Cairns Referral Courses | The Official Guide

Cairns Referral Courses give you the ability to complete your Open Water Certification Dives from Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef. A Referral Course is for those that have already completed a PADI or SSI pool and theory but haven’t completed the 4 Open Water Training Dives.

Referral Courses give you the option of completing your dives to become a Open Water Certified Diver in the warm tropical waters of the Coral Sea located on Cairns doorstep.

New Certified Divers

New Certified Divers

Underwater Skills

Underwater Skills

Cairns Outer Reef

Cairns Outer Reef

Why do a Referral Course in Cairns?

A Referral Course can allow you to start your Open Water Course in one place and then complete it in another location. There are a number of reasons that you may wish to do this. You might not want to spend your vacation time in a classroom when you could be out on the Great Barrier Reef.

Perhaps you have started your course but have not finished it due to weather conditions such as icy cold lakes or oceans or it may just be that time constraints mean you were unable to complete it prior to your planned holiday.

Any of these reasons will not stop you being able to return home a fully fledged diver having completed your certification in one of world’s best dive locations.

PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) vs SSI (Scuba Schools International)

Cairns offers either PADI or SSI Certifications, in general the differences are quite small with both being accepted worldwide it is entirely up to you which course you would prefer to take. For those that have completed a referral with a different Dive School please see our Frequently Asked Questions below.

E Learning has become an option for people looking at completing their Open Water Certification however please note that in Cairns, with either PADI or SSI, that neither of these options will save you time as you will still need to spend at least one day completing the pool component. This is also at an additional cost to the Referral.

Where can you do a referral and how long does it take?

The Great Barrier Reef from Cairns is the perfect location to complete your open water certification dives. Cairns offers shallower sites, with little current that are perfect for beginner divers with most of the sites ranging from 5 to 20 metres. The minimum time it takes to complete your Referral Course is two days, whilst you are able to spend up to 3 days 2 nights on a liveaboard.

For those that are travelling with families, suffer from seasickness or would just prefer the comfort of a hotel room at night then you are able to complete your certification dives onboard two one day dive trips to the Outer Reef. You will travel out and back to the reef each day with the opportunity to complete 6 dives in total including your 4 training dives. If you have family members wishing to travel with you as either snorkellers or certified divers than this can also be arranged.

Sunrise on the Reef

Sunrise on the Reef

Dive Instructors

Dive Instructors

Night Dive

Night Dive

However for a little extra cost if you are wishing to gain as much experience as possible we at Cairns Dive Adventures would recommend doing a 3 Day 2 Night liveaboard which allows the opportunity for 9 dives, these are made up of 4 training dives plus 5 dives as a certified diver including a guided night dive. Also included is accommodation, either twin or double bed with shared bathrooms and all meals.

If you are in Cairns for a shorter amount of time but still wish to see what a liveaboard is like then you are able to do a 2 Day 1 Night liveaboard which includes 5 dives made up of your 4 training dives and 1 dive as a certified diver. This also includes accommodation, either quad share, twin or double and all meals. Please note that there is no night dive on these trips however you will be able to stargaze from the reef.

Cairns Referral Courses - Companies

Tusa Dive Referral Dive Course

Starting Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays you will be able to complete your Referral on two one days trips. Please note that they offer PADI or SSI Referrals however you must confirm if you are SSI at the time of booking to guarantee an Instructor for you on your days of travel. You will have the opportunity for 6 dives in total.

Having a roaming permit with 16 unique sites on the Outer Reef your Skipper will pick the best two locations for the day’s weather conditions allowing you the best experience on the day. They also endeavour to take guests travelling two days or more to new sites daily... view more info on Tusa Dive's Referral Course.

Pro Dive Cairns | 3 Day 2 Night Ocean Referral Course

Offer a premium 3 Day 2 Night liveaboard PADI Ocean Referral departing everyday except Tuesdays offering the opportunity for up to 9 dives including a guided night dive. The dive sites chosen by your Skipper on your trip are chosen from the Outer Reefs Flynn, Milln, Pellowe and Thetford. Commonly sighted on these sites are turtles, white tipped reef sharks as well as nemo.

Includes twin or double cabin accommodation, meals, complimentary transfers from Cairns City or the Northern Beach suburbs, passport photos and a dive log book for you to record your first open water dives. All quality dive equipment is provided including a prescription mask if required.

Deep Sea Divers Den | Padi Referral Course

If you are looking for a 2 Day 1 Night PADI Referral then Deep Sea Divers Den are the company for you. Offering twin and quad cabins with shared bathrooms or for those looking for a little bit more there are also double/twin cabins with ensuites available.

Allowing you to get a taste of what a liveaboard diving holiday is like you will visit sites located on Norman, Saxon and Hasting Reefs.

What Do You Need

  • An Australian Dive Medical may be required to be completed prior to / in conjunction with this course. This is an additional cost and can be undertaken locally at several Cairns doctors / medical clinics. Contact us for more information.
  • Referral paperwork completed, signed and less than 12 months old. We would also recommend that you scan and email us all your paperwork so we are able to verify that it is all in order prior to travel.
  • Some courses require that you provide your own passport photos.

Cairns Dive Adventures are not affiliated with any of the boats or companies. We are Cairns locals, trying to help visitors have the best time they can, on the amazing Great Barrier Reef. This website is funded and built by us: we make commission from your tour bookings. We hope the information is of some assistance and thank you for your support.

PADI Learnt o dive course divers

Deep Sea Divers Den: PADI Open Water Dive Course

Become a certified Open Water scuba diver today! Courses start daily and can be booked in a range of options (budget & liveaboard) to suit your itinerary & budget. Min 4 day course.
Dive Training Onboard

Sea Quest: 2 Day Open Water Referral

Sea Quest offers a 2 day referral dive course on a comfortable 24-metre catamaran departing Cairns for the Outer Great Barrier Reef. Offering a total of four(4) dives.
Scuba Divers with Anemone fish

Pro Dive Cairns: 3 Day 2 Night Ocean Referral

Pro Dive Cairns Ocean Referral Course offers nine (9) dives in total on the Great Barrier Reef. Book today to complete your PADI Gold Open Water Certification.

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Do You Need Help Choosing?

Do you need help choosing a trip?

Can't decide? We have personally been on every Cairns reef and diving trip. We can help you choose the best tour, to suit your experience and budget.



Cairns Underwater Camera Hire Service

Spend over $550.00 AUD on your Great Barrier Reef tour with us and receive the latest Digital Underwater Camera Hire. Take amazing High-Resolution images and 1080 HD Video.

Not available for any tours to the Islands as fine white sand damages the seals on the cameras and makes them leak!

You need to come into our shop located on the Cairns Esplanade the day before departure to pick up the camera before 5:30 pm. You also need to supply your own SD Camera Card and drop the camera off back at our shop before 6:00pm.