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Snorkel the vibrant waters of the South Pacific

Great Barrier Reef: Cairns - Lizard Island - Hinchinbrook Island - Cairns

Weekday Departure - Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Coral Expeditions II
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This 8-day cruise offers the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience! Board the Coral Expeditions II and discover the best parts of the Reef, spectacular rainforest trails, and beautiful tropical islands including Dunk and Fitzroy Island. Snorkel, swim and kayak over colorful coral gardens, visit a private tropical island, and walk on Dunk Island's rainforest looking for the striking electric-blue Ulysses butterfly.
Snorkel the clear, tropical watersTake a glass-bottomed boat through the Great Barrier Reef.Travelers learning how to scuba dive.Snorkel off of Australia's beautiful coastSnorkel the vibrant waters of the South Pacific
  • Walk through historic Cooktown's streets, museum, and botanic gardens
  • Snorkel Lizard Island, one of Australia's most beautiful tropical islands
  • View a fish feeding display in Thetford Reef and join a scuba dive plunge
  • Kayak in some of the most pristine waters in the Great Barrier Reef
Places Visited
  • Australia
  • South Pacific
  • Cairns
  • Cooktown
  • Dunk Island
  • Fitzroy Island
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Hinchinbrook Channel
  • Lizard Island
  • Nathan Reef
  • Oceania
  • Ribbon Reef No 9
  • Sudbury Cay
Trip Type:
  • Small Ship
Activity Level: Relaxed

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Cairns | Embark

Board the Coral Expeditions II small ship for an afternoon departure from Cairns. While departing Cairns and cruising Trinity Bay, settle in and discover "home" for the next seven nights. In the evening, join the crew and traveling companions on the top deck to enjoy a glass of champagne as the expedition cruise heads 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 before sitting down to a sumptuous dinner. In the evening enjoy the Captain’s Welcome Seafood Buffet.

Day 2: Cooktown

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Discover historic Cooktown, with building dating back to the 1870s. Visit the botanic gardens and the James Cook Museum to see original artifacts from the HMB Endeavour. Enjoy an afternoon snorkel and sunset drinks at Turtle Beach on Lizard Island, and see giant trevally and tawny nurse sharks during an after dinner fish feed off the back deck.

Day 3: Lizard Island | Ribbon Reefs

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Awaken moored beside beautiful Lizard Island. The energetic may join the 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-bottomed boat tour, or for the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience, accompany the dive instructor on an unforgettable scuba dive. The choice is yours!

Cruise to Ribbon Reef No. 9, a spectacular and seldom-visited part of the reef where activities include more snorkeling opportunities and glass-bottomed boat tours with the Marine Biologist.

Day 4: Ribbon Reefs

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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-bottomed 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.

Day 5: Cairns and Sudbury Cay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Return to Trinity Wharf, Cairns at 8:00am and enjoy some time to explore. You may enjoy a complimentary visit to the Cairns Museum. Reboard your ship at 10:00am, and cruise Trinity Bay. Visit Sudbury Reef, and enjoy snorkeling, glass-bottomed boat tours, and optional Scuba diving. Finish the day with sunset drinks ashore on the deserted sandy cay.

Day 6: Hinchinbrook Channel and Dunk Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Cruise the majestic Hinchinbrook Channel whilst enjoying a top deck breakfast in the sunshine. Look for wildlife during a mangrove tour. Stretch your legs on Dunk Island, with a hike up Mt Kootaloo or a beach walk. With the aid of your guides, you may spot the electric blue Ulysses butterfly.

Day 7: Nathan Reef and Coates Reef

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Discover Nathan Reef on a guided snorkel: this reef is teeming with abundant fish life, including clownfish and Maori Wrasse. Later, visit colorful Coates Reef – see plate corals and parrotfish during an optional SCUBA dive, or stay dry and view marine life from the comfort of the glass-bottomed boat, with expert interpretation by your on-board marine biologist.

Day 8: Fitzroy Island | Cairns | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Enjoy a rainforest walk or a hike to the lighthouse. Snorkel over fringing reef and swim with Green Sea Turtles, before learning all about them during a visit to the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Center. Return to Cairns to disembark at 1:30pm.


Coral Expeditions II

Snorkel the clear tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef
Relax and enjoy the views from the SunDeck
Soak up the stunning views from the spa

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
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Five cabins, located on Deck C. 10.5-14 sqm, bunk beds or twin beds.
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Four staterooms, located on Deck C. 14 sqm, twin or double beds.
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Upper Deck Stateroom
Nine Upper Deck staterooms located on Deck B. 14 sqm, with twin or double beds.
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Deluxe Stateroom
Four Deluxe staterooms located on Deck B. 15 sqm, with twin or double beds.


  • Accommodation in selected room grade for the number of nights as listed in each itinerary
  • All meals
  • 24 hour soft drinks, tea, and barista-style coffee
  • Captain’s welcome and farewell drinks
  • Access to islands, marine, and national parks
  • Guided tours on Explorer expedition vessel, Zodiacs, glass-bottom boat, and kayaks
  • Touring as described in each itinerary
  • Services of expedition staff and lecturers including briefings and knowledge-sharing sessions
  • Port taxes and government charges imposed by government authorities (Australian GST at 10%)
  • Pre and post flights, transfers and hotels
  • Entry visas/travel permits
  • Travel Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to phone and internet communications and bar charges (outside of the included drinks package as highlighted), laundry charges and souvenir purchases
  • The Government Environmental Management Charge (EMC) of AUD19.50 per person (payable on board)



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The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
Jack Charney
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