Liveaboard Diving in Australia

Diving in Australia is literally immersing yourself in an underwater paradise.

Liveaboard diving in Australia is a must for many divers', and when anyone considers Australia as their next holiday destination, it's impossible to overlook what is on offer underwater. With a coastline of over 25 000 kilometres, much of it in tropical and sub tropical waters, the 'lucky country' is blessed with outstanding diving, guaranteed to please all levels from a novice up to the most experienced.The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Queensland is deservedly on many people's bucket list, with countless stunning reefs to explore from the many dive tours available from Cairns and the surrounding area.

The best way to truly appreciate the World's largest reef system, is to set sail on one of many Cairns based liveaboards, which will propel you to areas of the outer reef, allowing you to avoid the sometimes crowded inner reef, and view beautiful unspoilt coral and a wide variety of stunning marine life. Dive cruises from Cairns will also take you to parts of the GBR situated in the aptly named Coral Sea, where the visibility (on average well over 40 metres) and diversity is simply breathtaking. Then there is the wreck of the SS Yongala, widely recognised as one of the World's best dive sites, combining history with marine life to an unparalleled level.


The main draw is of course the GBR, however Australian diving and indeed liveaboard diving, is not limited to this corner of the country. Many divers head to the opposite coast in Western Australia, where the diving opportunities are again almost endless. Liveaboards here make it possible to dive the less well known and remote areas of Mermaid and Clerke Reefs in the Rowley Shoals, allowing access to some of the most pristine and thrilling marine parks in the country.

Liveaboard Dive Trips in Australia

Liveaboard.com offers a wide variety of vessels in Australia, from modern purpose built dive boats to sleek, fast catamarans. Each boat has it's own unique feel, ranging from 24m to 37m, able to host 20-48 guests. They all include A/C. and electricity, and several of our boats feature free internet, but please do check this prior to booking.

Itineraries range from 3 day/2 night trips to the Outer Great Barrier Reef, to the all encompassing 8 day/7 night tours which will sail you through much of what Queensland has to offer. Some itineraries even include a return scenic flight, allowing you to witness the route you have taken from the air.

Tours start in the early morning of the first day, and most operators offer a complimentary pick up from your accommodation. In order to ensure maximum safety and comfort, the first dive is often a 'check' dive, enabling the crew to establish the group and individuals diving level, and from there tailor the trip to cater for everyone's needs. Don't worry though, even this first dive will be on a beautiful and unspoilt reef, giving you a taster of what to expect in the following few days! Diving from an Australian liveaboard will introduce you to the vast biodiversity not found near shore, and regularly includes sightings of families of Potato Cod, Grey and Silver Tip Whaler Sharks, Hammerheads, Manta Rays, Humpback Whales, and Maori Wrasse, along with a stunning array of hard and soft corals. Depending on your choice of dive cruise, you may even be able to partake in Minke Whale monitoring!

Every effort is made to accommodate individual requests and often itineraries can be adapted to include extra sites - although as always the crew will adhere to strict safety standards, and so each trip will depend on weather conditions and diver experience.

Dive Sites And Areas of Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is the World's largest coral reef system and the largest living organism, stretching for 2300km along the coast of Queensland. It consists of over 2900 reefs and 900 islands, including the stunning sites of Osprey Reef, Ribbon Reef, Milln Reef, Flynn Reef, Cod Hole, Lizard Island, Bougainville Reef, North Horn and the SS Yongala wreck. Most of these locations are only accessible via a liveaboard tour, departing from the port of Cairns.

Osprey Reef is in the Coral Sea section of the GBR, and accessible via liveaboard from Cairns. Famous for it's 40m+ visibility, the reef features many small caverns and swim throughs, and almost guaranteed sitings of several shark species at North Horn.

Ribbon Reef is actually a 175km line of 10 individual reefs lying to the north of Cairns, which are quite isolated and so only reachable via a few liveaboards. These reefs offer sheltered warm waters, and due to their remoteness are in pristine condition.

Milln Reef is located around 60km offshore from Cairns, and includes 3 large coral pillars known as the three sisters. The area is great for both snorkelling and diving, and where possible your crew may arrange a night dive for you, where you'll likely see sleeping turtles and crabs.

