Where We Go

Outer Great Barrier Reef

Where We Go: Michaelmas Cay

Located 22 nautical miles (40 km) from Cairns; Michaelmas Cay is the largest of the uninhabited coral cays in the Cairns region.

Seastar is the first vessel to arrive at Michaelmas Cay. Only 2 tour companies currently are permitted to acces this Cay.

Being a large cay, it can sustain a permanent low grassy area the size of 2 football fields. This is approximately 3½ metres high (11’ 6”). It is home to 35 different species of sea birds.
Bird watching

Michaelmas Cay

Unlike other cays, it is always above water no matter how high the tide.

Michaelmas Cay is on the western tip of Michaelmas Reef. This mid-shelf reef was formed by living coral animals. The cay developed from fragements of corals and shells. They were washed to the calm side of the reef by waves and wind. This formed a single plateau.

Birds would carry seeds to the sheltered areas behind the the sand bank where they rested. These seeds grew into plants and stabilized the cay. In turn this encouraged more seabirds to rest at this cay. The seabirds were then able to fertilize the cay further. More plants were able to grow in the centre of Michaelmas Cay. Thus, the ecosystem of the largest coral cay was created.

Environmental restrictions placed on the cay have reduced the number of people that can visit. The island and reef remain essentially untouched and in a pristine state. Those visiting will notice when diving or snorkelling that the corals appear wholly unspoiled.

Michaelmas Cay is the SAFE and easy way to snorkel and dive.

Due to the consistency of our tours, the birds appear unafraid by people on their island. As chicks, they see people every day. They consider us to be a harmless and natural part of their environment. Similarly, the fish in Michaelmas Reef are also accustoed to people.

They consider people as part of their environment as well, when swimming in this reef. They may even be comfortable enough to swim near you. But don’t make any sudden movements or they will swim away!

The large cay protects the waters around it from undue stress. It is a gently sloping beach that provides entry into calm waters. The water will gradually become deep and there are no immediate drop off points near the beach.

If the tides are low, people can walk to the first coral. It is only a few metres away from the waters edge. People enjoy the reef more this way because it is safer and more calm.

maroon-clownfish where we go

At Michaelmas Cay, you can either swim to the beach or ride over in the glass bottom boat. Should you take the glass bottom boat, once you hop in the water, you can put your fins on and adjust your mask and snorkel. Snorkeling from the cay is great for beginners. It is easier to adjust to the equipment in shallow waters versus deep waters.

Where we go: Lunch

After your amazing trip to Michaelmas Cay, hop back on the boat for lunch. We serve our delicious hot & cold buffet lunch before departing Michaelmas Cay. This lunch includes a variety of hot dishes, scrumptious cold meats, selected breads, tropical fruits, and salads.

When everyone is full to their content, the boat departs Michaelmas Cay and heads to Hastings Reef. Once you arrive to Hastings Reef you are content, rested and ready to enter the water again.

While travelling over to Hastings Reef, we often see dolphins and whales during their migration season (May-September).

Where We Go: Hastings Reef

Hastings Reef is located 30 nautical miles out from Cairns. At the end of the last ice age, around 11,000 – 12,000 years ago, this is where the Australian coast line actually resided. This is here the reef began to grow.

Hastings is a typical outer reef. On most days, a line of breakers mark where the deep ocean swells break onto the reef wall. The reef itself is shallow on top, with steep sides reminiscent of cliffs falling away into the surrounding water.

Where we go Seaturtle

This is a preferred location for lively corals and Marine life. Far away from the coast and the effects of rivers and streams. The corals and marine life thrive out on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

What's included

For divers and snorkellers you are swimming in the clear ocean water which provides the utmost visibility.

Seastar moors on the calm side at one of the most interesting locations. Although the back of the vessel may only be a few metres from the shallow coral, the bow of the boat is in 20 metres of water.

It is here you can experience the true wonders of this Outer Edge Reef. There are so many amazing things to see. The coral caves, coral overhangs, deep water drop offs, coral canyons, swim throughs and shallow coral bays are only metres from the boat.

Along the steep edges, there are many wonderful marine life. Some include swirling schools of small fish, colourful parrot fish, turtles, giant clams, “friendly” little reef sharks, bright yellow butterfly fish, pairs of rabbit fish, and of course, Nemo.

Outer Great Barrier Reef

It’s definitely worth cruising this far out for the best of the Great Barrier Reef.

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