ABC Dive & Snorkel Port Douglas – Frequently Asked Questions

ABC Dive & Snorkel Port Douglas are a small family business

At ABC, the day starts and ends with our trip. We don’t own multiple boats, we are not owned by a multi national and we don’t have a human resources department. We have always been, and remain, a small dedicated operator focused on providing you with exceptional customer service and a fun day. Our hand picked staff are our most valuable resource and they work hard to ensure that your day on the Great Barrier Reef is a special part of your holiday.

At ABC Dive & Snorkel Port Douglas we specialise in the smallest groups of any daily dive boat from Port Douglas.  To assist during your research and planning, we have prepared the below list of Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers), which you may find useful. Please note that we’re more than happy to answer individual questions; in fact, we prefer to provide personally tailored responses, as we understand each case or concern can often be unique. As such, please feel free to contact us directly on phone (07) 4099 6243 or email

The Great Barrier Reef

Q: Why are we the only Company that guide our snorkelers at a 5:1 ratio?

Simple, we want you to have the best Great Barrier Reef experience!

WOW! With us there will be no more than 5 snorkelers to 1 instructor/guide!

We all know if you are doing a small tour, people are more encouraged to ask questions. When you ask questions you learn more and therefore have a much more enjoyable tour.


Q: What are the our ratios so small ?

The whole essence of ABC is small, small intimate groups, small business model, offering a great and unique service to our clients.


Ratios explained!

The maximum of 3 Introductory divers to 1 ABC dive instructor

The maximum of 4 Certified divers to 1 ABC dive instructor

The maximum of 5 Snorkellers 1 ABC dive instructor/guide


NOTE on Non Swimmers

We can take non swimmers as long as they choose our private instructor option

Q: When is the best time of year to visit - The Great Barrier Reef?

The Great Barrier Reef is beautiful any time of year, however, the weather is very hard to predict as it can be also unseasonable at any time of year.  Port Douglas is in the tropical part of Australia and has two main seasons: the ‘Wet Season’ November to April (water temperatures 28-32 degrees Celsius) and the ‘Dry Season’ May to October (water temperatures 22-28 degrees Celsius). Visibility varies between 15 and 30m+ throughout the year.

June, July, August is our whale season and so often adds the extra excitement of seeing whales on the way to the reef – or maybe even at our reef locations! October, November, often provides us with the calmest seas – many people look for sun when planning a reef trip, however, fish are not scared of clouds, or rain, but, visibility is reduced with rough seas. We have access to a four day weather forecast and will not run if we believe conditions to be too rough.

Q: What is the current state of the reefs you visit? / Is the Great Barrier Reef Alive?

The media has created a lot of confusion over the last few years.  The most contentious subject would be Coral Bleaching for further information on this please click here. The Great Barrier Reef is alive and looking beautiful – which can bee seen in the recent photos taken on our Facebook or and our Instagram. Whilst there are currently many threats to The Great Barrier Reef, which will be discussed in our on board marine talk, we have a roaming permit.  This allows us the flexibility to choose from a large number of locations on The Great Barrier Reef.  Although some sites may have suffered in the last few years, many others are as pristine as they ever were.  With our permit and small vessel, we can access some of the remote reefs, away from the crowds and the big operators to show you everything as you had imagined it!  We have beautiful Corals, Nudibranchs, Clownfish, Turtles, Maori Wrasse, Sharks and all the marine life in between!

Q: Is ABC the right Great Barrier Reef Tour for you?

ABC welcomes all guests, whether you are a snorkeler, first time diver, novice, or experienced diver – you will be looked after appropriately.  We cater for anyone who wishes to experience a personalised tour to The Great Barrier Reef with small groups (12 guests max).  We are perfect for singles, couples and families, even if you all want to do different activities on the day.  We have three reef sites each day so you can make the most of your time at the outer reef.

Q: Do you visit the same dive spots daily on the Great Barrier Reef? What is a mooring?

ABC Scuba Diving Port Douglas’ whole dive philosophy is about adventure and excitement; no two days are ever alike. As the ocean currents and tides change, so do the destinations we visit to suit. We also vary the dive locations to suit different skill levels of divers.

