TBJ TRAVELS CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA 5: Outer Barrier Reef Tour + Guide + Itinerary

If not for my friend and her awesome discount, I wouldn't have experienced one of the best tours in the Great Barrier Reef, the Outer Barrier Reef tours. But without the discount, I would surely recommend this one to you on your GBR adventure!

The Great Barrier Reef is roughly about the size of Japan at 2,300 kms. It stretches all the way from the coastal area of Queensland. Regarded as the largest living creature on earth, it is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to thousands of coral and marine species, and a stopover for migrating sea mammals.

By 9 am, my friend and I were at the port already for Moore Reef at the Outer Barrier Reef adventure. Our tour was organized by Reef Magic Cruises.

By 10 am, we were at the Marina World Pontoon. Pontoons are floating docking areas at the reef for tourists; these were built without inflicting damage on the corals because it's generally floating.

My friend and I wasted no time and grabbed our snorkeling gears and jumped in the water. There were various floatation devices available such as life vests, floating noodles, and submersible automatic paddle boards that take you down into the reef if you have trouble descending into the water.

The corals here are much bigger, water is much deeper, and there are more fishes to see.

TIP: According to my fiance, who's a certified diver, btw, the number one rule at sea is DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING. Unless you are knowledgeable on various marine species and you know if something is poisonous or not, then hands off, please. :)

I was having a good time gazing at corals and watching schools of small fishes, groupers, and cods pass by and mingle with people. There is also an official photographer that took photos of people swimming in the reef.

Little did I know that I would have the biggest surprise of my life and one of my dreams will come true!

TBJ readers, meet Wally the Maori Wrasse!

While researching about the fishes to see at the Great Barrier Reef, I read a lot about Wrasses; the area is home to the Maori Wrasse, a fish native to Indonesia, Australia, and the Philippines. I wanted to see one, but didn't expect it because you don't really expect wild animals to show up whenever you want to, but still, I prayed to see one to complete my adventure.

After 30 minutes of snorkeling, I saw a huge shadow in the distance coming close to the snorkeling area. Lo and Behold, it's a Maori Wrasse! I was screaming inside and made shrieking sounds 'cuz of excitement!

The Maori Wrasse's name is Wally; he is about 30 years old and lives in the reef where Marine World Pontoon is located. He sometimes goes out to hunt for food, but comes back because this is his home. 

Wally is not afraid of people and is particularly fond of the Marine World divers and scuba diving tourists (because since he sees people in black suits all all the time, he thinks they are friends); he swam back and forth at the snorkeling area to check out people, approached people closely out of curiosity sometimes, and would swim rapidly away when someone tries to touch him because he is still keeping his safe distance. The divers could pet him; he would swim around them and nudge their hands with his big mouth, his way of asking them to pet him; he would even pose for the camera! Wally's literally like a dog!

I followed Wally a lot until I got tired. I reached out to him for a couple of times but to no avail and to my surprise, he just swam super close to me! Good thing the underwater photographer was there the moment it happened and he was quick enough to take this million dollar shot. I will print and frame this! 

My heart was so full, I almost cried. I got more than what I asked for: I saw a Maori Wrasse up close and swam with it for a while!

The Wrasse is very important to the reef ecosystem because it feeds on toxic creatures; it is an endangered specie of fish due to illegal fishing and export to China for luxury dining and the ornamental aquarium industry yet spawning is rare. Let us all urge our governments how we can protect the Wrasse and preserve our oceans for the future generations.

After an hour of snorkeling, my friend and I had lunch and joined the Glass Bottom Boat tour.

We strolled along Moore Reef and a guide was educating us about the various corals to be found in the reef.

FACT: Dead corals are actually good for the marine ecosystem because they serve as breeding ground for baby coral eggs. Corals can't grow on sand; only on carcasses of corals.

Sea grasses in the reef. We even saw a Hawksbill Turtle swimming and feeding in the reef!

TIP: Please don't stand on, chip, and deface corals.

So, is the Great Barrier Reef dead?

I interviewed different locals and they all said that the bleaching has been controlled by the government. Yes, a part of the reef has experienced bleaching, specifically the area of Lizard Island, but remember that the Great Barrier Reef is 2,300kms long; there's still A LOT left to save; that blogger who reported that GBR is dead is definitely misinformed.

The Great Barrier Reef -as well as all the reefs in the world- is undergoing great stress due to Global Warming, but instead of dooming it, we should discuss how we can save what's left of it because there are still living, breathing creatures relying on it, calling it home like Wally.

Thanks for this trip, Anne! <3 p="">

I only paid 95 AUD for this trip due to a friend who works for the tourism industry in Cairns. For the actual rate of this trip, please visit REEF MAGIC CRUISES OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

An aerial shot of the Great Barrier Reef. Look at that view! This photo is part of the stock photos that you have to buy if you want a soft copy of your photos in the reef.

Here's a money- saving tip:

When buying your photos, be clear with the staff and say that you want a SOFT COPY of your photos (unless you want hard copies) and they will automatically sell you the USB with your photos plus their stock photos of the reef (sorry, you can't just purchase your own photos if you're buying the soft copies). 

I made the mistake of saying a vague statement like "I want a copy of my photo with Wally" and they gave me a hard copy, which cost me 20 AUD. I tried to clarify and said that I wanted soft copies and tried to return the hard copy, but the staff declined and said that I still have to pay because they produced it already. I ended up paying 90 AUD for the photos alone! Too expensive, but heck, I wouldn't leave Cairns without those photos. :D


This is an amazing trip. To be honest, I liked it better than Green Island; I felt that I wasn't able to make the most out of that trip. Also, Green Island tends to be crowded because it's the nearest to the city and most tourists love how comfortable the place is so if you only have one choice between the Outer Barrier tour and Green Island (or you only have a budget for one tour), I suggest go for the gold, go for the former: lots of fishes, more gigantic corals, that amazing feeling of being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and of course, Wally!

Check out my travel itinerary and expense breakdown:

**Total is based on PHP-AUD exchange rate during my time of visit. It may be cheaper or more expensive during your time of visit.
**Incidentals such as food, shopping, drinks, and transportation are not part of this breakdown.
**CORRECTION: Outer Barrier tour was organized with Reef Magic Cruises

Philippine Airlines flies to Cairns, Australia 4x weekly. Please visit PHILIPPINE AIRLINES on Facebook for inquiries.

Ending this post with a 1- minute video of my Outer Barrier tour!

Next, I'll take you to the rustic Palm Cove beach community and for some shopping!

Check out my other Cairns, Australia travel posts:

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4 Lovely Thoughts

  1. Great Barrier Reef is an ultimate diving spot for divers and non-divers..just to see what you've experience is really a dream come true. Reading your blog is really full of amazing experience..to cherish and share with. My husband is a licsence open water diver too, he dreams of going there..someday!!
    Looking forward to your next travel experience..and sharing it with us again! 😊

  2. Ramdam ko ang sobrang saya mo ng makita at makaswim si Wally. Congrats Ms. M, bucket list check.

  3. Wow ms Martha you really enjoyed the tour/diving..and you are lucky for having a certified diver fiance.hmmmm.maybe you should also try surfing.❤👍.🌊

  4. Try not to shave anything for a day or so before dipping in the Dead Sea Jordan The water is very salty and you WILL feel the burn! The same goes for skin scrapes and cuts. While salt water can actually speed up healing, the burning sensation is not a treat.


Thank you for your comments!