Flynn Reef offers diving for all levels of diver, and is best known for it's coral garden - one of Australia's finest, featuring a stunning array of hard and soft coral.

Cod Hole allows you to get close to the huge but friendly and docile Potato Cod which have a habit of posing for the camera! Other attractions here include Maori Wrasse and Moray Eels. This dive site is located at the very north of the Ribbon Reefs, and will often form part of a Ribbon Reef liveaboard.

Lizard Island is an island of unspoilt national park and the most northerly resort on the GBR. Often our liveaboards will involve a scenic reef flight either from Cairns at the start, or back to Cairns from Lizard Island.

Western Australia diving is is arguably as spectacular as that on the East Coast, and may interest those divers interested in a less visited area of the planet. To access the truly unspoilt Clerke Reef and Mermaid Reef in the Rowley Shoals, liveaboards leave from the town of Broome in the North West of the state.

Rowley Shoals are a series of 3 coral shelf atolls 250km west of Broome, and attracts divers from all over due to their uniqueness. Along with their stunning coral gardens, there are over 650 species of fish, many of which are not found near the shore, and so only possible to be viewed from the luxury of a liveaboard boat.

When To Go

Diving on the GBR is great all year round, with water temperatures ranging from 24c in the winter (July/August) to 30c in summer (December/January). Minke and Humpback whales can be seen between June and November, whereas the summer months offer the best visibility and warmest waters to take advantage of the array of life on the reef.

The best time to visit the Rowley Shoals in Western Australia is between September and December, and because diving via liveaboard is the only way to explore these pristine reefs, early booking is advised.

Tips For Travellers

  • English is the native language in Australia, although many liveaboard operators have crew who are capable of communicating in many common languages.
  • Local currency is the Australian Dollar, and most major international credit cards are widely accepted, and ATMs readily available (although not on board!)
  • Electricity is supplied via 3 pronged sockets, of 230 volts (50Hz) - make sure you acquire the correct adaptor!
  • Most liveaboards can rent full equipment, but you will be required to bring your certification and log book as part of the safety protocol.

How To Get There And Ports Of Departure

The vast majority of liveaboards to the GBR and Coral Sea, depart from and return to Cairns. Conveniently, Cairns has an international airport which is serviced by many carriers, offering direct flights to a huge number of international destinations. In the unlikely event you are unable to fly directly to Cairns, there are regular daily domestic flights from the well known hubs of Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.

On the West Coast Broome is the main port for liveaboard trips to the Rowley Shoals and associated reefs. Due to it's remoteness, direct international flights are less common. It does have an international airport serving a handful of destinations, but it is more likely that you will fly into the state capital of Perth, where you can easily catch a connecting flight to Broome.

Cairns and Broome are both holiday destinations in their own right, each offering world class hotels and resorts. From Cairns, there is easy access to the stunning tropical Daintree rainforest and waterfalls in the Atherton Tablelands (Peter Andre filmed his famous 'Mysterious Girl' video here!).

Broome is on the edge of the world famous Kimberley region, one of the most remote and spectacular areas in the world.

Considerations

Australia diving liveaboards cater for all types of traveller, from the budget conscious through to the luxurious, with prices ranging from around US$150-300 per person, per day/night. Please check with your chosen operator for any extra charges, as some areas of Australia require marine park fees, reef taxes, port fees, a fuel levy, and an environmental management charge.

Australia requires most international visitors to have a passport with 6 months validity, and also a valid visa. Please visit https://www.border.gov.au to find out how to obtain the correct visa.

As always, appropriate travel insurance should be purchased prior to travelling.


Australia Diving Reviews

  • 9.2 Superb
  • 225 Verified Reviews
  • 8.0 Very good
  • kumjin K
  • South Korea South Korea

buddy diving is the basic style here... it's good to feel the freedom in the sea but i prefer the guided diving due to the safety.

Diving Australia in July on the Ocean Quest

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Sheridan V
  • Australia Australia

Would definitely look at some of Rum Runners other dive trips

Diving Australia in July on the Rum Runner

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Shay G
  • United States United States

Good, a little less visibility than I expected, but overall enjoyable.

