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Old 07-08-2018, 11:51   #1
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Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

Hi all,

I'm booking a vacation with a small group to Oz in February and want to head to an area where I can do a bareboat charter for a week or so followed by a week in nice accommodations on land (a few in our group are landlubbers who like nice resorts with beaches).

We're experienced divers, and so diving will be the primary focus for me... ideally shore diving if that is a thing there. I know that big reef you all have there is a tad offshore.

I have read a ton about the Whitsundays. Airlie beach seems to be the jumpoff point for chartering there. Is Airlie also a nice place to hang for a few days or would we want to head somewhere else?

Anyplace else I should be looking for a good sailing/diving/beach lounging vacation?

I've been to Oz before and I must say you guys down it right down there. Last time there I hit Sydney, Cairns, and then went waaay up into the boonies of Cape York and had a blast.

Any help appreciated!

Cheers
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Old 07-08-2018, 14:32   #2
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Re: Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

Just giving this a bump now that the Aussies are waking up
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Old 07-08-2018, 15:09   #3
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Re: Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

Hi Peregrine,
Whitsundays would have to be at the top of your list for bareboat charter but not so much for tank diving. The charter fleet is not set up for refilling tanks. There are numerous companies that have dive boats that go out for days at a time and take you to the good dive sites. The outer reef can be reached in a couple of hours by fast power boat from Airlie.
Airlie beach is the main hub for tourists. Lots of eateries and shopping but still a tourist town.Vast majority of bareboat charters and tourist operations run out of this area. We are currently cruising the area and about to head further north.



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Old 07-08-2018, 15:27   #4
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Re: Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

Thank you Greg. That's helpful info. For the stay on land I'd like to avoid the overly tourist-oriented places.

Enjoy your cruise!
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Old 07-08-2018, 15:52   #5
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Re: Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

Definitely the Whitsundays for bareboats. As for a week stay on land, I think Airlie would be fine for the most part as it is a very laid back little town. If you don't like the tourist crowds though you might want to have a look at Magnetic Island, Townsville or perhaps even Bowen (google Montes or Eco resorts, or Horseshoe Bay on the latter). Neither will be great for organizing reef dives from a land base. Cairns would probably be your best bet for this due to the proximity of the reefs to the coast.
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Old 07-08-2018, 15:53   #6
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Re: Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

It’s been nearly 20 yrs but did a fair few bareboat charters around Hinchinbrooke Is and the family group of islands there. Definitely less tourist-dense than the Whitsundays. And great snorkeling/diving. Couldn’t even pretend to know the state of the charter/ bareboat fleet these days - it worth googling. Sadly, the resort at Dunk Is. is still not operating - so you’ll have to look elsewhere for your 5 star digs. But the close-by mission beach is well worth looking into as there were some lovely rainforest resorts there - and probably still are. Once again - worth a quick google.
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Old 07-08-2018, 16:04   #7
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Re: Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

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Originally Posted by shufti View Post
Itís been nearly 20 yrs but did a fair few bareboat charters around Hinchinbrooke Is and the family group of islands there. Definitely less tourist-dense than the Whitsundays. And great snorkeling/diving. Couldnít even pretend to know the state of the charter/ bareboat fleet these days - it worth googling. Sadly, the resort at Dunk Is. is still not operating - so youíll have to look elsewhere for your 5 star digs. But the close-by mission beach is well worth looking into as there were some lovely rainforest resorts there - and probably still are. Once again - worth a quick google.

