I appreciate each & every share. Thank you!

The Great Barrier Reef from above

The Great Barrier Reef from above.

My experience snorkeling The Great Barrier Reef was the stuff dreams are made of. I honestly don’t feel this post will do the day justice, but I hate to say “you had to be there” in a travel post. Haha. So, I will do my best to show just how awesome this day was…complete with pretty pictures and videos and some fun tips! And if you find yourself traveling to Cairns to check out The Great Barrier Reef – you’ll definitely want to book the same boat as me. The Evolution and her crew were phenomenal!

But before I get to more on “Evolution,” let’s start off with a video of our day snorkeling, shall we? The video below my husband shot with the GoPro, and it’ll show off some of the pretty fish and coral we were able to see while we were snorkeling!

Apparently, the clam at the end of the video can do some serious damage if you were to have a limb in the way when it shut! Yikes! He was huge! But I really loved all the colorful parrot fish. And the jellyfish made me a bit nervous…but I guess those guys won’t sting you. (You wouldn’t be able to see the ones that do sting because they’re so small.)

And the video was from two separate spots on the reef. Unfortunately, the first spot didn’t have the best visibility because it was storming out that morning. However, by the time we got to our second spot that day – the weather was beauuuuutiful! So, you’re able to see the fish a bit better then. (We were still able to see pretty well at both spots – it just didn’t show up well in the video. Sorry!)

Great Barrier Reef

You do have the option to dive or snorkel. I’m quite claustrophobic, so I knew diving wasn’t going to be for me. So, we stuck with snorkeling and had a really nice time! (FYI – You don’t have to be certified to dive, though, if you’re interested.)

There’s no need to worry either if you aren’t the world’s greatest swimmer (like me). “Noodles” and lifejackets are provided, so you can easily float over the reef without any problems. (Also helps so no one accidentally stands on the reef if they get tired.) Face masks and flippers are also provided. Oh, and you can rent “stinger” suits for $10 AUD to prevent getting stung by a jellyfish. January is jellyfish season, so we thought it would be a good idea to rent some. But after talking to the locals that night, it sounds like it really wasn’t necessary – oh well! It prevented me from getting a sunburn at least! Haha.

snorkeling the great barrier reef

Rocking our “stinger” suits.


The 3-day tour I had booked for our trip to Cairns included this day aboard “Evolution.” However, if you’ve been following my Cairns posts, you’ll know I won’t recommend doing that. But have no fear, you can book a day on Evolution with Down Under Dive.

Evolution Great Barrier Reef Boat - Cairns

And the Great Barrier Reef is over an hour away from Cairns. So, you’ll want to make sure you have a comfy boat with a good crew to get you there! And like I said, “Evolution” and crew were phenomenal. (Shoutout to Kyle – he really went out of his way to make sure our day was awesome. And he even remembered our names, even though there were 160 people on the boat.)

Everything went so smoothly this day! And the boat is brand spakin’ new, too. They just started using her this summer, and she was easily the biggest boat I had seen on the wharf. And everything was soooo clean! I loved it.

Helicopter Ride

helicopter ride

And if snorkeling The Great Barrier Reef isn’t enough, you also have the option to buy a helicopter ride over it. It’s pretty cool to see The Great Barrier Reef from above! Check out the views in the video my husband shot below.

The ride we were offered was 10 minutes long, which was fine. However, it was $150 AUD a person. And, in my opinion, that was pretty darn pricey for 10 minutes. If you happen to have $150 AUD burning a hole in your pocket…then the ride is great. But if you’re trying to be frugal on your trip, I wouldn’t say a 10-minute helicopter ride is a must do. You can get some good views of the reef just by walking to the top of Evolution too.

The Great Barrier Reef

A view from the top of Evolution.

That being said, though, it was my first time in a helicopter…so, I was pretty darn excited! My husband had the honor of sitting in the front by the pilot, as he was the one in charge of filming video and he was the only guy on our ride. Haha.

But I did snap a few photos from my seat in the back!

Food & Refreshments

If you’re like me and knowing you’ll be spending a full day out swimming around…your biggest concern is going to be food and water for the day. But I had nothing to worry about. Evolution had a great spread for lunch (which is included in your price) with BBQed steaks and sausages, grilled fish, cold prawns, all kinds of salads, etc. There was also a place to refill water bottles. (Sorry, I’m terrible at taking photos of food…as I don’t think to take a photo until after I’ve eaten it!) We also had complimentary snacks and wine on the ride back to Cairns.

great barrier reef

Oh, and you can buy a beer too…if you want to reward yourself after a hard day of snorkeling! Haha.

