The Tour Specialists Blog


Things To Do and Things to See Low Isles on the Great Barrier Reef

admin on January 21st, 2024

If you are coming to stay in Port Douglas and thinking about a Great Barrier Reef tour, then we suggest you take a look at Low Isles as this is an island tour that will satisfy every single water lover and nature lover looking to see the magnificence of the underwater world of this iconic reef.  

Just a short boat ride from the bustling town of Port Douglas, lie the Low Isles - a stunning, tranquil escape within the Great Barrier Reef. This small group of islands offers a remarkable combination of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant marine life, making it an ideal destination for travellers seeking both relaxation and a bit of an adventure. In this introduction, we'll explore the things to do and things to see that the Low Isles have to offer, whether you're there for a full day tour, a half day tour, or the added bonus of a magical sunset cruise on the way back to Port Douglas like on this popular tour.

The Snorkelling at Low Isles is Great!

People often ask can you swim at Low Isles and what is the snorkelling like at Low Isles or is Low Isles worth visiting, so we will give you some insights from our very own local knowledge and the opinions of many of our local tour operators that conduct snorkelling tours at Low Isles daily all year round.

Not far from Port Douglas the Low Isles present a snorkelling experience that is as enchanting as it is unforgettable. This article delves into the captivating world beneath the waves of the Low Isles, where the coral reefs teem with life and colour, offering a window into an underwater paradise. There are around 150 different species of hard and soft corals around the isles and at least seven species of seagrass that grow on the intertidal flats providing a home and food for animals such as sea cucumbers, sting rays, turtles, and dugongs. It’s a tropical paradise and not what you would think for an island tour!

What Will You See Snorkelling at Low Isles?

1. Coral Gardens

Low Isles is celebrated for its stunning coral formations, encompassing both hard and soft corals. 

These corals provide the foundation of the marine ecosystem, offering shelter and sustenance to a plethora of marine species. When snorkelling, be sure to admire:

  • Branching corals like staghorn coral.
  • Colourful corals such as brain coral and mushroom coral.

2. Diverse Fish Species

The waters around Low Isles teem with an incredible variety of fish species, each more captivating than the last. Keep your eyes peeled for these underwater treasures:

  • Clownfish: Famously featured in "Finding Nemo," these colourful fish are often seen darting among sea anemones.
  • Butterflyfish: Their striking patterns and vibrant colours make them a common sight among the coral gardens.
  • Parrotfish: With their beak-like mouths and dazzling hues, they play a vital role in maintaining the reef's health.
  • Angelfish: In various species, they showcase intricate patterns and vivid colours.

3. Graceful Sea Turtles

Low Isle serves as a nesting ground for green sea turtles, and encountering these graceful creatures while snorkelling is a magical experience. Watch in awe as they gracefully glide through the water or surface for a breath of air. Just snorkel around without splashing too much and you will have a greater chance of seeing them. If your dream was to swim with turtles on the Great Barrier Reef then low Isles is the place that will make your dreams come true.  

4. Enigmatic Giant Clams

The reef at Low Isle is home to some of the world's largest and most vibrant giant clams. These massive molluscs display an array of mesmerizing colours and patterns, adding to the visual spectacle of the underwater world.

5. Fascinating Eels and Rays

Keep an eye out for moray eels hiding in crevices and sting rays gliding gracefully along the sandy seabed. These creatures add an element of mystery to your underwater snorkel tour.

6. Sharks (the Friendly Kind)

While the mention of sharks might conjure images of danger, the sharks you'll encounter at Low Isle are typically small reef sharks like blacktip and whitetip reef sharks. They are known for their non-aggressive behaviour and are a thrilling sight for snorkellers.

7. Intricate Invertebrates

Look closely at the coral formations, and you'll discover a world of invertebrates, including sea cucumbers, starfish, and sea urchins. Among the colourful and intricate invertebrates, nudibranchs stand out as favourites for underwater photographers.

8. Dolphins and Whales

During the months of May to September and dependant on the water temperatures, you might be treated to encounters with, humpback whales in the surrounding waters of Low Isles as they make their way further north to Agincourt Reef where they can calve in the safety of the coral barrier away from predators. The opportunity to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is awe-inspiring. During the months of June and July you may also see the inquisitive Minke Whale and that is a treat for everyone indeed as they sometimes approach the boat and the snorkellers to come and take a look at you. Dolphins are a regular on the Great Barrier Reef but can be a bit shy.

