Great Barrier Reef Tours

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Encompassing roughly 3,000 individual reefs and dotted with almost 900 islands and coral cays (small sandy isles), Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most unforgettable natural treasures. Snorkelers and certified divers often place the reef at the top of their bucket lists due to the unparalleled array of marine life in its underwater world, ranging from thousands of different varieties of fish, birds, and clams to hundreds of types of birds, seaweed, and turtles. And with experts expecting much of this diversity to dwindle in the next decade, there’s never been a better reason to plan a visit to this natural wonder.


Popular Great Barrier Reef Activities

Snorkeling and scuba diving are the most popular activities; the water is at its clearest from April to October and most snorkeling tours include the use of equipment. Savvy visitors make their trip into an educational opportunity by getting their PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certificate. Keep in mind that strenuous in-water activities are not recommended for those with medical conditions affecting the heart or lungs.


Don’t want to get wet? The sheer enormity of this UNESCO World Heritage Site makes it worth experiencing out of the water as well. Some barrier reef cruises feature afternoon tea or take place on a glass bottom boat rather than a catamaran, suitable for those who would like a more relaxed reef experience. And if you’re short on time, scenic helicopter flights offer the full-picture perspective on the immensity of this remarkable ecosystem, which makes up the world’s largest coral reef.


Insider Tip

Staying in Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands, can allow you to see the area without having to pay the steep price of luxury island resorts.


Great Barrier Reef Attractions

Seeing the huge Great Barrier Reef could take weeks, but there are a few landmarks and highlights that are must-sees. Saxon, Hastings, and Norman reefs in the outer Great Barrier Reef are top scuba diving and snorkeling spots, while Hamilton Island, Green Island, and Fitzroy Island are some of the most popular day trip destinations for reef tours. And visits to nearby Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park and the Daintree Rainforest, both located on the mainland outside Cairns, are easy to add onto your Great Barrier Reef exploration. A trip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway or Skyrail Rainforest Cableway can provide a unique view and be combined with a reef cruise.

How to Get There

Scuba diving excursions, snorkeling trips, and reef cruises all depart from Cairns, Cape Tribulation, Port Douglas, or Townsville. The reef runs 1,426 miles (2,300 km) from Bundaberg to the country’s northernmost tip, coming closest to the continent right around Queensland.

Location
Address: Pier Marina, Pier Point Road, Cairns, Tropical North 4870, Australia
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Admission: Free
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9 Tours & Activities to Experience

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Great Barrier Reef Diving and Snorkeling Cruise from Cairns

If snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef is on your bucket list, don’t miss this day trip from Cairns. You’ll spend five hours at two different locations on the barrier reef for the chance to see tropical marine life in the clear waters. Lunch is included on board the boat, and you have the option to upgrade to include additional adventures such as introductory or certified scuba diving or a helicopter flight over this UNESCO World Heritage site. Both water sports enthusiasts and novices are welcome!
  • Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes
From
US$120.94
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  • Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes
From
US$120.94

Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Explore the Great Barrier Reef and a lush island rain forest on this full-day catamaran tour to Green Island from Cairns. Create your own perfect day on this protected coral cay with a variety of activities including snorkeling, scuba diving, Seawalking, nature walks and tours on a glass-bottom boat or semi-submarine. Upgrade to include a delicious buffet lunch on board the catamaran and hotel pickup and drop-off from Cairns. It’s a fantastic way to discover the underwater wonders of the world’s most famous reef!
  • Duration: 8 hours
From
US$71.10
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  • Duration: 8 hours
From
US$71.10

Great Barrier Reef Luxury Snorkel and Dive Cruise from Cairns

Spend six hours on the Great Barrier Reef at two different snorkel and dive sites on this luxury catamaran cruise from Cairns. Travel in style aboard a comfortable catamaran to a mooring off of Upolu Cay. Take a glass–bottom boat to Upolu Cay, then have time to snorkel or scuba dive. Refuel with a buffet lunch on board the catamaran before heading to your next destination, Upolu Reef, for more water time, including a guided snorkeling tour.
  • Duration: 9 hours
From
US$157.59
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  • Duration: 9 hours
From
US$157.59

