In September, 2022 I went on the Frankland Islands Great Barrier Reef day trip with my mum, dad and my sister. It was awesome and my family and I had a great day.
We got up early in the morning and drove our car to Deeral, which is about 45 minutes south of Cairns on the Bruce HIghway. When we got to Deeral there was a sign to turn left and go down a road towards the Mulgrave River. We drove for a few minutes and found the meeting area for all the people who were going on the boat. Some people came on a bus too that had picked them up from Cairns. At 8.30am we got our names checked off a list and got on the boat.
The boat was called the Turtle Islander and it was very nice and there were lots of nice tables and chairs to sit at inside the boat or up the top on the outside deck. We decided to sit inside. There were a lot of nice staff working and they all said hello to us and asked if we needed anything.
Firstly the boat went along the river for about 30 minutes and we looked for some crocodiles but I didn't see any.
Then it went out into the ocean and it only took about 15 minutes to get to Normanby Island, which is where we got off and stayed for the day.
On the way there Jacob told us all about the island and what we could do for the day. We had to fill in some forms.
He said we could snorkel, do a semi-sub tour on a glass bottom boat, a guided island walk or have a turn on the kayaks and stand up paddleboards. He said there was also a treasure hunt for kids to do. Anyone over 12 could put their name down for a snorkel safari too.
We went out the back of the boat and someone helped me get my flippers and a snorkel and mask so I could snorkel on the island.
On the way out there they had some biscuits and tea and coffee for morning tea but there weren't any gluten free ones. There were nice toilets on the boat.
When we got to Normanby Island the boat pulled right in to the beach and there were steps we walked down with handrails. It was a very pretty island with lots of lovely trees and a big sandy beach and lots of coral.
There was also a picnic area on the island with tables and chairs under a big tarp to keep the sun off us. When we first got off the boat everyone went and sat there and they talked to us about what the timetable was for the day. It was written on a bit whiteboard so we could all see the program. They said to come back there at 12 for lunch. There weren't any toilets on the island but you could go back to the boat if you needed to use one.
We got into the water and tried to snorkel first and it was a bit tricky for me. I had trouble using the snorkel and water kept getting in my mouth so a man helped me by getting me a different snorkel to make it easier and he told me what to do.
I had a swim around and saw lots of coral and some fish but I didn't go far from the beach. They had noodles for us to use to help us float.
After that mum and I went for a walk on the island and saw the boat on the other side.
I took a lot of photos and really liked looking around at all the nice views.
Dad and my sister did a snorkel safari where they went to the other side of the island and snorkelled out a bit further for about 50 minutes.
Mum and I went on the semi-sub which was a boat that was half under the water and we sat underneath where it had windows so we could see the coral and fish while we went around the reef.
We saw lots of angelfish and parrotfish, and sea cucumbers and we were very lucky and got to see some turtles too.
There was lots of lovely coral and rocks to look at and I liked it on the semi-sub. At first it went a bit fast and I was worried because it was a bit noisy and there were a lot of bubbles in the water but it slowed down then and it was very calm going around and we got to see so many nice things to see.
We heard lots of information about the reef and there were signs on the walls that you can read with information on them too.
Lunch was very nice and we ate it on the island at the picnic area. There was a very delicious buffet with chicken, cold meats, prawns, salad, pasta, fruit and bread rolls and there was a special meal for me that was gluten free.
We met some very nice people at lunchtime and had a good talk to them.
In the afternoon we swam in the ocean and went on the kayaks and on the stand-up paddleboards. It was lots of fun and we all enjoyed it.
There was a guided island tour we could have done but we were having too much fun in the water so we didn't. Lots of kids did the Treasure hunt and they looked very happy.
On the way back we had afternoon tea on the boat and there was cheese and crackers and cake. I had a nice gluten free cake.
I really liked going on the Frankland Islands tour and it was a great day out.
Tips from my travelling companion
The Frankland Islands is a great place to visit. The scenery is breathtaking and Normanby Island where we visited was simply perfect. There were so many activities to do and everything was very well organised. Flynn really enjoyed the semi-sub and having a turn on stand up paddleboard with his dad and sister. The staff were very friendly and willing to help. They saw that Flynn was having trouble with his snorkel and came over to offer to assist without being asked. They were very patient and respectful. Flynn had snorkelled before many years ago but did struggle as he hadn't done it for a while. I think it would have been beneficial if we had practiced in our pool at home prior to the trip and would certainly do this if we were to go again as it takes quite a bit of coordination to master it.
The boat has a limit of 100 passengers and there was a high ratio of staff members to passengers so there was always someone around to help if needed. This smaller number of passengers is a bonus as we've been out to the reef before with larger companies and groups and it gets quite crowded, which often cause added stress for Flynn.
The shaded picnic area was also a positive aspect as we had somewhere comfortable to leave our bags and to come back to rest. There were also big containers of ice cold water available to refill your water bottles for free and there were eskies of soft drinks available to purchase. Also, there was sunscreen to use if you didn't bring your own.
We were very impressed with the quality of the coral on the reef and the marine life was abundant. Seeing turtles was certainly a highlight of our day.
If you're a local of the Cairns area they offer 30% off the regular price, which is a great deal.
We would highly recommend this trip!