deck to enjoy a glass of champagne while cruising northward, passing Double Island and the pretty beach-side village of Palm Cove. Admire a spectacular sunset over the World Heritage-listed rainforest of the Macalister Range.
Take the morning to discover historical Cooktown, which is steeped in history with buildings dating back to the 1870s. It was here that the famous explorer Captain James Cook took refuge during his voyage of discovery after claiming Australia as a British colony in 1770. Visit Cooktown’s fascinating historical museum, featuring original artifacts from Cook’s ship – Endeavour. See the original anchor and cannon, jettisoned overboard after Endeavour struck a reef and began taking on water. Perhaps visit the Botanic Gardens, and catch a glimpse of some native Australian wildlife including kangaroos and wallabies.
Visit one of the remote uninhabited islands of the Great Barrier Reef. Join a marine biologist for a glass bottom boat tour over the colorful coral gardens and discover some of the 1500 species of tropical fish that call the reef home. Perhaps go snorkeling for an up-close view of the hundreds of varieties of coral growing on this section of reef. The experienced crew will be on hand to provide assistance, advice and guided snorkeling tours for less experienced swimmers.
Awaken moored beside beautiful Lizard Island. The energetic may join guides on a walk to “Cook’s Look” on the island’s peak (hiking shoes or boots are recommended). It was from here, the highest lookout on this part of the reef, that Captain Cook was able to navigate a safe passage back through the treacherous waters after repairing the Endeavour near Cooktown over 200 years ago. A photographer’s delight, the views from the lookout over the World Heritage-listed reef and surrounding tropical islands are magnificent.
Lizard Island’s fringing reef, in the shallow waters just meters off the beach, offers some fantastic snorkeling opportunities. Discover giant clams and a profusion of fish. Simply relax on the beach, join the Marine Biologist for a glass bottom boat tour, or for the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience, accompany the Dive Instructor on an unforgettable SCUBA dive.
Cruise to Ribbon Reef No 9, a spectacular and seldom visited part of the reef where activities include more snorkeling opportunities and glass bottom boat tours with the Marine Biologist.
The Great Barrier Reef is not actually one continuous reef, but a series of thousands of individual coral cays stretching over 1800 miles between the town of Bundaberg and the tip of Australia at Cape York. Visit two of the most spectacular sections of the reef, Ribbon Reef No. 3 and Rachel Carson Reef. Explore the coral gardens and marine life with guided snorkeling and glass bottom boat tours. A Marine Biologist explains the natural history and evolution of the reef and the local wildlife, which includes sea turtles, giant clams, rays and over 200 different species of native birds. Experience the reef through SCUBA diving, allowing the Dive Instructor to guide an unforgettable experience of a lifetime. Enjoy a final memorable night cruising the Great Barrier Reef.
Farewell the Captain, crew and new-found friends before disembarking at Trinity Wharf in Cairns.