Port Douglas & Lizard Island
Located in the enchanting Tropical North Queensland region, Port Douglas and Lizard Island offer an exotic escape filled with sandy beaches, majestic rainforests and crystal-clear waters.
The region is perhaps most famed for its position as a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, though there are an abundance of diverse and unique experiences to be uncovered in this truly enthralling destination.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, stretching for over 2,300km along Queensland’s gloriously sun-kissed coastline. For superyachts, the Great Barrier Reef is the ultimate playground with the most diverse and captivating diving and snorkelling grounds in the world. The Ribbon Reefs, found just off the coast of Northern Queensland, provide a kaleidoscopic diving experience with a plethora of colourful corals and a flourishing marine ecosystem which will expose you to everything from whitetip reef sharks and barracudas to dwarf minke whales.
The Ribbon Reefs are home to many internationally renowned diving sites, including Steve’s Bommie, Cod Hole and The Temple of Doom. Steve’s Bommie boasts incredible schooling action, big fish and macro life. This is where divers can be treated to whitetip reef sharks and cruising barracudas. Cod’s Hole is aptly named after the giant potato cod which inhabit the reef. Feeding a 60kg giant potato cod is an experience that stays long in the memory, the reason why Cod Hole has become one of the Great Barrier Reef’s most celebrated sites.
span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Less than an hour drive from Cairns International Airport is the quintessential tropical town of Port Douglas, home to the award-winning Crystalbrook Marina. Port Douglas is perfectly situated to facilitate amazing adventures, with the UNESCO Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest on one side and the Great Barrier Reef on the other. The town itself is an idyllic remote destination with plenty of exquisite restaurants and fun bars. There are plenty of secluded beaches to enjoy the perfect climate in Port Douglas, including the famed Four Mile Beach.
Lizard Island is the ultimate exclusive superyacht getaway. This beautiful rugged island was given its name by Captain Cook in 1770, due to large numbers of yellow-spotted lizards he encountered on the island. Nowadays, Lizard Island is an awe-inspiring luxury retreat which boasts sublime beaches, perfectly sheltered anchorages and a luxury resort. The sensational diving and game-fishing available in Lizard Island is a favourite for superyacht charters, and there are plenty of opportunities to see diverse marine life including the Black Marlin.
VIEW 7 Night | 8 Day Superyacht Charter Itinerary
Discover Australia’s Great Natural Wonder
Characteristically no wider than 450m, the Ribbon Reefs are part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and are covered in colourful corals that attract a plethora of reef life big and small, with sandy gullies separating them, themselves containing interesting critters. The Ribbons reef host several of Australia’s most spectacular dive sites, as well as arguably the most prolific Black Marlin fishing in the world at certain times of the year a with general fishing topping the list.
With loads of sunshine, warm seas, refreshing sea breezes and a warm climate all year round, Tropical North Queensland weather is hard to beat. The region has two distinct seasons; a winter period of warm temperatures and low rainfall, and a summer period of balmy temperatures and higher rainfall. Winter, or the ‘Dry’ season, begins in May and ends in October offering sunshine, fresh breezes and low humidity. Summer, or the ‘Wet’ season, extends from November to April and refreshes the region with tropical downpours of an afternoon and occasional dramatic electrical storms.
The Ribbon Reefs are remote, majestic and thriving with sea life, they can only be accessed by predominantly larger vessels with the knowledge to navigate these exclusive areas. These series of reefs are the Jurassic Park of fishing, containing the largest and most densely populated areas of reef, sports and game fish in the world. Fishing the Ribbon Reefs is something to tick off the bucket list!
Light tackle fishing for juvenile black marlin, sailfish and other pelagic species is ideal from late June to mid-September. The heavy tackle marlin fishing season begins in September and runs through until December when giant black marlin (up to 1000lb+) migrate to the reef to spawn. However, the region provides ideal water temperatures and bait schools throughout the year providing the opportunity to catch these incredible fish all year round: jigging & popper fishing for giant trevally, large coral trout and tuna for example. We encourage catch & release of billfish however you can also expect to catch fantastic eating fish whilst trolling, such as Spanish mackerel, dogtooth and yellowfin tuna during this time – Great for sashimi the following day!
