Trip for Spring 5 "Swim With Dwarf Minke Whales, Northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia"

Picture of divers swimming with minke whales, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

Precisely why playful dwarf minke whales return to the same Great Barrier Reef locations each austral winter remains a mystery to researchers. Whatever the reasons, the annual arrival of these curious cetaceans off Queensland’s northeastern coast offers the rare opportunity to safely swim with whales in the wild.

How to Get Around: The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority issues a limited number of "swim with dwarf minke whales" permits to reef tourism operators like Mike Ball Dive Expeditions and Spirit of Freedom. To ensure the best odds of encountering the whales, book a diving and snorkeling tour that lasts three, four, or seven-nights. Single-day tours typically include transfers from Cairns or Port Douglas, onboard breakfast and lunch, and guided snorkel encounters with whales.

Where to Eat or Drink: Start with Australian antipasto (crocodile wonton, emu carpaccio) at inventive Ochre Restaurant in Cairns. For the main course, choose from seasonally fresh options like salt and native pepper crocodile, tempura bay bugs, and wattleseed pavlova. Reservations required.

Where to Stay: Exclusive, 40-suite Lizard Island Resort’s Great Barrier Reef location makes it possible to swim with whales by day and sleep in luxurious lodging at night. Rates include gourmet meals and picnic lunches, guided glass-bottom boat tours, and private access to 24 secluded beaches. Choose a scenic transfer by air from Cairns Airport for an exhilarating, low-level flight over the Great Barrier Reef.

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