Calypso Bubbles cruise: Experience the magic of Australia's world-wonder, the Great Barrier Reef

For this morning's breakfast, served on the Great Barrier Reef, the local fish are nibbling on toast and marmalade followed by bircher muesli with Greek yoghurt. There's a double shot skim latte thrown into the mix. My best efforts to keep sea sickness at bay – prescription medicine, alcohol-free days, staring at the horizon on board – have come to nought.

But don't let me put you off. Thirty minutes at sea from Port Douglas to the outer Great Barrier Reef, at least I'm the only unwell passenger aboard

Crew member Bella Baxter passes me water and figuratively mops my brow, lamenting the affliction which has become more severe in recent years.

On board the sleek, white 21-metre Calypso Bubbles is a good-looking vessel with upholstered seating, multiple sun loungers atop and a bar. It's more like an outing with 50 or so friends than a day of stilted conversations and jostling for wetsuits with strangers.

Off to see one of the world's great wonders, guests are smiling with anticipation, wind in their hair.

"My mum was the same," Bella says. "She never had seasickness. But then she had kids." My culprits (now a teen and a tween) are already submerged in the brochure-blue water, eagerly snorkelling behind a guide who has just taken a true deep dive, 20metres or so to the sea bed at the Blue Buoy mooring.

A few seconds later, the guide splashes out of the water with a hermaphrodite sea cucumber for swimmers to observe before ducking underwater to take it home. But not before revealing its secrets; sea cucumbers breathe through their bottoms and, when spawning, release eggs and sperm from the tops of their heads.

The volume of the passenger buzz aboard the Calypso when we set off 50 minutes earlier towards Opal Reef, 60 kilometres away, only increases as the platform is lowered into the ocean at Blue Buoy mooring and passengers swim away from the boat. Squeals of excitement carry across the water as snorkellers make various discoveries on this tiniest part of the 2300-kilometre reef. "You'll be far better off in the water than bobbing around in the boat," Bella tells me.

And so I too slide into this natural wonder. There's no need to deep dive; the view of the teeming wildlife is clear and magical just floating on top of the water. The motion sickness dissipates.  


Underwater, parrot fish streak by clams while a  maori wrasse stares, unimpressed. Of the 400 species of coral, the elephant's ear and mushroom corals are easy to identify.

We moor at SNO (South-North Opal) before refuelling on fresh sandwiches and fruit while scouring the sea for a minke whale that  was spotted by another boat.

Later, children gather around Bella to look at the photographs of what we've just seen with our own eyes.

"The reef is like a rainforest," is greeted with enthusiastic nods and the chatter of the young learners.

From here, Lizard Island is a four-day sail away, Bella says, but we're headed back to port. The return is in silence as passengers sleep, some starfish-style, on the day loungers as we pass Low Isles, a half-day cruise destination. I'm at the bow of the boat, ready to dive in again given the chance; and quite disappointed I can't take my sea legs with me for next time.


Jane Reddy travelled as a guest of Tourism and Events Queensland.



The Calypso Snorkel and Reef tour departs daily from Port Douglas at 8.30am, returning 4.30pm. Snorkelling equipment including Lycra suits and wetsuits, guided tour, morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea are all included. Coffee, tea and water available all day. From $255.50 for an adult and $185.50 for children aged four to 14. See