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Cairns Outer Reef Diving

Cairns’ Outer Great Barrier Reef dive tours offer excellent diving conditions. Cairns operators are highly regarded in the dive industry, with a stack of records and accreditations to back-up their professionalism. Some have over 25 years experience and divers can be assured of safe diving with professional crew, boats and equipment.

All of these Cairns Outer Reef Diving trips are open water diving. This means you are scuba diving on reef sites in the open ocean. Conditions (current etc) will be dependent on the weather and time of day. Cairns Outer Reef Diving sites are generally around 60km offshore, which means good visibility year round (varies anywhere from 5m on a bad day, to 35m).

Travel time to and from Cairns to the Outer Great Barrier Reef is anywhere between 90-minutes to 2-hours. During this time, certified divers complete their safety paperwork and are issued equipment. You will be required to show your dive certification / license, so should have this with you. Dive site and safety briefings are always provided by the dive crew.

Manta Rays

Manta Rays



Reef Quest

Dive time

Outer Great Barrier Reef dive site depth varies, but is usually no more than 30m. These trips are suitable for divers of all experience levels. Some operators give the choice between guided and unguided dives: others insist upon guided dives with a Divemaster.

The number of dives and time spent on the reef varies between the different tour options / boats. Most visit at least two reef sites each day and the maximum number of dives you can take on a day tour is three (3). No reverse profile diving is allowed and there is no solo diving on any of the Cairns dive day tours: nitrox can be requested on some boats, but needs to be booked in advance.

Over 2,900 individual coral reefs comprise the Great Barrier Reef and there are several excellent dive sites on Cairns’ Outer Great Barrier Reef. Diving operators are licensed to visit specific reefs including, but not limited to: Saxon, Hastings, Paradise, Milln, Moore, Flynn, Thetford, Sudbury, Channel and more.

Cairns day dive boats vary from sailing ships to modern catamarans and capable monohulls. Water entry from each is generally giant stride. Each boat provides scuba divers with a choice of lycra suits (summer) or wet suits (winter) and are fully equipped with masks, fins, tanks and everything else you need to enjoy your day.

Cairns Outer Reef Diving

Tusa Dive T6

Easy Diving

Easy Diving

You know you love him

You know you love him

For Cairns’ Outer Great Barrier Reef dive day tours, you can choose between a day boat tour or a pontoon tour. What’s the difference? Boat tours visit at least two different reef sites, you can choose between guided and unguided diving on most boats and maximum depths reach up to 30m at some sites (although usually no deeper than 25m). Guided dives will never be deeper than 18m.

Pontoon dive trips are not the cheapest Cairns diving but are a good option if you are travelling with non-diving companions who will enjoy the extra inclusions (glass-bottom boat and semi-submersible tours and underwater observatory). The scuba diving from Cairns’ Outer Great Barrier Reef pontoons is always guided and usually no deeper than 18m. You can still explore a few different reef sites, which are usually “sheltered” by surrounding fringing reefs, which means you are less likely to experience current.

There are 11 Cairns diving day tours to the Outer Great Barrier Reef, all departing daily. We have been on all of them and can provide advice on the best trip to suit your needs.

Please note: We are not affiliated with any of the boats. 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, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more advice on +61 7 4041 1638 |

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Outer Reef Diving Tours

Sunlover Cruises

Great day tour for people of all ages. Visit Outer Reef Pontoon at Moore Reef, with lots of inclusions: snorkelling, glass bottom boat and semi-sub tours, underwater observatory and more.
Lady enjoying the water-slide at Moore Reef.

Silverswift Dive & Snorkel

Only Cairns Great Barrier Reef day tour to visit 3 different reef sites in one day! Part of the Quicksilver Cruises fleet. Comfortable, high speed catamaran. Up to 5 hours at the reef.
Silverswift At The Reef

Deep Sea Divers Den: Sea Quest

Value for money Great Barrier Reef day tour. Visits 2 reef sites. Perfect for snorkellers, certified divers and those wanting to try an introductory dive. Buffet lunch included.

Down Under Dive: Evolution

Well priced Great Barrier Reef day tour, including BBQ lunch. 5 hours on the reef at 2 reef sites. Free guided snorkelling tours, introductory and certified diving. Brand new boat (December 2015).
Down Under Dive Evolution

Passions Of Paradise

Australian Tourism Award Winner. Daily dive / snorkel trips to Paradise Reef on 25m brand new sailing catamaran. Free scuba demonstration & guided snorkel tour. Hot / cold buffet lunch.
The Passions of Paradise boat Cairns Australia

Deep Sea Divers Den: Reef Quest

Value for money Great Barrier Reef day tour. Visits 2 reef sites. Perfect for snorkellers, certified divers and those wanting to try an introductory dive. Buffet lunch included. New boat (Dec 2015).

Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel Cruises

Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel offers a great value for money option for people to join a large stable boat that spends 5 hours at a beautiful reef location. Free guided snorkel tour, glass bottom boat tour and marine presentation.
Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel Boat at the Great Barrier Reef.

Seastar Cruises

Seastar provides daily dive and snorkel tours to Michaelmas Cay and Hastings Reef. Up to 5 hours at the reef and 2 guided snorkel tours included.

Reef Experience

Cairns' only fully inclusive day tour, including: city transfers, trip to Great Barrier Reef, 6 hours on reef, 2 reef locations, meals, free scuba dive, marine biologist presentation & equipment.
Fully inclusive Great Barrier Reef day tours with Reef Experience

Tusa Dive T6

Tusa Dive provide quality Great Barrier Reef snorkel / dive day tours on one of Cairns' newest reef day boats, T6. Up to 5 hours on the reef, visiting 2 locations. Great service - all meals included.
Tusa at the Reef

Ocean Spirit Cruises – Michaelmas Cay

Ocean Spirit Cruises provide a luxury sailing catamaran to Michaelmas Cay. This trip is suited to swimmers, snorkelers and families. Often Sea Turtles are seen from the beach. All meals included.

M.V. Reef Kist – Cairns Dive Centre (Island Diver)

Great value one of Cairns cheapest day boats to the Great Barrier Reef. Full day snorkeling visiting 2 x Reef Locations. Includes lunch and all snorkel gear.
Cairns Dive Centre

Poseidon Snorkel and Dive

Poseidon provides daily tours from Port Douglas to the Agincourt Ribbon Reefs, visiting three (3) separate reef sites. Suitable for divers and snorkelers.

Aqua Quest Dive Port Douglas

Aqua Quest provides daily reef tours departing from Port Douglas and visiting Agincourt Reef, St Crispin Reef, and Opal Reef. Nitrox available on board.

Reef Magic – Marine World

Up to 5 hours at the reef. Outer Great Barrier Reef pontoon with fabulous coral gardens. Meet Wally! Lots of inclusions: snorkelling, glass bottom boat, semi-sub, underwater observatory and more.
Reef Magic Outer Reef Scuba Diving

Great Adventures: Outer Reef

Leaves later than most (10am) and provides up to 3 hours at their outer reef pontoon. Enjoy the sun deck, underwater observatory, semi-submersible and many optional extras.
Great Adventures

Silversonic – Port Douglas

Silversonic provides daily reef tours departing from Port Douglas and visiting the ribbon reefs at Agincourt Reef. 5 hours at reef and up to 3 dives.

Great Adventures: Green Island & Great Barrier Reef

This is the only Cairns day tour to combine time on Green Island with a visit to a Great Barrier Reef pontoon. Best of both worlds. Suitable for snorkellers and divers.
Great Adventures Green Island & Reef Package

Do you need help choosing?

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.

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