A mooring is a floating buoy on the surface of the water tethered to large concrete blocks on the ocean floor. These are mostly used by larger vessels and tour operators.  We opt to send a diver in and place an anchor.  This minimises damage to the reef, allows us to moor up at exclusive reef sites that others are unable to access and also means we can view excellent reef just a few metres from the boat!

Q: Do we need to worry about the jelly fish?

This really is more of an issue for beach dwellers than divers diving off shore.  However, in the summer months, we do provide lycra suits for protection, which are included in the price (other tours may charge for the use of these). We have prepared a simple fact sheet on Marine Stingers.

General Questions

Q: Why are ABC the only Company that guide snorkelers at a 5:1 ratio?

Simple, we want you to have the best Great Barrier Reef experience!

WOW! With us there will be no more than 5 snorkelers to 1 instructor/guide!

We all know if you are doing a small tour, people are more encouraged to ask questions. When you ask questions you learn more and therefore have a much more enjoyable tour.

Q: Why should I choose ABC?

There are so many tour options to choose from when visiting The Great Barrier Reef, however we are extremely unique in what we offer.  Jay Wink has been diving on The Great Barrier Reef for over 25 years and has selected his crew very carefully to ensure a high level of experience, outstanding safety and exceptional customer service.  Operating from Port Douglas with a roaming permit, we have access to the most pristine reef locations and select our sites depending on the needs and experience of our guests, as well as the weather.  Not only that, but we are the smallest operator in Port Douglas taking only 12 guests each day, so you can be assured of the highest level of customer care.

Q: What is Guided Snorkeling & Diving?

Having a guide whether you are diving or snorkeling is the way to go! We have the smallest groups of any day boat from Port Douglas and for both divers and snorkelers alike love this aspect of ABC. You get to experience and understand so much more about The Great Barrier Reef when your guided in a small groups.

For example – a Maximum of 4 divers per Instructor/Guide is normal for ABC

Q: Are you comparing Apples with Bananas!

ABC Scuba Diving Port Douglas achieves unique dive & snorkel days on the outer Great Barrier Reef.

The quickest way to verify our reef locations, visibility, fish life, or the amount of divers in the water, is to check our photographs.

Please look at our Website, Facebook, Instagram or Trip Advisor …..

A picture is a thousand words!

Note: It is impossible to compare ‘Apples with Apples’ as no other operator in Port Douglas offers a day even similar to ours or more importantly with so few passengers and such a high crew ratio.

Q: Are your prices comparable with larger boats and other Great Barrier Reef dive trips?

The Great Barrier Reef is a once in a lifetime activity for most, so you want to ensure that you get the amazing experience that you have always dreamed of.  Exceptional customer service, top quality equipment and vessel, amazing locations and low numbers.  Like all business, you get what you pay for.  It really is a numbers game, the more people you take to the reef the lower the price, the less people you take the higher the price. Small exclusive groups comes at a small premium. Our higher cost offsets the fact that we only take a maximum of 12 passengers, with a personalised service and experience.

That being said, we are not the most expensive dive centre in Port Douglas, but we are the only PADI dive centre using our own dive boat offering spectacular diving at uncrowded, exciting, new and different locations. We cater our experience for the needs of our customers on a day to day basis.

On top of that, many other tours have hidden extra charges.  We are all inclusive with nothing extra to pay.  When you add up the extras charged on other boats, we are even cheaper than many.  We include your reef tax, your equipment hire (incl. suits and prescription masks), soft drinks. Not to mention the size of our in-water groups.


Q: What is included in the price?

Everything! We believe that you should only have to pay once, with no hidden extras on the day.  This means that we include many things that are often additional extras on other tours.
-Food throughout the day (morning muffins, mid-morning fruit and cake, buffet-style lunch with a selection of meats, salads and breads, afternoon cake) and soft drinks / water
-All top quality equipment including wet suits, stinger suits, all snorkel and dive equipment and even prescription masks (if required)
-Snorkel tuition if inexperienced
-Snorkel and dive guides included in the price
-3 different reef locations

• Certified divers 3 dives (dive times can vary re personal skill level. Depth & site location)
• Introductory divers 3 dives (please note that on dive 1 your actual dive time is directly related to how long the PADI skills take to complete)
• Snorkelers: unlimited snorkeling on 3 spectacular sites

-Local pickup / drop off

Q: How many Passengers are on ABC?

