Best of The Great Barrier Reef (15 Days)

Cruise Line: Zegrahm Expeditions
International Dateline (Crossing) to Cairns, Australia
Dates: 10 Jul 2018 - 25 Jul 2018

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Tour Segment  Cruise Segment
10 Jul 2018
Air travel
11 Jul 2018
International Dateline (Crossing)

Board your independent flight to Australia, losing a day as you cross the International Date Line.
Arrive in Cairns and transfer to the Shangri-La Hotel, Cairns, for dinner and overnight.

12 Jul 2018
Cairns, Australia

The Daintree Rainforest is one of the most complex ecosystems on Earth, and you will spend a full day seeking out the region's unique flora and fauna. At Cooya Beach, join members of the Kubirri Warra tribe for a fascinating tour of their private estate. Learn about ancient Aboriginal traditions as you explore beach, mangrove, coastal reef, mudflats, and tidal lagoons. Or, choose to take a ride along the Kuranda Scenic Railway, passing spectacular tropical forest, majestic mountains, cascading waterfalls, and dramatic gorges. Then visit the Kuranda Koala Gardens for up-close views of these adorable Australian marsupials, as well as kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and a variety of reptiles, including freshwater crocodiles. Embark the Coral Expeditions II in the afternoon and set sail.

13 Jul 2018
Cairns, Australia
Daintree National Park, Australia
Cooya Beach, Australia
Cairns, Australia

Named after the famous American conservationist, Rachel Carson, this well-protected platform reef is the perfect site for your first check-out dive, or to practice your snorkel skills.

14 Jul 2018
Rachel Carson Reef, Australia

The Ribbon Reefs are long thin strips of reef that form the outer edges of the Great Barrier Reef and lie on the edge of the continental shelf, an average of 30 to 60 miles away from the coast. Covered in colorful corals, these reefs attract a plethora of marine life, both large and small. Drop in for a sunrise dive at Steve's Bommie, an isolated pinnacle which offers a wealth of macro life like anemonefish, nudibranchs, and pipefish; schooling trevally, batfish, snappers, and fusiliers; and large pelagics, most notably barracudas and whitetip reef sharks. After lunch, explore Ribbon Reef #5 on an afternoon dive, snorkel, or glass-bottom boat excursion. Discover a wealth of healthy corals including brain, staghorn, boulder, and mushroom corals, as well as colorful soft corals. The corals provide shelter for shimmering clouds of chromis and anthias, while shoals of fusiliers, trevally, barracuda, mackerel, sharks, batfish, and parrotfish can be seen cruising near the dropoff areas. Emperor angelfish, blueline demoiselle, hexagon grouper, bird wrasse, yellowmargin triggerfish, and slingjaw wrasse are other species frequently spotted in this area.

15 Jul 2018
Ribbon Reef No. 3, Australia
Ribbon Reef No. 5, Australia

Beautiful Lizard Island was discovered by Captain Cook in 1770, and your morning begins with an optional hike to the highest point of the island, known as Cook's Look, where the mariner attempted to find a path through the maze of beautiful, but deadly reefs. After breakfast, dive or snorkel among legions of colorful tropical fish and check out the giant clam gardens near the beach. Other activities include walking along the island's powdery white-sand beaches, or hiking up to Chinamans Ridge, searching for goannas (Australian monitor lizards) and a multitude of birds, such as sunbirds, honeyeaters, pheasant coucals, and a variety of terns along the way.

16 Jul 2018
Lizard Island, Australia

Take a short walk to view several spectacular rock art sites on Stanley Island. The huge Yindayin rock shelter, or "Ship", features images of ships painted in red and white ochre on the red sandstone—sailing ships rigged in the distinctive styles of the European lugger, the Makassan (Indonesian) proa, and a dugout canoe with a figure standing upright in it, hands outstretched. Spend the afternoon snorkeling or diving at a nearby reef.

