Turtle Dreaming Tour

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Get away to a remote tropical island and get up close and personal with giant turtles! – 2 days 1 night

With the warm wind in your hair and sea-spray on your skin, join us for an exhilarating 2 day sail to Bare Sand Island, where you’ll discover giant turtles on an uninhabited island. Download Brochure


 – Explore Bare Sand Island  – Witness giant sea turtles nesting
 – Learn traditional Larrakia hunting techniques  – Drop a line and try hooking a salmon or jewfish
 – Experience real sailing on a 50ft catamaran  – Sleep in a private airconditioned cabin, or swag on deck!

Bare Sand Island 60km south west of Darwin is an important turtle nesting site, and part of a chain of Islands of strong significance to local Aboriginal people. Literally bare sand with just one tree, turtles nest all year round but predominantly between May – October, and in the peak of the season in June and July dozens of giant turtles come ashore. Our Larrakia guide will show you how to identify turtle tracks, how to find a turtle nest, and hopefully you’ll get to witness a giant turtle as she makes her way up the beach, digs her nest and lays her eggs. Later in the season you may also see the eruption of baby turtle hatchlings from their homes beneath the warm sand, as they begin their scramble towards the water to commence their epic 3000km journey. Our guide will also share with you the World War II and indigenous history of the island, and will teach you a traditional Aboriginal method of spear throwing that will take you from novice to  hunter within 5 minutes. You’ll also learn how to make “bush-string” from beach hibiscus, which will have you walking up and down the beach searching for the perfect shell to be part of a centre feature to your new bush string necklace or bracelet.

After an exhilarating day, retire at night to your private cabin aboard Sundancer NT, complete with air-conditioning and private bathroom – or if you prefer, sleep in a swag on deck under a sky of diamonds.

Keen guests can assist with sailing and navigating, and there’s plenty of opportunity to drop a line.

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Pickup from: Cullen Bay Ferry Terminal (at the end of Marina Boulevard where the Mandorah Ferry leaves from)

Duration: 2 days, 1 night

Board: 9am           Disembark: 3pm next day

Sails:Scheduled dates (see right) plus on request. Best time to see turtles is around new moon and full moon.

Vessel: Sundancer 50ft luxury sailing catamaran (real sailing)

Capacity: Minimum 4 guests, Maximum 12 guests

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The itinerary varies depending on the tides and weather. Turtles nest at Bare Sand Island all year round, with the peak nesting season in July/August. The best times to see turtles are around full moon and new moon.  A typical itinerary is below.

Day 1
Embark at Cullen Bay Jetty in Darwin at 9am for a briefing prior to departure. As we sail out of Darwin Harbour, take in the panoramic view of Mandorah and the Cox Peninsula coastline. Keep an eye out for marine life – dolphins, manta rays, green sea turtles and even flying fish. Once past the historic Charles Point lighthouse we then sail southwest past a series of tropical reefs and islands to arrive at Bare Sand Island mid afternoon, where we’ll go ashore and look for turtle tracks. Our Aboriginal guide will teach you the history of the island and surrounding area, and you’ll learn traditional hunting and string making methods.

At sunset we return to Sundancer for a delicious meal aboard, bathed in the glorious colours of the last lights of the setting sun. After dinner, we return again to the beach where we watch for sea turtles making their way up the beach, and hopefully the chance to witness a female turtle making her nest and laying her eggs. Later in the season you may also witness the eruption of baby turtle hatchlings from their homes beneath the warm sand, as they begin their scramble towards the water.

Day 2

In the morning, after a wholesome breakfast aboard we can explore any of several nearby reefs, and possibly hook a salmon or jewfish for some fresh lunchtime sashimi! A brisk sail back on the afternoon seabreeze – with keen guests permitted to assist with sailing and navigation – sees us sailing back into Darwin harbour around 3pm.



Sundancer NT is a superbly seaworthy vessel, in survey for up to 30 passengers for day tours and 12 overnight. She is completely self sufficient, with 2500 lts fuel capacity, 1500 lts of water, onboard water maker and much more. All creature comforts have been catered for: Sundancer is fully airconditioned, with 4 double cabins, 4 single beds, 3 bathrooms (all with hot showers), and of course an on-board espresso machine!


(click to view larger images in a slideshow)

Where we go:

Bare Sand Island is part of a chain of islands to the south-west of Darwin, at the entrance to Bynoe Harbour. The islands have strong cultural significance to local Aboriginal people and are part of the Dreamtime story. The route and itinerary can be varied to suit guests specific requirements. A typical route is shown below (click to open an interactive map in a new window). Bare Sand Island 2 day route

Other information

Inclement Weather: All sailing is subject to suitable tides & weather and guest safety is paramount. The Skipper has the final say if a trip is to be rescheduled or cancelled due to bad weather. Bookings can be transferred to another day and time or a 100% refund can apply.

Minimum Passenger Numbers: All trips except for a sole charter have a minimum passenger requirement of 6guests. If your journey is rescheduled or cancelled due to this we will endeavour to accommodate you on an alternative trip. Should this not be suitable a 100% refund can apply.

Pricing: is on a per person twin-share basis.

* Turtles nest at Bare Sand Island during the dry season. Sighting of nesting or hatchling turtles is totally dependent on nature and cannot be guaranteed. Peak times for sightings are at full moon and new moon, 2 hours before and after the high tide.



Wow. Best. Trip. Ever.

Wow. Thanks so much, this has been one of the most memorable trips of my life. The food is nothing short of 5-star and *amazing* (thanks Catherine - and Paul!). You often read about a cruise but when you do it you end up feeling a bit disappointed - the trip to Bare Sandy Island is exactly like it reads. We had dugongs surfing alongside the boat, and the next day dolphins, plus we saw heaps of massive sea turtles (the size of people!). The island is uninhabited, remote, and absolutely pristine - turtles are everywhere! I can't recommend this trip highly enough. And the boat is like a floating hotel, it's got everything you could possibly need. THanks again, and see you next year!”
- Karen & Simon

So many WOW moments!

★★★★★ Wow what an amazing 24hours I have just had to celebrating my 25th birthday. I have just returned from turtle dreaming cruise on an absolute high! I can not believe the experience I just had. The turtles where incredible, we got to watch the whole process from the turtles coming up from the water, watching the turtles dig the chamber, to seeing the eggs being laid, Holding a turtle egg, then watching the turtle making their way back down into the water and we where very fortunate to see and hold baby hatching that swam their way to the boat! Fishing was great, food was great ( thanks paul for the best bacon I have eating in my life!) crew where very welcoming and just wonderful, can not recommend this cruise enough, this was a once in a life time experience and something I'm never going to forget.. Cheers to you.”
- Justine B


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Sail Darwin
2/27 Paspaley Place, Cullen Bay DarwinNT0820 Australia 
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