We are the smallest operator in Port Douglas taking only 12 passengers daily, although our vessel is surveyed to carry 29 – we want you to be comfortable and relaxed on you day out with us.

Our Passengers are often doing different activities, a typical day would maybe 5 snorkelers, 4 certified divers and 3 students learning to scuba dive. Each group would have their own Dive/Snorkel Professional Instructor/Divemaster.


Q: What does guided diving and small groups mean?

All diving with ABC Dive & Snorkel Port Douglas is privately guided with the smallest groups and a higher crew to passenger ratio than any other boat from Port Douglas. You are assured the very best attention and service.  Extremely small number of divers on a small boat, means small numbers in the water!

NOTE:- Even though we only run with a handful of passengers you could always consider a private charter.
Example: If there were two couples taking a private charter the cost is not that much more than paying individually, then you can choose who wants to do what and when, this option is the best of all worlds and great for small groups & families.  More on Private Charter Boat Pricing



Q: Can I bring my partner, friend or kids on the boat to snorkel or just for a boat ride?

All are welcome aboard ‘Independence 1’, but we do not recommend our boat for young children. Our boat does have shaded areas and we carry lifejackets for children (although not for infants). Our boat crew are very friendly, but, they will be busy throughout the day so we cannot offer a babysitting service. However, we are happy to split the day’s diving between parents, or recommend your children snorkel with one of our guides whilst you are diving. On some occasions (according to availability) we can help you to access an experienced babysitter who would be paid independently and can watch your children in your resort, or join you on the boat (as we take such limited numbers on our day trips partners, children or friends are required to pay for their space on the boat).

We also take many groups with mixed experience, in which case we ensure that we visit sites that are suitable for all levels, whether they be snorkeling or diving.

If you are concerned or inexperienced, you may even wish to pay a little extra to have a private guide to look after you or your group alone.


Q: Do you operate daily?

We operate every day apart from Christmas Day. As we are a small operator, spaces fill very quickly and so we suggest you book early to avoid disappointment.

Q: Do you provide local transfers?

Yes, these are included in the costs (often an additional extra with other companies).

We can arrange transport from further afield by arrangement.


Q: Where do you check in and what time do you depart?

Our boat MV Independence 1 is located in a private Marina at Marano’s Fuel Station. We are not in the main marina (called The Reef Marina), although not far from it. Marano’s Fuel Station is located on Wharf Street, drive along Wharf Street and turn off across the railway tracks, turn off is indicated on map attached. There is a ABC Scuba Diving sign there, you can also see railway crossing signs and a temporary sign for fuel prices. Should you have trouble locating us please call 07 4099 6243.

If you in Port Douglas on the day/days prior to your tour with us. It is great if you can come into the our ABC shop/dive centre at 24 Wharf Street, Port Douglas,  QLD 4877.

Everyone aboard a commercial vessel in Queensland is required to complete a waiver. We do this in a colourful manor by way of our own App. Your waiver is completed on a ipad.

Q: How long does it take to get out to the outer reef?

Unfortunately, the reef is not just off the beach.  We need to travel 1:15h – 1:45h to get to the reef, depending on the locations that are decided on the day.  We will keep you entertained in this time by providing a complementary marine talk – a chance for you to ask questions and learn about The Great Barrier Reef – as well as the snorkeling and diving briefings so that you can enter the water and make the most of your day as soon as the engines are turned off!

Q: What time do we depart/return?

On a normal day, we depart around 7.30am and return at 4:00pm, however, please note that these time may vary depending on the needs of the day and / or unforeseen circumstances.

Q: Do you serve food, snacks, soft drinks or alcohol?

