Day 1 Cairns, Australia | Embark
Board the Coral Discoverer 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 five days. 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 beachside village of Palm Cove. Admire a spectacular sunset over the World Heritage-listed rainforest of the Macalister Range. Enjoy the Captain’s Welcome Seafood Buffet.
Day 2-7 Great Barrier Reef
- 6 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners
This Great Barrier Reef itinerary is flexible, to take advantage of changing weather and reef conditions. Below is a selection of the key destinations we visit.
Come ashore in historic Cooktown and experience a traditional welcome to country ceremony. Share a spiritual connection through storytelling and the traditional smoking ceremony with the Guugu Yimithirr, the first people of this ancient country. Discover recent European history with a visit to the site where Lt. James Cook beached HMB Endeavour to effect repairs in 1770. Wander through the rare flora collection at the Botanic Gardens and visit James Cook Museum, where the story of Cook’s landing is told from an Aboriginal perspective and where artifacts are on display.
Later, cruise towards Lizard Island, arriving in time for sunset drinks at Turtle Beach. After dinner, look for giant trevally and tawny nurse sharks during a fish feeding off the aft deck.
Spend a whole day at Lizard Island where there is time to hike to the summit of Cook’s Look and enjoy the same view Lt. James Cook did when searching for safe passage through the maze of coral reefs. Snorkel over giant clam gardens at Watson’s Bay, relax on the white-sand beaches beneath shady she oak trees and learn about the tragic story surrounding Mary Watson. There may be an opportunity to visit Lizard Island Research Station, operated by the Australian Museum to facilitate coral reef research and education on the Great Barrier Reef.
Osprey Reef is the summit of a 2,000m undersea mountain located beyond the continental shelf with no landmass visible. Enjoy amazing underwater visibility here, and observe magnificent corals, plummeting drop-offs and many fish in the crystalline waters. Osprey Reef is a highly prized tropical dive location amongst scuba divers, called an ‘oasis for living creatures of all kinds’ by Sir David Attenborough. Osprey Reef is a true expedition-style destination and our visit is subject to appropriate weather conditions.
RIBBON REEF #9 & HOPE ISLAND
The Ribbon Reefs are a line of outer coral reefs on the edge of the continental shelf and are renowned for their prolific marine life and extensive coral species. Enjoy the rare opportunity to snorkel and dive over these excellent reefs, with Ribbon Reef #9 a favorite for its wide variety of marine life and pinnacles cloaked in coral. Join a guided snorkel tour led by our expert Expedition Team and witness this extraordinary ecosystem up close. These northern reefs are renowned for spotting iconic marine species such as potato cod, wrasse, sharks and turtles. In the late afternoon, we stretch our legs on remote Hope Island before joining fellow explorers and crew for sunset drinks on the beach as the sun sinks below the horizon.
DAINTREE RIVER & ESCAPE OR RIBBON REEF #3
Explore the Daintree River which cuts through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, the world’s oldest tropical rainforest. With an expert guide on board, we look for the region’s famed wildlife such as saltwater crocodiles, rare and endangered cassowaries and the prolific birdlife that inhabits the forest and mangrove-lined river banks. Step ashore at a Daintree wilderness center on the banks of the river and walk on forest trails overhung with lush vegetation. Immersed in the rainforest, we learn more about the diverse Wet Tropics ecosystem which contains the largest habitat of flora and fauna in the world. This afternoon, enjoy more spectacular diving and snorkeling opportunities at Ribbon Reef #3 or Escape Reef, where we look for iconic species as well as the vibrantly colored coral gardens the outer reefs are renowned for.
FITZROY ISLAND & SUDBURY CAY
At Fitzroy Island enjoy a walk through the Secret Garden rainforest or a hike to the lighthouse to enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding islands and mainland mountain ranges. Snorkel over the fringing reef, relax on the beach and learn about the life cycle of turtles at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre where sick and injured turtles are cared for before being returned to the wild. Later, arrive at secluded Sudbury Cay and enjoy the Captain’s farewell drinks at sunset on the tiny sand island.