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Reef Encounter – Liveaboard Trips

Multi-Day Trips | Operates: Weekly | Departs: 7.30am | Transfers available: Yes, available at extra cost

Reef Encounter offers 2-3-4 day trips from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef. These trips are suitable for snorkelers and divers (for more information on these activities, please see below tabs) and there’s a range of options available to suit all budgets and itineraries. What’s the benefit of a liveaboard trip? You get to spend more time on the Great Barrier Reef, exploring different sites. You also get to enjoy sunrise and sunset and the opportunity for night and early morning diving / snorkelling.

There are daily departures available for all of the liveaboard options on Reef Encounter. This is thanks to their day boat, Reef Experience, which provides fast and comfortable transfers from Cairns to Reef Encounter, which is pretty much permanently located on the reef. This makes this liveaboard option very itinerary friendly.

Reef Encounter is a large, spacious boat with 21 cabins, a combination of double, twin-share and stateroom, accommodating up to 42 guests. All cabins are air-conditioned and have their own ensuite facilities: linen is provided. The boat makes its own supply of freshwater, which means you can enjoy long hot showers at the end of your day of play on the Great Barrier Reef. There’s an air-conditioned dining saloon, bar and lounge (including a fully licensed bar and a TV, DVD and games area) with spacious exterior sundeck, complete with loungers and an open-air hot tub! There’s even a helipad on the roof for those wanting to book a scenic reef flight and a glass bottom boat, providing tours on demand.

The Reef Encounter trip includes cabin accommodation (all with ensuites), chef prepared meals, coffee, tea and fresh fruit throughout your stay, snorkelling equipment and instruction, free scuba lesson for snorkelers, glass bottom boat tours, reef video presentation and marine biologist presentation. Linen is provided. Reef Encounter is locally owned and operated company and they move around the reef, allowing you to see / explore several different reef sites during your liveaboard stay.

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Rate Option # Dives Price Taxes Total Deposit
2 Day/1 Night - Stateroom Certified Diving 6 $535.00 $30.00 $565.00 $107.00
2 Day/1 Night - Stateroom (Top Deck Service) Certified Diving 6 $875.00 $30.00 $905.00 $175.00
3 Day/2 Night - Stateroom Certified Diving 10 $805.00 $45.00 $850.00 $161.00
3 Day/2 Night - Stateroom (Top Deck Service) Certified Diving 10 $1,350.00 $45.00 $1,395.00 $270.00
4 Day/3 Night - Stateroom Certified Diving 14 $1,075.00 $45.00 $1,120.00 $215.00
5 Day/4 Night - Stateroom Certified Diving 18 $1,345.00 $45.00 $1,390.00 $269.00
2 Day/1 Night - Multi Share Certified Diving 6 $455.00 $30.00 $485.00 $91.00
3 Day/2 Night - Multi Share Certified Diving 10 $670.00 $45.00 $715.00 $134.00
4 Day/3 Night - Multi Share Certified Diving 14 $885.00 $45.00 $930.00 $177.00
2 Day/1 Night - Stateroom Introductory Diving 5 $670.00 $30.00 $700.00 $134.00
3 Day/2 Night - Stateroom Introductory Diving 8 $1,040.00 $45.00 $1,085.00 $208.00
2 Day/1 Night - Multi Share Introductory Diving 5 $575.00 $30.00 $605.00 $115.00
3 Day/2 Night - Multi Share Introductory Diving 8 $865.00 $45.00 $910.00 $173.00
2 Day/1 Night - Stateroom Snorkeling - $440.00 $30.00 $470.00 $88.00
3 Day/2 Night - Stateroom Snorkeling - $660.00 $45.00 $705.00 $132.00
3 Day/2 Night - Stateroom (Top Deck Service) Snorkeling - $1,190.00 $45.00 $1,235.00 $238.00
4 Day/3 Night - Stateroom Snorkeling - $880.00 $45.00 $925.00 $176.00
5 Day/4 Night - Stateroom Snorkeling - $1,100.00 $45.00 $1,145.00 $220.00
2 Day/1 Night - Multi Share Snorkeling - $360.00 $30.00 $390.00 $72.00
3 Day/2 Night - Multi Share Snorkeling - $550.00 $45.00 $595.00 $110.00
4 Day/3 Night - Multi Share Snorkeling - $740.00 $45.00 $785.00 $148.00
2 Day/1 - Night Referral Dive Package TWIN Share Stateroom (4 Referral Dives) Dive Course 4 $680.00 $30.00 $710.00 $136.00
3 Day/2 - Night Referral Dive Package TWIN Share Stateroom (4 Referral Dives, 3 Cert, 1 Night Dive) Dive Course 8 $950.00 $45.00 $995.00 $190.00
Personalized Open Water Course (3-Day/2-Night TWIN Bed Stateroom Includes 8 x Day Dives) Dive Course 8 $1,016.00 $45.00 $1,061.00 $203.20
4 Day/3 Night - Stateroom + SSI Advanced Course Dive Course 14 $1,225.00 $45.00 $1,270.00 $245.00

