Cairns diving liveaboard tours depart the city every day, some stay ‘local’ in the offshore and outer reef destinations, while some head north on journeys of discovery to the Ribbon Reefs and Osprey Reef. You can choose the destination and duration of your liveaboard trip, to suit your interests, certification level, budget and travelling companion/s. The most accessible liveaboard dive tours are the ones that stay in the reefs off Cairns. These tours can be booked anywhere from 1 night to 4 nights (and more) and include day and night dives. Generally speaking, the reef destinations visited are also suitable for snorkellers, so these Cairns liveaboard dive trips are suitable for divers travelling with non-diving family and friends. The trips to the Ribbon Reefs and Osprey Reef are recommended for more experienced divers, travelling by themselves or with certified diving companions. They range from 3, 4 and 7 nights and include day and night dives. The water is deeper – Osprey Reef has walls dropping down 2,000m – and more exposed, so there is the potential for stronger currents. We’ll give you a quick rundown on the Cairns liveaboard diving destinations below, and please note, we’re adding information to this site all the time, so bear with us as we grow our content and advice.
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Get excited! Cairns liveaboard diving tours to the Great Barrier Reef give you more time, more dives and more memories than any day tour could provide. Why? Simply because you are there longer and you get to dive at different times of the day and night and at several different locations. For us, the early morning dives are the best. You are down on the reef as the night shift clocks off and the day shift gets to work, it’s a busy time on the reef with lots to see including large schools of bumphead parrotfish. For the keen night divers, take your torch and see what you can find, sleeping parrotfish and turtles, cruising reef sharks, trevally, trout and cone snails are just the beginning. So, back to the destinations. The Cairns liveaboard trips that stay on the reefs off Cairns, cruise around the outer reef sites. Generally speaking, you will be diving at Hastings, Saxon, Norman, Thetford and/or Milln Reef, all of which have abundant coral cover and excellent marine life. The maximum depth on these reef sites rarely exceeds 18m, so Open Water certification will let you enjoy all the ‘best bits’, and they are suitable for beginner, advanced and experienced scuba divers.
The liveaboard boats headed to the Ribbon Reefs and Osprey Reefs, offer trips more suited to experienced scuba divers. They are also not particularly appropriate for non-diving companions, as the majority of reef sites visited do not provide optimum snorkelling conditions. The Ribbon Reefs are a vibrant reef system taking you up to Lizard Island. The marine life is abundant and colourful, as are the corals – a highlight is undoubtedly the world famous Cod Hole. These trips are suitable for divers with an Open Water certification and experience at diving in open water with currents and swell. Meanwhile, the Osprey Reef liveaboard trips offer deep diving adventures which are only suitable for those with an Advanced Open Water certification and above. The coral walls drop down 2,000m and there are some simply amazing dive sites, with visibility going up to 50m. A highlight of these trips is undoubtedly the shark feed dive. These trips range from 3, 4 and 7 nights and pending your choice, may include a one-way scenic flight to/or from Cairns and Lizard Island.
Liveaboard diving is the best. You get maximum time doing what you love, which is exploring the underwater world, and what better place to do it, than right here on Cairns’ Great Barrier Reef. If this is your one trip to the reef and you have the time and budget, then we highly recommend a liveaboard dive trip. We’ve done them all. They are all excellent.
Liveaboard dive trips are so exciting. Waking up on the reef, spending the day exploring its wonders with the option for night dives.
No, you don’t need to be a certified diver to do a liveaboard reef trip from Cairns. The boats that stay on the outer reefs from Cairns cater to snorkellers and divers. Some even provide dive courses, so if you want to learn to dive while you are here – and become a certified scuba diver on the Great Barrier Reef, you can do that too.
Yes, you can also do a liveaboard reef trip from Port Douglas.
Whenever you are here, is the best time to do a Cairns liveaboard reef trip. While there are some seasonal variations in regard to water temperatures, there is no one time of the year that is any better than another.
Kids can become certified Junior Open Water Divers at 10 years of age. If your child is already certified, then that’s the age. If your child is not certified and you want them to try an introductory scuba dive on the reef (no experience necessary) then they need to be 12 years old.
We genuinely want you to have the best reef experience. Making memories to last a lifetime, and seeing it from sun-up to sun-down.
The Cairns liveaboard dive tour operators all have a high commitment to ecotourism and sustainability, focussed on protecting the reef during your visit and for future generations. The liveaboard boats visit different reefs and moorings and most of the time, yours will be the only boat in the area. By the very essence of being a liveaboard dive boat, the numbers are generally small and the experience is big. If you’re a scuba diver travelling solo or with other certified divers, you can pick and choose your destination. For scuba divers travelling with non-diving companions, stick to the reefs and boats off Cairns and know that your experience will be sensational. Some boats even provide the option for certified divers to expand their levels (for example, Open Water to Advanced Open Water) or non-divers to try an introductory dive. These are trips you’ll remember forever. The days and nights you spent blowing bubbles and navigating the coral gardens of the Great Barrier Reef. For most Cairns liveaboard dive tours, you dive unguided but with Dive Masters in the water and on the boat.
© Cairns Dive Guide 2023