Coral Sea Dreaming – Great Barrier Reef Sail, Dive + Snorkel Trip With My Four Teens + Twins

Overnight on a yacht on the Great


The kids and I had such a great trip out to the outer Great Barrier Reef last year. I’m still feeling proud of myself for finding a trip that suited Teen17, Teen15 and the 8 year old twins.. and me… and it felt like a real adventure too.

I love sailing yachts so the overnight trip aboard the Coral Sea Dreaming appealed as soon as I heard about it.  I knew I wanted to go to the Reef for a couple of days, and I knew that’s an expensive desire.

Going on an overnight trip was certainly more cost effective that doing two day trips plus staying in a hotel, see what we paid for this trip at the end of the post.

See also Tips for Planning a Family Trip To Cairns and Port Douglas 


So this is the boat we went on. Coral Sea Dreaming is a 16m steel sloop, she sleeps 12 passengers and three crew in the marine equivalent of bunkhouse accommodation.

(I didn’t take this aerial shot, sadly, have pinched it from the Coral Sea Dreaming website.)

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Here’s our competent captain, and the mainsail is up as we set out from Cairns early one morning and out to the reef.

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I love to just lie on the deck and watch the sails, takes me right back to my sailing holidays as a child around the Hebrides in Scotland – sigh.

Launch photos

The captain finds a willing crew member.


Now in this post I am just doing a show and tell on the yacht itself.  Here’s the view we saw often as we snorkelled about on the three reefs we visited over our two days.

There’s plenty of space on deck for the passengers and crew, plus all the wetsuits, snorkels etc etc

The other passengers were a real highlight of this trip, in fact. No-one minded the fast that I had the teens and twins with me, and were very chatty with the kids which they loved. My three boys shared a cabin with a Dutch-Moroccan stunt pilot… great yarns from him!

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You can see the below decks layout on the yacht’s website here. My wee daughter and I were in cabin 3, and let me tell you it is really small. The cabins are for sleeping only, we spent all the rest of the time up on deck.

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Here’s Rusty Rocket the cabin boy in his berth, he shared a 4-berth bunk cabin. It’s very cramped, tricky for changing into your pjs.

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Behold the bathroom! The yacht has two pump action toilet, a tight squeeze all round. But who cares?


Our hostess shows Ms8 all sorts of different fishes, we spotted heaps of these underwater.

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Lounging on the decks was a favourite past times for the kids. Me too.


Smith in her natural habitat.


Teen 17 and Teen 14 (at that time) went scuba diving with the dive master, I just snorkelled with the kids.  I’m telling you that seeing the three of us in a photo together is unusual… seeing us smiling is rare indeed. This trip worked!


Coral Sea Dreaming has over 20 mooring that can be used when she is out. So the captain can choose to visit the reefs that will be best, depending on the weather conditions.

On day 1, we set off and visited two reefs, doing three separate dives/snorkels. We sleep like babies and are awake early. Day 2 sees three more underwater adventures on two different reefs and then the cruise back to Cairns.


Plenty of time to enjoy leaping and diving from the yacht.


The dive master aboard is in charge of all matters underwater and gives a good briefing on each site.


There is nothing, NOTHING, like being far from land as the sun sets.


This trip would work for you if…

You’re looking for something more adventurous than a simple day trip

You don’t want to be on a huge boat with hundreds of other people

Your children are old enough not to fall overboard

You don’t mind a bit of roughing it – we didn’t shower for two days though there are showers aboard

You love being out at sea


But don’t forget to…

Dose yourself and the kids up with anti-seasickness tablets


Coral Sea Dreaming – The Details

Cost:  We paid $460/$440 for myself and the teens, and $295 for the twins for the two day/one night trip.

Diving: My teens did a 3-dive introductory package for $150 each

Food:  is included, it was pretty basic on our trip but fine for us.

Read more on the Coral Sea Dreaming website.

The same company owns the bigger day trip boat Passions of Paradise which I’ve heard is also a great trip.


You’ll Love These Cairns and Port Douglas Posts

If you’re thinking of a holiday to Cairns or Port Douglas start with..

Tips for Planning Family Holiday to Cairns and Port Douglas (has a good list of things to do)

 Family Packing List for Cairns, Port Douglas and Other Hot Places

And here are detailed posts on what we enjoyed

 River Tubing On The Mulgrave River With The Kids

 Why We Are Loving The Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Muddy’s Playground On The Esplanade In Cairns

 Miracle on the Great Barrier Reef – Kids Take Photos of Mum For Once!


When shall we get out to sea again?

Have you been to the Great Barrier Reef?

Happy bubbling under



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  1. says: Robyn

    That looks like the perfect trip. Such stunning photographs too. I would absolutely love to take my family on a trip like that – one day when they’re older. Imagine a toddler on a boat now – stuff nightmares are made of – hahah! xx

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Thank you, I am loving taking photos and then doing little adjustments and crops and so on, never enough time to spend doing it though. Next up will be the underwater shots… it’s taken me since October to get a grip with them, I took bazillions of photos and it took ages to chuck out all the bad ones and pick the best ones.

  2. Looks like you had great conditions – and wonderful that your teens got to try diving – I hope they’re hooked for life!

    We’ve been on the sister-boat Passions of Paradise for a day trip – highly recommend that too. Great company. I love their commitment to sustainability and protecting the environment. We actually did a specialty PADI National Geographic course with them – great fun, with passionate and knowledgable crew.

    Simon blogged about it here:

    (NB. don’t you love how he picked a photo in which he looks great and I look half drunk?)

  3. says: peregrinationgourmande

    Just a question: SHARKS???????
    I’m just the poor french tourist afraid of aussie’s creatures! haha
    xx cathy

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