Cairns Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
The Great Barrier Reef is considered to be the most beautiful reef in the world so its no surprise that Cairns, with the Great Barrier Reef in it's backyard, is a major hotspot for snorkeling and scuba diving in Australia. Known worldwide for breathtaking sights of coral, an assortment of tropical fish and aquatic life, the Great Barrier Reef is the perfect location for both professional and amateur divers alike.
As a result Cairns is not short of scuba diving courses, tour operators, tutors, day trips, equipment suppliers and everything you could need to enjoy scuba diving in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. See our list below for some Cairns scuba diving companies that can help you plan you dream diving holiday, plus we have a great guide to diving in Cairns!
Cairns Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
Your 2-Day Reef and Rainforest Package Combo will take you to the two extremes of Tropical North Queensland during your stay in Cairns. Spend a day discovering the Great Barrier Reef on a cruise to Green Island. Your second day sees you exploring the rainforest with a trip on the Kuranda Scenic Rail and the Skyrail.
Explore the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef on a day trip to Green Island from Cairns, including an amazing and easy underwater experience with the Seawalker Helmet Dive! You'll go into the water with your guide and be surrounded by the colorful fish and coral of the Great Barrier Reef, all while keeping your head dry. In addition, you'll have plenty of time to see more sights when snorkeling from the beach, taking a glass-bottom boat cruise or walking in the rainforest.
Cruise to Green Island from Cairns and find a tropical paradise on the Great Barrier Reef. You'll spend either four or five hours at Green Island, with plenty of time to snorkel or scuba dive, tour the reef on a glass-bottom boat or view coral from a semi-submersible submarine.
Explore the tropical paradise of Green Island on a half day trip from Cairns. Enjoy around two hours exploring the Great Barrier Reef island with time to snorkel and take a glass-bottom boat. You can even take an optional semi-submersible submarine tour to get close to the reef without getting wet.
Not a confident swimmer, but want to experience the Great Barrier Reef? At Low Isles you can snorkel straight off the beach, enjoy coral viewing on a glass bottom boat, take a leisurely guided walk around the island or simply relax on the sandy beach. Do as much or as little as you like!
For the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience, grab an Ultimate 3-Day Great Barrier Reef Pass. Save money and see the reef from every angle on three cruises over seven days. Sail to Low Isles or Green Island, or explore the reef from below on a snorkel and scuba diving catamaran cruise to the Outer Great Barrier Reef. The Ultimate 3-Day Great Barrier Reef Cruise Pass is your great value ticket to the reef.
Customize your own Great Barrier Reef experience. Choose three cruises from the following list to make up your Great Barrier Reef pass. Your pass is valid for three full-day cruises starting from the first time of use over seven consecutive days. You'll be required to enter a travel date at time of booking, this is only required as an indication and you'll be required to re-confirm your selected cruises at least 24-hours prior to first departure.
Spend the day on Michaelmas Cay, a small sand island on the outer Great Barrier Reef. You'll cruise from Cairns aboard a luxury sailing catamaran, see the reef's brilliant coral and marine life from a semi-submersible submarine, try scuba diving or go on a snorkeling tour. Lunch on board is a delicious hot and cold buffet including prawns.
Cairns Super Saver: Great Barrier Reef Cruise plus Kuranda Scenic Railway plus Cape Tribulation Day Trip
Over three days, experience the best of tropical Far North Queensland! Go diving or snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, ride the Kuranda Scenic Railway and explore the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation. Combining the Cairns area's most popular attractions, this three-day super saver is perfect for first-time visitors to Queensland, plus represents a savings of 10%. From the coral beauty of the Great Barrier Reef to scenic views from the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and encounters with Australian wildlife, this sightseeing package is crammed with fun activities you'll never forget. Special Offer - Save more than 10% on the recommended retail price by booking these three tours together. - Book Now!
Make the most of your visit to the Great Barrier Reef on a full-day tour by fast boat, with five hours to enjoy two premium spots on the reef with snorkeling included. Have the option to scuba dive and take a helicopter flight in order to experience the reef from all angles. A delicious barbecue lunch keeps you energized for your adventure. Expert guides welcome both newcomers and experienced marine enthusiasts to enjoy a day on one of the most famous reefs in the world.
Take the opportunity to learn to dive while you’re in Cairns! With classes limited to eight participants, led by professional and friendly instructors, you’ll learn to dive and earn an internationally recognized PADI certification on your 4-day PADI Open Water dive course. Hotel transfers are included each day, and your course is gradual and safe. Learn basic scuba skills in the classroom, a pool, and confined water dives, then explore the Great Barrier Reef on open-water dives. Once you have successfully completed your course, you’ll be a qualified PADI diver!
Spend two days exploring the very best of Cairns. Enjoy a full day in tropical Kuranda and on your second day discover why the Great Barrier Reef is one of the world's a natural wonders. Including a reef cruise and a scenic helicopter flight, this two day package is the ultimate reef and rainforest experience, leaving you with plenty of time to fully appreciate Australia's tropical north.
Explore the Great Barrier Reef on a half-day or full-day excursion that travels by helicopter and boat so that you can make the most of your time. Choose from three options for your tour of one of the world’s best coral reefs and enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving and a glass-bottom boat tour (payable direct). 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.
