Ocean Free Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE OCEAN FREE DAY TOUR

What sort of guests would be suitable for Ocean Free?

Ocean Free welcomes all guests. Youth, families, adventurous middle aged and fit mobile retirees willing to give it a go. However, guests are required to get in and out of a dinghy from the main vessel and on to the beach at Green Island, so they need to be mobile and steady on their feet. Anyone wanting an extremely personalised tour with very small numbers, unsurpassed service and awesome sailing should choose Ocean Free. We are the only reef and island tour catering for very small numbers.

Do you operate daily?

We operate every day apart from Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Occasionally we do private charters, so please check with our friendly reservations team to ensure the day you want is available.

Do you provide transfers?

Yes, at an additional cost as we use a separate bus company for this service. The cost is $16 from the Cairns City area and $23 from the Outer Suburbs and Northern Beaches. This is a return transfer and needs to be pre-booked.

Where and when do you check in?

Ocean Free is located at the A Finger, No 4 at the Marlin Marina, Cairns. Check-in is at 7.15am at the Reef Fleet Terminal, no 1 Spence St Cairns.

How long does it take to get there?

Ocean Free gets to Pinnacle Reef, just 1 km offshore from Green Island, in two (2) hours.

How many hours are we out there?

You have over 4 ½ hours to experience the reef and island.

What time do you return?

Ocean Free returns at around 5pm, but as she sails for most of the journey home, this time can vary by 10-15 minutes each day.

Do you really sail?

Ocean Free prides itself in giving you a great sailing experience. You can even assist with the hoisting of the sails and the steering of the boat! We motor sail out to Green Island, simply because we have to run to a schedule to ensure you experience a full 4 ½ hours on the reef. On the way home we are more flexible with the return time and turn engines off to truly sail home – Bliss!

Is there any shaded area on the boat?

Yes, the whole aft section is under a canopy and in the summer a small forward canopy is also put up. There is also plenty of shaded area on the island.

What is included in the ticket price?

A Great Barrier Reef and Green Island day tour with Ocean Free. Morning tea and coffee and Danish pastries on boarding, all snorkeling equipment (mask, snorkel, fins and snorkel vest), lycra or wetsuits depending on season, prescription masks (if required), snorkel tuition and tour; tender transfers to and from Green Island, large smorgasbord lunch including seafood, tropical fruit platter, cheese and crackers, selection of cakes and a glass of wine on the sail home.

What is not included in the ticket price, but available as an optional extra?

Certified and introductory diving; refreshments; semi-submersible tour (on Green Island); wine and beer; glass bottom boat tour (on Green Island); underwater cameras; Marineland Melanesia (on Green Island). If wanting to do any of the Green Island optional activities, please inform the skipper on boarding.

What sort of food do you serve?

We pride ourselves in serving top quality food. In the morning you are greeted with tea, coffee and Danish pastries. Cask water is available all day. For lunch you will be served a large smorgasbord of prawns, smoked salmon, mixed meat plate, chicken, 3 different salads and a selection of breads. During the afternoon, tropical fruit, cheese and crackers, a selection of cakes and a glass of wine will be served, all inclusive in tour price.

Do you cater for vegetarians?

Yes we do. We have three different types of salads and breads, but will order a vegetarian meal for you on request. Please let our reservations team aware of any dietary needs when you book, as it has to be pre-booked.

What sort of drinks do you serve?

We have the usual soft drinks (Coke / Diet Coke / Lemonade/ Fanta) and water. We also have wine and beer.

What is a typical day on Ocean Free?

