Cairns Reef Tours | Sailing to Michaelmas Cay

Tour Code: 125

Departing: Cairns

Pickup: Cairns, Cairns Northern Beaches, Palm Cove

Family Deal Save $130
  • Discover an amazing array of birdlife on Michaelmas Cay on the Great Barrier Reef
  • Great for families and beginner snorkellers and introductory scuba divers.
  • With the amazing array of birdlife and sea life and the pristine surroundings at Michaelmas Cay, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Snap yourself on the pristine beach or snorkelling with a friendly green sea turtle. 
  • Snorkel in the calm, shallow waters off the beach at Michaelmas Cay
  • Stay dry and view the spectacular fringing reef and diverse marine life from a glass bottom boat
  • Family Deal - Save $130 based on 2 adults & 2 children

Included In Price

  • Luxury Sail Boat Return Cruise from Cairns to Michaelmas Cay
  • 4 hours at Michaelmas Cay on the Reef
  • Morning tea with muffins and focaccia
  • Afternoon tea with tropical fruit platter and cake of the day
  • Delicious hot and cold buffet lunch, including fresh prawns
  • Snorkelling equipment and instruction
  • Buoyancy vests.
  • Marine Biologist presentation.
  • Glass bottom boat tours during Covid19 for social distancing (Normally Semi-submersible coral viewing tour with commentary)
  • Fish feeding presentation
  • Glass of complimentary sparkling wine served on the homeward journey, cheese and crackers
  • Lycra suits

Great Barrier Reef Tours Cairns. Cruising to Michaelmas Sand Cay a solitary sand cay in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, spend a day snorkelling and diving .

Michaelmas Cay Tours - Cairns Great Barrier Reef Trip

The most popular luxury day tour sailing on a catamaran from Cairns city to an outlying sandy coral cay on the outer Great Barrier Reef.

Enjoy a leisurely day on board this luxury sailing catamaran visiting the unique location of Michaelmas Cay where you can do activities as you like.

Michaelams Cay offers safe snorkelling from its sloping beaches, viewing the ocean depths on a glass bottom boat tour (normally a semi-submersible submarine tour) trying a scuba diving lesson, taking a walk to see the huge amount of migratory birds nesting on the cay or just relaxing and soaking up the sun on this gorgeous little oasis in the middle of the reef.

Perfect Cairns reef tour for non-swimmers and families as you can wade slowly into the water from the beach.

This is a comfortable reef trip to the Great Barrier Reef aboard a luxurious sailing catamaran from Cairns.

The destination for the day is the pristine white sandy island called Michaelmas Cay which is surrounded by beautiful coral gardens teeming with an amazing variety of diverse marine life.

A well known and loved spot for seeing Green Sea Turtles.

This sandy coral cay is also a protected bird nesting sanctuary which is host to over 20,000 migratory seabirds and noted as one of the most important nesting sights in the Southern Hemisphere.

Parts of Michaelmas Cay is roped off so that guests know how close they can approach these mighty sea birds without getting too close and possibly causing damage and stress whilst the birds are nesting and in a vulnerable position.

This is the perfect place for bird lovers to get some magnificent photographs of these migratory birds in their natural habitat and a great place for first time snorkellers and the children to get into the water and see the reef.

View all Cairns snorkelling and scuba diving tours in Cairns.

The Michaelmas Cay Great Barrier Reef Day Cruise

The reef trip cruise departs from the Cairns Marlin Marina at 8.30am and returning at 5pm with coach transfer from Cairns City hotels and Cairns Northern beaches hotels available if required.

The tour to Michaelmas Cay reef takes approximately 90 minutes cruising past rainforest clad mountains out to the azure aqua waters of the world famous Great Barrier Reef.

Cairns Australia is noted as the best place to see the Great Barrier Reef in all its glory as it is the most dense location of the coral reef system lining the east coast of Australia .

Upon arrival at Michealmas Cay you can begin to enjoy four full hours of snorkeling and scuba diving and only taking time out to enjoy a tour on the glass bottom boat over coral plates and bommies.

Spend time relaxing on the soft white sand or tucking into some freshly prepared morning and afternoon tea and a sumptuous buffet lunch prepared by the on board chef.

