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Great Barrier Reef Tours from Cairns & Port Douglas

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The Great Barrier Reef is the most extensive coral reef system in the world. It stretches over 1,430 miles and composed entirely of living organisms. Because of its sublime beauty, it is no surprise that it is considered as one of the wonders of the world where more than 2 million travellers visit the reef annually to witness its charm.

The Great Barrier Reef is Queensland’s most remarkable natural gift which is comprised of over 3000 reef systems and coral cays. It is home to an abundance of fascinating marine life and is filled with amazing tropical islands and world class beautiful beaches.

Cairns is one of the top most visited locations for travellers wanting to experience the Great Barrier Reef, either by taking on a scenic flight or by boat. The breathtaking array of marine wildlife, lush rainforest vegetation, and a myriad number of exotic coral reefs that make up this wonderful reef surely gives any tourist an extraordinary journey that cannot be found anywhere in the world.

Choosing the best tour can get a little frustrating because of the overwhelmingly large number of reefs you can visit around the area. If you are still at a loss and want to get some guide of what type of tours to take in order to maximize your Great Barrier Reef experience, worry no more as we will unravel in this piece the best Great Barrier Reef tours on offer to help you start your wandering without delay.

REEF TOURS FROM CAIRNS

Sunlover Reef Cruises

Sunlover Reef Cruises offers one of the best Great Barrier Reef Tours where travellers get a full day of reef adventures. This trip is designed mainly to cater for everyone including families with children.

Leaving daily from Cairns, this 40 km-trip will surely bring happiness and extraordinary experience to its travellers as they will enjoy a high-speed air-conditioned catamaran experience to the new multi-level pontoon at Moore Reef. The sundeck, as well as the theme-park style water slide on the reef, is also a must-see attraction especially if you travel with your kids.

Once you arrived, you’ll get the best 4 hours of your life as you enjoy the activities at the pontoon, which comes with snorkelling equipment, guided glass bottom boat and semi-submersible tours− allowing the travellers some options to stay dry while in a safe and comfortable environment as they explore the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. The tour also allows travellers to feed the fish. It is also a family-friendly tour as it has a fully enclosed kid’s pool and an underwater observatory to get a closer look with the marine life.

Sunlover Reef Cruises also include a hot and cold buffet lunch where you can enjoy the freshly caught seafood in the city while you explore the amazing views of the Great Barrier Reef. After the meal, don’t miss the chance to swim amongst the fishes and enjoy the last hours of your stay, savouring the charm of this great reef.

Pro Dive Cairns

If you fancy diving, Pro Dive is perfect for you. In fact, Pro Dive is all about diving suited whether you’re a novice or an advanced diver with years of experience in this field.

Boasting with its more than 32 passengers, Pro Dive Cairns offers an adventurous tourist with a more personalised experience, providing access to around 19 exclusive and unspoilt dive sites on the Great Barrier Reef.

Pro Dive Cairns offers premier three-day, two-night liveaboard dive trip and various range of PADI certified scuba diving courses where you can dive and learn to dive in a safe and wonderful environment.

From a five-day Learn to Dive Open Water certification course to advanced and professional development courses through its extensive range of the latest dive products and professional local service and advice, Pro Dive Cairns is your number one stop when planning your first or next scuba diving adventure.

If you don’t have the time to spare and can only stay for one day, its Silverswift will surely give you the most comprehensive day-tour experience with its 5-hour trip spent out at the reef visiting three different outer reef sites. This ultra-modern catamaran caters to small groups; it offers all the things you need in order to for you to experience the underwater world of colourful marine life. Beginner divers can enjoy snorkelling with additional 2 introductory dives while more experienced divers can leisure in up to 3 certified dives.  

For a tourist who is yearning for more challenge and adventure, Pro Dive gives access in Liveaboard Trips to adventurous traveller where they can spend around 3-7 days enjoying the top best sites the Great Barrier Reef has to offer, while on board of the multi-million dollar purpose built a liveaboard vessel. Divers can participate in up to 11 dives, as well as 2-night dives at around 16 exclusive dive sites.

Reef Magic Cruises

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Departing from Cairns through a smooth yet fast and stable catamaran, Reef Magic offers a private access to a breathtaking coral reef location which was intentionally selected because of its superior pristine clear water, coral quality and its diverse marine life.

Snorkel in the sheltered lagoon or enjoy its Guided Snorkel safari trip with an expert Marine Biologist coming along with you. It also provides a semi-submersible reef viewer, glass bottom boat or underwater observatory, perfect for families with children or for non-swimmer travellers.

If you are looking for a downtime and just want to spend your stay relaxing and soaking up the tropical heat, then this one is made for you. Take time out on Reef Magic’s spacious deck where you can enjoy the region’s only reef-based massage therapist.