The Great Barrier Reef is full of stunning (and tasty!) reef species, such as Coral Trout, Nannygai and Red Emperor to name a few. These prized fish are great fun to fish for and ideal for the whole family to get involved. Our experienced game boat crew will take you to our tried and tested fishing spots, talking you through the best fishing techniques and will fillet your catch for eating – or take home with you!
The Ribbon Reefs
Characteristically no wider than 450m, the Ribbon Reefs are part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and are covered in colourful corals that attract a plethora of reef life big and small, with sandy gullies separating them, themselves containing interesting critters. The Ribbons reef host several of Australia’s most spectacular dive sites, as well as arguably the most prolific Black Marlin fishing in the world at certain times of year – with general fishing topping the list also.
Diving on the Great Barrier Reef
The Ribbon Reefs are long, thin strips of reef, which form the outer edges of the Great Barrier Reef around 50-100 km off the Northern Queensland shore, and characteristically no wider than 450m.
Dive sites in the area are generally quite shallow, coming up to as high as 5m below the surface from a sandy bottom that is between 15-20m below. They are covered in colorful corals that attract a plethora of reef life big and small, with sandy gullies separating them, themselves containing interesting critters. The Ribbons reef host several of Australia’s most spectacular dive sites, with great visibility year round and mostly calm sea surfaces providing options for all levels of diving experience. In the winter months of June and July, dozens of dwarf minke whales can be seen on their migratory path! An experience absolutely unique to Australia.
Cod Hole, as the name suggests, is a dive site famous for cod: giant potato cod to be exact! What makes this site special is that the giant potato cod are virtually domesticated thanks to 2 decades of being fed by divemasters. There’s something special about a 60 kg fish swimming right up to you for a nibble from your hand. During feeding time everyone joins the action as coral trout, sweetlips, triggerfish and trevally also try to muscle in on the action. One of the most famous Great Barrier Reef dive sites and a spectacle to behold.
Steve’s Bommie is a legendary site too. The ballad goes that Steve loved this bommie so much that it was named after him. A memorial plaque can be seen at 25m where most scuba divers start. Legends aside, Steve’s Bommie features a wealth of schooling action, big fish and macro life. Cruising barracudas, whitetip reef sharks and seasonally even dwarf minke whales will leave you wanting to look everywhere at once. The Temple of Doom is another peculiarly named Ribbon Reef site. Aside from macro action on the bommie itself, pelagic fish are a constant and you’ll have to ration your time between the reef and the blue. Shark sightings are common as are large rays and bluefin trevally of the 70 cm plus variety.
Endless options and incredible dives are available to you throughout your Great Barrier Reef experience!
Day ONE (Port Douglas > Opal Reef)
Welcome on board, in the peaceful surroundings and marina of Port Douglas. Located in the Coral Sea in the tropical far north of Queensland, Australia, a scenic 50 minute drive north of Cairns International airport, the town is known for its relaxing feel, and as the perfect balance of adventures between the Great Barrier Reef – the world’s largest reef system – and Daintree National Park – home to biodiverse rainforest. In town, Macrossan Street is lined with boutique shops and restaurants. Curving south is popular Four Mile Beach. The Captain and the Crew will show you around your cabins, and shortly we will be steaming for 3 hours towards the stunning site of Opal Reef whilst lunch is served. Guests wishing to do an afternoon dive can board the chase boat with a knowledgeable divemaster to explore the southern end of Opal Reef. In the late afternoon, we will cruise to a nearby anchorage for the evening to enjoy your first Great Barrier Reef sunset cocktails and canapés before dinner.
Day TWO (Opal Reef > St Crispin or Rachel Carlson Reef)
Wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread and treats, and enjoy breakfast al fresco on the aft deck in the quietness of the Great Barrier Reef. Soon the yacht departs for your next anchorage. For guests wishing to try their luck at catching dinner, the chaseboat will be ready to take you on an adventure. We will anchor near some fantastic dives. A morning wall dive is an exhilarating start to your day. Expect to be greeted with an absolute myriad of fish, from huge schools of fusiliers and sergeant major, to the always lovely greetings of numerous sweetlips. Unwind over a well-deserved lunch on the deck before heading into dive two for the day at the southern end of St Crispin Reef, or just relax on the day bed with a great book and soak up the Australian sun.