Port Hinchinbrook marina was wiped from the face of the planet by Yasi. No bareboats, or much of anything else, there no more
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Old 07-08-2018, 16:11   #8
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Re: Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

Bloody hell - still?! I knew Yasi wiped Port Hinchinbrooke out - but assumed it had rebuilt since then. I had no idea it is gone. That's plain sad.
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Old 07-08-2018, 16:53   #9
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Re: Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

Thanks Reefmagnet and Shufti. Thatís just what I was looking for - a few places to Google. Really appreciate the help!
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Old 07-08-2018, 21:36   #10
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Re: Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

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Hi all,

We're experienced divers, and so diving will be the primary focus for me... ideally shore diving if that is a thing there. I know that big reef you all have there is a tad offshore.
As others have said, it's not worth diving while on the charter yacht. Even if you organised a compressor and tanks on board (which would require a big cat to have room enough), the charter yachts are not allowed to go to many places where it's worth scuba gear. I've done something in the range of 1500 dives, and over 3 months around the QLD islands last year, I used the carried scuba gear twice. Both times to recover anchors for other cruisers. And in both cases I could have done it breath hold if the water clarity was better.
However, we spent a whole heap of time in the water snorkling / spearfishing etc and there are a bunch of spots around the Whitsundays where the coral and fish are pretty good. As long as you are comfortable freediving in the 20 to 30 ft range, you'll get more out of it than fussing with scuba. There was a recent thread on here where some of us listed our favorite spots in the area.

For a week diving, I'd either go up to Cairns and a live aboard dive trip to the outer reefs, or south to somewhere like Seal rocks or the Solitary Islands for big fish with teeth. If you end up near townsville / magnetic Island for the shore relaxation, then the Yongala is worth a couple of dives, but I wouldn't travel just for it.
I don't know of anywhere in QLD where there is shore diving worth doing - unless you count walking off the shore on an Island. (Best shore diving is probably in Tas, but that's a long way away and cold).

To relax at a resort, consider Noosa heads if Airlie is too much of a country town for you. South of the croc zone and has nice beaches. Rainbow beach is similar and less touristy. (It's QLD, it's all a bit touristy)

Mike
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Old 08-08-2018, 08:55   #11
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Re: Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

All we can do is let you know how we did, and loved every minute. We humans do not all squawk the same code, so cannot tell you what to do, but a brief mention of fabulous sailing, and diving, and exploring, and falling in love the land of OZ.

Two 30 visits both diving and sailing and land based activities.

1. Whitsunday Islands: Great sailing and some excellent and fantasitic snorkeling from the boat.

2. SCUBA DIVING : SPIRIT OF FREEDOM.....no shore entry SCUBA experiences.

1st trip: In addition to sailing the Whitsunday Islands for two weeks, we also went of a four day SCUBA diving adventure of the Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea.
THE SPIRIT OF FREEDOM , 120 foot luxury dive boat...0ffer to five dives per day. My max was three per day. Amazing diving, including sharks and manta rays. Great meals prepared by the chef after every dive.

Second trip: Sailed the Whitsundays, and snorkeled Blue Pearl Bay, and Manta Ray Bay. And , did a three day dive trip on the Spirit of Freedom ....Great Barrier Reef.

We did zero shore entry dives, but just the snorkeling was fabulous and amazing all from the boat. Wore our wetsuits when in the water. Light weight. To protect from ' stingers' Never had a problem of any kind , ever, on land, or sea.

We booked our bare boat with the Moorings one year, and Sun Sail another year. This was out of Hamilton Island. Just Erica and I skippering the mono hull, and had great sailing, and snug anchorages at night.

Not many places to do the hotel resort roosting in the whitsundays, and we bbq's most dinners on board. One of the faves was Nara Inlet on hook island.

The second 30 day visit we added in several day up in Cape Trib and took a small dive / snorkel boat out to McKay reef. WOW ! No need for dive gear, so we just snorkeled.
They even had several huge, monster, irradescent GIANT CLAMS.

Airlie beach is another choice of bare boat chartering but from the mainland, Whitsunday Escape seemed to be a very popular bare boat company. Heard lots of their VHF radio calls as to boat name and which anchorage they would be at for the night.

We loved Ausrtalia, the Aussies, the land adventures including white water rafting the Tuly River.....class 5 out of 5.

We love sailing and the less we have to listen to an engine the better. With two weeks , we had to sneak back into Hamilton Island and replenish some provisions and fresh water.