Fitzroy Island

Fitzroy is a favourite tourist destination, both interstate and international alike for travellers thinking to experience the Great Barrier Reef from a tropical island paradise. The island’s location is spectacular which is just a 45-minute Fast Cat Ride from the Cairns Marina, offering unique access to a wonderful ecosystem ranging from an abundant green jungle to a crystal clear the Coral Sea.

You can opt to combine the Fast Cat transfer with a guided sea kayak where you can snorkel and swim amongst the rich marine life and be mesmerised by the tropical fish and get a chance to spot Fitzroy Island’s famous clownfish or sea turtles. This package will take you to the most private beaches and a stunning coral reef where you are free to explore this magical Island and the surrounding coral reef at your own leisure.

If you want to get an up-close experience of the reef but fear of getting soak or wet, stress no more as you can include a glass bottom tour with your package where you can still get a glimpse of the charm that lies below the surface.

Fitzroy Island is very attractive for those on a budget, especially families and backpackers. Stay for more than one day at Fitzroy Island in order to get a maximum Great Barrier Reef experience on a tropical island where you can pamper your stay for a night or two.

REEF TOURS FROM PORT DOUGLAS

Reef Sprinter

Departing from Port Douglas, Reef Sprinter is a 15-minute trip to the stunning coral reef at Low Isles. The Reef Sprinter Reef Trip is perfect for travellers who do not find staying on the water very enticing.

Once you reach the destination, you can get 1.5 hours of snorkelling time to enjoy the breathtaking coral formations and colourful marine life of the reef before heading back to the port.

If you want to experience the Great Barrier Reef but are not too keen on boats and the thought of spending a whole day out on the water isn’t very appealing, then Reef Sprinter Reef Trips were made for you.

Reef Sprinter also offers a glass bottom boat perfect for those who prefer not to swim the opportunity to still witness the astonishing coral reef, turtles and diverse marine life which makes the Great Barrier Reef as one of the seven wonders of the world.

Quicksilver Cruises

Quicksilver Cruises has a wide range of exciting activities on its sleeve, making it an ideal option for those who are wanting to get a little bit of experience of everything. Quicksilver’s Wavepiercing Catamaran leaves from the Reef Marina in Port Douglas daily at 09:30 am out to Agincourt Reefa pristine ribbon reef located at the very outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef.

Learn to dive and snorkel or if you are a  more advanced diver, dive and snorkel amongst the abundant marine life and enjoy the majestic beauty of this remote coral reef. Quicksilver Cruises also offers activities for non-swimmer who still wants to get a breathtaking view of the Great Barrier Reef. Enjoy the permanent floating pontoon at Agincourt Reef where you can get the best viewing experience and underwater observatory perfect for families travelling with their kids; Quicksilver’s semi-submersible is the best option for non-swimmer to still get a magical experience of the reef while staying dry.

Getting the right reef trip for you and your family can give you ample time to enjoy and explore the beauty the Great Barrier Reef has to offer. Just like in any trip, it is always wise to plan ahead of time before embarking to your journey. Use the guide provided in this piece and we hope that you get the most out of your Great Barrier Reef adventure.

 

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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Adventure Travel

Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt

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Heidelberg Castle

Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:

Neuschwanstein Castle is there somewhere amongst all the fog!

Neuschwanstein Castle is there somewhere amongst all the fog!

We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!

Mespelbrunn Castle

Mespelbrunn Castle

Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!

Lichtenstein Castle

Lichtenstein Castle

Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!

Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.

On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:

Andechs Monastery

Andechs Monastery

The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.

River surfing in Munich

River surfing in Munich

Rothenburg

Rothenburg

Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!

Bamberg

Bamberg was a neat town with old buildings in the center of the river and had a famous smoked beer which Moss just had to try!

Auto Technik Museum in Sinsheim

I’m not the hugest car or plane fanatic, but even I enjoyed the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim. A highlight for me was sliding out of an airplane (from the museum’s roof)!

The worlds narrowest street

Don’t go out of your way to see it, but the world’s narrowest street in Reutlingen is worth a photo if you are passing through.

Frau Rauscher spitting statue Frankfurt

In Frankfurt, go to the old part of town for an apfelwein and see the Frau Rauscher statue – watch out, she spits about every 12 seconds!

The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.

Suppose you’re interested in traveling to Germany for a damn good deal. In that case, plenty of tour companies have some pretty unique and affordable vacation packages to Berlin, Munich, and Bavaria.

It may be small but this building on Trappensee Lake is classed as a castle!

It may be small, but this building on Trappensee Lake is classed as a water castle!

We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!

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Adventure Travel

Running with the Bulls Video

Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.

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San Fermin Running with the Bulls still

We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.

Running with the Bulls Video, Pamplona

Running with the Bulls

All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.

Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.

Unfortunately, I was standing in their path. 

What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.

Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!

Running with the Bulls Video

Would you ever consider running with the bulls?

While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.

If you want to join the next Festival of San Fermin or any other wild festivals in Europe, such as Sail Turkey, book with our partners Busabout.