Price Valid to 31st MARCH 2020

Blackout dates – Reef Encounter will be out of the water on Annual Boat Maintenance – Friday 01 May 2020 through Sunday 14 June 2020 inclusive. 


STATEROOM: One large double bed in the room good for a couple to sleep together or it can also be two single beds in the one room. Leave a note in the booking form if you would like the Double Bed or TWIN Beds.

MULTI SHARE ROOM: Three single beds in the room good for friends. Everyone needs to be over the age of 18 years old to go in the Multishare room.

NOTE: If you are a solo traveller book the TWIN room Stateroom or the Multishare Room you will share with someone else.
NOTE: If you are a solo traveller and would like the Double Bed in the Stateroom they do charge for 2 x people.

TOP DECK SERVICE: are a Deluxe TWIN Bed or Deluxe DOUBLE Bed Stateroom with Champagne on arrival, Breakfast served in your room, Sunset Cocktails, Turndown Service, Romantic Dinners under the stars (weather permitting), Personal snorkel/dive guide available at all times. Top Deck includes the wetsuit hire as well. Leave a note in the booking form if you would like the DOUBLE Bed or TWIN Beds. Minimum of 2 x Adults travelling together.

Inclusions: Transfers to and from the reef aboard Reef Experience (Reef Experience takes you over to the mothership Reef Encounter), Accommodation on Reef Encounter, All meals and light refreshments, Freshwater showers, Snorkelling equipment and instruction, Glass Bottom Boat Tours, Reef Video Presentation, Marine Biologist Presentation. [Diving equipment and briefings is included when booking a Diving Package]. Also includes bed linen and towels.

Extras: An additional $15 per person, per day (maximum of 3 days – $45 per person) is charged and payable onboard the boat. This is comprised of $3.50 Environmental Management Costs, Administration Charges and Fuel Levy.

Extras: Wetsuits you hire on board for $5.00 per day. You can also hire prescription masks on board the boat for $10.00 per day.

Medical: You must be medically fit with no asthma and not taking any prescription medication to try any form of scuba diving. Please note Reef Encounter has a strict no refund policy on any dives not completed.

Cancelations and Changes: Reef Encounter have a strict 30-Day Cancelation policy. You can loose 100% of the booking price if you cancel your trip within 30-Days of Travel. If you need to change your trip or cancel you need to give more than 30 days notice!

Note: All Certified dives are unguided, this gives you the freedom to dive in your own buddy pairs and explore the Great Barrier Reef. If you would like a dive guide they do charge $15.00 per person per dive. You can organize this on the boat.

X-Mass Surcharge: Reef Encounter charge an extra $100 per booking per person for bookings placed 23rd thru 31st December Each Year.

Prices are shown in Australian dollars and include GST. Prices subject to change without notice.

As the Reef Encounter liveaboard trip can be booked as 2-3-4 day tour (price varies – see prices tab for detailed breakdown), we will prepare a sample itinerary based on a three (3) day tour. If you are booking a two (2) day liveaboard trip, just omit the middle day and if you are booking are four (4) day trip, just repeat the middle day. For ease of reading, highlights are provided at the start of each day, with more detailed information provided should you be interested. Please note itineraries may vary, pending weather and conditions: the information below is based on a standard trip. Please contact us for more information.

