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Snorkeling with clownfish.

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

Weekend Departure - Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Coral Expeditions II
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For guests with more time and a great sense of adventure, our 8 days Cairns – Hinchinbrook Island – Lizard Island – Cairns cruise offers the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience! Combining both our 3 and 4-night cruises, discover everything that this memorable region has to offer: the best parts of the Reef, spectacular rainforest trails, and beautiful tropical islands including Lizard and Dunk, and the stunning Sudbury Cay.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Cairns | Embark | Sudbury Cay
Day 2 : Hinchinbrook Channel and Dunk Island
Day 3 : Nathan Reef and Coates Reef
Day 4 : Fitzroy Island | Cairns
Day 5 : Historic Cooktown and the Reef
Day 6 : Lizard Island and the Ribbon Reefs
Day 7 : Ribbon Reefs
Day 8 : Disembark in Cairns


  • Take the plunge with a dive instructor in Nathan Reefs waters
  • Explore Hinchinbrook Island's towering cliffs and mangrove ecosystems
  • View the reef's coral gardens and marine life in a glass-bottomed boat
  • Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef's pristine and crystal-clear waters


Coral Expeditions II

Places Visited

  • Australia
  • South Pacific
  • Cairns
  • Cooktown
  • Dunk Island
  • Fitzroy Island
  • Hinchinbrook Channel
  • Lizard Island
  • Nathan Reef
  • Ribbon Reef No 9


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Snorkeling with clownfish. Snorkel the clear tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef Snorkel the clear, tropical waters Explore the underwater world on your small ship cruise Uncover the hidden secrets of the Great Barrier Reef Snorkel off of Australia's beautiful coast Snorkel the vibrant waters of the South Pacific A starfish on the Great Barrier Reef

Day 1 Cairns | Embark | Sudbury Cay

  • Ship
  • 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Board at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal 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 2 Hinchinbrook Channel and Dunk Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Cruise the majestic Hinchinbrook Channel while 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 3 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 4 Fitzroy Island | Cairns

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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 at 1:30pm.  During a brief turn-around in Cairns, you may enjoy a complimentary admission to the Cairns Museum. Reboard your ship at 4:00pm on your way to enjoy the northern Reef.

Day 5 Historic Cooktown and the Reef

  • 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 6 Lizard Island and the 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.

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

Day 7 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. The Marine Biologist explains the natural history and evolution of the reef and local wildlife, which includes sea turtles, giant clams, rays, and over 200 different species of native birds.

Today is your last opportunity to experience the reef through scuba diving, so allow your dive instructor to guide you on the experience of a lifetime. This evening, enjoy a final memorable night cruising the Great Barrier Reef.

Day 8 Disembark in Cairns

  • 1 Breakfast
Say farewell to the Captain, crew and new-found friends before disembarking at Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal at 8:00am.

Coral Expeditions II

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.


Important Fare Information:
Rates are posted based off of the current exchange rates from Australian Dollars. Please contact us for current exchange rates.

  • 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)
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
Gale Cantor

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