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- I am not a very good swimmer, can I snorkel?
As Wavelength only take snorkelers to the Great Barrier Reef, our crew will have plenty of time to assist you in learning to snorkel. If you can swim, you should be able to snorkel. Weather plays a big role in this situation. For example, if the wind was over 20 knots, combined with a highish tide in the middle of the day, and you are not very confident in the water, then snorkelling may not be easy for you.
We provide flotation devices called noodles and also wetsuits. We do not encourage the use of life jackets for buoyancy whilst snorkeling as they are designed to keep your head out of the water.
The best idea would be to email or phone our expert reservations staff for advice.
- If the weather is rough can we still see the reef?
During our tropical winter (May to October) we can encounter strong winds in Port Douglas, the wind direction is from the south east. Our sites are in behind the Great Barrier Reef and when there is a low tide in the middle of the day the reef acts like a barrier (hence the name Great Barrier Reef) and it can be very calm and protected snorkeling in behind the reef. The stronger trade winds usually occur during our winter period and during this time the visibility on the outer Great Barrier Reef is at its best. You just need to brace yourself for a "rock and roll" ride to the reef!
- What will the reef be like if it is raining?
Rain will not affect your day on Wavelength. You will be getting wet and as the fish are already wet the only weather component that we need to monitor is the wind (as this can affect you day). If it is overcast on the reef, believe it or not, the corals are actually more fluorescent. Infra red light interferes with UV light and when it is overcast there is less infra red and more ultra violet (which is why you can get sun burnt on a cloudy day). The ultra violet light makes the corals much more colourful on cloudy days on the Great Barrier Reef.
- Will I miss out on seeing anything by not doing a scuba dive?
No. Approximately 90% of reef life lives in the top 4 meters of water on the Great Barrier Reef; in addition, red and yellow light are the first colours you lose when you go deeper into the water- therefore the corals and fish in shallow water are much prettier than diving at 10 meters, where everything has a blue/green tinge.
- Will I get seasick on a smaller boat?
Hmmm... this is a common question! And a tough one to answer.
Wavelength is a Randal West coaster. It is 16 meters long, and very "beamy". These boats are designed to work off the continental shelf in Western Australia where 5 meter seas are common. Steve Irwin's boat "Croc One" was also a Westcoaster.
If you are concerned about the possibility of seasickness, Preventative medication Travacalm can be purchased on board Wavelength. Where possible we recommend that guests pre-purchase preventative seasickness medication from a pharmacy (drug store). Remember seasickness medication is a preventative, not a cure! If you are unsure as to how you travel on boats, we advise you to take medication well ahead of your check-in at 8.00am, if not the night before. We recommend that you discuss this with a pharmacist.
- I've heard a lot about Agincourt Reef, is it better to snorkel than Opal Reef?
Agincourt Reef is a thin ribbon reef, very close to the deep drop off of the shelf. It is no better than Opal or Tongue. In fact , due to its shape, Agincourt offers little in the way of protection to the ocean swells and currents for snorkelling. Agincourt reef therefore is more suited to DIVING, not SNORKELLING.
Opal Reef on the other hand is broad and curved and perfectly shaped to provide protection to snorkellers from the south easterly swells and wind that we typically experience during the months of May to September. Reef tour companies each have their own moorings to use. Bigger boats with 100 or so passengers are legally required to use their Agincourt Moorings. Wavelength with 30 passengers only, can use Opal. The moorings allocated are based on history and usage. Wavelength has been in business for over 20 years...so you guessed it...we have the primo choice of moorings: all chosen specifically for the needs of snorkellers.
Wavelength own the pick of the sites at Opal reef and Tongue reef. The point is that reef site selection is far, far more important than what actual reef you are visiting. The very best snorkeling sites at Opal Reef are owned exclusively by Wavelength.
- Does it make much difference to go with a Great Barrier Reef tour operator that offers scuba diving, or should I go with a snorkel boat?
If you don't dive there is no need to travel to the Great Barrier Reef with a dive boat. A dive boat that takes snorkellers to a dive site (deep water, distant from the coral edge) may have a schedule that can be determined by dive time limits. In addition, the larger dive vessels may not be able to get snorkelers as close to the reef as smaller boats.
There is very little to be gained by diving when one could just snorkel the same site and see much more colourful coral/fish. This is of course because the vast majority (90%) of tropical coral reef life on the Great Barrier Reef to be found within the top 4 meters of water which can easily be observed from the surface by snorkellers.
- Do I need to book in advance?
