One of the best ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef when you’re in Port Douglas, is on the stunning authentic Chinese Junk – The Shaolin. They have a few tours available but for a cruisy day snorkelling and exploring Low Isles, this is the tour for you! We leave the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina in Port Douglas at a respectable 8am, and are greeted with the friendly Captain and Crew and sumptuous plate of fresh fruit and muffins! Not a bad what to start the day! We then have our safety briefing and are invited to head up to the deck or remain in the spacious lounge area for our journey out to Low Isles – which takes just over an hour.
The gorgeous red sails are released, and although we cruise via motor, they look resplendent against the azure blue of the ocean. We reach Low Isles Batfish welcome us upon our arrival. We are ferried to shore in groups, after already being sized for flippers by the helpful crew. The water is deliciously warm and in no time we are in the water searching for Nemo and his friends! Turtles float past in no particular hurry and there is no shortage of brightly coloured fish and coral to explore in the first snorkel. Those preferring a more relaxed experience are offered pool noodles, and we are always under the watchful eyes of our captain and crew.
The group gradually emerge from the water jabbering about the fish we saw, and how amazing the water is, and are impressed to find a morning tea spread fit for a small army! Cheeses, dips, fruit, muffins, crackers, chips and ice cold water to quench our thirst! After refuelling we are invited to join one of the crew – Connor – on a guided walking tour of the Island. History, geography and knowledge of the animal life abound while we meander the path to the fully functioning lighthouse. Connor has an obvious passion for the area and conservation of the island, it’s native critters and the region itself, and answers many questions from our group. The lighthouse itself is most impressive, as is the quaint ‘history museum’ with items and artifacts dating back to the early 1800’s.
Time for snorkel number two where again we don the prepared gear and head to a different area of the reef. This time we’re lucky to spot sharks as well as the array of reef fish, and turtles. So glad we opted for the Go-Pro as the water clarity was much better in this spot. All this activity has worked up a hunger, and we are escorted back to the boat for a feast worthy of Kings! We devour plates filled with cold meats, prawns, salads, bread rolls (including gluten free) and all washed down with a complimentary alcoholic beverage of choice! Never has a beer tasted better! Our group chatter away and share stories and photo’s of our adventures whilst seated around the table below deck. The history of the Junk is laid on a map over the dining table, and we are welcome to wander through the cabins below to the galley kitchen and plush sleeping quarters.
All too soon it’s time to return to Port with a boat full of weary but elated guests. What a wonderful experience that we will most definitely do again and recommend to all who visit our beautiful slice of paradise that we call home. A huge thanks to our able, friendly and knowledgeable crew – Captain Flynn, Connor and Caden. The Shaolin is indeed a treasure of a boat and to experience the reef and it’s waters was sensational.