7 Night Ultimate Minke Whale Expedition

2018 Departure dates: 7 June | 14 June | 21 June | 28 June | 5 July | 12 July.

7 Nights / 22 Dives.  An expedition dedicated to maximising your in-water interactions at the world’s only known minke whale aggregation sites, whilst enjoying the diverse marine life of the Ribbon Reefs.  Sites where minkes are most often seen may be visited several times.

*Combining our 4 night Fly Dive Minke expedition back to back with our 3 night Fly Dive Minke expedition. Please note that since the boat departs and returns directly to Cairns, there is no flight between Lizard Island and Cairns included in this itinerary.

  • Minkes – Dedicated time to find and swim with the whales
  • Continental Shelf – Dive 100 miles north of Cairns on the edge of the shelf, exposed to currents
  • Ribbon Reefs – great fish and coral diversity
  • Cod Hole – Swim with diver size potato cod
  • Dynamite Pass, Lighthouse Bommie, Pixie Wall, Pixie Pinnacle, Coral Kingdom, Flare Point, Blue Lagoon, Gotham City, Vertical Gardens
  • Steve’s Bommie – a highlight with an incredible array of weird and wonderful creatures.
  • Lizard Island – enjoy an hour or two exploring beautiful Lizard Island – white sand beaches and a short hike to Chinaman’s Ridge.



Minke Whale Expeditions

A unique opportunity to get face to face with these amazing creatures, and learn more about their biology and behaviour from the research volunteers on board.  You may also choose to participate in this research by assisting with behaviour monitoring and other projects.

 

The Ribbon Reefs

The most prized dive region of Great Barrier Reef, this stretch of reef from Lizard Island to Cooktown is also where the minke whales migrate each year to breed and calve. Nutrient rich waters from the Continental Shelf attract abundant fish and coral species.

Gotham City

A sloping reef, rich with hard and soft corals and reef fish. Minke Whales are sometimes spotted here.   This site makes a very exciting night dive with congregations of hunting fish such as sharks and trevally.

Lighthouse Bommie

This is one of the best places to see dwarf minke whales but it’s also an excellent dive site in its own right with one large pinnacle attracting tonnes of marine life including sharks, rays, turtles and reef fish, olive sea snakes, stonefish and other critters.

Lizard Island

Mid-expedition we moor off Lizard Island, saying goodbye to some guests and welcoming new ones. You will have a few hours to relax on the beach, go for a swim or climb the hill to Chinaman’s Ridge for a view.  One of our crew members will show you around.

The Cod Hole

The Cod Hole is famous for its diver-sized potato cod. These fish are incredibly inquisitive and don’t mind getting very chummy with divers.  A great opportunity to capture photographs of these magnificent characters or simply hang out and enjoy their company.

Pixie Pinnacle

An exciting pinnacle dive, draped in soft corals and absolutely heaving with fish life.  Spiral your way up the pinnacle and search for interesting critters such as the flame file clam, or ‘disco clam’, named for the flashing light that appears to pulse along its mantle.

Steve’s Bommie

Steve’s Bommie is a photographers dream with an incredible quantity of diverse marine life. Hunt out such creatures as stonefish, scorpionfish, octopus, clown anemone fish and turtles, not to mention the many schools of fish that call this place home.

Success Rate

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.

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

Itineraries are subject to change, specific marine life cannot be guaranteed.

Photo Credits: Vanessa Mignon, Catherine Travers, Brandon Cole and Mike Ball.

Expedition prices, per person in Australian dollars.

7 NIGHT EXPEDITION: June - July 2017
CabinPrice
Premium$5523
Standard$5024
Club$4345
Budget$3704

Reef Tax $6.50/day
Fuel Levy $0

7 NIGHT EXPEDITION: June - July 2018
CabinPrices
Premium$5578
Standard$5124
Club$4476
Budget$3815

Reef Tax $6.50/day
Fuel Levy $0

Rates include:

  • Accommodation in twin/double cabins
  • Delicious meals & snacks, complimentary soft drinks and wine with dinner
  • Tanks, air fills and weight belt
  • Daily cabin service
  • Reef ecology programme
  • Dive computer workshop
  • Transfer to the airport or Cairns hotel after your expedition
  • Vivid Pix digital photo editing software workshop

Please note that the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority requires us to collect an Environmental Management Charge of $6.50 per day spent on the Great Barrier Reef.  This amount will be added to your bar bill at the end of your expedition.

Click on the links here for extras such as dive courses, photo services and gear hire, plus discounts available.

Premium – queen or double bed, private bathroom, sea view
Standard – twin beds, private bathroom, sea view
Club – twin bunk beds, private bathroom, no sea view
Budget – twin bunk beds, share bathroom, no sea view

Itinerary

Sample itinerary, subject to change based on conditions.

Thursday:  

  • Check in at our office (3 Abbott St, Cairns) between 8.30 am and 4.00 pm.
  • From 4.00 pm:  Make your own way to Mondos Café, Bar & Grill (200m from MBDE office) to meet your fellow passengers.  Please note that dinner is not provided on the first evening so you may wish to eat before boarding.
  • 5.50 pm: Our crew will lead you from Mondos to board Spoilsport.  Enjoy a glass of champagne and light snacks while your Trip Director provides a full briefing.
  • 6.00 pm:  Spoilsport departs Cairns
  • Time to organise any rental equipment and put your dive gear together on the dive deck.

Friday:  (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

Saturday:  (4 dives + night dive)

  • As per above

Sunday: (4 dives)

  • As per above, however all diving is finished by 5pm. Spoilsport moors off Lizard Island for the evening.
  • 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.

Monday:  (2 dives + night dive)

  • 7.00 am:  Light breakfast
  • 8:00 am:  Bid farewell to passengers doing the 4 night expedition who will disembark here.
  • 8.00 am:  Stay onboard or take a tender over to Lizard Island to stretch your legs and explore a little of this beautiful island.
  • 11.00 am:  New passengers join us here.  Champagne and light snacks provided.
  • 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)

  • 6.30 am: Wake up call, light breakfast available in dining room
  • 7:00 am: Dive brief & diving commences
  • 9.00 am: Cooked breakfast
  • 10.30am: Dive briefing & 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 a final farewell party!
  • Overnight cruise to Cairns

Thursday:

  • 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).
Summary
Minkes and Best Biodiversity
Experience
Snorkelers, novice & advanced divers
Embark
Thursday 6pm – Trinity Wharf, Cairns.
(Check-in before 4pm at the Mike Ball office).
Disembark
Thursday 8am - Trinity Wharf, Cairns
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