Ocean Free is berthed at A Finger, no 4 at the Marlin Marina, Cairns. Check-in is at 7.15am at the Reef Fleet Terminal. Boarding after check-in from 7.30am A Finger no 5 Marlin Marina Cairns. We depart at 8am and arrive at Pinnacle Reef at Green Island at 10am. All morning snorkel and dive (optional extra) at Pinnacle Reef, where you can explore a beautiful coral garden home to lots of different colours of staghorn, boulder coral and soft corals, as well as many species of reef fish, sea-cucumbers and giant clams. Turtles and black-tipped reef sharks (totally harmless and very timid!) are also a common sight. Lunch, a self-serve buffet, is available from 12.15pm and after this, the Ocean Free tender goes across to Green Island. Stay on the island the whole afternoon, or for just an hour if you prefer to return to main vessel and do more snorkelling off the boat –  the choice is yours. Ocean Free departs Green Island at 3pm for an awesome sail home. During the trip you will be treated to platters of fruit, cheese and crackers and selected cakes, while sipping on a glass of wine. Expect to be back in Cairns around 5-5.15pm, depending on the wind. Please note: you can spend the whole day on the island or the whole day on the boat, just inform the skipper in the morning if you want to go across to the island straight away. Most people prefer the experience of the boat and island but the choice is yours.

QUESTIONS ABOUT GREEN ISLAND

Does Ocean Free actually go to Green Island?

Ocean Free is very fortunate to have the only reef mooring at Green Island (just under 1km away from the island) known as Pinnacle Reef. Therefore, guests on our boat have an exclusive dive and snorkel site to experience the best snorkeling there is in the area. Guests are taken to and from Green Island in our tender. Guests have the option of a full day on the island, full day on the boat, or part time on the island and part time on the boat, the choice is yours. Most guests enjoy both the reef and the island.

What can I do and see at Green Island?

Green Island is a vegetated coral cay. You can walk around the island (tide permitting) or walk across the island on an interpretative boardwalk through lush vegetation. It is common to see sea-birds diving into the sea. Visit crocs and turtles in captivity at Marineland Melanesia. Swim in the crystal clear azure waters. Laze on the stunning beach. There is a resort on 1/3 of the island and you can visit the resort shops or have drink at the bar, if you prefer to socialise. If you prefer to have a relaxed tropical beach experience when landing on the beach, take a left to the quieter spots. Please remember though, if you do want to pop in for a dip in the sea we suggest doing this in the lifeguard area to ensure your safety.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE WEATHER

What if it’s raining?

Don’t worry if you wake up in the morning and it’s raining. The rain in Cairns tends to stick to the mountainous areas and it can normally be much clearer offshore. In fact, when it is raining in Cairns, it is quite often sunny at Green Island, Upolu Cay and Upolu Reef; look out at the horizon for a lighter “strip” indicating sunlight on the sea. Also, it is the tropics and the weather can change rapidly, sometimes it will rain heavily first thing in the morning and be glorious sunshine in the afternoon. Many guests have still enjoyed their day out, even if conditions are not perfect, our crew will endeavour to give you the best day possible in all conditions. The fish and coral are always there and the occasional summer shower is quite warm.

What if it’s windy?

With wind 20 knots and below it’s considered to be beautiful. 25-30 knot winds are stronger, but don’t let the wind put you off, particularly if you are limited to the amount of days you have to spend in Cairns. You can still dive and snorkel the reef and our crew will ensure that you have the best possible experience, even getting in the water with you if necessary. Please note: If you are prone to sea-sickness we highly recommend taking a sea-sick tablet about 20 mins before boarding the boat. Sea-sickness and being cold are the only two reasons a guest may not enjoy the experience. If it is a little windy or raining, please ensure you take some warm clothing for when you finish your water activities.

Can I get sunburnt even if it is overcast?

Yes, you can get sunburnt. You must apply sunscreen (factor 15 +) every 2 hours and if prone to burning it is wise to wear a light long sleeved T-shirt, particularly when snorkeling. For your protection and convenience, we do sell sun tops on the boat; please enquire on boarding if required on the day. Do not ruin your day by getting burnt! Ensure you bring a hat and sunglasses.

QUESTIONS ABOUT SCUBA DIVING

Does Cairns Premier Reef and Island Tours offer diving?