Diving Australia in July on the Ocean Quest

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Petra K
  • Austria Austria

Good, was interesting to be self-guided but enjoyed it, water was chilly and would have been good to have thicker wetsuits

Diving Australia in July on the ScubaPro I

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Stephane T
  • United States United States

Magical

Diving Australia in July on the Coral Sea Dreaming

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Nicole W
  • United States United States

Professional, safe and overall a great experience.

Diving Australia in June on the ScubaPro I

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Shira G
  • United States United States

Very positive, hope you be back again soon!

Diving Australia in June on the Ocean Quest

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Weng Koon V
  • Malaysia Malaysia

Safe and well regulated

Diving Australia in June on the Spoilsport

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Emily S
  • United States United States

Glad I didnt leave Australia without diving the Great Barrier Reef.

Diving Australia in June on the Spoilsport

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Sune Levy T
  • Denmark Denmark

Easy diving, no deep dives, nice reefs and great wildlife

Diving Australia in May on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Brooke E
  • United States United States

Loved it! Would recommend it to anyone who loves diving!

Diving Australia in May on the ScubaPro I

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Denise B
  • United States United States

Diving Austrailia was overall very good. Did see some bleaching and degraded sites on the fist day and that is sad. I wish there had been a little educational video at the end showing people why we need to take care of this extrodanary resource.

Diving Australia in May on the Ocean Quest

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Raoul J
  • Switzerland Switzerland

gerne wieder einmal wieder- also super

Diving Australia in April on the ScubaPro III

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Matthew G
  • United States United States

Diving in Australia was awesome!! I felt like the crew and country really care about the reef. Much attention was given to reef care and proper diving etiquette. On top of that, I felt like they really care about the industry and their clients. Safety was their first priority and they were really strict with rules in a good way! Again, I would highly recommend diving in Australia!

Diving Australia in April on the ScubaPro II

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Trevor D
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

great time diving the fabulous barrier reef

Diving Australia in January on the Spoilsport Liveaboard

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Vorayos R
  • Thailand Thailand

Good dives, Good people.

Diving Australia in April on the ScubaPro I

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Maria Melina F
  • Italy Italy

Amazing every dive !

Diving Australia in May on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Gabriel D
  • United States United States

This was my second trip since December and I plan on returning again in July!! Australia is amazing!

Diving Australia in April on the Ocean Quest

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Kyeong Woong R
  • South Korea South Korea

Excellent. Wonderful reef and fishes. Sufficient times of diving during 3 days.

Diving Australia in April on the ScubaPro II

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Kristina C
  • United States United States

Great experience, however the dive medical requirements were a bit over the top.

Diving Australia in March on the ScubaPro III

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Justin Y
  • United States United States

Amazing!

Diving Australia in April on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Steven P
  • United States United States

I enjoyed the diving, everything was beautiful. Visibility wasn't a good as I was hoping for, but weather dictates that so can't be helped.

Diving Australia in April on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Olivia S
  • United States United States

Amazing diving, will definitely return!

Diving Australia in April on the Spoilsport

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • william B
  • Australia Australia

10/10. Visibility up to 30 meters in almost all locations with a variety of sea life ranging from hoards of sharks to the tiniest nudibranchs and everything in between.

Diving Australia in April on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Christian B
  • Belgium Belgium

Excellent

Diving Australia in March on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Britney L
  • United States United States

Great, inexpensive, and perfect amount of time!!

Diving Australia in March on the ScubaPro III

  • 9.2 Superb
  • robert G
  • United States United States

5 star experience

Diving Australia in March on the Rum Runner

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Brenda S
  • United States United States

Very nice!

Diving Australia in March on the Ocean Quest

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Jean francois C
  • Canada Canada

As good as his reputation

Diving Australia in March on the Ocean Quest

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Te-Anu B
  • Australia Australia

Alway a pleasure

Diving Australia in March on the Ocean Quest

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Mary S
  • United States United States

Loved it - we’ll be back!!

Diving Australia in March on the Spoilsport

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Jun C
  • China China

Awesome and very Safety oriented

Diving Australia in February on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Kenneth M
  • United States United States

Great time.. good to check the GBR off my bucket list. Spirit of Freedom was a gem.

Diving Australia in February on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Robert M
  • United States United States

Awesome. So glad we were able to do it.

