Great Barrier Reef Tours

Do you know why there is such a large variety of Great Barrier Reef tours? Well, this is due to the enormous size of the Great Barrier Reef. Hows that you may ask? Well according to The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, this Reef system alone makes up about 10 percent of the world's coral reef ecosystems, which is amazing. It is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem and at just over 2600km in length and covers 344,400 km2 in area, at this size it is larger than the country of Japan! Now that's big!

You may already know but the Great Barrier Reef is located along the North East coast of Australia (In the state of Queensland). You also may not know it is this close proximity to the mainland of Australia which offers the many access points to join a Great Barrier Reef tour? for example, the cities of Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville, Whitsundays, and Bundaberg are all fantastic access points to join day reef tours and liveaboards.

Depending on your style of travel, for example, if you are a certified scuba diver or perhaps you would just like to snorkel or maybe you are traveling with family and small children. We have written this article to help explain the top three categories that Great Barrier Reef tours fit into. This will intern help inform you how to choose the best one for you!

Ok, let's get into it!

GREAT BARRIER REEF TOURS FROM CAIRNS:

Lady enjoying the water-slide at Moore Reef.

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.

Silverswift At The 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.

Evolution Dive Boat Cairns

Down Under Dive: Evolution

Well priced Great Barrier Reef day tour, including BBQ lunch. 5 hours on the reef at 2 reef sites. Introductory and certified diving are available at extra cost. Brand new boat.

Do you need help choosing?

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Or try the form below, 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.

Where is the best place to join a Great Barrier Reef tour?

There are two convenient access points located on the East coast of Australia where Great Barrier Reef tours embark. We mention these two port cities to start with as they both have aviation access. Cairns also has an international airport allowing international travellers to fly directly into Australia and join a Great Barrier Reef tour.

Cairns is located in Far North Queensland, right up on the North East coast of Australia. The other port city or town is Airlie Beach, from here you access the Whitsunday Islands. These two ports alone are home to over a dozen Islands with white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters.

According to Google Maps Cairns is regarded as the closest access point to the outer barrier reef systems at just 65km offshore from Cairns to the continental shelf of Australia. Cairns has a large array of Great Barrier Reef snorkeling, diving day boats, and overnight liveaboards.

The Whitsundays Islands are accessed by a large fleet of sailing boats much better for enjoying the inshore Islands.

How Much do Great Barrier Reef Tours Cost?

Well, this depends on where you travel from, how many people are in your party and what activities you choose. A basic ferry transfer over to Green Island and back from Cairns will set you back $102.00. This includes snorkel equipment or a glass-bottom boat. Cairns Outer Reef Cruises travel much further offshore and include all meals, multiple reef locations, and all snorkel equipment. The average cost of these is between $149 to $245 per adult. Most Great Barrier Reef tour companies offer family discounts if the children are between 4-14 years old and you have two adults plus two children, basically, one child travels free.

Can I do a Great Barrier Reef tour if I can’t Swim?

The short answer is, Yes most certainly! Great Barrier Reef tours range from visiting the Tropical Islands and Sand Cays to the outer reef day boats and floating pontoons/platforms. The pontoons or floating platforms really do cater to the non-swimmer or the family with small children as pontoon tours include semi-submarines, glass bottoms boat rides they also include underwater observatories, what are these? Underwater observatories are an observation room located underneath the pontoon usually a flight of stairs or two below the water. They consist of large glass viewing areas perfect for watching scuba divers and the vast marine life that lives on the Great Barrier Reef. All services are usually included in the pontoon ticket price.

Can I try First Time Scuba Diving on The Great Barrier Reef?

The short answer is Yes! But remember you must be medically fit with no asthma and not taking any prescription medication to try first-time scuba diving. Most first-time scuba dives are called an introductory scuba dive. They consist of 10 minutes of training on the boat, learning about breathing thru a regulator, and tips on how to clear your mask and equalize your ears underwater. The remainder of the lesson is spent underwater diving all over the Great Barrier Reef. All introductory scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef is limited to a max depth of 12 meters. All pontoon companies and most day boats all offer the chance to try a first-time introductory scuba dive.

Can I try Helmet Diving on a Great Barrier Reef Tour?

The short answer, Yes! Only a handful of reef tour operators offer helmet diving. This can be done at Green Island and on all the outer reef pontoon companies. You cannot do helmet diving on any of the outer reef day boats. Remember to try any form of diving you must be medically fit with no asthma and not be taking any prescription medication. The service usually consists of 10 minutes of training preparing you for the experience and then around 25 minutes underwater exploring the Great Barrier Reef.

What can I see Snorkeling and Diving?

