Yet another highlight of being in Cairns is the chance to take a catamaran tour to the Low Isles, a Coral Cay island on the Great Barrier Reef for a spot of snorkeling with the turtles. We opted for the ‘Adults Only’ Sailaway (http://www.sailawayportdouglas.com/) which took us there for a wonderful Low Isles and Sunset cruise for around A$220 per person.
Upon arriving at the jetty we boarded Lagoon, a state-of-the-art luxury catamaran than would be easing us all the way to the Low Isles. We were welcomed on board with tea, coffee and snacks, and simply lazed around at the front of the catamaran as she set sail and headed out into the calm open sea. It was a perfect day for it. Smooth sailing all the way. Nothing in front of us but the blue open sea, that, as we approached, became turquoise and the beautiful Low Isle, with its protected coral cay, could be seen.
We took little speedboats to the island, and put on our fins and masks that we’d tried on earlier on the boat. And so we set off on another disastrous guided snorkeling tour (the kind where all you can see is sand kicked up by other snorkelers, or a fin as it smashes you in the face). After half an hour of flailing around in the shallows trying to unfog my mask the ‘tour’ was over, but we were free to carry on alone if we so wished. Veronica and I certainly wished, and, luckily, our patience was rewarded with one of the most beautiful snorkels we’ve ever done . A little further out into the cay, the coral gardens were clearer, more colourful, and the abundance of fish felt like you were swimming in a tropical fish tank. We spotted at least 6 huge turtles, beautiful, graceful creatures. We saw an incredible diversity of marine life. At one point, we found ourselves in the middle of a glassfish ball – it was impossible to see anything or orientate ourselves underwater, they shimmied this way and that in unison, thousands of them.
Later, on the island, we walked up and down the beach taking a few photos of the paradisiacal place, before we were picked up to go back to the Lagoon. Once on the catamaran, the most relaxing part of the day started. We were given a complimentary sundowner (white wine seemed a good choice), and were presented with an extensive selection of canapés. They even had scones with strawberry jam and cream! We sat on deck and sailed back as the sun went down. After a few more glasses of wine, the sun had almost gone, and, all too soon, we were back at Port Douglas. Still it wasn’t such a bad place to return to. What an amazing day. Vero and I enjoyed a beer at the bar on the jetty, another one at the gloriously unrefined Tin Shed bar (http://www.thetinshed-portdouglas.com.au/), then we worked our way slowly back to the apartment, sampling the atmosphere of Port Douglas one last time. All too soon, in the morning, we would be heading back to Adelaide. It had been the little break of a lifetime, Cairns, and I felt that, given the limited time we had, we’d made the best of it. A catamaran sunset cruise on the Aquarius, a day of scuba diving on the Ribbon Reefs (outer Great Barrier Reefs) on Poseidon, a cable car ride up to Kurunda rainforest town and the scenic train ride back, and a catamaran cruise to the Low Isles of the Great Barrier Reef for a spot of snorkeling with the turtles before a final elegant sail back to Port Douglas supping delicious Australian wine. Not a bad way to spend 4 nights and 3 days. Port Douglas and Cairns – you were wonderful!