NEED TO KNOW

Scuba Diving - - TRAVEL -

When to Go

The Great Bar­rier Reef can be ex­pe­ri­enced any time of year. Dwarf minke whales can be found dur­ing June and July, while co­ral spawn­ing may be ob­served in Oc­to­ber or Novem­ber. Calmer winds in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber can al­low ac­cess to rarely dived outer reefs.

Trav­el­ers Tips

Travel from the West Coast of the U.S. en­tails a 16- to 17-hour flight to ei­ther Syd­ney or Bris­bane, fol­lowed by an­other short flight to Cairns. Ar­rive at least a day or two early to explore Cairns and the sur­round­ing area, re­cover from jet lag, and al­low time for pos­si­ble lost bags to ap­pear. Pop­u­lar sites in­clude the Ku­randa Koala Gar­dens, the Skyrail Rainforest Ca­ble­way and the Dain­tree Rainforest.

Dive Con­di­tions

The warm­est wa­ter oc­curs dur­ing the mon­soonal pe­riod from Jan­uary to April, av­er­ag­ing 84ºf. Vis­i­bil­ity ranges from 60 to 100 feet year-round. The dry sea­son runs from May to De­cem­ber, with wa­ter temps av­er­ag­ing 75ºf through Au­gust and 80ºf through De­cem­ber. An SMB and Nau­tilus Life­line (pro­vided) are re­quired.

Op­er­a­tor

Spirit of Free­dom

(spir­itof­free­dom.com.au) is a 122-foot-long me­tal-hull live­aboard with a 24-foot beam. A crew of 10 serves up to 26 guests spread out over 11 cab­ins, rang­ing from ocean-view deluxe to twinand quad-share op­tions.

Price Tag

The July 2018 through June 2019 price for a twin-share three-day trip starts around $1,600, with seven-day ex­cur­sions com­ing in around $3,300 be­fore a small marine-park fee. Ren­tal gear, al­co­hol and ni­trox are of­fered at an ad­di­tional price.

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