Diving Australia in February on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Flavio Damian C
  • Argentina Argentina

Fenomenal

Diving Australia in February on the ScubaPro III

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • amy H
  • United States United States

I WOULD LOVE TO DIVE MORE IN AUSTRALIA AND SEE A VARIETY OF ANIMALS!!!

Diving Australia in February on the ScubaPro III

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • ikas J
  • India India

Very good specially the crew was very helpful polite i didnt see this type of crew before. Spirit of freedom is excellent.

Diving Australia in July on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Mark M
  • United States United States

I thought that the Australian diving criteria on the liveaboard was well defined and structured to ensure safety and overall enjoyment with diving. The guides were great and the reef was awesome.

Diving Australia in February on the Ocean Quest

  • 5.6 Review score
  • Arvid H
  • Norway Norway

Great country with friendly people. Hope to be coming back

Diving Australia in July on the ScubaPro I

  • 8.0 Very good
  • NICOLE W
  • United States United States

Life changing

Diving Australia in February on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Joshua J
  • United States United States

We really enjoyed the diving in Australia. The Great Barrier Reef was amazing with so much to see!

Diving Australia in January on the Ocean Quest

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Simon K
  • Denmark Denmark

Amazing

Diving Australia in January on the Ocean Quest

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Arline M
  • Brazil Brazil

very good

Diving Australia in February on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Melissa G
  • Australia Australia

Excellent

Diving Australia in January on the ScubaPro II

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • LIAM R
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Was a highlight from our one year travel away. Loved it. Want to do more!

Diving Australia in February on the Ocean Quest

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Ruben B
  • Spain Spain

Astonishing

Diving Australia in January on the ScubaPro II

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Kevin T
  • United States United States

Great - well executed trip. Amazing guides and lots of fun with other divers.

Diving Australia in January on the Ocean Quest

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Robert A
  • United States United States

Excellent

Diving Australia in January on the ScubaPro II

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Jed N
  • United States United States

Amazing! Would recommend to anyone!

Diving Australia in January on the ScubaPro III

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Keith B
  • United States United States

Fantastic - so glad we got to see the Great Barrier Reef!!

Diving Australia in January on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • SEOK JOONG Y
  • South Korea South Korea

It may be one of the top 3 dive sites in my life!

Diving Australia in January on the ScubaPro III

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Terry D
  • United States United States

It was a wonderful experience and I encourage anyone who has not been there to experience it.

Diving Australia in December on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Karin S
  • Sweden Sweden

Awesome!

Diving Australia in December on the Ocean Quest

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Cait K
  • United States United States

Excellent!

Diving Australia in January on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Diego H
  • Brazil Brazil

Amazing! We loved Australia and we definitely go back!

Diving Australia in December on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Rachel S
  • United States United States

Love it. Would highly recommend

Diving Australia in December on the ScubaPro II

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Jenny B
  • Sweden Sweden

Nice in every way

Diving Australia in December on the Ocean Quest

  • 5.6 Review score
  • barry S
  • United States United States

Overall the diving the worth the multiple flights and boat ride to the great barrier reef. The dives were very enjoyable and safe.

Diving Australia in November on the Ocean Quest

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Gary B
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Couldn't believe how warm and how much vis you got . And the diversity of the fish . Awesome diving

Diving Australia in December on the ScubaPro I

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Martin N
  • South Africa South Africa

The diving is very professional and the reefs are good.

Diving Australia in December on the ScubaPro II

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Zachary G
  • United States United States

I can describe how cool this was. I've only been in the ocean once before, but the critters and sights will be hard to top. Just a wonderful experience! No words...

Diving Australia in December on the ScubaPro II

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Emily S
  • United States United States

Way better than I could have ever hoped! Recommend!

Diving Australia in December on the ScubaPro I

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Damon K
  • United States United States

All I can say is.... Ill be back!!!!

Diving Australia in December on the Ocean Quest

  • 5.6 Review score
  • Maria M
  • Argentina Argentina

Amazing

Diving Australia in December on the Ocean Quest

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Yaakov D
  • Israel Israel

Great

Diving Australia in November on the Ocean Quest

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Curg C
  • United States United States

Great... Barrier Reef!

Diving Australia in November on the Ocean Quest

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Craig B
  • Canada Canada

I am really glad I was able to do this trip. It was a fantastic experience that I will strive to repeat and would recommend to anyone. Of all of my experiences in Australia the dive trip is what I find myself talking about the most when people ask me about my trip.

