Oh, what were we thinking deciding to snorkel around Australia with three kids! I’m sure you can imagine. For perspective, our children are 13, 11, and 8 and they are all super stubborn and don’t really love to be pushed outside of their boundaries much. We do like to push them a little further just to help them see what is out there, and it usually ends well…
After getting ourselves some actually decent snorkelling gear we started slowly by taking the kids to local rock pools and beaches so they could get used to using the masks and seeing what it was all about. They have surfed for a little while now, so are normally pretty comfy in the ocean. Over the past few weeks, we have taken them on some guided snorkelling trips and to some little freshwater pools to experience some real snorkelling.
Before You Try Snorkelling…
My advice, before I recommend some tours and places, is to absolutely get your own gear and make sure it is decent. The cheap masks hurt after a while and they leak, two things you absolutely do not want happening while your kids are out floating around the ocean. Good fitting wetsuits are also pretty important to make sure they feel comfy and stay warm when the conditions aren’t warm enough. Be prepared for tantrums, seasickness, and fear when taking boat rides to snorkel. Our experience so far is only the east coast of Australia but we will be visiting all over so will definitely have more advice in the coming months.
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Our Snorkelling Adventures – Places You Must Visit
Hook Island & Whitehaven Beach
Our first boat ride out was with Ocean Rafting! Ok, these guys are awesome and it is a lot of fun, but a warning, this is a thrill ride out to the reefs at Hook Island and Whitehaven Beach. There will be wave hopping, doughnuts, and racing involved! If your kids are not adventurous you may end up with tears, like we did, and of course attitude – depending on the age!
Even with the tears, our guides Kevin and Scotty, were brilliant and the ride out was great. These boats are nice and fast so no seasickness happens. We opted for the Northern Exposure tour which includes 2-3 snorkelling locations (depending on the weather), plus lunch at Whitehaven and then Hill Inlet, so it is a jam-packed day. They are fantastic at helping out with beginner snorkelers and even kids that decide to throw a tantrum right before jumping in (yes that happened to us). So, eventually, all kids were thrown in and all got to see some Nemo fishies amongst other awesome marine life.
Whitsundays & Whitehaven Beach
Our second ride out was with Cruise Whitsundays, these guys are a huge catamaran and it’s more of a cruise of the islands and then a swim and snorkel, if you wish, off the beach. They do feed the fish at Whitehaven so you get a great show of some super cute fish in the clear and warm waters – no wetsuits required at Whitehaven. This boat ride is rough and many people on board were sick, so be prepared. A little tip, when the kids are unwell or scared, the staff will offer out a little turtle teddy. Yes, we ended up with three teddies!
Big Crystal Creek, Paluma
Our next adventure was actually free snorkelling at Big Crystal Creek in the Paluma National Park. This place only has a few fish but man it is an awesome adventure.
Our third boat ride was with Big Cat Green Island. While this wasn’t my favourite snorkelling trip, it was great for the kids. Snorkelling straight off the beach with so many fish was a real highlight and they absolutely loved it… well, our youngest wouldn’t go in, but such is life. They also offer glass-bottom boats and a semi-submarine ride, which I highly recommend so the kids can see the fish in the water and know what is out there.
At the end of today, even with the tears and tantrums, we are still pumped for more snorkelling around this gorgeous country so the good definitely outweighed the bad. My top tour for kids would be Green Island, purely for the boat options and the off-beach snorkelling. But for overall fun, definitely Ocean Rafting. Their service and experience in the water was amazing and it was just an all-around fun day.
Our Recommendations for Snorkelling Gear
Snorkel mask recommendations… well, this one is tricky. We started with cheaper full-faced masks for the kids, which were a total nightmare and waste of money. We eventually opted for the Ninja Shark ones and I am so glad we did. But, and yes there is a but, make sure you have backup masks as well. If your kids are anything like ours, they change their minds like the wind. Ours loved their full-faced masks in Victoria and then decided that in Queensland, they couldn’t use them properly (actually, they were ok for one day and then not). Feel my frustration?!
So, test out masks, if you can, but still have backup options. The full-face masks are great as they don’t need to be able to hold the bite in the snorkel and they can breathe normally, but they are a little tricky to put on and take off when needed. So we have both full-faced and two-piece masks just to avoid any stubborn moments. Wetsuits – make sure to get ones that fit correctly so they are comfy and keep them warm when needed (ones that are too big or too small just don’t work).
All in all, we are loving our snorkelling adventures and the kids have something amazing to write about in their journals each night. Another bonus, it really tires them out and they sleep so well after a day snorkelling!
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