3 Nights - Fly Dive Minke Whales

2017 Departure dates: 12 June | 19 June | 26 June | 3 July | 10 July.
2018 Departure dates: 11 June | 18 June | 25 June | 2 July | 9 July.

10 Dives. Suits: Snorkelers, Novice and Advanced Divers. Liveaboard dive trip within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, dedicated to maximising your in-water interactions at the world’s only known Minke Whale aggregation sites. Appeals to anyone who loves special encounters with amazing marine creatures.

This trip showcases the best of the Great Barrier Reef featuring Minke Whales and more:

  • A spectacular low-flying start to Lizard Island
  • Dedicated time to find/be with Minkes
  • Prime Ribbon Reef sites
  • Best fish & coral biodiversity
  • The world famous Cod Hole
  • Outstanding marine life biodiversity
  • All dives over 100 miles north of Cairns
  • Guaranteed access to restricted dive sites
  • 50% reduced cruise time and within sheltered waters
  • Superior vessel stability in adverse weather conditions



Minke Whale Expeditions

A Mike Ball Dive Expeditions Minke Whale trip is much more than a ‘dive’ trip. Each passenger is able to partake in Minke Whale behaviour monitoring and research, attend lectures by trained crew on the ecology of the reef and discuss all facets of Minke Whale behaviour, biology and research with research volunteers.

What awaits you?

Since commencing Minke Whale Expeditions in 1996 we have had a 98% success rate. The largest pod seen was 28 whales, the longest encounter was 10 hours. Every day has a high probability of dwarf minke encounters. For more information, see our Dive Site Guarantee at the bottom of this page.

Off to a flying start

Imagine yourself on a spectacular ‘flying start’ to Lizard Island. On the way you will have a birds-eye view of the Great Barrier Reef. Half of your 150 mile flight is at a very low 180 metres (600ft) above the sites you will dive along the Great Barrier Reef’s continental shelf. A truly spectacular beginning to your expedition.

Lizard Island

See where the famous English navigator James Cook climbed in 1770 to find a way out of the labyrinth of reefs. Naturalist Joseph Banks lamented that he had too little time to study the wealth of strange creatures he saw in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Will you have time to record the wealth of creatures you find?

The turquoise chain of Ribbon Reefs

This 55 mile chain of reefs from Lizard Island to Cooktown is the most prized dive region of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef: it is also where the Minke Whales migrate too each year, to breed and calve. This is where you can see more of the Great Barrier Reef’s 1,500 fish and 400 coral species than elsewhere.

Diver size fish at the Cod Hole and Cod Wall!

One of the Great Barrier Reefs most amazing phenomenons awaits at the Cod Hole. Swim with incredibly inquisitive ‘small diver size’ potato cod. Tidal currents ensure the coral growth here is very diverse. The Cod Hole’s Shark Alley is a great place to see sleeping white tips in the sand and the occasional grey reef shark.

Shallow but fantastic - Gotham City

One of the Ribbon Reefs most interesting sites is Gotham City, a sloping reef with large sandy patches. The biodiversity here is outstanding, rich with hard and soft corals and all the associated reef fish. Minke Whales are sometimes spotted here and this is a great night diving location.

Lighthouse Bommie – Where the Minkes Hang Out

This is one of the best places to see dwarf Minke Whales! These are the smallest of the baleen whales. A fully developed adult is approx 7-9m (25-30ft) in length and 5-7 tonnes in weight. Sleek in appearance these whales have a white band on each fin.

Pixie Reef: Pixie Gardens & Vertical Gardens

Pixie Gardens are home to harlequin ghost pipefish, leafy scorpion fish and lace scorpion fish. Vertical Gardens is only accessible on a handful of days every year: this dive site is home to a herd of large green bump head parrotfish. More amazing Ribbon Reef diving.

Steve’s Bommie

On the final day, you will find yourself at one of the Great Barrier Reef’s best and most popular sites, Steve’s Bommie. This site is a photographers dream! It’s hard to put into the words the quantity and variety of Great Barrier Reef fish and corals that you will see here. A showcase of the best of the best.

Returning to Cairns

Disembark Thursday 8:00am at Trinity Wharf, Cairns.

Courtesy transfers are provided from the vessel to the Mike Ball office, inner city hotel locations and the Cairns Domestic and International Airports.

Dive Site Guarantee!

If we are not able to locate whales at our reliable sites, up to two hours at a time would be spent searching for whales further afield. If none are sighted, we will provide as many of the Ribbon Reef dives as possible.

Spoilsport’s outstanding stability minimizes disruption to your itinerary and your scuba diving experience. If weather forces an itinerary change we divert to the best, ‘safe, accessible sites’ to ensure you get the best scuba diving available.

Itinerary’s are subject to change, specific marine life cannot be guaranteed.

Photo Credits: Catherine Travers, Vanessa Mignon, David Coll and Mike Ball.