We serve snacks and refreshments throughout the day, our ‘menu’ varies from day to day but may include: fresh fruit, biscuits, cakes, ice creams, chocolate, fish/meat/cheese salads, canned soft drinks, filtered fresh water, tea, coffee and other special little treats. Lunch is normally a buffet arrangement, with cold meats and various salads. You are also welcome to bring your own nibbles or alcohol (please note: no alcohol prior to scuba diving activities).

We also have Gluten Free, Vegetarian & Vegan Options.


Q: Do you cater for any dietary requirements?

Yes we do. Please make our reservations team aware of any dietary needs when you book, as it has to be pre-booked.

Vegetarian – Vegan – Gluten Free – Dairy Free are the common choices.


Q: Can I book on-line? Is your website secure for me to leave my credit card details?

Yes & Yes – We now offer a complete on-line booking service simply: Go to our price page select what you would like to do and add in a date window…… follow the prompts

For more complicated bookings please complete your details on our contact form then we can quote you for your specific booking. We then send you a Gateway link to a secure server where you can leave your credit card details on our secure internet gateway. It is totally safe and secure.

Q: What do I have to bring on the day?

A sense of adventure, towel, suncream/block, sea sickness medication (it’s preventative, better to take some ‘just in case’), something dry to wear for the return journey, camera.

NOTE:- Please just a small bag on-board (space is limited). As you can see from above you do not need much for a day on the water.


Q: What are the 4 Options for Underwater water photos?

There are 4 Options.

Here is a link to the costs/pricing

Option 1 – you bring your own camera

Option 2 – you hire a camera from us

Option 3 – you can have a professional photo shoot of just you or your group see more details

Option 4 – book an underwater photography course see more details


In Water Activities and Scuba Diving Questions

Q: Can i snorkel if i am a non swimmer?

Yes but only if you book a private instructor just for yourself. If you book in on line you will see when you select non swimmer a instructor will be added to your booking.

We have a smallest ratio 5:1 – 5 snorkellers  to 1 instructor, however if the instructor has to spend all his or her time looking after a non swimmer, it spoils it for the other snorkellers. This is why we have this great option available.

Q: What if it’s rainy?

Fish are not scared of rain and this really does not impact our day.  Another thing to note is that just because it is raining in Port Douglas, it does not mean that it is raining out at the reef.  We see typical convection rainfall in Port Douglas, where the water is evaporating over the ocean.  It then hits the mountains in Port Douglas and rains.  Therefore, we often have clear skies at the reef, even though it is looking grim in Port Douglas.

Q: I use lots of air - is this a problem and will I dive less than others?

No problem. The diving at our reef sites is relatively shallow which will reduce your air consumption and enable longer dives. We are happy to show you some techniques that will help you get the most from your scuba tank. We can also supply you with larger tanks, please request upon booking.

Q: Do you cater for new or inexperienced divers?

Of course! In fact, our small numbers make it an ideal place for those feeling a little nervous. It enables us to offer a little more care and assistance and also allows to cater the dives for the individual skill levels of the group. If you are feeling a little anxious, you may even wish to book a refresher before heading to the reef, or why not look into our private guide option?

Q: How do you handle first time divers?

With care! Firstly by not mixing beginner divers with certified divers, secondly, by offering a small group instructional environment. As there is no fixed time slot for your dive, if you need longer for your dive preparation, you will not be hurried or rushed. We go through the first time dive process at your pace. If you want to leave and come back to it, then that’s fine too.

If you are nervous, maybe consider booking a private instructor so that we can do things at your own pace and take as much time as you need. Anybody can dive, it is just breathing and looking around, some people just take a bit longer than others to get comfortable.

PHOTOGRAPHY – is very difficult for Introductory scuba divers. The instructor taking you is not permitted to use a camera and take you as a beginner diver.


Q: How many dives are available in a day?

We plan our dive days around our customers, their experience and their wishes.  Many people come to The Great Barrier Reef to dive and so we allow for three dives in a day.  However, some people may need more time to get comfortable, like more time to relax, or even the chance to snorkel with loved one in between dives and may opt to do two dives (or less).  Maybe we have a group of photographers aboard and they all want to dive in a shallow fish bowl or lagoon, doing shallower, longer dives. No problem, just let us know.

