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Dive Review of Explore Dive Centre/Reef View Hotel Hamilton Island in
Australia/Hamilton Island

Explore Dive Centre/Reef View Hotel Hamilton Island: "Nice holiday diving on the Great Barrier Reef", Jan, 2018,

by Graham McGregor, Kilmacolm, GB (Top Contributor Top Contributor 36 reports with 19 Helpful votes). Report 10124.

Photos Submitted with this Report

Click on an image to see an enlarged version and captions

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments I was staying on Hamilton Island for 5 days and wanted to dive on the GBR. The island is one of only 6 of the 74 Whitsunday Islands (off the North east Queensland coast) that have been developed and the only island with a commercial airport. A bad cyclone a year ago had wiped out all but two of the resorts on the Whitsundays so choice is currently limited. The good news is that several of the affected resorts are rebuilding and should be open later in 2018. The Reef View Hotel is a decent 4 star but large resort. The sea view rooms have large balconies with fabulous views out over the Whitsundays. There are several other accommodation options on Hamilton Island. The island is quite small and two free shuttle buses ferry you around. Most of the restaurants and shops are by the marina. There's a reasonable choice of food. As an alternative to the shuttle buses you can rent golf buggies which gives you more flexibility although they are not cheap. We did this and went to the highest point you can reach by road to see stunning sunsets. We were incredibly lucky with the weather since January is rainy season in this part of the world. Other than a brief shower the day we arrived and the morning we left we had glorious sunny weather. We took a sunset cruise which was lovely. The Whitsundays are really picturesque.

Hamilton Island is not really the place to go if your focus is mainly on diving. Choice is limited to two operations. Cruise Whitsundays run the local ferries and most tour boats. A couple of days a week they run a boat from Hamilton Island to their permanent large pontoon situated on one of the GBR reefs about a two hour cruise from Hamilton Island. I didn't take this option but spoke to people who had. It is a pretty industrial operation by all accounts, with scuba diving, snorkelling and other water activities (including a submersible) available. Explore Dive centre is the other diving and snorkelling option. They run their own large and spacious catamaran a couple of days a week out to Bait Reef on the GBR. They also have some half day dive and snorkelling trips to areas in the Whitsundays which I under stand are similar in diving terms to the GBR but not technically on the GBR! I chose Explore and was glad I did. It is a full day (depart 0900 and get back about 1700) since it is a 2 hour cruise to Bait Reef. You only get 2 dives - before and after lunch. It was pretty much a flat calm all day which we were told is really unusual, there is normally a wind and a reasonable chop which can make both the journey to the reef and the diving itself a bit uncomfortable. I think that trips are cancelled reasonably often because the sea is too rough.

The catamaran is large and spacious. We had only 6 divers (it looked like 12 would be maximum) and about 25 snorkelers. The boat swallowed this number comfortably and there was plenty of space. The dive operation was professional. You get a choice of either skin or a 3mm wetsuit. Only 11 litre aluminium tanks are available - no Nitrox (not that you really need it given the profiles being dived). All equipment can be rented and it was of reasonable quality. The dive briefings were good. Diving is from skiffs off the back of the boat. Our first dive was inside the reef. Visibility was not great at about 6 or 7 metres. We had a max depth of 15m with an average of 9m and 50 minutes as per the briefing. I was a bit disappointed - the corals were nice in patches but there were relatively large areas where the coral was dead no doubt in part due to the previous year's bad cyclone. We saw a giant clam, some large crayfish, six banded angelfish, spotted sweetlips, a few pink anemone fish and a really nice juvenile red emperor. Lunch was a good buffet with meat, cheese, salads, rolls etc and you could help your self to coffee, tea and juice throughout the day. All food and juice/coffee/ tea was included in the price but you had to pay for soft drinks and beer/wine. Our second dive was on the outside of the reef and was much better than the first. Visibility was marginally better at 6 to 8m and there was a bit of current. We saw a grey reef shark and 3 or 4 whitecap reef sharks. There was a nice free swimming moray and a couple of tuna. The wall was better, in terms of coral but still with evidence of damage. The highlight of the dive was a huge bull ray with an attendant cobia. We got very close and I got some good photographs. Again max depth was around 15m with a slightly deeper average depth of about 11m. There was a guide leading the group of 6 divers but they also had a trainee dive master in the water bringing up the rear of the group. This turned out to be helpful because of the mixed experience of the divers. I was buddied with a new diver who had recently certified. Actually this was fine given the conditions and the dive profile. A couple of divers ran low on air quite quickly but were sent to the surface and the rest of us carried on. Again the 50 minute max dive time was enforced. We did hit a strong current near the end of the dive which the dive guide insisted on us ploughing into for longer than was sensible, eventually turning the dive. Overall, I enjoyed the day. I suspect there are better parts of the GBR to dive with more dive operations. On the trip back snacks were laid on and even a cheese board. We saw a few pilot whales just off the side of the boat which was a bonus. The diving was very much "valet" with all gear, tank changes etc being dealt with by the crew. The boat was great but is a long and quite expensive way to complete two dives. At the end of the day most people are not visiting the Whitsundays to have a full on dive trip. However, if you are visiting on holiday and want to do a little bit of diving, it can be done pleasantly and comfortably. Book in advance though as spaces are limited and seem to fill quickly.
Websites Explore Dive Centre   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Galapagos; Palau; Sipadan; Truk; Malapascua; Komodo; Ticao Island; Maldives; Red Sea; Caribbean; Cuba; Hawaii; Florida; Cozumel; Spain, Seychelles, Mauritius, Oman, GBR
Closest Airport Hamilton Island Getting There Direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 28-°C / 82-°F Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 6-8 M / 20-26 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Max dive time 50 mins. Max depth 20m
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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