Cairns is the gateway to the World Heritage wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. With its international airport, Cairns welcomes visitors from every continent, eager to experience the tropical splendour of the Reef. The city has its own culture and customs, which visitors can savour day or night along the foreshore promenade with its local markets and variety of dining and leisure options.
Just 70km north of Cairns, this tranquil, tropical town has earned a reputation as an international holiday hotspot, popular with celebrities and locals craving untouched wilderness and long stretches of deserted beaches. From popular Four Mile Beach to remote Dickson Inlet, Port Douglas is a charming, low-key place to visit on your luxury charter vacation. It blends 5-star resorts with a slower pace of life, from its palm-shaded streets and alfresco dining to elegant avenues of boutiques.
From here, your onshore exploration can take in the rainforest coast of Daintree and Cape Tribulation. Only 15 minutes north is the town of Mossman and the Mossman Gorge, where cool, clear natural water holes await, and there's a fascinating walking track through the Wet Tropics Rainforest.
GREAT BARRIER REEF
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space.
It's the world's largest coral reef, comprising over 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands.
Charter guests to the Great Barrier Reef can enjoy snorkelling, scuba diving, aircraft or helicopter tours, glass-bottomed boat viewing, semi-submersibles and educational trips, cruise ship tours, whale watching and swimming with dolphins, among many other experiences.
At the start of the island chain, Lady Musgrave Island is a 14 hectares (35 acres) coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef, with a 1,192 hectares (2,950 acres) surrounding reef. The island is the second island in the Great Barrier Reef chain of islands (with the first being Lady Elliot Island).
Popular with day trippers and campers, Lady Musgrave Island boasts a beautiful protected anchorage within a semi-enclosed lagoon. The island is considered an ecologically significant natural breeding ground for birds such as white-capped noddy terns, bridled terns, black-naped terns and silver gulls. From December to May, migratory wedge-tailed shearwaters, known as 'mutton birds', nest in burrows, while hundreds of other winged species call the island home at various times of the year.
The island is a nesting place for green and loggerhead turtles, and there is usually a turtle-research representative camping on the island during nesting and hatching times. Small whitetip reef sharks and leopard sharks can often be found in the shallows around the island. These species are not dangerous to humans, and are fascinating to watch. Green and leatherback turtles can be spotted resting on coral, and the coral lagoon is a haven for a multitude of fish and coral species – making for excellent snorkelling.
At the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef, Lizard Island, 150 miles north of Cairns, is a haven of isolation, relaxation and indulgence. Lizard Island boasts 24 white sandy beaches and its own dazzling Blue Lagoon, perfect for snorkelling or simply as a scenic backdrop to your charter vacation.
Anglers will revel in Lizard's reputation as one of Australia's most exciting fishing destinations. The famous Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic is held in October and Black Marlin fishing season (September to December) attracts visitors from all over the world, eager to hook a "Grander", a fish over 1,000 pounds. The strict tag and release policy means the animals are healthy and prolific and your chances of catching a legendary Grander are better than anywhere else!