Swim, snorkel or dive in the pristine waters off Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef. From Cairns, sail to the island in style on a two-mast schooner and enjoy a delicious buffet lunch on board. Explore the beauty of Green Island, see the rainforest or laze on the white sandy beaches and swim amongst the magnificent coral reefs.
Explore the Great Barrier Reef aboard a sleek, luxury catamaran on this snorkel and dive cruise from Cairns! Spend six hours on the Great Barrier Reef at two different snorkel and dive sites. Cruise in style on the comfortable catamaran before taking a glass- bottom boat tour to Upolu Cay with your onboard marine naturalist, where you can either snorkel or scuba dive (see options below). Enjoy a delicious buffet lunch on board the catamaran before heading to Upolu Reef to continue snorkeling or diving, and take a guided snorkeling tour! This cruise is limited to 75 guests, ensuring quality customer service and passenger comfort.
Travel by scenic helicopter to Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef. As you fly from Cairns, take in the views of the rainforest and the magnificent colors of the Great Barrier Reef below. You have the option to spend four or six hours on Green Island, where you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, walking through the rainforest or exploring the reef by glass-bottom boat. You also have the choice to return to Cairns by high-speed catamaran or scenic helicopter. Whichever option you choose, you’re in for a fantastic day in paradise!
Escape to Fitzroy Island, a tropical island on the Great Barrier Reef located only 45 minutes by high-speed ferry from Cairns. Spend your day doing as much or as little as you please; relax on the beach, swim and snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, take a glass-bottom boat tour – the choice is yours. You have the option to include only the round-trip ferry from Cairns, or to make the most of your day on Fitzroy Island, select the Activity Pass option which includes snorkeling gear, stinger suit, a glass-bottom boat tour, the use of stand-up paddle boards, paddle skis, a floating trampoline and a delicious picnic lunch.
Cruise out to a moored pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef, and enjoy a day packed full of activities, both in and out of the water. Go snorkeling with the clownfish, or stay dry and take a ride in a semi-submersible vessel or glass-bottom boat. The day also includes a buffet lunch, fish-feeding presentations and use of snorkeling equipment. Plus, you have the option to splash out with an introductory or certified dive, try your hand at Seawalker Helmet Diving, or take a guided snorkel safari through the coral gardens, spotting and maybe even touching the rare marine life.
Diving Licenses & Courses
Getting your Scuba Diving license is like getting a passport to the most amazing adventure imaginable. Instead of travelling to another country you can dive, deep below the ocean and see a whole other world.
There are two general rules for Scuba Diving and that's to always be safe and always be responsible. To learn how to be the best diver you must receive a diving certificate. That isn't to say you can't dive without one, you can but it's a beginners course and with an instructor. There are all sorts of courses you can choose from but the most prominent course in Australia and throughout the world is PADI scuba certification.
Millions of people follow these courses to gain their scuba diving certificate and learn to dive in open waters. Once you are a little more experienced you can graduate to a PADI Adventure Diver courses and then to Advanced Open Water courses. After that you can take your Divemaster Course and become a career professional.
Amazing Coral Reefs & Dive Sites
Before you get a little too ahead of yourself get some experience by diving the different dive sites in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. There's heaps to choose from with some of the best visibility in the world. It's always a good time to dive in Cairns as the waters are warm and the reefs are extremely healthy and swarming with marine life.
There's literally dozens of dive sites to choose from so it is no wonder that Cairns pulls in diving enthusiasts from all over.
When we say the dive sites are covered in marine life we mean it. There are more than 400 species of technicolour soft and hard corals, 125 species of sharks, dolphins, dugongs, whales and that's just the big ones.
It's also a breeding ground for six species of turtle, 1500 different species of reef and tropical fish, giant clams, seahorses and even the odd confused saltwater crocodile. With such great visibility and the enviable array of fish diving with an underwater camera is an absolute must! Plus, you can show off the snaps to all your friends once you get home.
You can take a tour and be taken with a group to a few different dive sites throughout the day. These tours take care of travel, food, equipment and shed some local knowledge of the region.
You may not be keen on the regimented nature of these organised tours so you can also hire a boat and take yourself and a buddy to a less crowded site.
Many places hire out equipment but if you're a real pro you might have already packed it all in the suitcase!
Cairns Scuba Diving Tips & Advice
Diving The Great Barrier Reef is a once in a life time experience - although we think after you've done it once you'll always be itching to come back for more - however, to make sure you keep yourself and reef safe please take a look at some of our tips.
- Take your Scuba Diving license with you on holidays if you plan to dive
- Before you hop on board the boat make sure you put on some sunscreen and hat
- If you need medication please take it on the boat with you
- Make sure you lay off the booze the night before a dive
- If you are a beginner dive with licensed teachers
- Plan your dive and dive your plan
- Never dive alone
- If you are hiring a boat follow the hiring and general boating rules
- Do not disturb the fish or coral
- Take your rubbish with you
- Have fun!
This is by no means an exhaustive list of tips as we’re sure if you're diving well aware of all the risks and rules. Keep safe and be responsible both to yourself and the environment around you.
More Cairns Scuba Diving
- Visit GreatestDiveSites for more about the dive sites in Cairns.