Funny story about the shirt I’m wearing too…one of the crew members spotted it and specially cooked me a steak because my shirt said “Team Beef.” Haha. I thought that was great. (I was sponsored by the Wisconsin Beef Council for a marathon I ran a few years ago – that’s the story behind the shirt. Haha.)

Things to Know for Your Trip

Just a few random things to keep in mind too if you’re heading out to The Great Barrier Reef for the day.

*If you’ve never snorkeled before, the first 10-20 minutes will be a bit overwhelming until you get the hang of it. There are tons of people around you initially, and remembering to breathe underwater is weird. But once you get the hang of it – you’ll have a great day! Just don’t let those first few minutes discourage you!

snorkeling the great barrier reef

*If you’re not sure whether or not you get sea-sick – just take the Dramamine! And be sure to take it before you get on the boat, as you can’t do anything once you’re sick. (Dramamine is preventative – not a cure.) And there were lots of folks barfing on the boat…

*But, if you do start feeling sick just walk outside – you’ll feel a million times better!

*Bring towels. There are no towels for you on the boat – be sure to grab some extras from your hotel.

*You will get burned to a crisp if you don’t cover your skin or wear sunscreen. Trust me, I saw people who forgot the next day and it was BAD. Don’t be that person! Haha.


Wear sunscreen or a super cool hat, like my husband! 😉

*There are also crew members fluent in Mandarin on this boat if you have any Mandarin speaking friends looking to book a trip too!

I can’t say enough good things about this day! Seriously, if you’re going to Cairns just book a trip with Evolution, and you’ll have a fabulous time! Click here to book your tour.

Do you like diving or snorkeling? And would a helicopter ride be something you’re interested in? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


Last pretty view of the day!

Tips for visiting & snorkeling the great barrier reef

If you liked it – Pin it!

I appreciate each & every share. Thank you!

18 thoughts on “A Perfect Great Barrier Reef Experience

    1. haveclotheswilltravel Post author

      Aw, thank you! And oh, I do know what you mean. I’ve never been very good at swimming, so I tend to avoid water too. But I can promise that you’re very safe if you do decide to give it a try! Otherwise, the helicopter was awesome! Oh, and there is also the option to take a semi-submersible tour (so you won’t have to swim – you’ll be in the boat). I forgot to mention that one in the post!


  1. Shybiker

    This is such a great post! Everyone (including me) wants to visit the Great Barrier Reef and you give us a good look at it through your eyes. Wonderful travelogue. Oh, and hi Grandma!


  2. Nicole Schoultz

    Great post! Barrier Reef is on my bucket list of travel items. I liked seeing the jellyfish and clam. Even though the helicopter ride was short it still seemed neat to be able to get a view of long large the coral is.
    I love both scuba and snorkeling. Depending on what we are seeing determines if we dive it or snorkel it.

    Oh and the Evolution looks amazing!!!! What a great way to spend the time getting out to the site and back.


    1. haveclotheswilltravel Post author

      Thank you so much, Nicole! I can’t wait to hear about your experience once you cross it off your bucket list. 🙂 I wish I could get over my phobia of scuba…it does seem like you see some really amazing things that way. And oh yes – the helicopter ride was cool to see the reef from that view. I just had some major sticker shock going on. 🙂


  3. robjodiefilogomo

    What an absolutely fantastic experience, Lindsey!
    I can see how the helicopter ride would be so fun, but that is quite a chunk of change. That being said, my husband and I always laugh and say that the experiences are priceless!!


  4. Denise

    That is such a great, post, dear Lindsey, and that you have articles now to download! Amazing, congratulations! I loooved the post, as I said, and I loved the snorkeling part – and the tips if someone has never done it before, as well as “take some towels”. The helicopter part was funny – and amazing, the views – cause your husband was the only guy and sat next to the pilot! The price may be high, but I think it’s worth it, so amazing views. The Evolution is a great boat, no doubt! I am also afraid of jelly fish, so the stinger suits were the best! The T-shirt is cool! And getting a special meal because of that 🙂 Really, so glad you enjoyed it that much! Hope you have a great week, enjoy it wherever you are now!


    1. haveclotheswilltravel Post author

      Aw, thank you, Denise! And oh yes, I’m not upset we did the helicopter by any means. I just had some sticker shock going on. 🙂 Thank you so much, again, for all your kind words and for reading, Denise! Hope you’re having a great week too!


  5. Amanda Brezovsky

    Your shirt is too cute and these photos are amazing!! This is something I would definitely love to do one day. Getting the hang of breathing under water would be my thing I need to overcome. Great tips at the end too!



Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.