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Last updated on October 7, 2022
Opal Reef is a coral reef located on the Great Barrier Reef. It is one of the main reefs you can visit from Port Douglas. Located on the outer reef, it has a spectacular concentration of underwater life. Above the corals and the drop off, you will spot thousands of tropical fish, and sometimes also turtles, maori wrasse, rays or sharks.
Opal Reef can be visited during boat tours from Port Douglas. Several local tour operators offer day boat trips to Opal Reef, usually with 3 snorkeling stops in 3 different parts of the reef.
The boat trip from Port Douglas to the reef takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. The price of the tour, which is around 250AUD per person, includes lunch and snorkel equipment.
You will enter the water from the boat, via ladders or the rear platform, where you can sit to wear your equipment. Stinger suits are recommended (included in tour price).
Opal Reef is almost 6km long. There are a dozen snorkeling spots along the reef, the most famous of which being the Blue Lagoon, Mojo, Bashful Bommie, Ray Ban and Beautiful Mooring. Operators generally can’t confirm prior to departure which spots will be visited: depending on the sea conditions, the crew often choose where snorkeling will take place once they arrive on the reef.
All specific spots, located on the inner side of the reef, have the same profile. A shallow reef flat (↕4-6ft/1.5-2m), often very damaged, leads to a drop off more or less steep descending on deeper sandy beds (↕10-30ft/3-10m).
On the drop-off, the corals are more healthy, especially at Mojo and the Blue Lagoon. The underwaterscape is mainly made of branching corals, tabular corals and Porites.
The possibilities for observing underwater life are endless. Whitley’s sergeant, sixbar wrasse, spinefoot and butterflyfish are found at the edge of the reef flat. In deeper areas, groupers, angelfish, and snappers are abundant.
Here and there, you may encounter different species of clownfish in their sea anemone, particularly at Bashful Bommie location (see species list at the end of the page). Randomly, you might also encounter green sea turtles, bluespotted ribbontail ray, and even for the luckiest, the fabulous Maori wrasse.
Opal Reef is located about 50 kilometers off Port Douglas. All day trips to the reef include lunch and snacks.
These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Queensland & the Great Barrier Reef
Protected coral reef with sea turtles and reef fish
Shallow reefs and seagrass meadows with sea turtles, giant clams and reef fish
Fringing reef with coral, fish and sea turtles
Shallow coral reef with fish and clams
Lagoon and reef drop off with sea turtles, manta rays and sharks