Thursday 20 October 2022, marks a significant milestone for the multi award-winning company Ocean Rafting, celebrating 25 years of operations as one of the Whitsundays’ most loved on-water experiences.
Having successfully been in operation for two and half decades, and with three generations of family actively working in the business, the Ocean Rafting team are renowned for always “taking it to the next level”, a whole company approach which reflects the company’s long-term success and continuous growth over the years.
Originally commencing operations in 1997, Ocean Rafting was purchased by Peter and Jan Claxton in 2001, after relocating from Cape Town in South Africa, where they had owned and operated a seaplane company. On arrival in Australia, Peter piloted seaplanes for Air Whitsunday between the Great Barrier Reef and Hayman Island for two years, providing him with excellent aerial geographical knowledge of the region, which led to his dream of operating his own business around the Whitsunday Islands and the subsequent purchase of Ocean Rafting.
Commencing with one vessel named ‘Jammin’ in 1997, ‘Wild Thing’ then followed in 1998. After purchasing the business in 2001, the third vessel, ‘Thrilla’, joined the fleet in 2004 and in 2008, Peter and Jan expanded by building ‘Ocean Safari’, a new sister company, based at Cape Tribulation, offering half day tours to the pristine Great Barrier Reef in Tropical North Queensland. The fourth Whitsunday based vessel, ‘Thunderstruck’, arrived in 2010, ‘Joyride’ in 2015, ‘Riptide’ in 2016 and ‘Black Betty’ in 2018. Already on order, Ocean Rafting’s eighth vessel, ‘Wipe Out’, arrived ready to commence operations in September 2020, a bittersweet moment amid the COVID-19 crisis. This past year, ‘Wild Thing’ underwent renovations and is now rebranded as a ‘Research’ vessel, which is used for Ocean Rafting’s many environmental initiatives, Reef Seeker Edutourism programs and charters.
“Pardon the pun, but it has certainly been quite the ride! On saying that, we wouldn’t change it for the world, given where we are today. Amongst other factors, we’ve been through 9/11 on the same year we purchased Ocean Rafting, then the GFC, devastating Cyclone Debbie, and most recently, like everyone, COVID-19. But the highs far outweigh the lows, and we are so proud to this day to be the original and most awarded tour operator in the Whitsundays, with a fabulous team who proudly share and uphold our company values,” reflected Jan.
Despite the last two COVID-impacted years, Jan and Peter circled back to Peter’s aviation roots this year, adding not another “duck” to the existing fleet of eight custom designed vessels, but a plane! Flying into operations in May, Ocean Rafting’s 7-seater Australian-built Airvan took to the skies. While Ocean Rafting’s Fly Raft packages and scenic flight touring options have been offered for several years, this added investment has allowed for more available seats on scenic flights over Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet and famous Heart Reef, resulting is an iconic triple-whammy providing the ultimate Whitsunday experience in just one day.
With a swag of industry awards over the years, including multiple gold wins at the Australian, Queensland and Whitsunday Tourism Awards, Ocean Rafting is also a Best of Queensland Experience and a Quality Tourism Accredited Business under the national quality tourism framework. Additionally, Ocean Rafting is the recipient of a TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Award for being in top 10% of attractions worldwide every year since 2012 and a TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best award winner in the Top 1% of Tourism Businesses around the world and Top 10 Experiences in Australia.
One of Ocean Rafting’s most successful activities over the years however, which is of great importance and at the heart of all operations, is the company’s overall commitment to environmental sustainability and protection of the Great Barrier Reef.
“Our team are highly attuned and passionate about their duty in protecting the future of the Great Barrier Reef and we are proud ambassadors for environmentally responsible, ethical, educational and sustainable tourism. We live, work and play in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and our many environmental initiatives, both as a company and as reef guardians, reflects the passion we have for our beautiful backyard,” said Jan.
With a nod that can only be attributed to its lengthy success in both showcasing and protecting the Great Barrier Reef, Ocean Rafting is also a coveted Ecotourism Australia Hall of Fame member for being continuously Advanced Ecotourism Australia Certified for 20 years or longer, being the only operator in the Whitsundays with this recognition. Ocean Rafting is also a Green Travel Leader, Climate Action Business, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service ‘Be Pest-Free’ Partner and is the only company in the Whitsundays with three Master Reef Guides, who are recognised as the world’s leading reef guides, interpreters and story tellers, in addition to a team made up of Marine Biologists and Eye On the Reef trained Eco Hosts.
Jan continued, “It has certainly helped visiting the beautiful and iconic Whitsunday destinations we visit on a daily basis, but we are very, very proud to be where we are today and to be able to continue to follow our ethos of treating every day as if it was the one and only day our guests will have to experience Ocean Rafting and the Whitsunday Islands. We’ve successfully done this thanks to our incredible staff who have been on the journey with us over the years, and just as importantly, because of the support of industry partners, agents, suppliers, and of course, our fantastic local Whitsunday community. We just couldn’t be any prouder and we thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for supporting Ocean Rafting over the years.”
Ocean Rafting offers two exciting day tour adventures, the Northern Exposure and Southern Lights, with an exhilarating ride to Whitehaven Beach, the ultimate access to Hill Inlet and special snorkelling sites, as well as the Fly and Raft package, 60-minute scenic flights, a range of adventure packages, charter options and the Reef Seeker environmental educational program. The fleet of eight semi-rigid inflatable vessels allow guests to experience Ocean Rafting’s signature adrenalin-fuelled ride amongst the beauty of the Whitsundays, while a maximum of 32 passengers allows for a personalised experience in the pleasure of a small group.
For more information phone 07 4946 6848 or visit www.oceanrafting.com.au. For further media information or images contact Tiffany Brett – phone 0417 008 161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org