Great Barrier Reef yacht charter itinerary

A Great Barrier Reef yacht charter is a diver’s dream, with some of the world’s most pristine sites ripe for exploring. It is also a great place to enjoy a relaxed family vacation, with rainforests, historical towns and aboriginal heritage along the way. Enjoy 10 days in Australia’s stunning Queensland coastline and network of reefs.

Captain Duncan Smith of motor yacht MYSTIC TIDE has prepared a sample Great Barrier Reef yacht charter itinerary to show you what you can expect of this incredible region.


Join your yacht charter of the Great Barrier Reef in the cosmopolitan city of Cairns, and set a course for north towards the exciting adventure that awaits. First stop is the Low Isles, some 35 nautical miles from Cairns, at the marine state park where you will enjoy lunch at anchor before putting on a snorkel and swimming with the local population of sea turtles at the end of the reef. A trip ashore and a walk along the nature trail takes you to the island’s lighthouse, from which you can enjoy a sundowner with views of the Tableland Mountains of the mainland on the horizon.

day 2   OPAL REEF

Head to the protected Opal Reef for the first taste of the ‘outer’ Great Barrier Reef, which is home to an extraordinary abundance of tropical sea life. Whether you are snorkelling or scuba diving, you will be richly rewarded. In the afternoon, head out in the tender for some sport fishing or simply unwind on board and enjoy the peaceful anchorage, as you are protected from the Coral Sea by the outer reef.


Making your way into the Great Barrier Reef, the first stop is the Ribbon Reefs, which offer fantastic diving sites like the pinnacle at Steve’s Bommie, home to hard and soft corals as well as many pelagic fish species. Snorkellers will be enchanted by the coral heads in the protected lagoon. After a fresh fish lunch on board, the scuba divers in your group will head to Ribbon Reef No. 5, or Andy’s Postcard, for another memorable dive. Those left on board can grab a pair of binoculars and look out for the migrating minke whales that pass by - sometimes just metres from the yacht - in June and July. Put on your snorkel and mask and swim next to these majestic sea mammals.

day 4   DIVING DAY

Another day, another world-class diving or snorkelling opportunity. Spend the day in the water at Pixie’s Pinnacle, Dynamite Pass and Cod Hole, with lunch on board between dives. As evening draws in, the yacht will set a course for Lizard Island where it will anchor in Watson’s Bay for dinner under the star-packed sky.


After breakfast on board and an early morning swim, head ashore in the tender for a walk up to Cook’s Lookout, the highest point on Lizard Island, and then on to the ‘Blue Lagoon’ on the other side of the island where you will enjoy a delicious picnic lunch set up by the crew. After lunch, have a little snorkel in the sheltered bay’s clam gardens or play some beach games, before heading back out on a deep sea fishing trip or a visit to the ‘snake pit’ dive site. After a busy day, enjoy a fun themed dinner on board before the yacht weighs anchor and sets off towards Stanley Island in the Flinders Group, the northernmost point of your charter in the Great Barrier Reef.


A trip ashore at Stokes Bay will reveal the remarkable aboriginal cave paintings in the national park. Explore the local flora and fauna before cruising on to Bathurst Head in Prince Charlotte Bay in time for lunch and an afternoon snorkel or fishing for barramundi in the Normanby River.

day 7   COOKTOWN

On the return leg of the trip south, stop in at Cooktown, famous landfall of Captain Cook, in the late morning. From here you can take a 4-wheel drive inland to the Wet Tropics of Queensland, a tropical rainforest with huge ferns and trees, marsupials and singing birds. Return to your yacht for a delicious meal of fresh fish and lobster cooked by the chef.


Time to get back in the water! The snorkelling and scuba diving around Escape Reef is truly remarkable, and a little afternoon fishing will no doubt provide fun as well as the ingredients for a delicious dinner.


After breakfast and an early morning swim, a visit ashore at the Mackay Sand Cay to the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park rainforest is a must. Marvel at the indigenous bird species and the beautiful tropical plants. Moving on to Port Douglas, there is a choice of excellent restaurants for a late lunch in this fashionable port, as well as shopping, an excellent day spa and golf course. Slip the dock lines before sunset and enjoy an evening cruise to a quiet anchorage from which you can enjoy the final night of your magical Great Barrier Reef yacht charter. The crew may put together a fun themed night to celebrate.


On your final day, head south to Cairns by way of Palm Cove and enjoy a little retail therapy or a walk by the beach, before you return to the Cairns Marlin Marina and bid farewell to your crew and yacht.