Cairns - Outer Great Barrier Reef

Cairns - Outer Great Barrier Reef

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Cairns Reef Day Dive Trips

Cairns Great Barrier Reef day dive trips are a fantastic way to experience the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.  We know.  Dive in Australia’s Steve Brady has done over 600 dives in the waters off Cairns, covering the dive sites from the islands, to the Outer Great Barrier Reef, Ribbon Reefs and Coral Sea

Cairns is one of the closest mainland points to the Great Barrier Reef, and the only place on earth where two natural world heritage listed wonders (Reef and Rainforest) exist side by side. This is the destination of choice for international and domestic travelers, wanting the very best reef experience.

Cairns is located on Queensland’s north eastern coastline. It is the most far northern city for the state and offers visitors a plethora of tourism experiences, covering reef, rainforest, islands, sand cays, adventure tours, day spas and more.  Cairns reef day dive trips depart each and every day and the variety is such that you can tailor a trip to suit your itinerary, budget and experience levels.

Certified divers have a wide variety of Cairns reef day dive trips to choose from.  Most visit one of the many reefs located on what is known as the Outer Great Barrier Reef.  Some visit tropical islands and sand cays and some combine both of these in their daily itinerary. 

Introductory divers (people wanting to try diving for the first time, but have no experience or certification) can book an introductory dive on most Cairns reef day dive trips.  All equipment, instruction and guides are included in the package price.  You would go no deeper than 10m and introductory dives last anywhere from 20 minutes to 30 minutes.

When is the best time to visit? Diving the Great Barrier Reef is perfect all year round! Water temperatures vary from 22 to 29 degrees (Celsius) and operators provide wet and lycra suits to divers on all Cairns reef day dive trips. 

Cairns Reef Day Dive Trip Destinations

Cairns offers divers the greatest variety of destinations, when it comes to choosing a reef day dive trip destination.  This enables you to pick a tour which suits your interest, experience and budget.  It also offers a range of liveaboard dive trips; please see relevant section on this site for more information.

Generally, the Cairns reef day dive trip destinations can be categorised as Outer Great Barrier Reef, sand cays or islands.  I’ve done them all and can provide personal advice, tailored to your experience, needs and certification, to deliver the very best Great Barrier Reef dive experience for you.

Cairns Outer Great Barrier Reef

Cairns Outer Great Barrier Reef is comprised of several different reef systems and a multitude of individual dive sites.  The reefs include, but are not limited to, Saxon, Hastings, Michaelmas, Milln, Moore and Thetford Reefs.  They are all a part of the Great Barrier Reef system and Marine Park.  These reefs are approximately 60km offshore. Travel time varies from 60 minutes to 2 hours, pending operator and boat. Water / dive depth varies from 5m to 20m, but does not usually exceed 18m, making this destination perfect for those with an Open Water Certification.  It is all open water diving with boat entry. 

Most of the Cairns reef day dive tours offer guided diving only, but some do offer the choice of unguided; we can provide advice and assistance on this.  Cairns dive day boats include catamarans and sailing ships.  What can you expect to see? An amazing array of colourful corals and marine life.  Highlights may include turtles, clownfish (nemo), Maori Wrasse, parrotfish and more.  Cairns reef day dive trips to the Outer Great Barrier Reef depart daily.  The number of passengers, dive sites and time at sea varies from boat to boat and we’re happy to provide our expert advice on the best trip and boat for you.

Great Barrier Reef Sand Cays

There’s a few Great Barrier Reef sand cays off Cairns, which are popular destinations for many of the reef day tour boats.  These include, but are not limited to, Michealmas Cay and Upolu Cay. These trips usually combine a visit to the sand cay with at least one Outer Great Barrier Reef site and are really suitable for divers travelling with snorkelers or non-diving companions. Why? Non divers will enjoy the excellent snorkeling and chance to relax on the sand and visit the surrounding coral gardens.  The water visibility for diving around sand cays is generally not as good as on the Outer Great Barrier Reef sites, but there’s still lots to see including giant clams, turtles and more.  Water / dive depth varies anywhere from 5m to 18m; the water temperature varies between 22-29 degrees. All Cairns reef day tour operators provide wetsuits / lycra suits for divers. 

Great Barrier Reef Islands

There’s two Great Barrier Reef islands off Cairns that are visited by the day boats, Green Island and Fitzroy Island.  Both offer diving opportunities for certified and introductory divers.  The waters are relatively shallow and visibility varies according to time and weather.  You can expect the visibility to not be as good here as on the Outer Great Barrier Reef dive sites.  Operators provide wetsuits / lycra suits for divers.

Cairns Reef Day Dive Trips

Cairns reef day dive trips depart each and every day of the year (excluding unforeseen weather events, such as particularly strong winds and/or cyclones).  Exact departure times vary from boat to boat. All boats depart from Cairns Marlin Marina.  Check-in may be at the Reef Fleet Terminal or at the boat, pending operator, and inclusions, itinerary and destinations all vary. 

Cairns Reef Day Dive Trips versus Liveaboard Trips

Cairns reef day dive trips generally allow / provide up to a maximum of three (3) dives per trip, per day.  If your itinerary and budget allow it, then you might want to consider booking a liveaboard trip, to maximize your dive time on the Great Barrier Reef.

There’s many benefits to a liveaboard trip, including but not limited to: more dives, night dives, accommodation and meals included; more dive variety.  There’s a range of liveaboard dive trips departing Cairns each day, visiting a variety of destinations, from those mentioned above to the Ribbon Reefs, including Cod Hole and Osprey Reef with its shark diving.  Check our liveaboard page for more information.

Booking a Cairns Reef Day Dive Trip

Dive in Australia is pleased to provide an easy booking service for all Cairns reef day dive trips and you can save money with no booking or credit card fees.  We have visited and dived all of these great locations.  We offer first-hand experience and advice, choosing the operator and destination to best suit your experience and itinerary.  Products are listed on this site for your convenience, or contact us today on +61 499 464 007

Cairns Reef Day Dive Trips – Dive Guide – The Facts at a Glance

  • Reefs: Outer Great Barrier Reef
  • Depth: Cairns to Port Douglas - 5mtrs to 20mtrs
  • Currents: Low but can be moderate at times
  • Dive Experience: Coral Gardens, Isolated Bombes of Coral, Wall Diving, Drift Diving and  Coral Swim Throughs
  • Marine Life: Both Pelagic and Macro life
  • Diver Level: Suitable to novice to experienced divers
  • Dive Guides: Majority of day boats insist on guided dives,  although some will allow more experienced divers in buddy pairs to dive unguided
  •  Dive Briefings: The operators provide very detailed dive site briefings, highlighting specific coral formations, compass bearings and marine highlights of the dive site

Photo/Video - If you don’t have your own underwater camera they are available for hire