Yes, Ocean Free and Ocean Freedom are both well known for offering extremely safe and fun diving for certified divers and first timers, who are wishing to try an introductory scuba dive. We specialise in first time divers, offering a very exclusive one instructor to 2 diver experience and even 1:1 for those requiring extra attention!

Our certified divers are in small groups, with a complimentary guide to ensure maximum enjoyment.

How many dives can you do?

Guests are able to do 2 dives at 2 different sites.

Can anyone dive?

There are certain conditions that preclude one from diving, such as asthma, diabetes, heart conditions and epilepsy. All divers are required to fill out a diving medical questionnaire on board the boat to ensure that they have no medical condition (past or present) or taking any medication that could be detrimental to diving. It is absolutely imperative that you are honest when filling in this form as diving has some special requirements due to pressure changes. Some clients may need a diving medical from a diving doctor in order to dive. Should you have any questions regarding diving and dive medicals, please phone us on our booking number and we will gladly assist you. Top Tip: QLD has the highest safety standards in the world; you can be assured of the very highest standard of care.

Is there an age limit to diving?

Yes, in order to do an introductory dive you must be 12 yrs old. The upper age is only limited by the fitness and medical condition of the individual.

I have not dived for a while, can I still do a certified dive?

Yes, all of our certified divers are assessed for their ability and provided with a guide free of charge (dive master or instructor); therefore, you can feel confident that you will be looked after, even if you are a little “rusty”. If the instructor assesses you to need more attention, they may suggest doing an intro dive as your first dive.

What if I don’t have my dive certification card?

You should try to contact your certifying agency, to get them to fax you a copy of your dive certification (you can have it faxed to our office, if you wish). Bring your log book if you have it. If you can’t get any proof of certification, you will still be able to dive but you will need to dive with an instructor as long as you have no medical problems. However, most certifications can now be checked online. If you send through your details, our office staff may be able to find it online prior to your day of travel.

QUESTIONS ABOUT INTRODUCTORY DIVING

Can I try scuba diving with no experience?

Yes! Anybody who is in general good health can experience an introductory scuba dive; you don’t even need to be able to swim! In fact, diving is easier than snorkeling when taken by our experienced instructors. There are certain medical conditions that can preclude you from diving, such as asthma, epilepsy and heart conditions. All divers (including certified divers) must complete a dive medical questionnaire aboard the boat. Call our reservations team if you have any queries regarding this. Our team is renowned for giving people an unforgettable experience for their first time dive, as we are passionate about giving others the opportunity to experience the joys of the underwater world! We offer a guaranteed 1:3 ratio of dive instructor to diver but mostly do 1:2 and even 1:1 for those needing extra attention. Most boats offer 1:4.

Why try an Introductory Dive?

Ever felt what it is like to be “flying under water”? Have you ever been “neutrally buoyant” where you feel weightless – gliding through the water not ascending and not descending – it is a great feeling! Now getting this right (neutral buoyancy) does require some skill that you do learn when doing a diving course and you perfect as you become more experienced. However, if it is your first dive your instructor will be doing this for you – all you have to do is breathe and equalise your ears (you will be taught this). With diving you are under the surface, so on those days where the water might be a little choppy on the surface this disappears and all becomes calm down under! When you are under the surface you are also very much part of the environment – the fish life seems to surround you – you are not an “object” on the surface, but part of the underwater team – one of them! Why not give it a go? If you have any queries drop us an e-mail reservations@cprit.com.au

What is involved in trying an Introductory Dive?