17 Jul 2018
Stanley Island, Australia
18 Jul 2018
Ribbon Reef No. 10, Australia

Spend two full days exploring Ribbon Reef #10, which is famous for the large number of dwarf minke whales that migrate past the reef from June to July. With luck, you may have an opportunity to swim with these curious creatures—a simply amazing experience. However, please note, these whales are wild animals and sightings are not guaranteed. At world-famous Cod Hole, enjoy an unforgettable dive, where you'll come face-to-face with massive potato cod, which often swim right up to inspect you with child-like curiosity. Other fish that can be found here include coral trout, sweetlips, triggerfish, and trevally.

DAY 10
19 Jul 2018
Ribbon Reef No. 10, Australia
DAY 11
20 Jul 2018
Osprey Reef, Australia

Conditions permitting, venture to remote Osprey Reef, a large submerged atoll with a shallow central lagoon. The most northerly and isolated of all the reefs in the Coral Sea, the almost vertical reef walls rise from a depth of over 6,000 feet and offer some of the best diving in the region. This pristine reef is home to colorful soft corals and is frequented by sharks and other large pelagics. As the ship return to Cairns, make a stop on a sand cay for sunset drinks with the local seabirds. Currents channeled by the reefs have created various sand cays that shift and change with the elements over time; they are typically surrounded by amazing reefs and provide calm sheltered waters perfect for exploration. If weather and sea conditions do not allow for a visit to Osprey Reef, continue exploring along the protected Ribbon Reefs, where you will find a diverse array of marine life, including anemones, giant clams, hard and soft corals, turtles, and many types of Great Barrier Reef fish.

DAY 12
21 Jul 2018
Ribbon Reefs, Australia
DAY 13
22 Jul 2018
Ribbon Reefs, Australia

Disembark this morning and journey overland to the Atherton Tablelands, a fertile plateau with several stands of protected rainforest. On nature walks, search for a variety of wildlife among the giant trees, such as musky rat-kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos, and 12 endemic bird species. Along the pristine shores of Lake Barrine, you may spy eastern water dragons, bearded dragons, and saw-shelled turtles. Check into the Shangri-La Hotel, Cairns, for dinner and overnight. Or, choose to search for nocturnal species on an optional spotlighting excursion, returning to Cairns in the late evening.

DAY 14
23 Jul 2018
Cairns, Australia
Atherton Tableland, Australia
Cairns, Australia

Board your independent flight to the U.S., arriving the same day.

DAY 15
24 Jul 2018
Cairns, Australia
Air travel
Best of The Great Barrier Reef map

About the Ship

Coral Expeditions II

Purpose-built for cruising the Great Barrier reef the 42-guest Coral Expeditions II is the ideal size to access the very best dive and snorkel sites in the region. Refurbished in 2015, public spaces include a spacious lounge, small library, single-seating dining room, and a large sun deck.

What's Included


  • All gratuities, landing fees, taxes and port charges

  • Meals. Beer and wine with lunch and dinner

  • Complimentary activities

  • World-class lecture and expedition team

Not Included

  • Alcohol - in addition to beer and wine with lunch and dinner

About Us

With over 25 years in expedition travel, Seattle-based Zegrahm Expeditions Inc. is a leading adventure travel company specializing in small-ship expedition cruises, tours, and safaris to remote and intriguing destinations around the world. Led by expert guides and lecturers, Zegrahm itineraries are carefully crafted and all-inclusive, feature deluxe accommodations, and operate in all seven continents.

Insider Tip

Virtually everything is included: gratuities, transfers, group hotels, wine and beer with lunch and dinner, and a variety of excursions including snorkeling and birding.

Terms & Conditions

Please read our complete set of Terms and Conditions on our website. In order to confirm your participation, it is important that you carefully read and electronically sign the acknowledgement form for your trip. You can select the applicable trip option from our website.

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Shore Excursions

Cairns, Australia - 12 Jul 2018

Cairns, Australia - 13 Jul 2018

Daintree National Park, Australia - 13 Jul 2018

Cooya Beach, Australia - 13 Jul 2018

Cairns, Australia - 13 Jul 2018

Cairns, Australia - 23 Jul 2018

Cairns, Australia - 23 Jul 2018

Cairns, Australia - 24 Jul 2018

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