An hour and a half drive north of Cairns, you can find a little town. It has everything Cairns doesn’t have, a beach and the real small beach town feeling. The best part about this town? The access to the Great Barrier Reef! What’s it called? Port Douglas of course!
What’s so special about visiting the Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas?
Upon my first arrival in Cairns, it didn’t take long for me to hear about the magical Agincourt Reef. Legends told me, this reef had epic visibility and untouched corals. The reefs had seen much fewer tourists resulting in healthier corals. For months I dreamt about doing a road trip to see the Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas and seeing it all with my own eyes. Until I got the news that I actually could!
Beyond ecstatic, I left before the sun rose. Gopro, 12″ dome, camera and my sleepy head were off.
A Luxurious Dream
With purple skies in my view, the drive to Port Douglas was a treat! Well on time (this does not happen very often), I arrived in the marina and I saw the massive crowd. I’m not the biggest fan of big tourist crowds! Thankfully, I was quick to realize that they were all walking towards a different boat. I actually did a happy dance.
AquaQuest was my vessel to paradise that day. The newest boat from the family-owned company Divers Den. The company has been running luxurious day boats and liveaboards out of Cairns since 1974. They definitely know what they’re doing. Brand spanking new and loads of space, AquaQuest is a magnificent boat. They even have a daybed on the top level!
As the boat has only been up in Port Douglas for a few weeks, the crew is super enthusiastic. Making jokes and making sure we were very comfortable all day long. When I was freezing, right before my third dive, the captain mentioned I should jump in the hot shower. Hot shower? BEST IDEA EVER!
Dive the Outer Reef
It is up to the captain to choose the three dive sites of the day. He chooses between nine available mooring points from either Agincourt Reef, Opal Reef or Crispin’s Reef. That day we visited Light Reef and Crispin Reef. Both reefs lay alongside the famous Agincourt Reef and enjoy the same visibility and sea life.
My new best friend, Captain AquaQuest (give a girl hot water and she’ll be loyal for the rest of her life), told us there was a Minke Whale sighted a few days earlier. And the day after my visit, AquaQuest has a Humpback whale playing around the boat. Definitely not a quiet part of the Great Barrier Reef. The suspension rose as we jumped in the water.
In Love with the Visibility and Sharks
No whales on the day that I visited (you can never rely on wildlife, can you?), but amazing visibility and plenty of fish. Not long after we went down on our first dive, this big trumpetfish showed up. I had rarely seen them before, so was pretty excited about this fella staying around for a while. Moments later, the moment we had all been waiting for, a shark! A small one this time, too deep to swim down to, but still, a shark!
The second dive started right where they had spotted the Mingaloo Whale a few days earlier. That would have been such an amazing moment! A beautiful coral wall surprised us along this dive and looking up, we saw big schools of fish. Such a blissful moment.
The third dive was one of my favorites. Most of my group lost air quite fast, so it was only me and our instructor, Clive, cruising around. When you’re diving with people that are less experienced than you, you risk that your dive time is cut short. This is because they might run out of air faster than you do. To be fair, I remember even jokingly telling an ex-boyfriend off for breathing too much! I guess I’m pretty protective of my dive time. It then comes as no surprise that, when a company works their way around people with different air consumption, it is a big plus in my book!
What made dive three so awesome? You guessed it! A big white tipped reef shark! For a while, it was just Sharkie, Clive and myself. The other fish didn’t seem to like Sharkie as much as I did, strange.
All jokes aside, we were so lucky to have this magnificent creature to ourselves. Unfortunately, that marked the end of our day and it was time to leave our underwater paradise. Sad to give all that new diving equipment back, it was time to enjoy one last snack and head back into the marina.
After all, there was another sunset shoot to be had.
Practical: Seeing the Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas
There are several boats leaving the port of Port Douglas and heading out to the Great Barrier Reef. I’m so happy that I chose to go out with Divers Den for all of the reasons mentioned above.
Staying in Port Douglas is a dream. There are several hostels and more than one luxury hotel to be booked. Find your via my preferred booking site for hotels (no matter what I do, they always still have the cheapest price when I’m looking it up!).
Read more about the Great Barrier Reef
As you can tell by reading this article, I’m in love with the underwater world and with the Great Barrier Reef. Therefore you want to be your guide in visiting this wonder of the world. Find the other post on the reef below and comment with any questions that you may have!
more to come!
If you want to know more about Port Douglas, have a the official tourism page for Port Douglas and Queensland. I also found this helpful site that elaborates on the different reefs and the boats visiting it.
Disclaimer: This three-dive trip was offered to me by the lovely people at Divers Den. Thank you so much, Frankie and the crew of AquaQuest for having me. The reefs are worth visiting and therefore I’m happy to be able to share this article. All opinions on this article are my own and are not influenced by the fact that this trip was complimentary.