3 NIGHT EXPEDITION: June - July 2016
CabinPrice
Premium$2621
Standard$2393
Club$2120
Budget$1827

Reef Tax $6.50/day
Fuel Levy $0

3 NIGHT EXPEDITION: June - July 2017
CabinPrices
Premium$2699
Standard$2465
Club$2184
Budget$1882

Reef Tax $6.50/day
Fuel Levy $0

Courses
ItemCost
Openwater Referral (PADI)$245
Openwater Referral (non-PADI)$350
PADI Scuba Diver Upgrade$350
PADI Open Water Diver (3 Night Expeditions only)$395
PADI Advanced Diver$215
PADI Nitrox$325 or $200 Referral (incl 3 days free fills). NB referral is from shop (not elearning).
PADI Discover Scuba (Resort)1 free per day (conditions apply). Not available during Minke Season.
PADI Underwater Photography$250
PADI Underwater Naturalist$220
SDI Easy Nitrox$275 (incl 3 days free fills)
SDI Solo Diver$220
Photo Services
ItemCost
Camera Rentals & Extras
Canon G16$60/day
USB Stick - 16GB$15
Holiday Video & Photos
Standard Holiday Trip - DVD$80
Purchase of Second DVD$40
Personalized Holiday Trip - DVD$250 (Max 4 people)
Personal Holiday Photographs$100
Photo CD$50
Purchase of second photo CD$25
Hire Gear
ItemCost
Reg, Ocy, Gauges$15/day
BCD$10/day
Computer$12/day
Snorkel Gear$5/day
Light/Torch/Cyalume$10/day
Wetsuit$10/day
Safety Sausage (SMB)$10/trip
Cyalume Light Stick$2/each
Nautilus Lifeline GPSNo charge
All of the above$44/day
2L (13 cu.ft) Pony Bottle + Reg$15/day
15L (120 cu.ft) Steel Bottle$25/day
Nitrox Fills$75 for the 3 or 4 night/ $150 for a week
Extra Charges
ItemCost
Reef Tax$6.50/day
Sole OccupancyBerth cost + 70%
Fuel Levy - Standard Expeditions$0 (subject to change)
Fuel Levy - 7 Night Northern Reef Exploratories$44/pp (subject to change)
Yongala Environment Charge$13.55/day
Personal Dive Guides$250/day (+ berth cost for guide) or $50/dive.
Nitrox FillsSee below
Hire GearSee below
CoursesSee below
Photo ServicesSee below
Special Catering Admin Fee$30/trip
Bar and Ship Shop PurchasesVariable
Hire Gear - Sizes
ItemCost
BCDAqualung Wave x5 sizes.
FinsTechnisub Stratos (full foot) x6 sizes. We recommend wearing sturdy or neoprene socks with full foot fins.
Wetsuits5mm full length steamer. 6 male and 6 female sizes. Includes 3mm hood.
Discounts
ItemCost
Non-diver10% (not applicable on Minke Whale expeditions)
Non-diving child (8-15 years)25%
VIP5%
Global Shark Diving5% (must quote card number)
Airline Staff5%
Military5%
Dive Industry Staff$200.00
Agents / Media / ResearchersVariable discounts offered
Discounts are only accepted at time of booking and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Proof of employment is required.

Fitting extra small and extra large people can be difficult. Please bring your own equipment if concerned about fit. View Sizes chart

Itinerary

Sample itinerary, subject to change based on conditions.

Monday:  (3 dives)

  • Check in at our office (3 Abbott St, Cairns) between 6.30 and 7am.
  • 7. 15 am:  Transfer to Cairns Airport
  • 8.00 am:  Board a light aircraft for a low level flight over the reef to Lizard Island (flight time approx. 1 hour).
  • Board Spoilsport mid-morning where you will be served drinks and snacks while our Trip Director gives you a welcome briefing.
  • Time to organise any rental equipment and put your dive gear together on the dive deck.
  • 12.45 pm: Dive brief and dive
  • 2.00 pm:  Lunch
  • 3.45 pm:  Dive brief and dive
  • 4.45 pm:  Afternoon tea
  • 6.00 pm:  Dive brief and night dive
  • 8:00 pm:  Dinner

Tuesday:  (4 dives + night dive)

This is a sample of a ‘typical day’, however exact times may vary to optimise the prevailing weather conditions on the day.

  • 6.30 am: Wake up call, light breakfast available in dining room
  • 7:00 am: Dive brief & diving commences
  • 9.00 am: Full cooked breakfast
  • 10.30 am: Dive brief & diving. “Open decks” accommodate 1-2 dives either am or pm.
  • 2.00 pm: Lunch
  • 3.30 pm: Dive brief & diving
  • 4:30 pm: Afternoon tea
  • 6:30 pm: Night dive brief & dive
  • 8:00 pm: Dinner

Wednesday:  (4 dives)

  • As per above. Exit last dive 5pm
  • As the sun sets we pour the champagne, lay out the nibbles and get ready for an Aussie BBQ party night. Don’t forget to wear your loudest tropical shirt or dress and sing along to music played by our talented crew.
  • Spoilsport cruises back to Cairns overnight.

Thursday:

  • Early morning docking.
  • 7.00 am: Light breakfast
  • 8:00 am: Disembark and courtesy transfer to Cairns inner city hotels, the airport or our office where we can store your luggage until 5pm if you have a later flight.

Important:

  • We recommend that you allow 24 hours between your last dive and your onward flight (all diving is finished by 5pm Wednesday).
  • A luggage allowance applies to the flight from Cairns to Lizard Island:
    • 25kg / 55lb per person plus 3kg / 6.5lb – carry on.
    • An additional 10kg/22lb is allowed for professional photo/video housed systems.
Summary
Minkes and Best Biodiversity
Experience
Snorkelers, novice & advanced divers
Embark
Monday 7am - Mike Ball Office, Cairns
Disembark
Thursday 8am - Trinity Wharf, Cairns
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