Frequently Asked Questions
We get asked many questions about visiting the Great Barrier Reef every day and you’ll find some commonly asked questions below. If you have a question that we haven't answered please contact us via email or telephone on (61 7) 4044 9944.
About the Weather
What is the temperature of the water?
The warm waters of Tropical North Queensland range in temperature from 22-29 Celsius (75-85 Fahrenheit) and make for year round comfort for water activities.
Summer 29c 83f, Autumn 25c 76f, Winter 22c 72f, Spring 25c 76f.
As a guide, average water temperatures in our region are :
|Average ocean water temp.||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
What is the weather doing?
Great Adventures receives a 3 day forecast as well as weather updates every morning from the Bureau of Meteorology and from our crew stationed at our Norman and Moore Reef platforms. You can call our office from 7am daily onwards for an update. You can also visit the weather page on our website to see the latest trends and extensive forecast.
As a guide, average air temperatures in the Cairns region are
|Average daily max air temp||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
What time does the boat depart Cairns and return?
For Green Island cruises, Great Adventures has 3 departures daily from Cairns.
Depart Cairns at 8.30am, 10.30am or 1.00pm
Depart Green Island at 12.00, 2.30pm or 4.30pm, with arrival times back into Cairns at approximately 12.50pm, 3.20pm and 5.20pm.
If you are opting for the “Green Island and Great Barrier Reef Adventure”, your vessel departs Cairns at 8.30am, departs the island at 11.30am, and returns to Cairns at approximately 5.20pm.
If we book a certain return time for a Green Island cruise, can we change to an earlier or later departure once we are over on the Island?
Yes, if there is availability the crew at the Information Counter on Green Island can amend your return times. If we are fully booked however, you will have to return on your originally scheduled departure time.
How long are we at Green Island for?
Depending on the departure times you choose, you can spend from as little as 2 ½ hours or up to 7 hours at Green Island. We do need to book return times when making your reservation, however you can change your return times at a later time subject to availability.
We are continuing on to the Outer Reef from Green Island. How long do we spend at the Outer Reef and how long does it take to get there?
You will spend approximately 3 hours at the Outer Reef Platform. Travelling time from Green Island to the Outer Reef is approximately 50 minutes.
Is Green Island still part of the Great Barrier Reef?
Yes, Green Island is situated in the Inner part of the Great Barrier Reef.
Will I get seasick?
Hopefully not. Our large, stable fast catamarans provide very good sea keeping even in rougher ocean conditions. Where there is motion, whether a car, bus, plane or boat, some people will suffer from motion sickness. Motion sickness tablets are available onboard for purchase. We offer ginger tablets as a natural alternative motion sickness medication on a complimentary basis. To be effective, motion sickness medications should be taken immediately on boarding. If you are concerned about potential motion sickness, being closer to the coast, Green Island is a shorter 45 minute journey and is more protected than a cruise to the Outer Reef.
Do you supply towels?
We recommend you bring your own towel. We do have limited towels available for hire however we cannot guarantee availability. These can be collected from the Pool Bar on Green Island, or from the crew on board the vessel if you are travelling to the Outer Reef.
Do you supply life jackets?
Life jackets are onboard for emergency use only, however flotation/buoyancy vests are available for use whilst swimming or snorkelling. At Green Island, these can be hired from the Dive Shop. For passengers continuing on to the Outer Reef, please help yourself to these from the front of the platform with the rest of your snorkelling equipment.
Do you have prescription masks available?
Standard masks magnify objects underwater by about 25%. We do have prescription masks up to -8.0 available. If you need a prescription mask, please advise us so we can make sure one is available for you as we have a limited supply, especially in the higher prescription strengths. These are hired from the Dive Shop on the Green Island, or included in the price if you are diving.
Is there any shade on the Outer Reef platform or Green Island?
The island provides some shade from trees that line the beach or throughout the centre of the island along the boardwalk area. There are areas around the day visitor area, restaurant and pool where you can rest in the shade also. The main deck on the Outer Reef platform is mostly shaded. The upper deck however is a sun deck with limited shading provided.
Do you cater for vegetarians?
Yes our daily buffet lunch at the Outer Reef provides food options for vegetarians. All menu options are labelled with ingredients lists.
On Green Island the restarant and food outlets provide a wide range of food options suitable for vegetarians. If you have special dietary needs, please contact us directly prior to travel.
Is drinking water available?
Cold drinking water is freely available on board the vessel and also from the lunch area on Green Island. Bottled water is also available for purchase.
What activities are available for non-swimmers?
There are many included activities available at both Green Island and the Outer Reef for non-swimmers.
