- 9 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 9 Dinners
LADY ELLIOT ISLAND
Located at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay that serves as a sanctuary for over 1,200 species of marine life. Situated in the ‘green zone’ the island is protected and hosts Project Manta – the research program run by the University of Queensland. Since 2007, Project Manta has been closely monitoring the biology and ecology of the manta rays here. Each manta ray has unique ventral markings, similar to a human fingerprint, and photo-identification of these markings is a primary method of observing the population. On your visit here, learn about Lady Elliot Island’s pivotal role in Project Manta and enjoy kayaking, snorkeling, diving, and citizen science activities.
MON REPOS, BUNDERBERG
Visit Mon Repos Turtle Centre, the only ranger-guided turtle encounter opportunity on the East Coast, and a key researcher in turtle conservation, specifically the endangered Loggerhead turtles that frequent the Mon Repos beach. Explore the conservation park and learn all about the wildlife conservation activities that take place here. On a ranger-guided excursion, you can witness an ancient life cycle of the animal kingdom as majestic sea turtles make their journey to the shore to lay their eggs and then delight at the sight of their young, hatching weeks later, and making their perilous journey to the sea.
Heron Island is one of the major sea turtle nesting sites on the Great Barrier Reef. Located 80km from Gladstone, the island has a long history, now divided into three sections: the resort, research station, and National Park. Tour the marine research station – the oldest and largest on the Great Barrier Reef – where staff will provide insights into the research process and the inner workings of the station. Get up close to the marine life by touch tank and enjoy kayaking, snorkeling, diving, and citizen science activities here.
Middle Percy Island has a colorful history – it has seen famous visitors, including Errol Flynn, and for many years was a leasehold duty-bound to provide fresh water and supplies to passing sailors. The island still has its famous ‘A-frame’, where visitors can take shelter and find supplies. Go ashore at West Bay beach and visit the A-Frame where Robin and Annie, the island’s caretakers, will share some of the history and stories of the island. Enjoy a guided walk, a swim at West Bay, snorkeling, and, if the tide permits, a zodiac cruise through the shallow marine nursery of the lagoon.
DAYDREAM ISLAND & MANTA RAY BAY
After a cyclone impacted reefs in the Whitsundays, Reef Ecologic, in partnership with the local community and tourism industry began a reef restoration project with the creation of coral nurseries. On your visit, learn about the Coral Restoration Program projects and observe how the corals are planted and rejuvenated. You will also enjoy kayaking, snorkeling, diving, and citizen science activities such as working with Reef Ecologic to assist in coral planting.
JOHN BREWER REEF
Also known as the ‘coral greenhouse’, John Brewer Reef is in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The reef is notably home to the largest Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) installation with the first underwater building created by sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. The display aims to aid in the education of reef restoration and allow for a unique learning opportunity through snorkeling or diving the installation. Divers will have the opportunity to explore the display, while snorkellers will enjoy time at the lagoon and reef where turtles and rays are commonly present.
Orpheus Island is located some 125km north of Townsville and is known for its natural beauty with several National Parks and fringing reefs. The only way to access the island is by helicopter or private charter. Sightings of reef sharks and green turtles alongside manta rays and humpback whales are possible here, depending on the season. During your visit here, enjoy the serenity of this secluded location while participating in citizen science field programs.
At Fitzroy Island, enjoy a walk through the Secret Garden rainforest, or for the more adventurous, a walk to the de-commissioned lighthouse will reward hikers with panoramic views of the Coral Sea, islands, and mainland mountain ranges. Visit the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, a passionate non-profit organization dedicated to the care of sick and injured turtles. Snorkel over the fringing reef, relax on the beach, and lend a hand to the volunteers at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Center.
Sudbury Cay is a small sand cay that barely rises above the Coral Sea and is far removed from the bustle of civilization. Here, slip off your shoes and feel the sand between your toes as the tropical waters of the Coral Sea lap gently against the shoreline. Surrounded by a glistening sea and bathed in the glow of twilight, enjoy sunset drinks and the company of like-minded explorers as you relax and watch the sun gently sink below the horizon.
RIBBON REEFS #3 & #5
The Ribbon Reefs are a narrow 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 on the Ribbon Reefs which sit on the edge of the continental shelf.
Due to their location far offshore from the Australian coast, the Ribbon Reefs offer excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities, with Ribbon Reefs #3 & #5 a favorite for their wide variety of marine life and pinnacles cloaked in coral. Join a guided snorkel tour led by the expert Master Reef 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. Get involved in the Eye on the Reef program as you conduct species surveys during a number of snorkel experiences here.