Cairns & the Tropical North

Private Helicopter Tour: Reef Island Snorkeling and Gourmet Picnic Lunch

Cairns City, Australia
Likely to Sell Out

From USD 585.29

Select Date and Travellers

Free cancellation
Up to 24 hours in advance.
  • 2 hours 30 minutes (approx.)
  • Flight time: 25 minutes
  • Hotel pickup offered
  • Mobile ticket
  • Offered in: English


Indulge yourself and your loved ones with a private helicopter tour that takes you out to a secluded island on the Great Barrier Reef. Admire the reef from above during your 25-minute scenic helicopter flight, then experience its natural beauty up close after your pilot gently lands on the gorgeous and remote Vlasoff Cay (or Turtle Beach if Vlasoff Cay is occupied). Enjoy a two-hour retreat in paradise with everything you need provided, including a picnic basket with champagne and nibbles, picnic blanket, deck chairs, beach umbrella and snorkeling equipment.
  • 2.5-hour private tour with scenic helicopter flight over the Great Barrier Reef to Vlassof Cay (or Turtle Beach), from Cairns
  • Enjoy a stunning 25-minute helicopter flight over the Great Barrier Reef
  • Relax on the remote and gorgeous island of Vlassof Cay (or Turtle Beach)
  • Nibble on delicious eats from a gourmet picnic with champagne
  • Includes all supplies such as beach umbrella, blanket, deck chairs and snorkeling equipment

What's Included

  • 25-minute scenic helicopter flight over the Great Barrier Reef
  • 2-hours on secluded Vlasoff Cay
  • Picnic basket including gourmet food and beverages
  • Snorkeling equipment
  • Picnic blanket, beach umbrella and beach chairs
  • Environmental Management Charge (Reef Tax)
  • Australia's Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off Cairns
  • Private return transfers to/from Port Douglas are $205 per car (up to 4 passengers).

Meeting And Pickup

You can head directly to the meeting point, or request pickup

Meeting point

  • 2 Pier Point Rd
    2 Pier Point Rd, Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

Pickup points

Select a pickup point

Start time

Confirm time with the local provider in advance of your experience.

Opening hours

  • 4/1/2021 - 3/31/2023

    Monday - Sunday : 08:00 am - 03:00 pm

  • 4/1/2023 - 3/31/2024

    Monday - Sunday : 09:00 am - 05:00 pm

End point

This activity ends back at the meeting point.

Pickup details

Transfer from Cairns and Northern Beaches (up to and including Palm Cove) are included for all tours. Transfers to/from Port Douglas are $205 per car (up to 4 passengers)

What To Expect

Spend a memorable morning discovering the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia's most renowned natural wonders. After pickup at your hotel in Cairns or the Northern Beaches, transfer to the heliport at Cairns Airport to board your state-of-the-art helicopter. Your expert pilot provides a short safety briefing and radio headset that allows 2-way communications during your flight over the Great Barrier Reef.

Marvel at the extent of the reef during your 25-minute scenic flight, and enjoy fantastic photo ops of the reef, the coastline and the islands of Far North Queensland. When your pilot touches down at the remote island of Vlasoff Cay (if the beach is occupied you will instead visit Turtle Beach), disembark and have two hours to soak up the scenery of this tropical wonderland. Your pilot provides you with the picnic blanket, beach chairs, umbrella and snorkeling gear, in addition to a picnic basket that contains champagne and tasty appetizers to nibble during your island retreat.

Feel free to do as much or as little as you like on the island. Snack on your gourmet picnic and sip champagne, snorkel and swim in pristine ocean waters, read a book or sunbathe on the white-sand beach. At the end of approximately two hours, your pilot returns you to Cairns to end your tour.

Nautilus Aviation

30 minutesAdmission Ticket Included

Great Barrier Reef (Pass By)

Additional Info

  • Total weight per passenger: 130 kg
  • Confirmation will be received within 48 hours of booking, subject to availability
  • Weight Policy: Individual passenger weights and accompanying carry-on luggage MUST be advised at time of booking. Weight variances greater than 10% may incur an additional fee. Maximum single seat payload of 130kg. For passenger comfort and aircraft weight and balance, passengers exceeding 130kg are required to purchase an additional seat at 50% of ticket price - this is non-commissionable and payable to Nautilus Aviation on day of travel.
  • A minimum of 2 people per booking is required
  • Subject to favourable weather conditions. If cancelled due to poor weather, you will be given the option of an alternative date or full refund
  • Vlasoff Cay is a public sand cay and as such can not be reserved. On the rare occasion it is occupied on our arrival we will not be permitted to land. If this occurs passengers will receive an extended reef scenic flight back to the Pier Heliport (total flying time 45 mins including initial 20 mins from Cairns to Vlasoff Cay). Passengers will be able to keep their picnic lunch and our reservations team will advise and assist with any refunds applicable.
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Infants must sit on laps
  • Child Policy: Children 3 years and above are legally required to be seated in their own seat and are therefore required to pay the full ticket price. Subject to conditions, children under 3 years may travel free of charge when seated on a parents/guardians lap. For bookings of more than one infant (under 3 years), conditions apply – please contact Reservations.
  • Travellers should have a moderate physical fitness level
  • This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate

Cancellation Policy

You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.