Great question! You can expect to see a huge array of bright colourful soft and hard corals, including sea whips, staghorn coral, soft anemone’s, brain coral to a large array of marine animals like, Giant Mauri Wrasse, Cuttlefish, Yellow Tail Fusiliers, Anemonefish, Sea Turtles, Giant Clams, Nudibranchs, Moray Eels, Giant Trevally, Coral Trout and much more!

Best time of the year to do Great Barrier Reef Tours?

In general, the lowest windy months are best. These are typically April/May and October/November. Traveling to the Great Barrier Reef during this time will make your journey to and from the reef as comfortable as possible. Generally, the peak tourism time for visiting the Great Barrier Reef are June, July, August and then December and January of each year. The busy tourist season coincides with the Australian school holidays. The rainy season of December, January, February, and March can often bring rain and heavy thunderstorms, although sea conditions can be very calm and flat with warm water temperatures usually around 28 degrees. All tour companies operate 365 days per year.

What Dangers are there?

In general, there are minimal dangers enjoying a Great Barrier Reef Tour. Probably the highest danger is the sun! Sun protection is a must all year round with most companies providing lycra suits for sun protection and from jellyfish. In general, all areas of the Great Barrier Reef are affected by Jellyfish in the warmer summer months. There is only a hand full of Jellyfish that are dangerous to humans and these generally live on the coast next to the mainland beaches. In saying that all reef tour operators advise to where the stinger/lycra suits for added protection during these hot humid rainy months.

Can I take my children to the Reef?

Yes! There are fantastic Great Barrier Reef Tours for families with children. Whether you can all swim or not generally speaking visiting one of the Islands or floating pontoons/platforms is the best way to go if you have a family. All pontoon companies offer family rates which in general means the 2nd child travels free.

How do I choose a Great Barrier Reef Tour?

This can be tough, mainly because of all the different options available. But that also means you can choose the perfect option to suit you and your family. In general, if you are a great swimmer, love the water and have tried and would like to try snorkeling, choose one of the many outer reef day boats. If you have children or perhaps do not wish to swim so much but would still like to see as much of the Great Barrier Reef as you can choose one of the outer reef pontoons/floating platforms. If you are definite non-swimmer and only want to spend half a day on the reef, you should then visit Green Island or Fitzroy Island.

Conclusion:

All Great Barrier Reef Tours offer a great way to visit and explore this magnificent reef system. Choosing one can be a bit tricky so if you are stuck for ideas or needs some suggestions please contact our reservations team on PH: +61 7 40411635 or email reservations@cairnsdiveadventures.com

Lady enjoying the water-slide at Moore Reef.

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.
Silverswift At The 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.
Evolution Dive Boat Cairns

Down Under Dive: Evolution

Well priced Great Barrier Reef day tour, including BBQ lunch. 5 hours on the reef at 2 reef sites. Introductory and certified diving are available at extra cost. Brand new boat.
ReefQuest

Deep Sea Divers Den: Aqua 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.
Reef Magic Outer Reef Scuba Diving

Reef Magic Cruises

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.
Great Adventures Green Island & Reef Package

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.
The Passions of Paradise boat Cairns Australia

Passions Of Paradise

Australian Tourism Award Winner. Daily dive / snorkel trips to Michaelmas Cay & Paradise Reef on 25m sailing catamaran. Free scuba demonstration & guided snorkel tour. Hot / cold buffet lunch.
Fully inclusive Great Barrier Reef day tours with Reef Experience

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.
Ocean Freedom the quickest Great Barrier Reef day tour dive in Cairns

Ocean Freedom Cruise

Locally owned & operated. 5 star service. Up to 6 hours snorkel / dive time at 2 Great Barrier Reef locations. Best reef tour lunch in town. Friendly crew, glass bottom boat tour & much more.
Great Adventures Day Boat

Great Adventures: Outer Reef Pontoon

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.

Silversonic Dive & Snorkel

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.

Ocean Spirit Cruises Cairns

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.
Poseidon Dive Boat with Divers

Poseidon Snorkel and Dive

Poseidon provides daily tours from Port Douglas to the Agincourt Ribbon Reefs, visiting three (3) separate reef sites. Suitable for scuba divers and snorkelers. Great passenger to crew ratio.
Quicksilver Cruises Boat from Port Douglas

Quicksilver Outer Great Barrier Reef Cruises

The Ultimate Great Barrier Reef Cruise - Quicksilver Cruises provides the only Port Douglas Great Barrier Reef pontoon tour, departing Marina Mirage daily. Can snorkel and dive, Semi-Submarines & Underwater Observatory.
Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel Reef Boat

Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel Cruises

Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel offers a great value for money option that spends 5 hours at a beautiful reef location. Free guided snorkel tour, glass bottom boat tour and marine presentation.

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Cairns Reef Information

Click the links below to find out more.

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.

Special

FREE UNDERWATER CAMERA HIRE*

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.