Intrepid explorers, underwater dreamers, and those who long to chase the endless summer – now is the time to visit the Great Barrier Reef. Visible from the dizzying heights of space, Australia’s greatest natural triumph dwarves all other oceans, a turquoise tapestry playing host to a myriad of rainbow color just beneath the surface. As the world’s largest coral system, there are close to three thousand reefs scattered around 900 islands, the whole curtain of color stretching out for almost 1500 miles.
Scuba and snorkeling may be at the top of your list when exploring the rare jewels of the reef, but there are hundreds of other opportunities for charter guests gliding across the epic blue landscape of the Barrier Reef. From dense verdant rainforests to silver slips of beaches and wobbly knee worthy wining and dining, the Great Barrier Reef is an overwhelming sensory experience.
As awe inspiring as those numbers sound, the Great Barrier Reef is under demise, as the oceans grow warmer- the coral fades in color. Superyacht aficionado’s seeking bright new shores should charter towards Australia’s decadent coastline today, because some world wonders won’t be around forever.
Day 1 Cairns – Low Isles
The cosmopolitan city of Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and worth spending a morning or more to acclimatize to Aussie cool. The tropical landscape of Cairns is thick and green and plays host to some stunning lagoons. Stroll the boardwalk and take the skyway cable car to get a glorious vantage point of the canopy beneath your feet.
This afternoon start your adventure into the big blue as you set sail 35 nautical miles for the Low Isles. This will be your first taste of the magical marine state park so prepared to be awed by the scores of sea turtles that scatter when you drop into the crystalline water for your very first snorkel.
Step ashore the Low Isles to hike the nature trail that leads to a viewpoint where you can see the spread of the reef. Ask a crew member to pack a bottle of champagne and appetizers so you can watch the sunset from up high in style.
Day 2 The Opal Reef
Imagine starting your day to the scent of salt water and fresh coffee, admiring a landscape of sheer blue as you drizzle honey onto French Toast. Today you can dive into the deep of the aptly named Opal Reef. A peaceful anchorage marks the spot for a perfect place to play, as you snorkel or dive to see brightly colored clams, staghorn coral gardens in the blue lagoon, roaming red bass, plate coral and splayed starfish, along with parrotfish and butterfly fish drifting past stingrays.
When you tire of your underwater playground, you can relax onboard with a massage or simply stretch out on the aft deck with a good book and bottle of zesty white Australian wine.
Day 3 Ribbon Reef
Ribbon Reef and its surrounds offer some of the best diving spots in the whole world with soft and hard coral to explore. The protected lagoon of Steve’s Bommie is calm and soft and many shades of iridescent silver and blue, filled with giant fish who like to pose for underwater photography. You are also sure to see reef sharks circling this spot as they hunt for their lunch. Cod Hole is where you will find the major player fish, but the finger reefs are also worth uncovering for those who want to see clownfish and leopard morays. During the winter months you can also catch sight of minke whales passing through and with their gentle nature, you can grab your snorkel and swim right alongside.
Day 4 Lizard Island
Head to Lizard Island for a day of pure unbridled luxury on dry land. The five-star resort is the perfect place to shake off sea legs and lap up the bliss of the 24 powder white beaches and over a thousand acres of national park.
The day spa can deliver finest raw ingredient treatments that work in harmony with your own biochemistry. Lavish with a deluxe facial, and let the sensual sea mud body wrap turn your skin into satin. Finish with a fabulous private yoga session to stretch all those snorkeling muscles and regain your inner balance. This afternoon you can hike to Cooks Look, go paddle boarding, or take the glass bottomed kayak out for a spin.
For dinner opt for the utterly romantic sunset beachside dining on Anchor Bay where a seven-course degustation menu paired with perfect wines will satiate your soul. With much of the produce coming fresh from the bounty of the sea, you cannot get more local than this.
Day 5 Bathurst Head
Swing by Stokes Bay to admire the ancient aboriginal cave paintings before continuing a breathy blue sail to the shores of Bathurst Head. Perched between Princess Charlotte Bay and the Lakefield National Park you can see a different side to the fringes of the Great Barrier Reef. Salt plains, eucalyptus forests, and the rush of Normanby River offer an exceptional day for exploration.
Day 6 Cooktown – Escape Reef
With two centuries of fascinating history, Cooktown is will satisfy any traveler looking to follow in the footsteps of Captain Cook. Cooktown is a blaze of color for those seeking to add more rainbow shades to their periphery of blue. The island is all pristine beaches, secret lagoons, climbing mountains, beautiful vistas, and wonderful walks. This was the first spot where James Cook landed in 1770 and the museum that pays homage to the voyager is worth a quick visit.
This afternoon dive back into the hues of blue with a snorkel trip to Escape Reef.
Day 7 Port Douglas
On the final day before journeying back to Cairns, drop anchor at Port Douglas – home to the majestic World Heritage Daintree Rainforest. After splashing in the sweet water surf of Mackay Sand Cay you can head to the Daintree Discovery Center and take a tour through the Jurassic jungle to see giant splayed palms, exotic birds of feather, trails of indigenous culture, and bright tree frogs.
Book a table at the Watergate Bar and Restaurant, recently awarded the fourth best place to dine in the whole of Australia. A relaxed beachside feel sets the scene for lemon myrtle kangaroo loin, pan fired local reef fish with beurre blanc and Persian love cakes with a blood orange gelato.
Day 8 Return to Cairns
Glide gracefully back to Cairns or opt to abandon ship and take a road trip to Cape Tribulation to continue your journey into the depths of Australia.