DAY 1. Highlights: Departing Cairns and arriving at the Great Barrier Reef. Settling into your comfortable cabin aboard Reef Encounter and having your first reef experience. Sunset and sleeping on the Coral Sea.

MORE DETAIL: Your Reef Encounter experience commences with a transfer from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef, aboard their day tour boat Reef Experience. Reef Experience is moored at A-Finger on Cairns’ Marlin Marina and boarding is from 7.30am with a cooked breakfast served on board. (Bus transfers to and from your accommodation is available if needed: this is an additional cost to the tour, ask us for more information at the time of booking.) The boat departs Cairns at 8am to commence its 90-minute cruise to the Great Barrier Reef and Reef Encounter.

Reef Experience is a 24m catamaran that’s licensed to carry up to 140 guests. There’s plenty of seating and it’s a comfortable transfer. On arrival at Reef Encounter you are welcomed aboard by the friendly crew and given a briefing of the boat and allocated your cabin.

From here for the rest of the day there is a schedule of water sessions for divers and snorkelers. The first session is snorkel only at 10.30am. Lunch is served at noon and divers (certified and introductory) have a dive briefing at 1pm.? The first dive of the day is at 1.30pm. The second dive is at 3.30pm with the final dive of the day, a night dive, after dinner at 6.30pm.

Reef Encounter will visit several different sites during your stay, moving around the Great Barrier Reef. Once all in-water activities for the day are complete, you can relax in the air-conditioned saloon or star gaze on the exterior decks, grab a drink from the licensed bar or just retire to your cabin.

DAY 2. Highlights: Waking up on the Great Barrier Reef and watching the sun rise over the Coral Sea (spectacular!), chance for an early morning dive / swim and snorkelers can try a scuba dive today (included in tour cost). Sunset over the Coral Sea.

MORE DETAIL: Today you spend the whole day playing on the Great Barrier Reef. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will all be served aboard Reef Encounter in the dining room, at scheduled times throughout the day, which are advised by the crew. There’s plenty of time to swim, snorkel and dive while still relaxing on the spacious boat.

Reef Ecnounter will move around the Great Barrier Reef during the day, allowing you to experience different reef sites. There is the option for a night dive tonight.

DAY 3. Highlights: Waking up on the Great Barrier Reef and enjoying an early morning swim / snorkel / dive. Making the most of your time at sea, before disembarking and returning to Cairns.

MORE DETAIL: Make the most of today with an early start, it really is magical watching the sun rise over the Coral Sea. Extremely peaceful and will set the tone for the rest of your day. There’s the option for an early morning water session (dive or snorkel) at 6.30am with a hot and cold breakfast being served from 7.30am.? Then it’s time to pack up your room and place luggage in the transfer station. Time for another two water sessions before lunch (8.30am and 10.30am) and your departure on Reef Experience.? In the afternoon there is time for one more snorkel or glass bottom boat tour (on Reef Experience) and you return into Cairns between 4-4.30pm.

The number of certified dives you can do, depends on the length of your trip (see below).? All equipment and briefings is included in the dive tour price.

INTRODUCTORY DIVING: This is a great opportunity to try scuba diving for the first time. No experience is necessary and if you are over 12-years of age and can pass the on-board medical, then you are right to try introductory scuba diving. This can be bought directly on the boat if you pass the medical requirements. Scuba diving will change your life and there is no better place to try it than on the Great Barrier Reef. Please Note: Night Diving Not Included!

CERTIFIED DIVING: Certified divers of all experience and certification levels will enjoy their time aboard Reef Encounter.? The boat visits several different dive sites during your stay and you can choose between guided (extra costs incurred) and unguided diving.

The dive price includes dive equipment (but not wet / lycra suits – these can be hired on board) and comprehensive dive site briefings. The maximum dive depth, due to ocean depth, is generally 20m and the number of dives you can complete depends on the length of your trip (for more details, please see below). Liveaboard trips allow for early morning and night dives. There is no solo diving on these trips. Those travelling on their own will be paired up with other divers or the Dive Crew.

Certified divers will be required to show evidence of their certification: through current dive licenses and your log book. All divers will be required to complete dive medical paperwork on board.