Day THREE (Ribbon Reef 3 > Cooktown)
Steam to Ribbons Reef 3 – when we arrive, dive or snorkel the famous “Steve’s Bommie” of Ribbons 3. Macro life clings to the bommie while large schools of fish, drawn to the structure, circle around it. Expect to see reef sharks, rays, schools of trevally, anemone fish, stonefish, nudibranchs, colourful corals. This dive site has something for everyone! If fishing is your preference, your chase boat is available for a morning of fishing – whether it be trolling for pelagic species such as tasty Spanish mackerel or bottom fishing for reef species such as Nannygai and Red Emperor! Arriving into Cooktown in the late afternoon, the Captain suggests a sunset cruise on the Endeavour River: at its most special time of day. Explore the harbour in the long afternoon light and then cruise upstream to watch the sunset over the distant ranges. While navigating the maze way of smaller creeks, enjoy a degustation of Australian cheeses and wines. Once the sun sets, spotlights add a whole new perspective to the impenetrable walls of mangrove that line the river. Listen to some stories about Captain Cook’s passage along the Cape, about the glory days of pearling luggers and the new Cooktown, gateway to the frontier. This sunset cruise can make for a wonderfully peaceful way to end the day.
Day FOUR (RCooktown > Northern Ribbon Reefs)
Adventure Day! Early this morning, your dedicated aboriginal guide, Willie, will meet you in Cooktown’s Fishermans Wharf, for an exclusive aboriginal experience (approx. 5hours). Discover the legends of a fascinating culture entirely rooted in Australia’s history, and arrive at Rainbow Serpent Rock Art.
Your guide will take you through a dramatic landscape to six rock art sites, including the Rainbow Serpent Cave and an ancestral Birth Site where Willie’s grandfather was born. You will gain an understanding of the spiritual meanings and stories behind the paintings, and along the way learn some of the survival techniques of the Nugalwarra people – and maybe taste a green ant or two! A short 30 minute bushwalk and short climb to two of the sites, this experience is accessible to the whole family. The Captain will welcome you back on board and you will be delighted to share your stories around lunch, whilst we cruise out to the Northern Ribbon Reefs. Arrive in time for a late afternoon dive, snorkelling or try and catch some fish on the Chaseboat for the next day’s lunch.
DAY FIVE (Northern Ribbon Reefs)
Fishing, diving or watersports today? The choice is up to you!
Try your luck trolling outside the reef’s edge for a marlin & other pelagic species, or if sports-fishing is more attractive, cast for giant trevally on the reef with poppers and stick bait lures. Alternatively, there are various scuba diving options for the adventurous. Have you tried our motorised seabobs yet?
Zoom your way around the shallow reefs but be warned, this is addictive fun for the whole family! Stand-up paddleboards or kayaks can also create the perfect setting to capture a fantastic photo of your tropical getaway. Tonight, depending on the conditions the crew will set up a beautiful BBQ for dinner under the stars and moon. During your short tender ride back on board, look overboard to see the abundance of massive Kingfish and big Lemon sharks! The yacht’s underwater lights attracts all these schools of fish.
Day SIX (Northern Ribbons > Ribbon Reef 9 or 10 > Lizard Island)
Enjoy a sleep in or awake to the smell of fresh fruit and the sun rising over the ocean: we up anchor early today.
Discover the Great Barrier Reef’s most famous site, the Cod Hole. Dive and snorkel with these large friendly animals and venture out towards shark alley, then settle in for lunch whilst enjoying a leisurely afternoon cruise into beautiful Lizard Island.
Day SEVEN (Lizard Island > Port Douglas)
Lizard Island hosts Australia’s northernmost island resort. It is located 150 miles north of Cairns and 57 miles north east off the coast from Cooktown. Lizard Island is an absolute tropical paradise, a haven of isolation, gratification and relaxation. Accessible by boat and small aircraft, this little piece of heaven is a bucket list destination. Tender over to the island’s shore to explore and hike up to the stunning Cook’s Lookout for a little exercise and some great photo opportunities! Back on board for a late lunch, followed by an afternoon of swimming/snorkeling and relaxing in beautiful Mrs. Watson’s Bay. Here the crew will set up a special beach BBQ complete with sunset views and memorable moments to enjoy your last evening on board.
Day EIGHT (Lizard Island > Port Douglas or fly)
Guests can choose to fly back from Lizard Island to Port Douglas; alternatively, enjoy a sleep in and a last breakfast on the bridge deck whilst we continue cruising the beautiful coast, arriving back into Port Douglas for disembarkation by midday.