New, Affordable Great Barrier Reef Getaways Courtesy of Jean-Michel Cousteau

by  Karen Gardiner | Sep 3, 2014
Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef / chameleonseye/iStock

Ready to book your bucket list getaway? Try this one on for size:

Explorer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau, eldest son of Jacques Cousteau, is encouraging North American families to follow in his footsteps and explore the Great Barrier Reef. Through a partnership between Stella Travel Services and Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, travelers can choose from a selection of Cousteau-endorsed itineraries featuring scenic flights over the Great Barrier Reef, diving expeditions, rainforest visits, and cultural experiences.

The best part? These getaways are designed to put this faraway -- and often expensive -- destination within reach of most travelers. Itineraries start at $2,699 and include round-trip flights between the U.S. and Queensland; five nights'  accommodation (two in a hotel and three nights onboard ship); and diving, including access to 16 exclusive sites on four different reef locations specifically selected for their variety of coral and marine life, as well as their excellent visibility.

Other options include a five-day "Rainforest & Reef Adventure," which includes three different dive sites on a day cruise from Cairns.  You'll explore the rainforest village of Kuranda via a scenic rail journey, and tour the Tjipaukai Aboriginal Cultural Park with an Indigenous guide. Rates start at $1,099 and flights to Australia re not included. However, there is currently an airfare deal with Air New Zealand starting at $1,579 per person (book by September 6). For a full list of itineraries, check out Stella Travel's Islands In the Sun web site.

Plus, you won't be the only one who benefits from your travels. A percentage of sales will be donated to the Ocean Futures Society, which works to protect oceans and ocean life. Jean Michel Cousteau believes that collaborating with the travel industry will help to spread his environmental message. “This collaborative relationship will inspire tourists to feel empowered to learn all about the natural and cultural beauty of the South Pacific, and through responsible tourism, they will ensure a healthy productive, ocean to enjoy now and into the future," he said.

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