Crystal clear waters, colourful coral, tropical fish, blue skies, finding Nemo……deciding to visit the Great Barrier Reef with kids is the easy part – choosing which trip take is a much harder decision! There are hundreds of different boats leaving the marina from Cairns and Port Douglas daily – many of them stating they are family friendly. But as we all know, children (especially young ones) have their own special requirements that probably aren’t listed on a brochure!
We recently visited the Outer Barrier Reef with Quicksilver and were blown away with how family friendly the trip was – we’ve travelled out to the reef with a few different boats and this one gets our big family thumbs up for the following reasons…..
Wavepiercer – family friendly sailing
When we arrived at the marina in Port Douglas to board our boat we were instantly impressed with our transport for the day! Quicksilver V is a 39 metre wavepiercing catamaran. The size of the boat means there is lots to explore and it was a smooth and stable journey out to the reef. You can choose to sit in one of the air-conditioned cabins, on the middle deck overlooking the wake of the boat and views of the mainland drifting off into the distance, or the top deck with incredible views over the ocean ahead. Or if you’re travelling with an inquisitive toddler you can spend the journey moving from one area to another and exploring every corner of the boat!
Family Friendly Pontoon
A lot of the day trips to the Great Barrier Reef spend the whole day on the boat – one of the unique and standout features of Quicksilver is the spacious reef platform – ‘floating like an island in the coral sea’. After the boat trip out to Agincourt Reef you get to disembark and explore the platform – which includes a semi submersible launch, an underwater viewing tunnel, a sundeck, bar, snorkel and dive areas and even a chance to send a postcard from the only Australia Postbox on the Great Barrier Reef! The pontoon is all weather – we visited in Winter and our youngest refused to get into the water after dipping his toes in – which would have been disastrous had we been on one of the boat based trips with not a lot else to do for the day.
There are so many things to do on the pontoon – as the water was pretty chilly when we visited (during June) spending the day in the water wasn’t an option. We spent the first hour snorkelling then hopped out of the water to warm up with plans to have another snorkel later in the day. We then visited the underwater viewing area, had lunch, watched the fish feeding, did the semi submersible tour and admired the view from the deck and before we knew it it was time to leave! Click the link to see more of what your Outer Barrier Reef Cruise to Agincourt Reef will look like.
No one likes a hangry kid! Spending the day swimming, snorkelling, exploring and breathing the fresh ocean air is hungry work – Quicksilver have got everything covered from morning tea to a smorgasbord lunch to fruit salad on the return trip – all included in the price of the tour. There is also a bar where extra food and drink can be bought if the snack attack hits the kids during the trip (although there is no way anyone is going hungry after the incredible lunch spread!)
Baby stinger suits have got to be the absolute cutest thing on the planet! Do not miss the opportunity to suit your little one up before your snorkel and get the camera ready!
Snorkels, fins, noodles, buoyancy vests and masks are available in all sizes for complimentary use as part of the day.
Another unique aspect of this trip is that you can stay completely dry and still have the full Great Barrier Reef experience. The water was too cold for our toddler to be comfortable with and our three-year-old was very reluctant at first to jump in. The pontoon has easy access steps and a platform in the water. It’s possible to stick on your snorkel and mask and lower your head in the water to see what’s below. This is what we did with our oldest and as soon as he saw the schools of fish right under our feet there was no stopping him and off we swam! No amount of enticing could convince our youngest that getting wet was a good idea though, but he still got to see as much as his brother by climbing down into the underwater observatory and waving at the fish and scuba divers passing by. There is also a 25 minute semi submersible boat trip which guides you around the reef 1 metre below the surface – we were lucky enough to spot turtles and a reef shark on our tour as well as hundreds of fish and coral.
Watch our video below to see all the highlights of our day – and if you need more information or are ready to book a family friendly trip to the Great Barrier Reef then head to our travel shop now!
If you’re visiting Cairns or surrounds click here for more fun family things to do in Tropical North Queensland.
Disclaimer – we were guests of Quicksilver for our trip – but all thoughts and opinions are our own.