scuba diving in cairns


Diving on the Great Barrier Reef is one experience you don’t want to miss when you visit the Cairns region.

 

There area number of dive companies in the Cairns region that specialise in diving tours to various dive sites on the outer reef, in particular to some world-renowned spots like the Cod Hole off Port Douglas to the north of Cairns.

 

These tours are usually for those who have already racked up a number of hours on their Open Water Dive Certificates or visitors who wish to increase their hours for more advanced dive courses.

 

Other tours will take learner divers as well as advanced divers to less visited spots for some spectacular diving. Dive tours can run from three days to a number of weeks depending on the spots chosen and the skills of the divers involved.

 

If you have your open water or higher dive certificate you can also dive on the day trips to the Great Barrier Reef, although for experienced divers these trips may be somewhat restrictive.

 

Shop around for the Cairns diving trip that suits your needs. Cairns diving tours can go from $400 for a three-day trip to $2000 for as long as a week.

 

Children can only dive if they are over the age of 12 years and they must also have an Open Water Dive Certificate.

 

Visitors to the Great Barrier Reef will have to pay a “reef tax” in addition to the costs of the tour. For more information about the Great Barrier Reef off the Cairns coast, check out the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

 

Remember to take plenty of sunscreen and also appropriate gear - tanks, regulators, wetsuits etc are available for rent but will often cost extra on top of the basic boat trip costs.

 

cairns dive courses


Learning to dive is one of the main reasons people visit the Cairns region. Being so close to the Great Barrier Reef means courses are relatively cheap and include a couple of days on the reef.

 

Before signing up for a dive course, visitors will need to undergo a dive medical. There are recommended doctors who undertake these physicals and speak a number of languages.

 

After passing the medical, students will need to study a certain amount of technical information before starting in a swimming pool specially designed for dive courses.

 

After a couple of days on land, most courses head to the Great Barrier Reef for a few days of diving. The courses generally include at least one night dive and students will stay onboard a “mother ship” for the duration.

 

Most Cairns diving companies offer mainly open water dive courses and others specialise in advanced courses.

 

Tech Dive Academy in Port Douglas specialises in “technical diving” which includes very deep water diving and the use of mixed gas – enriched air nitrox – training for advanced divers.

 

Make sure you have enough time to complete your dive course, most take at least four days. Cairns diving courses feature a couple of days on the Great Barrier Reef and all food and beverages, except alcohol, is included.

 

You can combine learning to dive with other activities like trips to the Daintree rainforest, Kuranda, Atherton Tableland or Port Douglas.

 

Introductory dives that are part of day trips to the Great Barrier Reef or combined tours are not a part of a Cairns dive course and the hours can’t be used for an open water certificate.

Image supplied by Tusa Dive Cairns

 

walking under water


There’s nothing to fear underwater, even if you don’t like getting your hair wet. Usually you don’t even get your hair wet when helmet diving – so long as you keep the helmet on a level.

 

Even if you are somewhat claustrophobic visitors will discover that the colourful underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef will take away most fears.

 

The guides take a group of seven at a time, leading them to a large coral bombie (coral outcrop) complete with “nemos”, clams and colourful coral.

 

A highlight of the walk was when the guide feeds the fish, which brings them swirling around the group – a colourful shoal of romora, parrot and bat fish, to name only a few. Visitors will be so close they can touch them, although the guide ensured noone grabs at them or hurts them.

 

Swimmers and non-swimmers can enjoy this remarkable experience in what is almost a gravity-free environment.

 

There are a number of operators who offer this type of activity including Green Island and Reef Magic Cruises.

 

Most age-groups can take a ‘walk underwater’ but children have to be a certain height in order to fit on the machines.

cairns snorkling


If you’ve only got a short time in the Cairns region or are unable to try diving, give snorkelling a go and experience the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef.

 

All you need is a mask, a snorkel and flippers, a good sunscreen and sunshirt and visitors can while away the day floating across the Great Barrier Reef.

 

Snorkelling is an activity that anyone can enjoy, from kids to grandparents, but is difficult for those with mobility issues.

 

All tour boats that head out to the reef or stop at the islands have snorkelling gear for use. There are a number of specific snorkelling tours available that combine sailing or other luxury tours, but snorkelling is generally free on other tours.

 

Always remember to take a strong sunscreen, sunshirt and hat when snorkelling.

 

Remember to snorkel in the marked areas as it is easy to become separated from your group. All tours will have dedicated “spotter’ out looking for snorkellers who have travelled too far. Don’t panic.

 

All visitors to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park need to pay a “reef tax” in addition to the cost of their tour.

Cairns diving & snorkelling Directory



Cairns Dive Centre
121 Abbott St
Cairns
P: 61 7 4051 0294

Cairns Dive Centre
121 Abbott St
Cairns
P: 61 7 4051 0294


Calypso Reef Charters
Shop 35, Marina Mirage
Port Douglas
P: 61 7 4099 6999 (booking)

Calypso Reef Charters
Shop 35, Marina Mirage
Port Douglas
P: 61 7 4099 6999 (booking)


Deep Sea Divers Den
319 Draper St
Cairns
P: 61 7 4046 7333

Deep Sea Divers Den
319 Draper St
Cairns
P: 61 7 4046 7333


Down Under Cruise & Dive
9 Shields St
Cairns
P: 61 7 4052 8300 (bookings)

Down Under Cruise & Dive
9 Shields St
Cairns
P: 61 7 4052 8300 (bookings)


Down Under Cruise & Dive
9 Shields St
Cairns
P: 61 7 4052 8300 (bookings)

Explorer Ventures - Live aboard diving
206 Draper St
Cairns
P: 61 7 4031 5566


Great Adventures Cruises
Reef Fleet Terminal, 1 Spence St
Cairns
P: 61 7 4044 9944

Great Barrier Reef Encounter
100 Abbott St
Cairns
P: 61 7 4031 7217


Great Barrier Reef Encounter
100 Abbott St
Cairns
P: 61 7 4031 7217

Mike Ball Dive Expeditions
143 Lake St
Cairns
P: 61 7 4053 0500 (reservations)


New Horizon Sail & Dive
PO Box 5957
Cairns
P: 61 7 4055 6130

Ocean Spirit Cruises
140 Mulgrave Rd
Cairns
P: 61 7 4031 2920


Ocean Spirit Cruises
140 Mulgrave Rd
Cairns
P: 61 7 4031 2920

Passions of Paradise
Reef Fleet Terminal
Marlin Marina 1 Spence St
Cairns
P: +61 7 4041 1600 (Bookings)


Poseidon Cruises
Reef Adventure Centre, Cnr Macrossan & Grant streets
Port Douglas
P: 61 7 4099 4772

Pro Dive Cairns
Cnr Shields & Abbott streets
Cairns
P: 61 7 4031 5255