  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s cancelled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.

Traveller Photos

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21 reviews
Total review count and overall rating based on Viator and Tripadvisor reviews
Reviews by Viator travellers.
Showing 1-10 of 21 reviews
Fun but too short
Stephanie_B, Sept 2022
The helicopter ride was absolutely beautiful! Our pilot, Jules, was really down-to-earth and fun to talk to. We were supposed to go to the sand cay and have that to ourselves but there was a tour there already so the helicopter was not allowed to land there. Instead we were flown to the Green Island. We were provided a picnic lunch and a bottle of champagne! The thought is very cool but the practicality of being able to have lunch, drink the champagne, and snorkel in just 2 hours is not realistic. Apparently the 2 hours includes the time of us getting off and on the helicopter, walking to the beach, and setting up the chairs. We sat in the chairs for maybe 10 minutes, snorkeled for 50 minutes, then when we got back we were rushed to leave since Jules had another tour to attend to. For the amount of money we had to pay for a "private" lunch and helicopter ride, I think the amount of time to wherever we end up going to should be longer especially since we did not end up getting any privacy.
Response from Host, Sept 2022
Hi Stephanie Thank you for taking the time to leave your feedback, I do appreciate it. Jules is an incredible pilot and we are very fortunate to have him on our team as he is just as passionate about FNQ as we are. I understand how disappointing it would have been to arrive at Vlasoff and find it occupied, it is a public sand cay and as such can not be reserved. On the rare occasion it is occupied on our arrival we are not permitted to land and as per the T&C on the page, instead passengers receive an extended reef scenic flight including views of Arlington Reef (one of the largest continuous reef system in the marine park) before landing at Green Island for snorkelling and lunch. The Pilots need to log their flight plan prior to departing from the Hangar, so unfortunately they are unable to extend the stay on the island as the total tour time is set prior to departure at 2 1/2 hours. We will take your feedback on board, as we are always looking for ways to improve the customer experience. Thank you again for leaving your feedback, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay in FNQ. Thanks Kel
Great- just check equipment!
Danni_V, May 2022
The experience was Amazing but my husband who has received this as a gift. Unfortunately mine was not so great with different size flippers and a child’s mask, so couldn’t snorkel- so disappointed. Pilot was lovely, food great. disappointing I haven’t heard from Nautilus
Response from Host, Oct 2022
Hi Danni I apologise for the delay in response, I have only recently come across to this role and am currently going through all the reviews. I am sorry to hear that your experience was marred by the mismatched equipment, did you discuss this with the Pilot whilst there, or the Res crew on your return? Can you please reach out to me on so I can investigate this further for you. Kind regards Kel
This tour was amazing!! It was once in...
Jennifer G, Jan 2017
This tour was amazing!! It was once in a lifetime. Spend the money!
It's really worth the money. The...
Xinwei R, Nov 2016
It's really worth the money. The entire small island was completely for us only! How great was it! Everyone we met was friendly and very knowledgable. I definitely will recommond this tour to my friends.
The opportunity to visit idyllic...
Jason W, Oct 2016
The opportunity to visit idyllic Vlasoff Cay is wonderful, however the reality of this happening seems incredibly slim. We booked this trip based on the plan fuelled by many lovely photos of visiting Vlasoff Cay, however we ended up on Turtle Beach. The tour company are thorough from every angle to ensure you understand that if Vlasoff Cay is occupied, then landing on Turtle Beach is the alternative - they make you sign numerous disclaimers agreeing you understand this. However, what they failed to do was advise from their experience, how unlikely it is that you will land there. We emailed quite a few times beforehand asking for the odds and even asked for photos of Turtle Beach so we could make an informed decision it's a lot of money! but didn't receive anything useful back. We even suggested leaving earlier in the morning to ensure we'd be able to land, but were told that we couldn't due to tides - our pilot on the day said the tides wouldn't have stopped us flying early. On the day we flew it seemed like they already knew we couldn't land there. This meant we flew out for 15mins over the reef and then landed on Turtle beach. The beach is lovely, but exactly like all the others along the coast. The 'champagne' was sparkling Jacobs Creek and the picnic was squashed sandwiches, they could do a much better job of this. It's also worth noting that the pilot stays with you, which isn't explained in the description. This trip has the promise of being amazing, but for us it didn't get anywhere close to that, and ended up being one VERY expensive helicopter ride and average picnic. We wouldn't recommend this trip.