Cairns Super Saver: Great Barrier Reef Cruise plus Kuranda Scenic Railway plus Cape Tribulation Day Trip

From the Great Barrier Reef to the Daintree Rainforest, experience the best of tropical north Queensland on this Cairns Super Saver that combines three bestselling tours at one discounted price. Over three days, enjoy a snorkeling and scuba diving cruise on the barrier reef; ride the Kuranda Scenic Railway to admire views of the lush rainforest environment; and take a day trip to Cape Tribulation to see koalas and kangaroos at Wildlife Habitat and enjoy a boat ride on the Daintree River.
  • Duration: 3 days
From
US$312.24
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  • Duration: 3 days
From
US$312.24

Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Explore the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef on a full-day tour to Fitzroy Island. After arriving from Cairns on a fast ferry, have free time to do what you choose: snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, lounge on the white-sand beach or see the coral from a glass-bottom boat. Upgrade to add the Activity Pass, which provides a picnic lunch, snorkeling gear, stinger suit, a glass-bottom boat tour, the use of stand-up paddle boards, paddle skis and a floating trampoline.
  • Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes
From
US$61.57
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  • Duration: 8 hours 30 minutes
From
US$61.57

Silverswift Outer Great Barrier Reef Dive and Snorkel Cruise from Cairns

Dive into the spectacular underwater realm of the Great Barrier Reef on this full-day snorkel and scuba cruise from Cairns. Travel aboard a luxurious catamaran to three renowned dive sites to swim among coral gardens and tropical marine life. All experience levels are welcome, and guides are on hand to assist with your choice of snorkeling, introductory scuba diving, or certified diving. A buffet lunch plus morning and afternoon tea on the catamaran are included.
  • Duration: 10 hours
From
US$166.02
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  • Duration: 10 hours
From
US$166.02

Sunlover Reef Cruises Outer Great Barrier Reef Cruise from Cairns

Enjoy the natural delights of the Great Barrier Reef on an activity cruise from Cairns that gives you several ways to experience this renowned underwater world. After traveling by catamaran to a pontoon moored on the reef, you can observe marine life on a glass-bottom boat or semi-submersible vessel; go snorkeling to spot sea turtles; get your hands wet in the touch pool; upgrade to include a Seawalker Helmet dive; or upgrade to include an introductory or certified scuba dive. Snacks and a buffet lunch are included, and the pontoon is equipped with showers.
  • Duration: 8 hours
From
US$167.85
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  • Duration: 8 hours
From
US$167.85

Learn to Scuba Dive on the Great Barrier Reef: 4-Day PADI Open Water Dive Course

Learn to scuba dive in one of the world's top locations for underwater wonders: Cairns, Australia and the Great Barrier Reef. Your professional and friendly instructors lead a 4-day PADI Open Water dive course for your small group limited to eight people. You'll gradually learn the skills you need to scuba dive and earn the internationally recognized PADI certification. Practice basic scuba skills in the classroom, a swimming pool, and on confined water dives, then discover the Great Barrier Reef on open-water dives. Hotel transfers are included each day.
  • Duration: 4 days
From
US$454.44
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  • Duration: 4 days
From
US$454.44

Green Island Sailing Cruise from Cairns

Sail on a two-masted schooner from Cairns to Green Island for a full day of snorkeling, swimming and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Have a choice of options for exploring Green Island, spending time in the water around the magnificent coral reefs, walking in the rainforest or lazing on the white sandy beaches. Enjoy the expertise of the superb crew, in addition to buffet lunch, morning and afternoon tea and a glass of sparkling wine as you cruise back to Cairns.
  • Duration: 9 hours
From
US$157.59
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  • Duration: 9 hours
From
US$157.59


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