Visiting the Great Barrier Reef as a non-swimmer

I have a confession to make. I can’t swim.

It’s pretty terrible, being born in an island (Fiji) and then living in a country with some of the worlds best beaches…and yet I can’t swim.

When we decided to head up to Port Douglas for our anniversary this year, we spoke of things that we wanted to do. The ONE thing the husband insisted on doing was going out to the Great Barrier Reef.

The thought of it instantly made me feel uneasy. I had some major concerns.

Firstly – those tours are meant to be so expensive!

Second – it would be full of tourists…and I wanted a R&R kind of holiday.

And lastly – what would I do there? I can’t swim. I wasn’t planning on sitting around while he just snorkels.

All my problems solved themselves.

The cost issue?

We visited some cruise companies scattered around Port Douglas. There is plenty around and  we decided to go with one of the bigger, well know companies with good reviews, Quick Silver, offering a day cruise to the Great Barrier Reef on the Wave Dancer.

Low Isles review Great Barrier Reef

We were quoted $195 by the company themselves but after a quick Google search we discovered that BookMe offer the exact same cruise day trip for $150. A saving of $40 each or $80 combined. That made me feel a lot better about booking the cruise 🙂 I hate paying full price for anything.

Since we were already in Port Douglas, the marina was only a 10 minute walk away from us. If you are in Cairns they do offer shuttle services to the Marina for an additional fee.

Too many people?

The day got off to a great start – we only had about 40 other people on our cruise. This may sound like a lot, but remember in peak season they can probably double that number. This was a much smaller boat compared to some of the other boats that were parked at the Marina.

It felt as though because we went in off-peak, the crew were in great spirits and we got a really personal service with them all being incredibly patient with us.

We got morning tea (coffee and biscuits) as we boarded. We were then given an itinerary of what to expect on the day.

Before we sailed away, we got safety instructions as well as some guidelines around snorkeling. Mostly common sense but necessary.

Low Isles review Great Barrier Reef
shuttle that doubles as the glass bottom boat

Non Swimmer

Those who were keen to snorkel set off on a shuttle to Low Isles while the rest of us could laze around on the boat, on the island or go on a glass bottom boat tour.

I opted for the glass bottom boat touch which took about 45 minutes:

I wasn’t called out, questioned or made to feel embarrassed at my decision to not go snorkeling. There were plenty of others of all ages who didn’t get in the water either.

The crew member taking us around on the glass bottom boat took us to several different parts of the reef and pointed things out. We saw several colorful fish varieties and coral.

We even spotted a harmless shark in the water.

Low Isles review Great Barrier Reef

My husband loved the snorkeling. He had been before in Fiji and Thailand but said this was the best ever. The water was the most clear and he saw a huge variety  including a turtle and he got to swim with a school of fish!

For snorkeling they provide full body lyrca suits for the jellyfish season as well as to avoid sun burn. The also have noodles and all other gear you need for snorkeling. There is a lifeguard on duty at all times and they even offer to assist you in the water if you aren’t too confident with your swimming.

Lunch consisted of seafood,cold meats, prawns, pasta salad and chicken. There was water and cordial available at all times on the boat. And there was always the option to buy other treats like ice-creams, chips and soft-drinks.

After lunch I went to the island to relax. It was beautiful and pristine. They had shady huts to relax under.

Low Isles review Great Barrier Reef
Low Isles

Low Isles review Great Barrier Reef

We also got a guided tour of the island included by Russell, the Marine Biologist on board.

Low Isles review Great Barrier Reef

It isn’t a very well-known fact but he told us that this is the island that Steve Irwin was bought to after being attacked by the sting-ray that led to his death.

Russell also showed us several artifacts that have shown up in the waters surround the Low Isles…including several bottles.

Message in a bottle anyone?

Great Barrier Reef tour for non-swimmers

Great Barrier Reef

After this we boarded the Wavedancer again for the ride back into Port Douglas. At this point we bought a cider and had it with the complimentary cheese and crackers and fresh fruits that were provided.

A crew member even pulled out hit guitar and serenaded us with lovely songs on the deck with the sun shining brightly on us.

It ended up being the perfect day! And I now completely understand why so many people have the Great Barrier Reef on their bucket list.

What was I so worried about again?


5 thoughts on “Visiting the Great Barrier Reef as a non-swimmer

  1. Aww swimming isn’t my favourite. I can swim but I dislike it a lot – it hurts my lungs to be submerged in water for some reason. 😛
    Glad you were able to enjoy the visit without having to dip into the water – it looks like you got a fantastic view of the reefs! Sad about the Steve Irwin fact.


  2. Love this! I’m travelling Australia at the moment and have been told so many times to visit the Great Barrier Reef but I’m not a very confident swimmer so haven’t really seen the point going but maybe this will change now I’ve read this! Amy

    Liked by 1 person

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