- Green Island: You can see the reef from a glass bottom boat and take a self guided island walk. See our Green Island Included Activities page. Seawalker helmet diving on Green Island is an option for non-swimmers who would like to see the reef underwater.
- Outer Reef Platform: The semi-submersible coral viewing tour and underwater observatory and eco reef talk are inclusions for non-swimmers. See our Outer Reef Included Activities page. At the Outer Reef, the Scuba-Doo underwater scooter is an option for non-swimmers who would like to see the reef underwater.
Do you have facilities for wheelchair passengers?
Wheelchair facilities are available, however there are some restrictions and some mobility may be required. For travel to Green Island there may be a few steps at the end of the gangway onto the jetty depending on tide levels and the narrow gangways used when disembarking. To board the glass bottom boat, there are also some steps into this vessel. Green Island does have disabled toiletfacilities and boardwalk pathways in the day visitor facilities that are easy for wheelchairs to access. There is also a boardwalk that takes you directly through the rainforest into the centre of the Island.
At Outer Reef platform, there are steps into the underwater observatory and semi-submersible. Access from the vessel to the platform is also via steps. A disabled toilet is available on the reef vessel.
We recommend you call or give as much detail as possible via email so we are able to advise you accordingly. You can also visit: http://www.quicksilvergroup.com.au/wheelies.htm for more information about suitable cruises available.
I want a dive instructor/cruise attendant who can speak my language? Do you have multi-lingual staff members on board?
We do have some Japanese and Chinese crew members, as well as other crew who can speak German, Italian and Korean to name a few, but we cannot guarantee that these staff will be working on the day that you travel. We do however always have at least one Japanese crew member rostered. If you would like a personal crew member to escort you for the day, this can be arranged for an extra cost, if we are given advance notice. Pricing does depend on which cruise and the length of time.
Are lockers available at Green Island or the Outer Reef?
Coin lockers are available at both Green Island and also on the Outer Reef vessels. At Green Island you can hire a locker that can be opened many times during the length of hire.
At the Outer Reef, there are small lockers on board the vessels and are a single-use locker. These lockers are only small but big enough for most valuables and are quite suitable to use while you are in the water.
Can I smoke on the boat, at the Outer Reef or Green Island?
Due to government regulations and comfort of all passengers, smoking is not permitted on board any of our vessels. Smoking is only permitted in designated areas at the outer reef platform and island. Please ensure cigarette butts are disposed of responsibly in the receptacles provided.
Do you offer coach pick-ups from hotel accommodation?
Our coach service picks up from most major hotels and accommodation in Cairns and the Northern Beaches. If the hotel you are staying at is not one that we pick-up from, we can arrange coach transfers from a pick-up point nearby. We are unable to offer Port Douglas accommodation transfers.
Is there parking located close by to the Reef Fleet Terminal?
Great Adventures is located at the Reef Fleet Terminal, 1 Spence Street Cairns, which is adjacent to the Shangri-La hotel at the Pier Marketplace. There is parking available outside or undercover at the Pier. Other nearby parking is available at the Reef Casino or Cairns Hilton hotel.
Are there any stingers?
At certain times of the year (generally November – April), jellyfish, commonly called marine stinger's, can affect the seas of Northern Australia. Most jellyfish are harmless to man, however certain varieties may cause a serious reaction. Incidents involving serious marine stings in this area are extremely rare. Our crew are conscious of the danger of marine stingers and will take appropriate steps to ensure your protection if they believe conditions are such that there is a possibility of encountering these creatures. Lycra suits are available for hire onboard to reduce the possibility of stings and irritations while also offering protection from the sun.
Can we purchase photos that were taken of us on the day after we have travelled?
If you travelled to the Outer Reef platform, you can view and order photos taken of you on your trip online. Please visit www.indepthvideo.com.au and click on the boat trip that you travelled on. If you went to Green Island, please contact Island Photography Australia at email@example.com
Can I use credit cards on the boat or Green Island?
Yes, we accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners, China Union Pay and JCB. (Minimum spend may apply).
Optional Tour Information
Can I wait until I'm on the boat to book optional activities?
It is always best to pre-book optional activities prior to travel as spaces are often limited. If you don’t pre-book, please make sure you see a crew member as soon as possible after boarding to reserve a space, subject to availability. Times and briefings/instruction for your optional activities need to be scheduled so if you leave it too late you may miss out due to availability or timing.
What time will my activity be?
Your optional activity time will be advised on your day of travel. If pre-booked, the appropriate crew member on board the vessel will see you to advise your schedule.