I would give a three and a half star...
Julianne_C, June 2016
I would give a three and a half star review. The Nautilus Helicopter staff were fabulous. The only downside was the flight was quite short and although the trip did go to the reef we all thought it would be further out where the day trippers go. Having said that the snorkelling was enjoyable, the little island we landed on was lovely and we had a delicious lunch. So well worth doing.
Amazing!! We ended up on Turtle...
Jia H, Nov 2015
Amazing!! We ended up on Turtle beach, had our breakfast there and went snorkeling a bit. It was super nice and relaxing. The pilot was great and amazing she took us for a tour around the reef, just beautiful.
Just do it 5 of 5 stars Pending...
Anthony B, Oct 2015
Just do it 5 of 5 stars Pending review Nautilus helicopters excelelnt trip out to the reef, what else can I write, you own little part of the Great Barrier Reef for two and a half hours. Both ground staff and our pilot Jenna provided excellent no hassle service, from check-in, to both the out-bound and in-bound flights. The condition of the helicopter look new, fresh out of the box so to speak very clean. Jenna provided a running comentry concerning the reef on both the outbound and inbound flights and answered any questions. Being educated in England with we know little or nothing of Australians geography or history. Food hamper was again excellent, nice to sit back, eat and watch the world go by on your own little atoll. The helicopters arrival temporary disturbs the resident birds who return minutes latter. The snorkling was just enough, you have to go to the edge of the sand bar in order to see any local inhabitants. Well worth it, excellent staff unlike those I encounter at offshore check in's around the world. Get your money out, just do it you will not regret it.
The weather was the problem, the...
amanda_geloven, July 2014
The weather was the problem, the pilot did all he could to make the most if it but we couldn't have the picnic. I was dissapointed but it couldn't be helped. Wish I had more days there so I could have rescheduled in better weather.
The people at the tour company were...
THOMAS C, Apr 2014
The people at the tour company were very friendly and comfortable to be around. The food was fantastic! We weren't exactly sure what we expected, but this experience far exceeded everything we could have imagined! Highly recommend it to anyone wanting a "private" experience on the Great Barrier Reef. Much better than riding 2 hours each way in a boat and having to spend 4hrs on a pontoon with numerous other vacationers.
For a special occasion, or even just...
Kathleen W, Mar 2013
For a special occasion, or even just because, this is a sensational trip to do. On time, professional pick up from our hotel, followed by a required safety information session, but it wasn't long til we were in the sky. Landing on Middle Cay just as the tide was receding was fantastic. While we snorkelled, our pilot laid out a picnic rug and champagne brunch - a very generous offering compared to others we have experienced! Having two hours to snorkle, swim, lie in the sun and just enjoy the reef was wonderful. An experience we couldn't recommend more highly!
I definitely recommend this trip to...
Scott M, Sept 2011
I definitely recommend this trip to anyone - great experience with a very friendly and knowledgable pilot.
The helicopter flight was wonderful...
Chris R, May 2011
The helicopter flight was wonderful, the staff, pilot and food provided were excellent. Unfortunately it was quite breezy on the day but you wouldn't have known it in the helicopter. Cannot rate the experience highly enough and will definitely do it again.
The Heli charter was awesome. My wife...
Anil A, Jan 2009
The Heli charter was awesome. My wife and I were on the Cay for a memorable mimosa and picnic. Water was a bit rough due to a storm, but you cant control a storm, can you. Great moments for our honeymoon! Food was OK, Mimosa was wonderful. Highly recommend. Note The pilot and the helicopter stay with you on the Cay. We did have some unwelcome boaters dock but left after 15 minutes. Also, if other people have arrived at the Cay before you, the helicopter cannot land and your package becomes a 1 hour great barrier reef and rainforest tour.
we had a fantastic time. Our Pilot was...
Brendan H, Oct 2008
we had a fantastic time. Our Pilot was very informative about the area and very easy going and friendly. We have been telling everyone about our trip. It was the best thing we've ever done!
I would highly recommend this tour to...
Kirsten Z, Aug 2007
I would highly recommend this tour to everyone. The picnic lunch was wonderful and the pilot was very personable. A once-in-a-lifetime experience.
We had a fantastic time on this trip...
Emma T, Jan 2007
We had a fantastic time on this trip and would definitely recommend it. Our pilot was excellent, really interesting and good fun and helped make the trip even more special. Please pass on our thanks! The food was also excellent and loads of it. Sitting drinking champagne at 10am on a deserted sand island surrounded by sea was a perfect way to spend my boyfriend's birthday!