Port Douglas has some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling
on the entire Great Barier Reef.
Due to the magnificent scuba diving, clear water, snorkeling and underwater photography it is a popular tourist destination and attracts scuba divers and snorkelers from all over the world.
The climate is tropical year round, and it offers a wealth of activities to enjoy including fishing, sailing, rainforest and outback tours.
At Agincourt Reef there is an anemone bommie which is covered in Bulb- tentacled Sea Anemones inhabited by dozens of Red and black Anemonefish Amphiprion melanopus. I have seen colonies at other places but nothing matches this. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
Day-Trips to the Reef
The town of Port Douglas has huge range of accommodations. Two permanent pontoons, are moored on the Agincourt Reefs, sites. The Coral Gardens are renowned for their exceptional abundance of brightly-coloured reef fish.
Blue Wonder is a breathtaking wall dive to beyond 40 m, while Nursery Bommie is a spectacular pinnacle where pelagic fish gather to feed. The climate is tropical year round, and both towns offer a wealth of activities to enjoy including fishing, sailing, rainforest and outback tours and, of course, diving.
Dozens of charter boats offer live-aboard and day trips and a large number of dive shops are located in the area. Thousands of visitors are taken out daily to snorkel and dive the large number of local reefs.
The permanent pontoons on the outer barrier have been an absolute boon to tourism and over the years millions of day trippers have visited the reefs and been able to experience one of the Greatest natural wonders of the world. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
Two permanent pontoons, owned by Quicksilver Diving Service, are moored on the Agincourt Reefs, giving access to several excellent dive sites. The Channels offer interesting swim-throughs and caves, while The Gardens are renowned for their exceptional abundance of brightly-coloured reef fish. Blue Wonder is a breathtaking wall dive to beyond 40 m, while Nursery Bommie is a spectacular pinnacle where pelagic fish gather to feed.
The site of Great Adventure's pontoon, Norman Reef has many exciting dive sites along its length. Coral gardens are found in the shallows, and divers usually see reef sharks, gropers, turtles and pelagic fish patrolling the 30 m drop-off.
The reefs around the pontoons are in excellent condition as there is very little pressure put on them at all. All the new divers are escorted around clear of the coral by dive guides who point out the various attractions of the area. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
Saxon Reef offers many great diving and snorkelling spots. The shallows shelter a host of the ever-present reef fish, typical are anemonefish, goatfish, squirrelfish, pufferfish, damsels and butterflyfish. Dropping to 30 m are a number of walls, broken up by caves and gutters, which are covered with an incredible variety of coral and other marine invertebrates. These are good places to see turtles, reef sharks and schools of barracuda.
Pinnacles, walls, caves and coral gardens are all features of Hastings Reef. Gorgonians, soft corals and sea whips cover the walls and pinnacles. Reef and pelagic fish are numerous, and stingrays, Maori wrasse, moray eels and reef sharks are frequently seen. Photographers will find plenty of subjects, from pretty nudibranchs to schools of trevally.
The outer barrier reefs are in pristine condition and the shallow water ones are dominated by various species of Staghorn Corals Acropora spp. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
The pinnacles of Broken Patches in depths from 10 to 25 m are covered with lovely corals and masses of reef fish. A site known as Paradise Reef is an excellent place to see large pelagic fish and reef sharks.
Similar to many reefs in the area, Michaelmas Reef has extensive coral gardens and a number of pinnacles. The pinnacles, regularly visited by pelagic fish and crowded with soft corals and gorgonians, offer the best diving.
The Cod Hole and its famous Potato Cods Epinephelus tuka can also be accessed from charter boats from Port Douglas. There are few places in the world where divers have the opportunity to swim with so many big fish. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
The pinnacles and hard coral gardens are popular dive sites at Flynn Reef. Gordon's Mooring, where a number of pinnacles attract masses of reef and pelagic fish, is one of the best.
Numerous good dive sites are found at Millin Reef, a popular charter boat destination. Whale Bommie is an impressive pinnacle, and attractive coral gardens are found at Club 10 and the Swimming Pool. Sharks, barracuda, trevally and mackerel gather at the Three Sisters, an assemblage of invertebrate-covered pinnacles.
The Giant Maori Wrasse Cheilinus undulatus found in the vicinity of most of the pontoons along the Great Barrier Reef are tame and very used to divers. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
Macro-photographers will find plenty of nudibranchs, tubeworms, shrimps, anemonefish, crabs, brightly-coloured reef fish and pretty corals as subject matter in the coral gardens on Thetford Reef.
Moore Reef has a number of beautiful hard coral gardens that are worth a visit, but the best diving is along the reef drop-off. Here an assortment of gorgonians, sea whips and soft corals cling to the wall to depths of 30m. A multitude of reef and pelagic fish live in the area.
Visited by most of the charter boats and live aboards out from Port Douglas and Cairns, Pixie Pinnacle is a very exciting dive. It often gets visited by packs of large Dog Tooth Tuna which swim around it like silver torpedoes. the coral head comes up from around 50 metres and has an amazing number of species on and around it. ( photo: Neville Coleman)
The coral wall along the northern side of Briggs Reef drops into 30 m of water, and is covered in an excellent variety of corals. Along the wall swim batfish, coral trout, sweetlips, parrotfish and the occasional pelagic fish. On top of the reef is a coral garden where lionfish, angelfish, stingrays, rabbitfish, wrasse and many other species can be found in abundance.
Shallow coral gardens and drop-offs to 35 m can be explored on Sudbury Reef. Reef fish are prolific. You are also likely to see turtles and gropers.
Neville Coleman's diving expeditions, fauna surveys, photographic fauna surveys and marine life identification courses include every major group of marine life.
Neville Coleman's expertise in living taxonomy and marine life identification extends to the identification of Algae, Sea Grass, Forams, Sponges, Stony Corals, Soft Corals, Sea Anemones, Sea Jellies, Zoanthids, Corallimorphs, Black Corals, Flatworms, Segmented Worms, Crustaceans, Barnacles, Shrimps, Rock Lobsters, Hermit Crabs, Squat Lobsters, Molluscs, Chitons, Univalves, Bivalves, Cephalopods, Octopus, Cuttlefish, Squid, Opisthobranchs, Nudibranchs, Sea Slugs, Bryozoans, Sea Mosses, Echinoderms, Sea Stars, Feather Stars, Brittle Stars, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers, Ascidians/Sea Squirts, Marine Fish, Sharks, Marine Reptiles, and Marine Mammals, all found in the waters around Port Douglas.
( Copyright Neville Coleman/Nigel Marsh)