Don’t fret if the owner starts talking about taking a “little trip Down Under” in the near future. Australia has plenty of fantastic cruising itineraries for you to consider. However, there’s one place that’s simply too extraordinary to miss, and you probably can guess what it is: the world’s largest World Heritage area, 348,700sqkm, 2,300km-long Great Barrier Reef (GBR).
You could spend a superyacht-sized amount of time exploring the GBR’s 2,900-plus individual reefs, 300 coral cays and 600 continental islands, choosing locations based on the marine park’s rules for superyachts and zoning areas, of course.
But if your time Down Under is limited, fear not. This eight-day cruising itinerary, based largely on Superyacht Australia’s Great Barrier Reef itinerary, includes several of the reef’s highlights.
After taking advantage of the excellent superyacht facilities and services in Cairns, cruise northeast towards North Opal Reef. Consider pausing at Upolu Cay, where the owner and guests can snorkel or simply dip Tim Tams into their morning tea, before heading to Norman Reef, where Maori Wrasse — one of the larger of the GBR’s 1,500 fish species — may appear at the many snorkeling and diving sites.
Before anchoring for the evening, call in to Agincourt Reef, a series of smaller reefs on the GBR’s outer edge. Here, the owner can say g’day to brilliant corals before embarking on a scenic helicopter flight from the award-winning Quicksilver pontoon.
Arrange for a game fishing charter and local guide to meet and accompany the yacht as you cruise north towards Escape Reef, your stop for the night. When the owner’s guests grow weary of casting lines on this deep sea fishing expedition, cruise into Agincourt Reef, where they can snorkel, dive or kayak instead.
Start early, cruising north to Ribbon Reef number 3, the location of magnificent Steve’s Bommie, an isolated pinnacle popular with macro divers, and on to Ribbon Reef number 5, which also offers diving possibilities. If you’re visiting between May and July, you may even spot migratory dwarf minke whales.
Head west to Cooktown, site of Australia’s first non-indigenous settlement. The owner and guests can delve into the town’s past at the James Cook Historical Museum and, when the afternoon air grows more amicable, make the short trek up 162M Grassy Hill, which boasts 360-degree views.
From Cooktown, cruise northeast to No Name Reef via dive sites at Ribbon Reefs numbers 7, 9, and 10 as well as Cormorant Pass. On the northern end of reef number 10, you’ll find the Cod Hole, famous for its giant potato cod.
Proceed some 75 nautical miles east of the GBR to Osprey Reef, known for its shark life and pristine soft coral. The North Horn dive site is a remote seamount rising 1,000m from the ocean floor, with a resident population of white tip reef sharks.
From Osprey, cruise southwest to rugged 1013ha Lizard Island, the largest of the six islands that make up Lizard Island National Park. The 2.25km return track to 359m Cooks Look is a must-do endeavor, as is exploring the Clam Gardens in Watsons Bay.
As you prepare for the 12- to14-hour journey back to Cairns, the owner and guests can check in to the exclusive Lizard Island Resort and fly back to the mainland whenever it suits them.
And, given the resort’s top-notch leisure facilities, you may well end up with a few days of downtime, too.