  • 2 day / 1 night Trips = up to 6 dives (including a night dive)
  • 3 day / 2 night Trips = up to 10 dives (including night dives)
  • 4 day / 3 night Trips = up to 14 dives (including night dives)

You do not have to complete all of the dives: you can do as many, or few, as you like.

You can fit a whole lot of snorkelling into a liveaboard trip! These trips visit several reef sites and allow you to see sunrise and sunset over the Coral Sea. Please note that liveaboard trips are completed in the open ocean (rather than being near an island or pontoon), as such, they are recommended to people who are confident swimmers that are comfortable in the open water.

The reef itself rises up to sit just metres beneath the surface, so you will have plenty of opportunity to get close to the corals and marine life. These sites are situated within the Great Barrier Reef marine park, so are relatively sheltered from strong tidal currents and waves.

All snorkelling equipment – mask, fins and snorkel – is included in the snorkel price. Wet / lycra suits can be hired on the boat. There is also the option to try introductory diving (no experience necessary) while onboard. Glass bottom boat tours are also included in the tour price.

STAYING OVERNIGHT AT THE REEF WITH BABY – REEF ENCOUNTER - Reviewed by Richard on the Friday 3rd of January 2014

For families with babies, toddlers and younger children, this is the only liveaboard option for spending a night on Cairns’ Great Barrier Reef. As well as being your only option, it’s an excellent option! The rooms are spacious enough to comfortably accommodate the port-a-cots and there are high chairs available in the dining room (ask at time of booking please). You’ll appreciate the ensuite shower and toilet facilities and the air-conditioned interior is a comfortable temperature for the little ones. They have fridges and microwaves on board to help out with cleaning bottles etc. The crew are very welcoming and helpful. An overnight trip gives Mum and Dad plenty of time to dive and snorkel, taking turns to watch the baby. An awesome family trip to the reef!... read full review

REEF ENCOUNTER DIVE REVIEW: 2 DAYS / 1 NIGHT - Reviewed by Richard on the Friday 3rd of January 2014

Reef Encounter is a boutique floating hotel on Cairns’ Great Barrier Reef. Certified divers can take up to six (6) certified dives on an overnight trip, with plenty of time to snorkel and enjoy the amenities on Reef Encounter, which includes the spa and air-conditioned lounge with TV and library. This trip is suitable for scuba divers and snorkelers with seven water sessions during the trip. The friendly crew will go out of their way to make you feel welcome and ensure you have the very best stay and experience on the Great Barrier Reef. ... read full review

3 Amazing Days on the Reef! - John Orlando

My girlfriend and I were vacationing in Australia and we have always wanted to dive the Great Barrier Reef! When we started to research our options we were overwhelmed and undereducated - That is where Clint stepped in! We found and I decided to call directly for advice. We were not certified and had never been SCUBA diving before and Clint was able to give us the perfect guidance to find exactly what we needed! We also received a free rental for an underwater camera which was a great added bonus! Clint was extremely kind and knew absolutely everything about these trips. His wisdom led us to a 'Reef Encounter' live-aboard tour where we lived on the boat for 2 nights/3 days and went on 8 daytime dives and decided to opt-in for a night dive with sharks! The food and amenities were far better than expected and everything was taken care of for us! We had a dive master with us each time we dove and couldn't have hoped for a better end to a 30 hour drive up the coast! Without Clint's help, I have no idea how I would have found the right trip. There was no extra cost to book through Cairns Dive Adventure, we got a free camera rental, and most importantly we were able to take advantage of Clint's wisdom! Thank you!!! ... travelled on 14/07/2018

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Liveaboard Snorkel Tour - Lynette

We had a wonderful time. The Reef sites we visited were astounding, our cabin was very comfortable, the food was really magnificent. Service was outstanding: we had clean cabins with fresh towels, punctual schedule, the crew was not only capable and professional but fun and friendly. The water events were well organized and very safe. We had excellent help when we needed it. It doesn't get any better than this. ... travelled on 07/05/2018

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Great Diving and Great Food on Reef Encounter - Paul Cunningham

Reef encounter was a great boat to dive from. Staff were really friendly and professional. Dive guides are optional so you can explore on your own if you like. Equipment was all modern and in good condition. ... travelled on 03/01/2014

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Free Underwater Camera Hire