Barrier Reef Australia Blog


Ultimate Guide to Sailing Holidays in Cairns and Port Douglas

admin on March 20th, 2024

Sailing on the Great Barrier Reef - Cairns & Port Douglas

Sailing on the Great Barrier Reef - Cairns & Port Douglas

A sailing holiday in a tropical location is the daydream of many - wishing they were instead in boardshorts and bikinis lying under the billowing white sails of a yacht on a very long holiday and whilst Cairns and Port Douglas are not as well-known destination as sailing in the Whitsundays, this region offers a different exploration type of sailing holiday that offers guests the opportunity to see amazing coral reefs, and spectacular marine life.

Cairns is known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef for its quick access to the beautiful islands and reefs that are within a short distance offshore. Sail boats take guests to places such as Green Island, Michaelmas Cay, and Upolu Cay for a day of island and sand cay exploration, underwater snorkelling, and scuba diving, whilst liveaboard diving and snorkelling tours take guests to the outer Great Barrier Reef for ocean odysseys to experience sleeping on the reef.

Port Douglas is a favoured departure point for exploring the most pristine and amazing part of the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef where guests may swim from the shores of a deserted island or discover a reef teeming with marine life with not another sailboat in sight.

Embark on a captivating journey from Cairns and Port Douglas, to sail the awe-inspiring Great Barrier Reef, and experience the ultimate sailing holiday with family and friends. These tropical waters offer sailors and yachting enthusiasts a chance to navigate through the vibrant marine ecosystems, pristine beaches, and secluded islands that define this region that is a World Heritage listed Icon. Whether you are an experienced sailor or just beginning to explore the world of sailing holidays, Cairns and Port Douglas provide a variety of sailing tours suitable for all ages and skill levels.

Choosing the Best Sailing Holidays in Cairns and Port Douglas

The Charm of Sailing in Cairns and Port Douglas

Why is Cairns and Port Douglas celebrated as premier destinations for sailing adventures in Australia? The first thing you'll notice is the breathtaking natural beauty, from the lush Daintree Rainforests to the enticing waters of the Coral Sea and the mysteries of the Great Barrier Reef. These locations boast a diverse range of marine environments, world-class attractions such as the Low Isles, Fitzroy Island, Green Island, Frankland Island and the spectacular diving and snorkelling spots on the Outer Reef, along with a rich array of marine life not seen in other locations around the world. Cairns and Port Douglas offer safe and serene sailing conditions for a yacht holiday, with numerous islands and reefs perfect for mooring, swimming, snorkelling, and scuba diving the surrounding natural wonders.

Choosing the Best Sailing Holiday in Cairns and Port Douglas

When planning your sailing holiday, consider the various options available, from day trips to overnight and multi-night liveaboard adventures, as well as private charter yachts. Decide whether you prefer a vibrant group expedition, an adults-only experience, or a private charter boat with a dedicated skipper and crew. Consider your personal interests, whether it's snorkelling, scuba diving, or island exploration, and select a vessel that matches your preferences for privacy and comfort. Just make sure you book far in advance to enable you a choice of boats as there are not too many options during the holiday periods and peak season.

Before booking your sailing holiday in Cairns and Port Douglas, visit the Barrier Reef Australia Blog to learn more about these destinations. Discover tips on must-see locations, travel times, activities, and more to enhance your Great Barrier Reef sailing adventure. This blog is regularly updated to provide the latest information and inspiration for your sailing holidays and tours.

One-Day Sailing Tours

Experience the magic of the Great Barrier Reef in a day with a variety of sailing tours. Departing from Cairns and Port Douglas, these sailing tours offer a glimpse into the region's iconic locations, including Low Isles, and secluded beaches, providing opportunities for snorkelling and scuba diving in crystal-clear waters.

Day Tour Sailing Options from Cairns

  • Passions of Paradise – Snorkelling 2 Reef Sites (max 110 guests) - optional Diving
  • Ocean Spirit – Snorkelling Michaelmas Cay - optional intro Diving
  • Ocean Free – Snorkelling Reef Site & Green Island (25 guests) - optional Diving
  • Reef Daytripper – Snorkelling (20 guests) - optional Diving

Sunset Cruises:    Ocean Spirit Dinner Cruise – Dinner & drinks

Day Sailing Options From Port Douglas

Sunset Cruises:    Sailaway Sunset – Adults Only

Private Charter Boats:

Overnight Liveaboard Sailing Adventures

Embrace the unparalleled experience of overnight sailing, where you can sleep under the stars, wake up to stunning sunrises, and explore the Great Barrier Reef at a leisurely pace. Liveaboard sailing trips offer a more intimate and immersive way to experience the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef and its tropical islands, away from the crowds. 

An overnight sailing trip allows you to explore further destinations, view the most amazing sunrises and sunsets, plus the chance for additional scuba diving and even a night time dive.  There are only a couple of overnight sailing options from Cairns & Port Douglas to ensure to book early to avoid dissapointment:

Overnight Sailing Trips:

Private Charter Sailing Liveaboard Boats:

Best Time to Go Sailing in Tropical North Queensland

The ideal time for a sailing holiday in Cairns and Port Douglas varies, depending on seasonal weather conditions, marine life migrations, and personal preferences. The region is delightful year-round, with opportunities to witness humpback whale migrations, Minke Whales in winter, turtle nesting season, and coral spawning events. Plan your trip around these natural marine phenomena or local sailing events for an enhanced yachting experience.

Preparing for Your Sailing Adventure

Pack light and smart, considering the limited storage space on yachts and charter boats. Ensure you pack soft-sided bags with essentials for easy storage for your Cairns and Port Douglas tropical holiday. Remember to bring personal medications, protective sun-safe clothing, and reef-safe sunscreen. Inform the crew of any medical conditions and preferences to ensure a comfortable and safe journey especially if snorkelling and or scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

Sole Charter Sailing Holidays

For those seeking an exclusive and customizable yacht charter sailing experience, consider a sole charter boat holiday, fully crewed for for a stress free holiday. Tailor your yacht charter itinerary to include everything from secluded bays to vibrant reefs and tropical island explorations. Cairns and Port Douglas offer a variety of private charter boat options to suit your group's needs and preferences.

Essential Information for Sailors

Ensure you pack responsibly, respecting the delicate marine ecosystem. Follow all safety guidelines and respect the yacht captain's instructions. Adhere to best practices to protect the fragile reef environment and enjoy a harmonious experience with fellow sailors and marine life.

Set Sail for a Cairns and Port Douglas Adventure

Now that you're equipped with the essential knowledge about sailing holidays in Cairns and Port Douglas, are you ready to embark on your next adventure? Explore the diverse sailing options available and contact the Barrier Reef Australia team for personalized advice and assistance. Discover more about the Great Barrier Reef and the myriad of experiences waiting for you in this tropical paradise.

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