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Can You Snorkel In Airlie Beach?

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Talia Jones
Updated Fri 10 Mar 2023

Three girls standing on a boat with snorkelling masks on their heads

Can you snorkel in Airlie Beach?

No, you can't snorkel in Airlie Beach. If you were to snorkel in Airlie Beach, you’d likely be faced with rocks, murky waters, seaweed and mud! However, the town is known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, which means that snorkelling with sea turtles, rainbow fish, giant clams, and reef sharks is only a stone throw away! From snorkelling day tours to the reef to spending the night, we’ve got the perfect tours that leave from Airlie Beach and will give you a world-class snorkelling experience.

A pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef

Snorkelling tours from Airlie Beach

Whether you’re here over a weekend or you're having a mid-week getaway, Airlie Beach has snorkelling tours that depart daily. So, if you’re eager to spend an entire day on and in the water then check out what we’ve got for you. From adventurous rafting tours that visit the nearby fringing coral reefs to Outer Great Barrier Reef tours, Airlie Beach has bucket-loads of options that will match exactly what you’re looking for! 

Ocean Rafting   

If you want to combine your love for adrenaline with panoramic island views then Ocean Rafting is the perfect choice for you! With the choice of two tours visiting different but equally impressive reef locations, you’re in for the perfect day out. Ocean Rafting’s Southern Lights tour will give you two hours at Whitehaven Beach, an hour of snorkelling in the Marine Park and a guided hike up to Hill Inlet Lookout. Their other tour, Northern Exposure, is similar but instead offers snorkelling at two locations and you’ll have a shorter (but just as fun) time on Whitehaven Beach. Both tours are an awesome day out, guided by an awesome and lively crew. 

Cruise Whitsundays: Great Barrier Reef Tour from Airlie Beach

You’ve probably seen photos of those giant pontoons that sit out on the Great Barrier Reef, right? Well here is your chance to visit one yourself! Cruise Whitsundays’ Great Barrier Reef Tour offers plenty of action. You’ll jump on the ferry which will take you to the pontoon. There, the reef is your oyster! From exploring the underwater observatory to snorkelling for hours to relaxing in the sun on the pontoon, this tour allows you to truly seize the day!

Explore's Full Day Outer Reef from Airlie Beach

Another tour which offers hours of snorkelling time is Explore’s Full Day Outer Reef tour. You’ll visit Bait Reef and discover some of our favourite reef formations in the Whitsundays. Snorkel with green sea turtles, a kaleidoscope of tropical fish, friendly reef sharks, giant clams and more! Opt for a guided snorkelling tour and learn all about the history of the Great Barrier Reef. If snorkelling isn’t enough for you, Explore all offer introductory scuba diving opportunities!

A lady standing in a white dress holding her hat pointing to the ocean

Overnight Snorkelling tours from Airlie Beach

For those keen adventurers who have plenty of time to spare, an overnight snorkelling tour might be exactly what you’re looking for. Choose between sleeping under the stars on a floating pontoon in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, a luxury catamaran in a secluded bay or a cosy sailing charter yacht. Each tour offers once in a lifetime opportunities that will leave you in absolute awe!

Reefsleep Great Barrier Reef Experience 

Now this tour will leave you speechless. Spend a night on a 'reefbed', under the stars, ON the Great Barrier Reef. Is this not the perfect way to tick off that bucket-list item?! The Reefsleep Great Barrier Reef Experience is the only tour of its kind in the Whitsundays and offers both luxurious and adventurous itineraries. Spend two days snorkelling on the reef, watch a sunset (and sunrise if you’re an early bird), explore the pontoon’s underwater observatory, sunbathe on the sunbeds and tuck yourself into a comfortable 'reefbed' come nighttime. 

Kiana 3 Day 2 Night  

Kiana’s three day, two night trip is one of the more longer trips through the Whitsundays. With a maximum of 12 guests, Kiana offers an intimate and personal experience to the Outer Great Barrier Reef. Snorkel, dive, eat, sleep, breathe and sail through the islands all while having the time of your life. Visit Hook Island and Bait Reef, two of the most iconic snorkelling sites in the region, and rub shoulders with the vibrant coral and marine life. Meet the likeminded individuals who will hopefully become lifelong friends as you share the unique experience. 

Powerplay 2 Day 2 Nights  

If you want luxury then you’ll want to book yourself onto Powerplay. This two day, two night tour through the Whitsundays is ideal if you’ve been dreaming of that relaxing, tropical vacation filled with picturesque views, cocktails and fabulous company. Spend your days snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and your evenings relaxing onboard the deluxe catamaran. With great company, delicious food, and knowledgable and friendly guides, Powerplay will be a trip you’ll be wanting to book every year!

Fish and coral on the Great Barrie Reef

Other ways to see the reef!

If you don’t have enough time left on your Whitsunday getaway to visit the reef but still want to see it in some way, these exciting tours might be just the thing for you. Hop on a glass bottom boat and stay dry and warm as you tour to exclusive reef locations, see the reef from an entirely different perspective on a scenic flight or catch a thrill on a jetski tour and zoom through the Whitsunday Islands keeping an eye out for turtles! The perks about these tours is that they don’t go for long and you’ll have plenty of time to catch that afternoon bus, ferry or plane home!

If you are looking for what Airlie Beach has to offer that doesn’t involve snorkelling, check out the Top 10 Things To Do in our area article! 

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