Q: Can we bring our own equipment?

Our dive pricing does include all dive equipment and as a small company cannot offer discounts for bringing your own gear. However, divers often prefer to bring their favorite mask or dive computer, Fins etc. No problem. In this case we can supply whatever you require with no additional charges.

Our dive equipment is changed every few months, all is in as new condition.

Q: What are the current no-fly times after diving?

After scuba diving current PADI Flying After Diving guidelines say that you should not go to altitude (fly) within 12 hours of completing a single dive, or 18 hours when doing multiple dives.

Q: Will we go to different dive sites / locations if we book multiple days?

Locations firstly are always chosen based on the prevailing weather conditions.

When we have customers with multiple day bookings we always try to offer as much variety of dive & snorkel locations as possible



Q: Do I need a dive refresher?

Only you can be the judge of that, but it would be prudent if you have not been diving for a year or more to invest in a PADI Reactivate program. You can choose to refresh your dive theory with a short PADI eLearn On-Line session, or when you arrive in Port Douglas we can jump in a swimming pool to bring you back up to speed. Sometimes we may even be able to take you to the Low Islands, a stunning tropical location around 9 Nautical miles from Port Douglas, where there is an abundance of marine life, a sensational offshore sandy beach and some amazing snorkelling opportunities! Can’t think of a better way to kick off that Great Barrier Reef diving holiday!

If it has been a while, why not consider hiring a private instructor to ensure you are looked after to your needs.

Dive Course Questions

Q: If I am a nervous first time diver, can I try it in a swimming pool first?

Absolutely, in fact we encourage this approach. Nothing is more reassuring than having your feet firmly on the ground, while you lower your face into the water to take those first few breaths of compressed air from your dive tank. If you are nervous, or just not sure, then stand up. This enables you to progress at your own pace.

You may even wish to hire a private instructor to guide you at your own pace.  Remember, anyone can dive, some people just take a bit longer to get comfortable than others.

Note: When you stay at our accommodation (Coral Sea Beach House) pool sessions can be done in the privacy of your own swimming pool.


Q: Do you provide Dive Computers on PADI Courses?

Yes, along with all dive equipment required for the start of your diving adventures.

Q: Do you offer the most up-to-date PADI courses with Computer Learning?

Yes. ABC Scuba Diving Port Douglas teaches the latest and most up-to-date versions of all PADI courses. This means, for instance, that the Open Water Course includes learning to use a dive computer; the Nitrox Course teaches you to set your percentage and find your maximum operating depth on a dive computer, as well as the Advanced Course Deep Dive making use of this technology.

Q: Can I get started with my dive course on-line? Do you offer PADI eLearning?

Yes, and we highly recommend the eLearning options. PADI eLearning allows you to start your training on-line in most languages, so you can complete all the theory and final exams before you come on holiday, saving you valuable holiday time. The on-line courses are valid for 12 months; this means you have 1 year in which to complete the course from when you start. The PADI eLearning courses have an additional cost payable directly to PADI, which allows you access to the on-line knowledge development program for one year, with lifetime access to the PADI Manuals on-line. It also means you can spend less time in the classroom and more time on the beach, while you’re on holiday! We then offer you a discounted rate to complete the practical part of the course, here in Port Douglas. More

Q: What are the medical considerations / requirements for diving?

Diving is considered an extremely safe sport and has a much better track record for injury than many other adventure sports. However, there are known health risks associated with diving, particularly if you suffer from certain respiratory or circulatory conditions. If you do, it does not necessarily mean that you cannot dive, but you will need to see a doctor to ensure diving poses no risk to your health. Please ensure you check out the PADI Medical Statement before enrolling.

Q: Can kids learn to dive? What's the youngest age my kids can dive?

Kids can learn to dive from as young as 12 years old and are often braver than their parents when it comes to taking the plunge! ABC Scuba Diving Port Douglas staff are comfortable, skilled and experienced in teaching children (some of us are parents too). We stock smaller equipment which is designed specifically for our smallest divers!

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