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Newsflash: The weather is not always perfect and Great Barrier Reef operators can’t guarantee sunshine. However rainy or overcast weather should definitely not put you off your trip.  

We had been looking forward to our trip with Passions of Paradise for weeks. This trip was particularly exciting for us because we were taking our 8-year old daughter on her first proper snorkelling trip to the reef. Now was the time to find out whether all those swimming lessons had paid off.

Passions-boatWe anticipated sunshine, blue skies, flat seas and lots of turtles but as the day dawned we got clouds and rain.

We were completely drenched as we boarded the boat but it didn’t dampen our spirits.

We were going out to the reef to get wet anyway, why worry about a few raindrops?

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]passions of paradise[/headline]

We’ve been on a few different reef trips from Cairns but this was our first time with Passions of Paradise. It is a small locally owned business with a fearsome reputation for its commitment to the environment and ocean conservation.

They have many badges and awards to prove it so if you’re even remotely concerned about the environment, this reef trip is for you.

Passions takes up to 70 guests on a 25-foot catamaran. The travelling time to the reef on a sailboat does take a bit longer than other trips (2 hours each way) but it has the benefit of substantially cutting their carbon emissions.

And, sailing is a very relaxing way to travel.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]first stop michaelmas cay[/headline]

pictureof michaelmas cayMichaelmas Cay is a small deserted coral cay and sea bird nookery.

Thankfully by the time we got there we had a break in the clouds. We had the option of jumping straight in off the boat or taking the glass bottomed boat to the cay.

We decided to take the transfer to the cay so we could get our daughter used to the snorkelling from the safety of the beach.

As soon as she put her face in the water she squealed with delight as she realised she was in the middle of a beautiful school of silvery fish.

picture of lagoon rayNearby we also saw a small lagoon ray.

The reef between the cay and the boat is awesome. We saw a couple of fantastic giant clams and several different types of fish.

Apparently there was a big turtle in the vicinity too but we missed it.

As we approached the back of the boat we swam over the other guests who were experiencing their first Intro Dives. Our daughter suddenly shot off and started chasing and bursting all the air bubbles floating up towards the surface.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]lunch[/headline]

We swam back to the boat in time for our lunch, which was excellent. There was a buffet laid out with various cold meats, prawns, salads (including watermelon and chilli – yum) and fruit as well as a couple of hot dishes with mashed potato.

The hot food was very welcome. Even though the water temperature was a warm 28 degrees, it was pretty chilly when we got out without the sun to warm us up.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]paradise reef[/headline]

After lunch we motored on for about another 10 minutes to a private mooring at Paradise Reef.

picture of feather star

Feather Star (it’s actually an animal that walks)

This time we had to jump straight off into the ‘big blue’ and since the wind had got up, the water was pretty choppy.

Some people opted out of the second snorkel but we got our gear back on and jumped in.

The crew were super-helpful and kitted our daughter out in a wetsuit so she didn’t get cold – definitely a good move.

I wasn’t sure how she would cope with the conditions but thankfully she was so distracted by what she saw underwater that she didn’t seem to notice the big waves.

picture of a giant clamWe saw a variety of fish including a ‘Nemo’ clownfish and a big carpet codfish as well as giant clams.

Overall, we had a really fantastic day out.

I would definitely recommend travelling with Passions of Paradise if you prefer a more personal service and you care about ‘green credentials’.


[headline size=”small” align=”left”]travel nq fast facts:[/headline]


  • Passions of Paradise provided all snorkel and dive gear. Stinger suits are an extra fee ($8). Flotation devices are also available for less confident swimmers
  • Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea are included in the price.
  • Teas and coffees are provided. There is also a bar on board if you want to buy extra drinks.