9. Birds on the Great Barrier Reef

Above the water, Low Isles is a sanctuary for various seabirds, including terns, noddies, and coastal and migratory birds. Birdwatchers will find plenty to appreciate on the island.

Swimming at Low Isles

As you swim through the warm, crystal-clear waters, the first thing that strikes you is the sheer vibrancy of the underwater landscape. The coral gardens of the Low Isles are bustling ecosystems, home to a breathtaking variety of hard and soft corals. Each coral formation is a living masterpiece, painting the seabed with hues of orange, purple, yellow, and green.

There are over 150 different types of corals, and this is just the beginning. The Low Isles are a sanctuary for an array of colourful marine life. Schools of iridescent fish swim in harmonious unison, their scales glinting in the filtered sunlight. Angelfish, clownfish, and parrotfish are just a few of the colourful characters that call the Low Isles home.

Perhaps the most enchanting encounters are with the gentle sea turtles that frequent the area. These graceful creatures, often Green Sea Turtles or Hawksbill Turtles, glide serenely through the water, occasionally coming up for air, unfazed by the presence of human onlookers. When tourists ask the Tour Specialists team where they can swim with turtles, we always recommend the Low Isles. Just be mindful when snorkelling always keep your movements in the water slow and quiet then you will not scare the turtles or other marine life away.

Ideal Swimming and Snorkelling Conditions for All

What makes snorkelling at the Low Isles particularly appealing is its suitability for all skill levels. The waters here are calm and relatively shallow, providing a safe environment for beginners and younger snorkellers so its a great tour for families also. At the same time, the richness of the underwater scenery ensures that even the most experienced snorkellers will find the experience deeply rewarding. If you have never snorkelled before we suggest you read our Travel Tips for snorkelling.

Eco-Friendly Exploration

Being part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the Low Isles are a protected area. Snorkelling tours are conducted with the utmost respect for the environment. Visitors are encouraged to observe without disturbing - no touching the coral, standing on coral or chasing the marine life. This responsible approach ensures the sustainability of this spectacular ecosystem for future generations.

Guided Snorkelling Tours

Many Port Douglas tour operators offer guided snorkelling tours, which can enhance the experience significantly. Guides are knowledgeable about the most vibrant spots of the reef and can point out marine life that you might otherwise miss. They also offer insights into the behaviour and ecology of the reef's inhabitants, making the experience educational as well as enjoyable.

Glass Bottom Boat Tours:

Some of the Low Isles tours include an informative ride around the reef with a marine naturalist on a glass bottom boat tour and they tell you about everything you will see through the glass windows which is perfect for those that are young or old and may be non-swimmers.

Preparing for Your Low Isles Snorkelling Adventure

When planning your snorkelling trip to the Low Isles, consider a few practical tips:

Sun Protection: The Australian sun can be intense, so eco and ocean friendly sunscreen, a hat, and UV-protective swimwear are advisable. We suggest you apply it regularly.
Hydration: Stay hydrated with water, as snorkelling can be deceptively exhausting, especially if you ingest a little seawater.
Respect the Environment: Remember that you are a visitor in a fragile ecosystem. Please use Eco Friendly sunscreen that will not leave pollutants in the water.
Wear the Lycra Suit: Vanity is not something that should stop you from wearing the Lycra sun suit it not only protects you from the UV rays but from possible marine stings.
No Prams: There are no boardwalks on Low Isles like you have on Green Island and Fitzroy Island, it’s a pure dig your toes in the sand experience. If you have a pram or are in a wheelchair and staying in Port Douglas, we recommend Quicksilver as your perfect Great Barrier Reef tour.
Bathrooms: Use the facilities on your boat.

Snorkelling in the Low Isles is more than just a recreational activity; it’s an immersive experience in one of the world’s most extraordinary natural environments. It's a chance to disconnect from the terrestrial world and enter a realm of aquatic wonder, a reminder of the beauty and diversity of our planet's ecosystems.

Low Isles: A Must-Visit Destination in Port Douglas

When vacationing in Port Douglas, a trip to the Low Isles should undoubtedly be on your itinerary. This idyllic destination is not just a place but an experience that embodies the essence of the Great Barrier Reef's beauty and tranquillity. Here's why we believe the Low Isles is a must-visit for anyone holidaying in Port Douglas.

