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Customize your visit to the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns with your selection from three travel options with a choice of snorkeling, scuba diving and a one-way or round-trip scenic helicopter tour. Admire views of the Great Barrier Reef from your helicopter as you get a multi-angled perspective on one of the world’s top natural wonders. Then enjoy a close experience of the coral reef by choosing to snorkel or enroll in an optional scuba diving course (additional expense).

Highlights

  • Half-day or full-day guided Great Barrier Reef tour by helicopter and boat
  • Snorkel, swim or scuba dive with expert guides at exclusive locations on one of the most famous coral reefs in the world
  • Marvel at aerial views of the Great Barrier Reef during a 25-minute helicopter flight
  • Learn from informative commentary during your helicopter flight and boat cruise
  • Maximum of 6 passengers permitted per helicopter

Recent Photos of This Tour

What You Can Expect

Great Barrier Reef Scenic Helicopter Tour and Cruise from Cairns

Great Barrier Reef Scenic Helicopter Tour and Cruise from Cairns

Choose from three options for your Great Barrier Reef experience (please see details under Itinerary below). Helicopters land at Hastings Reef floating helicopter pad, with transfer from there to a high-speed 100-foot (30-meter) vessel that holds a maximum of 100 people.

Eighteen expert guides lead activities, assist with snorkel or scuba diving equipment, and provide instruction to both newcomers and experienced participants. Even non-swimmers can get in the water with flotation devices and see the reef

Optional activities include scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s top dive locations! A complimentary 10-minute SCUBA lesson is provided before purchase of the introductory dive course. (Available only on the morning boat cruise). The full-day excursion has time for a total of three dives at two different locations for already certified scuba divers. The dives can be booked on the boat, and dive gear and dive computers are provided.

Your guides choose from 12 exclusive moorings at six locations for the best possible experience on the day of your tour. Generally, the boat visits one of the true Outer Great Barrier Reef locations (Saxon Reef) in the morning. The afternoon features North Hastings Reef for snorkeling and helicopter flight connections.

A tasty Australian barbecue buffet lunch is served on the boat. The spread may include fresh fish, sausages, steak, salads and pastas. At the end of your tour, return to the mainland by boat or helicopter, depending on the tour you choose.

Itinerary

Helicopter-Cruise Reef Tour (4 hours)
Fly by helicopter to the Outer Great Barrier Reef, have lunch and enjoy two hours of snorkeling and swimming, then cruise by boat back to Cairns. Departs Cairns at 12:40pm and return at approximately 4:45pm. Hotel pick-ups commence between 30-60 minutes prior to this time.

Cruise-Helicopter Reef Tour (6.5 hours) - If you will be scuba diving, you MUST choose this option during the booking process

This option gives you the most time on the Great Barrier Reef! Depart by boat from Cairns and enjoy five hours of snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming, plus the barbecue lunch. If you take the boat in the morning, when you arrive at the reef you stop at two prime locations to see multi-colored coral gardens and schools of fish. In the afternoon, transfer to the helicopter pad for your return flight to Cairns. Departs Cairns at 8:30am and returns at approximately 3pm. Hotel pick-ups commence between 30-60 minutes prior to this time.

Round-trip Helicopter Reef Tour (3 hours)
Fly by helicopter to the Outer Great Barrier Reef, enjoy one and a half hours for lunch and your snorkeling, swimming then depart by helicopter for Cairns. Departs Cairns at 12:40pm and returns to Cairns at approximately 3pm. Hotel pick-ups commence between 30-60 minutes prior to this time.

Customer Reviews

louise l

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2016

Boat was comfortable. Food was great. Helicopter over the reef was amazing.

Mark Q

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2016

most expensive tour for our trip but worth doing it, great fun, program well covered from the sun to the sea, signature tour for short stay in Cairns

Cynthia S T

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2016

I would recommend the Helicopter Tour to everyone!! It was the most amazing experience to see the reef from the air. In retrospect, the catamaran return was nice but would have preferred to return on the helicopter because the view was so amazing.

Maria D

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2016

This tour was amazing and very well organized! Will recomend this to everyone who wants to do a tour of the GBR. Boat was big and new, bbq lunch was very decent. The reefs that we went to were beautiful! And all staff were professional, helpful and friendy. No hassles at all.

Travis C

5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2016

The helicopter ride over the reef was incredible. It was well-guided, very smooth ride, and the landing on the wooden dock near the reefs was exciting.

The views from the reef are magnificent. The water was unusually choppy the day I went, which made swimming and accessing the reef fully a challenging proposition. I also felt the water was a tad overcrowded, which meant frequent collisions with nearby snorkelers. All in all, for what I paid and making the most of the challenging weather, it was a great experience to see the famed reef

The boat ride back was comfy, and the staff were excellent

chris

5 star rating: Highly Recommended May 2016

I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone. The whole trip from loading on the helicopter to the safety briefing and snorkelling on the boat to the boat ride back to the reef terminal was run very professionally and by a group of pleasant and friendly people

Christine S Australia

5 star rating: Highly Recommended May 2016

Well organised tour. Fantastic experience from the helicopter to snorkelling to food and the boat ride back. I would recommend this tour to family and friends

Betty J R Canada

5 star rating: Highly Recommended April 2016

This Cruise out and Heli back tour was everything we had hoped for. The staff and crew were all so helpful and attentive. The BBQ lunch was great and we recommend this full day tour to everyone.

russ United Kingdom

5 star rating: Highly Recommended March 2016

The boat is huge! And new. With 120 pasengers you would have thought it would be too big. Nope! The whole day was run with military precision. Everyone gets allocated their kit and a pigeon hole to put the stuff in. There are plenty of seats for all and lunch was really well organised and heaps of it.
The safety breifings were very good indeed: for novices, snorkellers, intro divers and certified divers. Each group was taken care of at the appropriate level. Whatever you could do, they did it!
For novices there were floating aids and the marine biologist tour allowed for them too. The back of the boat lowers for easy access in and out of the water.
The crew were smartly dressed and each of them very knowledgeable.
There is a professioanl photographer on board and you can buy pictures from their shop by the Reef Terminal later on. However you could take your own pictures - and this seemed to be encouraged.
There was a glass-bottomed boat tour but I opted for a transfer home by helicopter so couldn't fit it in.
The helicopter was actually a bit boring as the Reef from above isn't much to see that hasn't been seen on a postcard - the whole Reef thing is being there and doing it. So worth it only if you like helicopters.
Scuba or snorkel? I have to say the boat picked such good spots on the reef that just snorkelling gave you brilliant views and would be adequate. Diving just meant you could go deep and explore more. I think you can buy intro diving sessions on board.
I have done other Reef tours and this tour stands out to be the best by a long shot: reef views, organisation, friendliness, the food, the boat, the kit.
Definitely go for the longest stay option as you'll want to keep dropping in for another smorkel every few minutes.
Oh, and Australian money is waterproof which makes it so much easier to pay for things on board.

Candace J

5 star rating: Highly Recommended February 2016

The Reef was amazing! The boat was extremely nice along with the staff, gear and snorkeling. Lunch was great. The ride home in the helicopter was not 25 minutes- more like 15 minutes. We arrived so early that we had to wait 15 minutes for our shuttles that were taking us back to our hotel to show up.

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