Great Bar­rier Reef Aboard Mon­soon

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Aus­tralia’s Great Bar­rier Reef is a bucket- list des­ti­na­tion for snorkel­ers, scuba divers and fish­ing en­thu­si­asts alike. It is the world’s largest coral reef ecosys­tem, with more than 1,500 species of fish as well as whales, sea tur­tles, sharks, stingrays and more. An af­ter­noon of ex­plo­ration here is like be­ing in­side a nev­erend­ing aquar­ium. (Well, al­most never-end­ing, with the re­gion span­ning more than 130,000 square miles.)

For yacht char­ters, the base of op­er­a­tions head­ing out to the reef is Port Dou­glas, which is north of the air­port at Cairns, in far north­east­ern Queens­land. A car takes guests for the hour-long drive along the wa­ter­side Cap­tain Cook High­way, which in and of it­self of­fers some spec­tac­u­lar views of the pierc­ing blue Coral Sea. At Port Dou­glas, day boats and char­ter yachts are tied up to the pil­ings, ready to take guests out to the Great Bar­rier Reef.

Mon­soon is one of those boats, with a cruis­ing speed of 15 knots that makes her well suited to day trips as well as char­ters of a few days out on the reef. She is a 2009 launch built in alu­minum specif­i­cally for reef ex­plo­ration. Snor­kel­ing equip­ment is pro­vided, and scuba div­ing gear can be ar­ranged. For fish­ing en­thu­si­asts, the yacht comes with bait, rods and reels, and the crew can sched­ule itineraries for light-tackle or se­ri­ous sport­fish­ing.

“This is by far the most pop­u­lar yacht for pri­vate group day trips to the outer reef,” says Cameron Bray, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor in Aus­tralia for Northrop & John­son. “There’s a pri­vate chef ex­pe­ri­ence, and pri­vate snor­kel­ing ex­cur­sions away from the tourist boats that carry hun­dreds of peo­ple aboard crowded pon­toons.”

That kind of lo­cal knowl­edge is key not only to avoid­ing the masses, but also to find­ing the best coral reefs and un­der­wa­ter life. Mon­soon’s crew is al­ways on the look­out for beau­ti­ful snor­kel­ing spots that are still thriv­ing and healthy. northropand­john­son.com

The crew will take guests to the places where tourist boats don’t go.

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