Diving Australia in October on the ScubaPro III

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Colin Z
  • United States United States

great experience, something i have always wanted to do

Diving Australia in September on the Spoilsport Liveaboard

  • 8.4 Very good
  • John M
  • United States United States

I had many good dives.

Diving Australia in May on the Ocean Quest

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Clare B
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Incredible - one of the best diving experiences I have had. Protect the reef!

Diving Australia in November on the Ocean Quest

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Theodore H
  • United States United States

Fantastic!!1

Diving Australia in July on the ScubaPro II

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • LOIS L
  • France France

good trip

Diving Australia in June on the ScubaPro I

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Clive S
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Great because of the Minke whales. Rest was OK.

Diving Australia in July on the Spoilsport Liveaboard

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Janan W
  • United States United States

Our overall experience was great. We only wish we could fly back from California and experience more of the fantastic diversity of dives.

Diving Australia in October on the Ocean Quest

  • 9.2 Superb
  • john M
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

it was excellant

Diving Australia in November on the Ocean Quest

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • tony K
  • Australia Australia

awsome

Diving Australia in November on the ScubaPro III

  • 8.0 Very good
  • luiz carlos F
  • Brazil Brazil

Very well organized

Diving Australia in November on the Coral Sea Dreaming

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Kimberly W
  • United States United States

Incredible...worth the time, effort and money it takes to get there.

Diving Australia in November on the ScubaPro II

  • 8.0 Very good
  • john B
  • United States United States

generally nice guests, and nice crew.

Diving Australia in July on the Ocean Quest

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Rick M
  • Canada Canada

FANTASTIC We love it here and we are already planning our next trip😘❤️

Diving Australia in October on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 7.2 Good
  • Mikael K
  • Sweden Sweden

Diving was good, visibility a bit less than expected (could be due to the bad weather). Awesome to dive with sharks, the night diving was amazing.

Diving Australia in October on the Ocean Quest

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Judy O
  • New Zealand New Zealand

an enjoyable trip

Diving Australia in October on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Tracey S
  • New Zealand New Zealand

Awesome

Diving Australia in October on the Ocean Quest

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Jayoun L
  • South Korea South Korea

I would come here again!

Diving Australia in October on the Ocean Quest

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Heidi S
  • United States United States

Couldn't be better.

Diving Australia in September on the Ocean Quest

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Adrian K
  • Australia Australia

Wonderful

Diving Australia in September on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Lincoln S
  • Brazil Brazil

Unforgettable

Diving Australia in September on the Ocean Quest

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Sara M
  • United States United States

So far it has been amazing.

Diving Australia in September on the Ocean Quest

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • April Z
  • China China

This is the place I fall in love with dive.

Diving Australia in September on the ScubaPro I

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Darrell S
  • United States United States

Extraordinary. I highly recommend Ocean Quest Liveaboard to everyone. The crew and dives were excellent.

Diving Australia in September on the Ocean Quest

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Terence K
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

My second trip on Spoilsport and highly recommended - high level of comfort on board, dive crew all v professional.

Diving Australia in August on the Spoilsport

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Christy R
  • New Zealand New Zealand

Fantastic

Diving Australia in August on the Spoilsport

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Jun G
  • China China

Great experience, very much look forward to going back there and discover more

Diving Australia in July on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Dana C
  • United States United States

Unforgettable.

Diving Australia in May on the Spoilsport

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Aleksandrina D
  • Bulgaria Bulgaria

It`s different and if you haven`t done it before - go for it !

Diving Australia in May on the Ocean Quest

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Mark G
  • Australia Australia

So good I can't believe I left it this long. This should be on every divers' bucket list.

Diving Australia in May on the ScubaPro I

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Jessica M
  • United States United States

Fantastic!

Diving Australia in April on the Ocean Quest

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Dinin L
  • United States United States

Exceptional

Diving Australia in March on the Spoilsport Liveaboard

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Caroline W
  • United States United States

Life-changing! (Really!)

Diving Australia in March on the Spirit of Freedom

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Christopher L
  • United States United States

Awesome

Diving Australia in March on the ScubaPro I