Diving and Snorkelling

Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and whether you want to dive, snorkel, or just take in the atmosphere, there is a trip out there for you.

The Reef out of Cairns is only accessible by boat. Some of the smaller boats (or sailing boats) can take as long as 3 hours to reach their destination. So bear that in mind if you are prone to sea sickness!


If you are a non diver you may wish to try snorkelling. All the day trip vessels offer fantastic snorkel spots and provide the equipment necessary to have a great time. Some offer snorkel tours or guides (Great Adventures, Tusa etc). You don’t have to be a great swimmer, but you must be competent in the water.

Many boats moor up close to the Reef and you enter he water off a platform at the back of the boat. Others visit sand cays (small islands) or pontoons (Great Adventures) that allow easy access to the water by simply walking in!

Most of the marine life is only a few meters below the surface and so you get to see the brilliance of the colours, and diversity of fish life an arm’s reach away.

Day trip boats all cater for snorkelers and so do some of the live aboard boats that run to the Inner or Outer Reef areas local to Cairns. The live aboard boats that run to the Cod Hole and Coral Sea do accommodate snorkelers, but some of the sites may be more suited to diving.

Certified Diving

For those that are certified or would like to try diving for the first time, all of the boats on this site cater for divers. You have the option of day trips or live aboard vessels.

Smaller boats tend to visit the inner reef areas such as Fitzroy Island, Green Island, Michaelmas Cay etc, whilst others such as Silverswift, Reef Quest, Tusa etc have faster vessels that can reach the Outer Reef areas where the diving is considered better.

For certified divers you will need to show your certification card and log book when checking in. If you haven’t dived for over 6 months one of the instructors may just do a quick skills check at the start of the first dive with you, to make sure you feel confident in the water. If it has been a few years, you may choose to go with a guide (if available) or tag along with the introductory divers.

There are a variety of sites to suit all levels of diver. Most on the day trip boats average around 12m and are around 35 mins duration. Up to 3 dives a day are available on most boats.

All equipment is provided and you may get discount of you bring all your own gear. Guided dives are usually a little extra.

Introductory Diving

Introductory diving (sometimes called Discover Scuba Diving, or Resort Diving) is for those who have not completed a dive course and want to try it with an Instructor. Introductory dives are carried out on shallow water (no more than 12 meters) in a group of no more than 4 people per instructor.

You don’t even have to be able to swim – but it helps! As long as you are over 15 years old and can satisfy the medical questionnaire, you should be able to dive. Some conditions like asthma, epilepsy etc may prevent you from diving, so please check the medical questionnaire below, drop us a line, or better still ask your doctor at home. We would hate for you to be disappointed.

You will first fill out some paperwork (liability releases and medical declaration) then sit through a short (about 10 mins) briefing covering basic diving theory and equipment.

Once completed it’s onto the dive itself! Some boats start in shallow water on a sand cay or island, others a platform off the back of the boat. Either way you will first perform a few basic skills to make sure you feel comfortable, then off for a dive with the instructor. This usually lasts around 30 mins or so.

Please note that you should wait 24 hours before flying after diving, so please make sure you leave enough time in your schedule.

(Introductory dives are normally dived on day trips, but there are options for a dive package on live aboard vessels. 5 intro dives over a 3 day 2 night boat trip. Contact Us for details.)

Please download Introductory Diving Medical form