As one of the original Reef operators in Port Douglas it is our privilege to be able to choose from a large number of sites at the Northern end of the Great Barrier Reef. Each day we choose three of these sites to share with you. By varying ours sites we can showcase the amazing diversity of life and formation that is found at this Wonder of the Natural World.
Opal Reef is home to variety of different sites, each with a unique and spectacular ecosystem. Some of our favourite sites along Opal Reef include:
Bashful Bommie on South Opal
One of Wavelength’s oldest and most famous sites, "Bash" is situated on South Opal and offers some of the most abundant fish life in the area. This reef is also home to the spectacularly large Hump headed Maori Wrasse (click to check out our "Wrasse Reef Friend Page" for more information). This large green fish’s name has come about from the large bump on its forehead and the markings on its face which look like a traditional Maori tattoo, and if not seen meandering around the bommie can often be found cruising around the back of the boat checking out the passengers.
Bashful Bommie is the meeting site of two drastically different underwater environments: on the one side, the reef edge stretches out for kilometers to the south creating a perfect shelter for some of the smaller, more fragile coral dwelling fish, while the other is a deeper ocean channel (the connection from the shallower, calmer areas found within the protection of the Outer Edge to the deep blue) creating the perfect environment for the larger pelagics.
Often this site is able to boast a reef shark or turtle sighting as well as sightings of some of our larger resident fish such as the sweetlips, barramundi cod and the very well camouflaged flowery cod. This site also has one particularly spectacular coral colony, a gigantic boulder coral estimated to be at least 1,500 years old and an absolute wonder to behold.
Beautiful Mooring on Middle Opal
Another of Opals many facets, BM as we call it, is home to several anemonefish species. You will find these colourful fish darting in and out of the swaying tentacles of anemones that range from white to orange to fluorescent green. The shallow reef flats play host to dozens of Butterfly fish species, Parrotfish and the ever eye-catching Little Blue Devils or neons.
The sandy patches throughout the reef are strewn with different sea cucumber species and Sand Perches, as they are sitting on their pectoral fins they cast their eyes upwards observing the world above. Take time to explore the edges of the reef at BM and be rewarded with Titan Triggerfish and Sweetlip sightings as well as graceful stingrays that glide effortlessly past.
Ray ban on Middle Opal
Ray Ban has gained a reputation as a bewitching shallow water site. The colours that illuminate before your eyes entice you deeper into the magic of the Great Barrier Reef. This particular site has a very famous inhabitant, the Clown Anemonefish or more affectionately known as “Nemo” (click here to learn more about our Clownfish Reef Friend page).
This site boasts seemingly endless staghorn coral forests, brilliantly coloured giant clams and clouds of colourful Damselfish that weave their way in and out of the corals in a seemingly choreographed dance. Keep your eyes open for stingrays lying on the sandy patches and Lizardfish with their brilliant camouflage that sit atop the corals waiting for the next unaware fish to swim past.
Long Bommie on a satellite reef off Opal
During your day with us onboard Wavelength, we try our utmost to show you a wide range of sites that help to give you a better understanding of not only the diversity of the coral and fishes, but the diversity in the topography of the reef which can change dramatically in the space of a few metres.
Long bommie is a satellite reef situated on the sheltered Western side of Opal reef in about 25m of water. Snorkelling around the walls of this bommie give you the opportunity to simultaneously observe the picturesque corals of the shallows and the abundance of small colourful fish as well as scanning the deeper waters for pelagic fish, Humpheaded Parrotfish, sharks and turtles which all pay visits to this spectacular coral outcrop. For the experienced free diver or those wanting to learn this site is perfect for exploring underneath ledges or to gaze into the many underwater caves.
SNO on Northern Opal
This site at the Northern end of Opal reef is certainly a centrepiece jewel in the Great Barrier Reef crown. This site has recently been voted as one of the TOP commercial snorkel sites by National Geographic and has been an electrifyingly awe-inspiring experience for many Wavelength guests. When you first jump into the crystal blue waters you are greeted by a deep sandy bottom, from here we encourage you to swim over the reef crest to what we refer to as the ‘fish bowl’.
This is where the magic is. It doesn’t matter in which direction you look the coral cover is overwhelming. Hundreds of colourful plate corals stacked on top of one another all the way to the surface….endless fields of branching corals with myriads of small fish dancing in between them. Staggering formations of some of the most diverse coral species dropping away over the edges. SNO is nothing short of breathtakingly spectacular. Snorkel around and try to absorb the essence of this site or make friends with the ever friendly and beautifully coloured six barred wrasse that will boldly swim right up to you and check you out, they will swim around you and your buddy not in the least bit shy. SNO is guaranteed to be a potentially life changing highlight of your Great Barrier Reef experience.
So, where exactly is Opal Reef?
Opal Reef is situated about 30 miles off the coast of Australia, right in the Coral Sea. The journey to Opal can take about an hour and a half, but the trip is well worth it. Explore the maps below to get a feel for just how close the Great Barrier Reef really is!
Opal Reef is a low impact tourism zone, which means that some of the larger boats are not allowed to visit this amazing site due to the damage that they cause! Make sure your tour operator has proper low impact tourism procedures.
About Site Selections
During your Great Barrier Reef adventure with us our first priority is to ensure that you have not only the most enjoyable experience possible, but also the safest. With this in mind, please note that we select up to 3 of our 14 sites before your journey and this is completely dependant on the weather conditions for your day of travel.
While this means that some of the sites onr our website may not be selected, the sheer number of sites that we have to choose from means that you will get the maximum benefits that we can offer. Our site selection is unmatched and each as spectacular as the next.
So while you might not get to visit a site listed here, you will still have an amazing Great Barrier Reef experience.