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Adventure Travel

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide

Find out how you can explore the streets, canals and local markets within minutes of Bangkok with our Outdoor Activities in Bangkok Adventure City Guide.

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Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - The Klongs

Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Bangkok?

As part of our Adventure City Guide series, Ian from Where Sidewalks End shares his expert insider tips on the top adventure and outdoor activities to do in Bangkok.

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - Adventure City Guide

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide – Photo by Evoflash

Why visit Bangkok for adventure?

Bangkok is one of the world’s largest metropolises and a gateway for most of the world to access the rest of South East Asia. With numbers surpassing 14 million people in the Greater Bangkok Region, this is no small player in the world’s super-cities. Of course, having such a long history with foreign visitors, the city has become incredibly established in the world’s tourist sector.

This has allowed it to grow many facets of adventurous activities – making access to something for everyone!

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok

Exploring the Klongs

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - The Klongs

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – The Klongs

Klongs are canals that used to feed the entire city with life-giving water, branched off from the city’s main artery – the Chao Phraya River. Today, the locals wouldn’t drink the water if you paid them, but there is still a fascinating life along the Klongs’ banks. There is so much to explore, from floating markets to old houses on stilts, and it gives insight into this ancient way of life!

What’s it cost, and how to get to the Klongs?

You can usually arrange the Klongs from the pier “Saphan Taksin” along the Chao Phraya River. This is conveniently a stop on the Skytrain, making it very easy to access. Usually, you will be renting the entire boat for the day (about 1000 THB, or USD 35) and not paying a per-person rate. So if you can find a few people to go with, the price will drop significantly per person.

Rickshaw City Tours

If you’ve never been to Asia before, Rickshaws are one of the most fun ways to get around. Although they can often be a little more expensive than metered taxis, you get an experience (and a view) that is unparalleled, especially in the busy streets of Bangkok.

What’s it cost?

Occasionally, you can even haggle a deal for a city tour for next to nothing (50-100 THB or $1.50-3 USD), as long as you visit a couple of affiliated ‘custom suit tailors’ throughout the day, as they’ll get a kickback from the shops just for bringing you there… No purchase is necessary.

You can often find Tuk Tuk drivers willing to do this standing along the perimeter of the Kings’ Palace. It may take a few attempts of asking for a ‘special city tour,’ but you will be bound to find someone ready for a cut of this business.

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - Rickshaw Tours

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Rickshaw Tours

Local Secret Spot

Chatuchak Market

Though most people wouldn’t consider going to a market an adventure, they probably have never experienced the likes of Chatuchak (also known as JJs). This is one of SE Asia’s LARGEST outdoor markets. It’s so prominent that you can find maps of the market to help navigate. It’s roughly the size of 4 city blocks and is divided into various sections.

You’ll find everything under the sun here, from clothing to handicrafts, food, mobile phones, and even puppies and other cute critters for sale!! It’s bonkers. If it gets too much for you, you can take a break in one of Bangkok’s most famous parks (Chatuchak park), located next to the market.

How to get there?

You can get here via Skytrain (BTS), subway (MRT), taxi, bus, you name it – it’s very accessible! But it’s only open on weekends, from about dawn until 5 or 6 pm at its peak. Some shops stay open longer, but most will be closed by dusk. It’s free entry and a perfect place to buy ANY souvenirs at the end of your time in Thailand.

Suppose you can coordinate to be here on the weekend. I generally hate shopping for ‘stuff,’ but I love this market and its energy!

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok - Chatuchak Markets

Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Chatuchak Markets

Best time of the year to visit Bangkok for adventure?

Bangkok is in the tropics and quite close to the Equator. Of course, this means it’s hot on a year-round basis.

It’s considered the rainy season from May to October, though showers can happen at any time of the year. This is generally a less busy time for tourists, though the rains are not quite as bad as expected and often only last 30 mins-1 hour, cooling the city’s heart. Peak season is in December-January when temperatures are at their most astounding ad driest… though it’s still pretty hot!

And if Bangkok isn’t to your taste, the luxury Koh Samui will be. Endless sandy beach, beautiful clear waters, and nightlife that could be lived in forever. The luxury rental properties are stunning, and we recommend Tempston Luxury villa rentals.

Finally, the reason I love Bangkok for adventure is that…

It’s never-ending. This city is SO BIG that you could get lost in a new neighborhood almost every day. Single. Day. And still find new, exciting things to explore. On my list for the upcoming weeks, I’ve got the Scala Cinema, the Thai Air Force Museum, Papaya Vintage Shop, and the Erawan Museum – to name a few. Every time I explore one place, I learn of 3 more!!

BIO:

From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He’s since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. You can follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries on TwitterFacebook, Google+ and his travel blog Where Sidewalks End.

Have you been to Bangkok? What were your favorite outdoor activities in Bangkok?

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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