Proximity and Accessibility to Port Douglas

Located a mere 15 kilometres from Port Douglas, the Low Isles offer a convenient and easily accessible slice of paradise. A short, scenic boat ride is all it takes to transport you from the mainland to this serene locale, making it perfect for both half-day and full-day excursions. If travelling via sailboat it will take about an hour and if on a motorised catamaran 30 minutes.

A Snorkelling Haven

The Low Isles are renowned for their spectacular snorkelling opportunities. The clear, calm waters surrounding the island are teeming with vibrant coral gardens and an abundance of marine life. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced snorkeller, the underwater world here is welcoming and utterly captivating.

Snorkelling with Turtles at Low Isles

The waters around the Low Isles are a sanctuary for a variety of marine creatures, most notably the sea turtles. Snorkelling here often includes encounters with these graceful animals, along with a myriad of colourful tropical fish, making it an unforgettable experience for turtle enthusiasts.

Relaxation on Pristine Beaches

For those who prefer relaxation, the Low Isles' unspoiled sandy beaches offer a peaceful retreat. You can lounge under the sun huts on the beach, enjoy a picnic, or take a leisurely stroll along around the inner island under the trees, soak up the island's natural beauty and tranquillity.

Educational and Eco-Friendly

Visiting the Low Isles is not only a leisure trip but also an educational journey. Many tours focus on the importance of reef conservation and the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. This eco-friendly approach to tourism educates visitors on the significance of preserving natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef.

Things to Do and See on the Low Isles

Snorkelling and Marine Exploration

The Low Isles are encircled by stunning coral reefs, providing an excellent opportunity for snorkelling. The clear, shallow waters are teeming with colourful coral gardens and a diverse array of marine life, including tropical fish, sea turtles, and various species of rays. Whether you're a seasoned snorkeller or trying it for the first time, the underwater world of the Low Isles is welcoming and awe-inspiring.

Discover the Island's History

The Low Isles boast a rich history, including the iconic Low Isles Lighthouse, operational since 1878. The island also played a pivotal role in early scientific research of coral reefs, adding a layer of historical significance to your visit.

Wildlife Watching

Apart from the marine life, the Low Isles are also a haven for bird enthusiasts. The islands serve as a nesting site for a variety of seabirds, offering a unique opportunity for bird watching.

Low Isles Snorkelling Tour Options from Port Douglas

Full Day Tours

For those looking to immerse themselves fully in the Low Isles experience, full-day tours are available. These typically include extended time for snorkelling, island exploration, and relaxation, along with meals and educational talks about the reef's ecosystem.

Half Day Tours

Half-day tours are perfect for those who have limited time or prefer a shorter excursion. These tours usually focus on the highlights of the islands, such as snorkelling and beach time, offering a condensed but equally enriching experience.

Guided Snorkelling Tours

Many tours include guided walks around the island, where you can learn about the island's ecosystem, its flora and fauna, and the conservation efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The Perfect Sunset Cruise Home to Port Douglas

Experience the magic of the Low Isles as the day winds down with an adults only sunset cruise. This one-off luxury cruise provides guests with trip that back to Port Douglas they will never forget. After a late afternoon start and a snorkelling trip to Low Isles the luxury yacht hoists its sails and points the bow towards home. In the skies above the sun begins to set down behind the Daintree Rainforest and the sky lights up in a kaleidoscope of colours that change with every minute before the sun completely disappears behind the mountains. The waters of the Great Barrier Reef reflect the colours in the sky making an even more transformative experience for those onboard creating a tranquil and romantic atmosphere.

The Low Isles A Must-Visit Destination off Port Douglas

Whether you're an avid snorkeller, a nature lover, or simply looking for a slice of paradise, the Low Isles offer a diverse range of activities to suit all interests. From the vibrant underwater adventures to the peaceful beachside relaxation, every moment spent here promises to be memorable. So, when planning your trip from Port Douglas, consider including the Low Isles in your itinerary - it's an experience you won't want to miss!

Read this blog for all the things you need to know before you go snorkellling at Low Isles. 

Also read this blog is Low Isles worth a visit?

Learn more about the Great Barrier Reef. 


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