Great Barrier Reef Snorkel

Departing Cape Tribulation, FNQ

Picture of By Matthew Essex

By Matthew Essex

Salty Swims Co Founder

It’s often the simpler experiences that win you over – Providing less distraction and more time to enjoy the experience at hand.

This trip strips it down to the basics: a short briefing, a short boat ride, plenty of time to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, time to relax on a small sandy island or enjoy more time snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, then enjoy a cold beverage and a spot of reflection on your short boat ride back.

What you’re left with are lasting memories of the Great Barrier Reef, nothing else! 

I love a half-day experience – It gives me the rest of the day to play with.

An afternoon departure means either a sleepy start or the opportunity to fuel up with a big breakfast and go for an explore – especially in the Daintree, where there’s a boardwalk, creek, or trail around every corner.

Given the choice, however, I’d rather have a morning departure. Ocean conditions are typically calmer in the morning, allowing you to make the most of the experience. My afternoon is then mine to do with as I please. Sometimes I like to go for an explore, and other times it’s nice to relax and reflect, but more often, I love to carry on at the local pub, sharing stories with fellow travelers and exchanging tips for where to go next.

Where two World Heritage sites meet.

It has a profound effect on visitors, experiencing both in one day! Traveling is about experience, and with this product, you’ve just experienced the largest living structure in the world, the Great Barrier Reef, stretching 1,429 miles, and the oldest rainforest in the world, the Daintree Rainforest, over 180 million years old – two of the ultimate bucket list locations. You feel a sense of accomplishment, but also more worldly and experienced for it.

What people don’t anticipate before travelling here, is the relationship between the two. 

A symbiotic relationship between reef and rainforest.

The Great Barrier Reef provides protection to the Daintree Rainforest from tropical storms and cyclones, and in return, the Daintree Rainforest provides a wash of nutrients for the microorganisms of the Great Barrier Reef to thrive. These microorganisms, called zooplankton, provide food for coral polyps, jellyfish, and other small marine species, which in turn provide food for larger marine species, such as sea turtles and tropical fish.

This powerful relationship between reef and rainforest results in an abundance of marine life unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

Marine Life.

Protected as a Green zone on the Great Barrier Reef, marine life gravitates to Mackay Reef. There’s a noticeable difference in the biodiversity and density of life compared to some of the surrounding reefs. There are hundreds of different coral species, soft and hard, and a breathtaking variety of colourful tropical fish.

The topography of this site supports incredible biodiversity. The shallow soft coral gardens attract juvenile turtles, and schools of Squirrel  and Parrotfish. Found a little deeper, Staghorn corals offer protection for schooling Damselfish. Deeper bommies, and massive Brain coral provide hunting grounds for larger species such as Trevally and Snapper. Open waters are patrolled by Eagle rays and Reef sharks, and, even the sandy bottoms offer a home for crustaceans, to be preyed upon by Lagoon and Porcupine rays.

The stars of the show at Mackay Reef are the sea turtles—most commonly green sea turtles, feeding on the jellyfish and soft corals which flourish here, but also hawksbill, flatback, loggerhead, leatherback, and olive ridley sea turtles.

One important tip: Don’t swim over turtles. They need to return to the surface to breathe, just like we do, so it’s important that they feel safe to do so.


Better seen than read about. Check out my short film I made after one of my trips to Mack Reef (below)…

You can book this experience for yourself by CLICKING HERE.

Feel free to ask any questions or leave your comments below.

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