It really depends on the time of year. During peak periods, like school holidays, Wavelength can book out up to 5 days in advance. If you are concerned about the weather being unfavourable on your selected date, you can book a date and contact our office 3 days prior to your tour. We can then check the 3 day forecast and check the tides. If the conditions are not ideal, and you give us sufficient notice, we may be able to move your booking (subject to availability of course) for you so that you get the best weather possible for your experience on the Great Barrier Reef.
- What are marine stingers?
During the warmer months of October to March it is considered unsafe to swim off the beaches in North Queensland due to the presence of Box Jellyfish; unless you swim in a netted area or wear a lycra suit. Out on the Great Barrier Reef there may be Irukandji present. These are small jellyfish that can cause painful stings and sometimes quite serious injury. They are rare to encounter...the chances of encountering them are around 1:150 000.
Wavelength Reef Charters require our guests to wear a full body lycra suit that protect you from the likelihood of an irukandji sting and also from sunburn when snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef. If you wear the suits you will also be doing your "bit " to protect and conserve the Great Barrier Reef as the suits limit the amount of sunscreen that you need to apply. Sunscreen comes off your body in the water and settles on the coral- preventing it from photosynthesising. Sunscreen KILLS the coral. So SAVE the reef and wear a suit!
- How are our sites chosen?
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.
- What is "Reef Tax"?
Reef Tax is the commonly used word for the EMC (Environmental Management Charge) and is a government tax that is charged to all visitors to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The funds raised from this tax are used for research and conservation of the Great Barrier Reef.
Tourism operators who take passengers to experience the Great Barrier Reef are required by law to collect this on behalf of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).
You can read more about the work that GBRMPA does to ensure that future generations still have a reef to visit at their website
- I wear glasses, do you have prescription masks?
Yes we do! They are available on board for free. If you wear contact lenses it is possible to wear contact lenses under your normal mask whilst snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef.
We have a wide range of prescription masks from -2 to -8 on board the vessel. Please make sure that you let us know at the time of booking and also at least 72 hours prior to your trip of this special request.
- Are there any penalties if we cancel our trip?
If you cancel within 18 hours of your scheduled Great Barrier Reef snorkeling trip then a cancellation fee of 100% applies.
- If the weather is bad on our date of travel can we change our trip to another day?
Of course, as long as you notify us of the change (and as long as we have availability) within 18 hours of your scheduled date of travel on the Great Barrier Reef.
- The water on the beach is brown, will I see anything on the reef?
During the wet season, vast amounts of water carrying silt from the Rainforest wash out of the rivers and is deposited on the beaches. When strong winds blow, this coastal sediment is stirred up making the water on the beach brown
The Great Barrier Reef is 30 miles off shore and the clarity of water this far out is much better. This is due to the reef being further away from the river mouth and additional water movement, creating better visibility.
- Should I bring reef shoes so I can walk on the reef?
No, there is no need to bring any reef shoes as we have a scrict "no touch" policy. Not only would you hurt the delicate reef, some corals can also do you damage if you touch them and we won't allow you to do this!
The only thing we will allow you to take are PICTURES!
- Do you ever cancel the tour due to bad weather?
If Wavelength decide that conditions on the Great Barrier Reef are unsafe due to a combination of exceptionally strong winds or gales and high tides in the middle of the day, we will cancel the tour. In this likelihood, Wavelength will issue a full refund to any passengers.
- Should we bring an underwater camera?
If you have your own digital camera with a housing you may bring it along to capture your memories of the Great Barrier Reef. Wavelength will not accept any liability for any damage to your equipment, regardless of how it's occurred, so make sure you know what you're doing with your own equipment.
However our crew have an underwater digital camera and will take photos of all passengers and also of the fish, corals and turtles that are seen on the day. Our office crew will burn a disk of the day and also add 100 of the best images of Wavelength to it.
The cost of this is $40 for each CD. You may like to have a look at our photo gallery to see some great images of the Great Barrier Reef. gallery page
- Will we see whales?
Hopefully! During the months of July to September migrating Humpback and Dwarf Minke whales are often seen on the Great Barrier Reef. Obviously as wild animals, their movements can not be guaranteed, but we can see whales on the Great Barrier Reef during this period.
- Do I have to wear a lycra suit (stinger suit)?
Wavelength require our passengers to wear a lycra suit whenever they are in the water during "stinger season" (this is when there are stinger nets at the beaches too). While snorkeling outside of this season, lycra suits are available free of charge if you would like to use them, but are not mandatory.
Exceptions to this requirement can be made at the discretion of the crew on the day of your journey, but it's just a good idea to protect both yourselves (from stings!) and to protect the reef from things like sunscreen that can be on your skin.