We are happy on the boat, so no need of trying to find a hotel in the Whitsundays, did not enter our minds. But, we did stay at a hotel at Hamilton first and last nights of the bare boat charters. Hiked and partied.

Why 30 days ?. Well, it is one long moma dog of a flight from LAX to Sydney, and our thinking , with all the travel involved, even after you arrive . we needed a month on each trip to enjoy as much of OZ as possible. Which we did to the fullest.

First trip, we panned to get acclimated to the time change and have some fun in Sydney. Stayed in a hotel at the ROCKS....SYDNEY HARBOR, .huge bay....took water taxis to the nautical museums, zoo, and acquarium. Got to explore the whole area and had harbor cruises as an added bonus.


Also, Australia has lots of critters that can sting, bight, or kill you, so when we went to the aquarium and the zoo, we found and learned to recognize the land and sea critters.
No problem what so ever. Zero.

Second trip... We made Carins our base, but covered a lot of Queensland. Queensland felt a lot like Kauai, hawaii , temp and weather and attitude.

And, yes, we did party down, and had a great time with the Aussies.

Don't want to bore you to death, but in real life, we had two super fabulous OZ vacations, with hiking, biking, sailing, snorkeling, exploring, swimming, SCUBA diving,
and partying.

Cheers, mate

The good times are going to roll.

Denny and Erica
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Old 08-08-2018, 09:14   #12
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Re: Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

Warning.....Warning....Warning...

Be advised :

February is the absolute worst weather window. Rainy Season, Monsoon Season, and Typhoon Season.

We chose Sept, and Oct for the best months for sailing and diving, etc.

Wet season starts in Nov, and lasts until April or May.

Your choice but you might wish to brief your friends on this as well.

Usually, Charter Companies will have discounts at this time when most of us will not be going there.

Just FYI

Denny and Erica
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Old 08-08-2018, 10:19   #13
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Re: Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

Hi Cheers (?)
Suggest your holiday would be more enjoyable if you went in the June - Sep period for weather reasons. In my view it is far too hot and cyclone prone in Feb.
I would also suggest the further north you go of The Whitsundays the reef is closer to the coast. My suggestion is Cairns or further north,
I wish you happy diving,
Bruce.
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Old 08-08-2018, 10:36   #14
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Re: Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peregrine1983 View Post
Hi all,
I'm booking a vacation with a small group to Oz in February and want to head to an area where I can do a bareboat charter for a week or so followed by a week in nice accommodations on land (a few in our group are landlubbers who like nice resorts with beaches).
We're experienced divers, and so diving will be the primary focus for me... ideally shore diving if that is a thing there. I know that big reef you all have there is a tad offshore.
I have read a ton about the Whitsundays. Airlie beach seems to be the jumpoff point for chartering there. Is Airlie also a nice place to hang for a few days or would we want to head somewhere else?
Anyplace else I should be looking for a good sailing/diving/beach lounging vacation?
I've been to Oz before and I must say you guys down it right down there. Last time there I hit Sydney, Cairns, and then went waaay up into the boonies of Cape York and had a blast.
Any help appreciated!
Cheers
Unclear on your budget from the above, but if it is decent to high, strongly recommend Hayman Island for the 'lounging on the shore' portion.

Just Amazing Resort on a private island in the whitsundays. (not cheap).

20 yrs ago, wife and I did a week bareboat, and a week on Hayman for our Honeymoon, and have been back several times.

As for diving. Trips to the outer reef. There are high speed ones, and there are multi day ones on varying size boats, all with gear etc etc.

Hope that helps.

Regards
Mark.
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Old 08-08-2018, 10:53   #15
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Re: Queensland - Bareboat and diving questions

The Whitsundays are definately a great area for sailing. But as other suggested, you have to pick your time of the year and February isn't it. I lived up there for 5 years. Feb is wet!
May - July is best. I am not a diver, so can't give you advice there but for bareboats, DreamYacht Charters out of Airlie Beach did a great job for us with a 42' Lagoon called Traviata.
BTW, the further north you go, the wetter is gets in February .
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