Please advise us upon booking if you have any food allergies so they we may be able to cater to your personal needs.

Optional Extras on the Michaelmas Cay Great Barrier Reef Tour

Introductory Scuba Diving On The Great Barrier Reef from Cairns 

Enhance your experiences of Australia's Great Barrier Reef and try your hand at introductory scuba diving in shallow waters of up to ten meters, led by a dive guide in groups of 2-8 people to see the secrets that lie beneath the water amongst the corals of the Great Barrier Reef!

Scuba diving allows you to indulge and discover the mysterious depths of the Great Barrier Reef in serene safe waters just off the gently sloping beach which allows you to gently wander into the water and get submerged in your own time at your own speed.

Just remember children will have to be 12 years and above for diving and a medical questionnaire will need to be filled out prior to undertaking any scuba diving activities.

Guided Snorkelling Tours On the Great Barrier Reef at Michaelmas Cay

For those not so keen on diving you can join a guided snorkelling tour with a qualified Marine Naturalist to have all those fascinating sea creatures brought to the surface and their role in the ecology of the reef system explained to you in lay mans terms.

You can even get to touch and feel some of these sea creatures but be gentle as some of them are very fragile.

Whale Watching on the Great Barrier Reef

July to September is whale season in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. These magnificent mammals come to the safety of our pristine waters to find a mate and calve or just laze around for a while in the warmer waters before heading back down south to Antartic summer where food will be in abundance with the melting snows.

The young Humpbacks and Minke Whales are very inquisitive and will come right up to the boats for a good look at all the passengers on board and they even seem to encourage their very young to do the same.

Dolphins are just as friendly in these waters and are regularly seen riding the bows of the boats just for some fun.

When you snorkel with them you can go under the waters and hear their pipping to each other or their sonar's that show them the depths of water they are in.

Well your day is now over and on arrival to Cairns Marlin Marina it's all aboard the coaches and you're off to your holiday accommodation to freshen up and reflect on your magnificent day on Australia's Great Barrier Reef from Cairns.

Sail back to Cairns from the Great Barrier Reef

On the homeward journey back into Cairns, the skipper will shut down those engines for a good portion of the journey (depending on the winds) for a sail back to Cairns from the Great Barrier Reef.

Kick back on the vast front deck and enjoy live entertainment whilst enjoying a complimentary chilled glass of sparkling wine as the sun starts to set in the west over the rainforest clad mountains that surround Cairns City.

The trip back into Cairns is just the best ending to a beautiful day with the magnificent scenery the mountains and the ocean offer.

Accommodation Return Transfers

Please note: All return transfers will depart Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal 17.30pm. Ocean Sprit and Silverswift
passengers will need to wait for up to 1 hour for their return bus.
Reservations staff will be contacting all passengers with transfers the day prior to travel to update them
on locations and times if it will be a Taxi etc and also advise the OS and SWS pax of the delay with the return

Please see below timetables:

Pick up time@ 06:40
MANTRA AMPHORA (49-63 Williams Esplanade Palm Cove)
PARADISE ON THE BEACH RESORT (119-121 Williams Esplanade Palm Cove)
PEPPER'S BEACH CLUB & SPA PALM COVE (123 Williams Esplanade)
REEF HOUSE (99 Williams Esplanade Palm Cove)
REEF RETREAT (10-14 Harpa Street Palm Cove)

Pick up time @ 06:45
MANGO LAGOON (81-85 Cedar Road Palm Cove)

Pick up time @ 07:00
CNR Moore & Trinity St Bus Stop

Pick up time @ 07:30
CAIRNS SHERIDAN (295 Sheridan Street)
THE LAKES CAIRNS RESORT & SPA (2 Greenslopes Street)
PALM ROYALE HOTEL (7-11 Chester Court)
CAIRNS COLONIAL CLUB (18-26 Cannon Street)
QUEEN'S COURT (167-171 Sheridan Street)
RYDGES ESPLANADE RESORT (Bus Area - Esplanade Side)

Pick up time @ 07:35
181 ESPLANADE P/Up Lake Street Side (181 Esplanade)
BAY VILLAGE (Cnr Lake & Gatton Streets)
CORAL TREE INN (162-172 Grafton Street)
CAIRNS PLAZA HOTEL (145 Esplanade)