Will I be able to try more than one optional activity during my day?
Yes, there is time to do several activities depending on how long you will be spending at Green Island, or if you are travelling to the Outer Reef. You will need to inform the crew so they can co-ordinate suitable times for your activities.
If my husband and I would like to Scuba Dive / Scuba Doo / Seawalker helmet dive, can someone look after my child during this time?
Unfortunately not, you would have to take the activities at separate times.
If I take a half-day cruise to Green Island, is there enough time to dive?
Yes, however you would not have time to see or do anything else on the island.
The morning half day cruise would be most suitable if you wanted to dive. (Depart Cairns 8.30am – Depart Green Island 12.00.) The first dive of the day meets at the island Dive Shop at 9.30am or a briefing, and by the time the dive tender returns back to the beach, it is approximately 11.40am, giving just enough time to make the 12.00 departure.
Can my child try Introductory Diving, Seawalker or Scuba Doo?
The minimum age for these in-water activities is 12 years old. The participant also needs to pass a medical questionnaire as some medical conditions may preclude you from being able to join these tours. Other conditions also apply for Seawalker, such as a minimum height of 140 cm tall, and if your child has extremely narrow shoulders they may not be able to participate as the helmet needs to sit securely on their shoulders.
Who can try Seawalker and Scuba Doo?
Seawalker is only available on Green Island. Scuba Doo is only available at the Outer Reef platform. These activities are great options for non-swimmers, children or older people not sure about trying scuba diving or snorkelling. It can even be a great experience for people with minor disabilities. You do need to pass a small medical questionnaire to be able to participate and some medical restrictions apply. The minimum age is 12 years.
These unique options are also great for those that don't like submerging their heads underwater, or for those with glasses or contact lenses.
How long does Seawalker take?
Seawalker takes approximately 55 minutes. This includes 5-10 minutes travel time from the Green Island beach to the Seawalker platform, about 10 minutes for the briefing, 5 minutes "suiting up", 15-20 minutes underwater, and another 5-10 minutes back to the beach.
Travelling with Children
We have young children travelling with us. What activities are suitable for children at either Green Island or the Great Barrier Reef Platform?
There are many activities for younger children to do and enjoy.
Green Island is great for families with young children. Together you can take the glass bottom boat tour, try snorkelling or just wading in the shallow water and enjoy playing on the beach. You can also take a leisurely stroll through the rainforest to the colourful interpretive centre.
There are also some optional activities at an additional cost you might like to try on the island. Marineland Melanesia is a crocodile and marine life habit with a small museum. They have a daily crocodile feeding show - you can even have your photo taken holding a baby crocodile which the kids absolutely love!
Paddling in a canoe (available from Beach Hire) is an activity you may find enjoyable with young children.
Outer Reef Platform
At the Outer Reef, you can visit the large underwater observatory any time throughout the day. Children are often mesmerised watching the different fish and corals, and also the divers descending into the water. The semi-submersible coral viewing tour is another favourite with kids and a great way to see the reef without even getting wet. If you would like to take the children into the water, there are buoyancy vests to assist with floatation and they are available in smaller sizes. They are also available in adult sizes which makes it easier for you too so you don't get dragged down by the kids! Snorkelling equipment is available in child sizes. Sometimes it's best to give them the mask first so they get used to viewing the corals and fish underwater, then if they would like to try with the snorkel it's available to use. Sometimes children prefer not to use the snorkel as it's a little different for them to get used to breathing through a snorkel. There are age limits for some activities.
The minimum age for diving, Scuba Doo and Seawalker is 12 years old.
Can I take a pram on the boat/platform/island?
Our vessels, platforms and Green Island are pram friendly with ample room on the boat and on the platform. The beach at Green Island has quite soft sand and therefore not practical for prams to be taken onto the beach area. There however extensive wooden boardwalks that take you through the island’s rainforest which are suitable for prams.
Is it safe for babies or children?
Great Adventures’ cruises are suitable for people of all ages, including families with infants and children, however, we do recommend children are supervised and accompanied by a responsible adult at all times. For anyone wishing to take their children into the water, we recommend that a buoyancy device is used. Buoyancy vests are available for hire at Green Island from the Dive Shop. If you are travelling to the Outer Reef, these are included in the cruise and can be collected with the rest of your snorkelling equipment.
We are a family of four, but our oldest child is over the age of 14 years. Can we still receive the family discount?
Unfortunately the family discount is only applicable if there are 2 Adults and 2 Children aged 4-14 years from the same family travelling together. If your child is older than 14 years, they would be classed as an adult and would pay the normal adult fare.