The trip was fantastic. Of the 4 places we went, I’d be pressed to pick a favorite because they were all such different experiences. The location of all the hotels you found were perfect, we could just walk to do anything we wanted during our free time. Each hotel had gotten your note that it was our honeymoon and had left out some wine or chocolates or both and a couple of them even gave us hand written congratulatory notes which was extremely touching. The Hobbit tour driver Damion even had a printout of a very kind email you’d written to them and gave us a special memento to take back with us. Chris from Quicksilver met us when we checked in, walked out to the boat with us, made us feel very welcome and mentioned your name and even gave us some drink tickets which was great! All the tours went well, it often felt like they were really chaotic, but incredibly they all ended precisely as described. The Sydney harbor bridge climb was amazing and its accessible to far more people than you’d think based on how they describe it. To get a sample of the great barrier reef, both Tusa and Quicksilver are great options for a try scuba day trip. If you have to pick, Cairns seems like a better place to stay than Port Douglas, there just seems to be more to do. The service we encountered at all locations and tours was very welcoming and the amazing concierge in Auckland helped us find entertainment and a delicious Valentines Day dinner.
I’m really struggling to summarize the diving portion as Quicksilver and Tusa both really did a great job. The staff at both outfitters were nice, competent, efficient, all good things. I’m not sure which I’d recommend over the other as they were quite different. Quicksilver was a longer day as they fetched us from our hotel (which was great), there were many times more people on that boat, but it was also bigger and faster so you were able to get to better places on the reef. Quicksilver broke people out into groups of 4-6 and had a dive guide, Tusa gave you more autonomy unless you asked to have a guided tour. The food on both was very good, though I did think Tusa’s was better. I think we only paid for 2 dives on Tusa, but they gave us a 3rd for free which was really nice.
If I ever went there again, I would spend the money to do a live aboard and get better dive sites and a more intimate group of divers. I would say for you, if someone asked about it I would find out how much diving they’ve done. If it’s not much, then either of these outfits are perfect (or if they’re really set and cannot do more than 1 or 2 days). If they’ve done a bit of diving (like more than 50 dives) then maybe steer them to a liveaboard. Anyone can do either obviously, you’ll probably get a more experienced group doing a live aboard. Or at least no college kids betting on who can hold their breath the best. haha
Overall it was definitely a success and we had a great time. Thank you!!