On the way out you will fill out a diving medical questionnaire, to ensure you have no medical conditions contrary to diving (please e-mail us if you have any concerns, just in case you need medical clearance to dive). You are then questioned on your swimming / snorkelling ability – but no previous experience is necessary. Once the medical is checked and clear the group is briefed on: the equipment / how to equalise ears and lungs / how to hold your body position and how to clear your mask / a few signs needed to communicate / and the rest is done by us! The dive is about 5-6M deep (great so you can see the top and the bottom!) – the most life and colour on the GBR is in the first 10M – so great depth for your first dive! The dive instructor will “kit” you up in your SCUBA gear (it will feel like a backpack). You are shown and taught a couple of skills. You can walk or jump into the water (either way – your instructor will “catch” you) and once comfortable put you holding on a bar on the surface looking down and practicing your breathing and repeating your skills. You will then be taken down slowly holding onto a bar and the instructor will then take your hand and guide you around the amazing Great Barrier Reef! The dive is 25-30 minutes long.

IF YOU ARE UNSURE AND TRY IT AND AFTER A FEW MINUTES OF BEING IN THE WATER FIND IT ISN’T FOR YOU – YOU CAN COME STRAIGHT BACK OUT AND NOT PAY A CENT! YOU ONLY PAY FOR THE DIVE IF YOU DO IT! YOUR INSTRUCTOR WILL GUIDE YOU TO ENSURE YOU DO NOT HIT THE REEF THEREBY PROTECTING OUR BEAUTIFUL REEF.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

I’m not a good swimmer, can I still snorkel?

Yes, you can. We have top of the range buoyancy vests and aids available for your use (for children as well), and we have snorkel stations in the water for you to hold on to when you need to. If you are still in need of assistance, we will put a crew member in the water with you until you feel more confident. We have a crew member on watch at all times keeping an eye on all snorkelers, swimmers and divers ready to offer help if necessary.

What if I get seasick?

If you are prone to seasickness, please take a preventative medication 20 mins before you board the boat, as you will have a much more enjoyable day. The crew will look after you at all times. You can also be taken across to Green Island (Ocean Free) and Upolu Cay (Ocean Freedom) where you will immediately feel better.

Can I snorkel and scuba dive if I wear glasses or contact lenses?

Yes, we have a range of prescription masks on board the boat for hire. Please check with us in advance on availability and sizes and pre-book if necessary. Please note: If you have contact lenses and you feel comfortable, you can wear them while snorkeling and diving as long as they are soft, disposable lenses (you cannot wear hard contact lenses whilst scuba diving). However, we obviously cannot say that you will definitely not lose them when snorkeling or diving and cannot be held responsible for this .

I have heard there are stingers on the reef. Can I be stung?

The stinger season runs from October to April. Out on the reef there is only a very small probability of being stung, so regarding safety, it is the same wherever you decide to go. The dangerous “box jellyfish” is not found out on the reef but along the coastal areas, so it is unwise to swim on the beaches unless enclosed by a “stinger net”. Other stingers possible are the blue bottle (a little painful but not deadly) and the Irukandji. These can both occur on the reef. The Irukandji is a small jellyfish which until recently hadn’t caused any deaths. In 2002 there were 2 deaths where both the people stung had an underlying medical problem. One has to remember that there are more deaths from bee stings! No one can honestly say that it is impossible to be stung, however looking at the thousands of snorkelers and divers that visit the region each year it is a rare occurrence. We have been snorkeling and diving off our site for 25 years and had only one suspected Irukandji sting on our site. You can wear a stinger suit which covers most of your body if you are concerned. It is recommended that anyone who has a known medical condition or is over 40 yrs and may have an unknown medical condition, wear one during stinger season. These are provided free of charge and also great for sun protection

Will I see sharks on the reef?

There are black and white tipped reef sharks on the reef, but they are normally smaller than people and are very shy. They pose absolutely no threat to humans and we count ourselves very lucky if we are able to see them!!

Is Ocean Free / Ocean Freedom available for Charter?

Absolutely, our boats have always been a very popular option for private charters. Charters can run as per the normal day or can be customised to clients’ requests. Prices vary depending on the season. Enquire by e-mailing us Reservations and Enquiries Number: (07)40521111 or Email: info@oceanfree.com.au

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