Pick up time @ 07:40
RILEY (p/u from DOUBLETREE BY HILTON - Abbott St side)
DOUBLETREE BY HILTON (121-123 Esplanade)

Pick up time @ 07:45
FLYNN BY CRYSTALBROOK (p/u Abbott Street entrance near Night Markets)
MANTRA TRILOGY (p/u Abbott Street entrance near Night Markets)
THE BENSON HOTEL (Cnr Grafton & Spence)
GILLIGANS - P/up The Benson (50 Grafton St)

Pick up time @ 07:50

Pick up time @ 08:00
YHA CAIRNS CENTRAL (20-26 McLeod Street)

Are you keen to know more about the Great Barrier Reef tour options? If yes then take a look at our blog pages to learn which of the tours and attractions are more suited to your travel style.

Tour Languages Offered
  • English
Departs From


Departure Time

0730: Check-in at Ocean Spirit’s counter inside the Reef Fleet Terminal for boarding passes. 08:00: Boarding commences. Vessel departs 08:30.

Pickup Locations
  • Cairns
  • Cairns Northern Beaches
  • Palm Cove
  • Please note: All return transfers will depart Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal 17.30pm. Ocean Sprit and Silverswift passengers will need to wait for up to 1 hour for their return bus.
  • Our Reservations staff will be contacting all passengers with transfers the day prior to travel to update them on locations and times.
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Michaelmas Cay
Months of Operation

January - December

Days of Operation


Does not operate on Christmas Day


8.5 hours (approx)

Available for Purchase / Hire
  • Beverages & Snacks available onboard
  • Souvenirs
  • Introductory Scuba Diving (Recommend to pre-book)
  • Coach Transfers from accommodation
Fitness Level Required

Low, Medium


Scuba Diving – minimum age 12


Scuba Diving Restrictions

  • Certain medical conditions and medications may preclude some people from scuba diving.
  • Participation is subject to a medical questionnaire completed on board with the tour operator
  • Minimum age for scuba diving is 12 years.
  • Flying after scuba diving: a wait of 12 hours is recommended after one dive, 18 hour after 2 dives and at least 24 hours after multiple dives, before ascending to an altitude of 300 metres or greater.

Advanced Dive Medical Intro Dive Medical

Read more about Diving Safety on the Great Barrier Reef.

Eco Certifications
Eco Advanced Tourism
  • Camera,Towel, Swimmers, Hat, Comfortable shoes
  • Sunscreen (SPF 30 +), Sunglasses
  • Cash/Credit Card for onboard purchases.

Customer Reviews

Average Rating

fernando m

Reviewed on October 27, 2018

Yes, a lot


Reviewed on September 20, 2016

Loved our trip - staff & organisation on the trip, fantastic

Response From The Tour Specialists

Hi Shirley, thanks for your feedback. Ocean Spirit is a beautiful vessel and The Tour Specialists are pleased you experienced the fantastic service and experience at Michaelmas Cay this vessel is so well known for.

Hugh M

Reviewed on June 16, 2016

Well organized friendly service

Response From The Tour Specialists

The Ocean Spirit Crew are a great team to visit the Great Barrier Reef with and the Tour Specialists are pleased you enjoyed your day on the Great Barrier Reef & Michaelmas Cay.

  • Family Fare: 2 Adults and 2 Children (not applicable with other discounts)
  • Child Fare 4-14 years inclusive

All cancellations must be in writing.

We understand things may change, so we have made cancellations very easy.

In every instance we always recommend you purchase travel insurance for life’s last-minute hiccups.

Please see our terms and conditions for details prior to booking.

Operators policy:

  • Cancellations received within 24 hours are subject to full cancellation.

Cairns Reef Tours | Sailing to Michaelmas Cay

Tour Code: 125

Departing: Cairns

Pickup: Cairns, Cairns Northern Beaches, Palm Cove

Family Deal Save $130



Prices are AUD, per adult and include all levies fees and taxes.

Child: au$138.00
Family: au$674.00

Tour Code: 125



15 yrs & over

4 - 14 yrs

0 - 3 yrs

Ages of Children
(Discounts May Apply)
1300 761 612
+61 427 074 745
1300 761 612
+61 427 074 745

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