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How To Choose The Best Snorkelling Tours In The Whitsundays

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Ben Parkes
Updated Thu 28 Sep 2023

The Whitsunday Islands aren’t just home to one of the world's most beautiful beaches, but also some of the world’s most beautiful reefs. And with them being situated within the Great Barrier Marine Park, it’s not hard to understand why. 

People journey here from all corners of the planet to get the opportunity to gaze upon these magnificent underwater worlds, and luckily for them there is a huge array of snorkelling tours directly from Airlie Beach that will transport you there in comfort and style. 

Aerial shot over an island

Each of the 74 islands are as unique as they are beautiful. The one unifying characteristic that they all share is that they are all surrounded by luscious reefs and crystal blue waters.

With a variety of snorkelling day tours and overnight sailing trips on offer, how to choose the best snorkel tour to experience this little pocket of paradise in person can seem like a somewhat daunting task, but we’re here to help out and simplify that decision for you with this useful guide. 

Tranquil underwater shot of a reef


Day Trips

 

Whitsunday Bullet 

Bullet gliding through the water

  • Duration: Day tour
  • Capacity: 37 
  • Perfect for: Families, friends, couples, solo travellers, backpackers, small groups, those short on time
  • Visits: Hook Island, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout

Newly refitted and with a fresh lick of paint, this iconic Whitsundays tour is back in the water and ready for action! After a fantastic morning spent on Whitehaven Beach, you’ll zoom up the coast of Whitsunday Island before reaching the beautiful Hook Island, famous for its stunning fringe reefs that literally surround the entire island. Usual visit spots include Luncheon Bay, Manta Ray Bay, Mackerel Bay or Cockatoo Point (depending on many factors such as wind and current), where you’re likely to see Green Turtles, Maori Wrasse, Parrot Fish amongst many other species. 


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Ocean Rafting - Northern Exposure

Girl climbing down ladder into ocean

  • Duration: Day tour 
  • Capacity: 32
  • Perfect for: Families, friends, couples, solo travellers, backpackers, small groups, those short on time
  • Visits: Hook Island, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout

With two amazing snorkel spots to enjoy, Northern Exposure is Ocean Rafting’s more snorkelling orientated tour that takes you to the best locations generally around Hook Island, such as Mantaray Bay and Mauren’s Cove. The exact snorkel locations depend on the condition at sea - the skipper will use their extensive knowledge of the islands to determine the best snorkelling location on the day to ensure a memorable underwater experience. Get ready to spot an abundant range of corals and marine life, such as Humphead Maori Wrasse, loggerhead turtles, dolphins and whales (during the cooler months). 



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Thundercat

Thundercat moored up for snorkelling

  • Duration: Day tour
  • Capacity: 32 
  • Perfect for: Families, friends, couples, solo travellers, backpackers, small groups, those short on time
  • Visits: Hook Island, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout

Redcat’s Thundercat take you to two snorkel spots, generally Peter Bay (just up the east side of Whitsunday Island from Whitehaven) and up to Mantaray Bay at the tip of Hook Island- both of these considered to be the best snorkel locations in the Whitsundays. Peter Bay can only be accessed by boats with a special permit, which makes Thundercat one of the few snorkel tours that can explore this exquisite location. Make sure to keep an eye out for green sea turtles, giant sea clams and clown fish at these spots. 

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Overnight Trips

 

WHITSUNDAY ADVENTURER

Adventurer in the water with turtle swimming behind

  • Duration: 2D2N
  • Capacity: 12
  • Perfect for: A great option for couples, families, groups of friends and single travellers alike
  • Visits: Hook Island, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout

Whitsunday Adventurer takes you to some of the best spots around the Whitsundays for snorkelling which can include Mantaray Bay, Luncheon Bay, Mackerel Bay and Cockatoo Point. Expect to see a variety of fish species, soft and hard corals and anemone fish, with a high possibility of seeing turtles, stingrays, moray eels, sharks, and the huge Maori Wrasse! 

 

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Summer Jo 

Summer Jo moored up by the outer reef

  • Duration: 3D3N
  • Capacity: 32
  • Perfect for: Ideal for solo adventure-seekers, friend groups or families with older children!
  • Visits: Various islands including Whitsunday Island and Hook Island, Blue Pearl Bay, Great Barrier Reef

The recently refitted Summer Jo benefits from being a 3 day, 3 night trip as it has more time to take you to many amazing spots throughout the trip. Visiting some of the area’s most beautiful snorkel spots, including Blue Pearl Bay, this trip also includes a free scuba dive with every trip, and also offers the chance to snorkel at the outer reef! 

 

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Defender

Defender moored up near fringe reef

  • Duration: 2D1N
  • Capacity: 26
  • Perfect for: The social atmosphere is perfect for backpackers, friends or even solo!
  • Visits: Hook Island, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout

Defender is a 2D1N backpacker trip that will take you to snorkel at some of the best sites in the Whitsundays, generally found at the fringe reefs around Hook Island and Hayman Island. The experienced crew on Defender will determine the best snorkel locations based on the day's weather and tidal conditions to deliver you the optimal snorkelling experience during your trip!

 

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Turtle chilling on a reef

 

Ready to book your snorkel adventure? Call us at +61 7 4914 2425 or live chat with us online if you have any questions!

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