Visit the far reaches of the Great Barrier Reef in style aboard the 36m Catamaran, the Ocean Quest. Each of the 23 cabins comes with its own en-suite, air conditioning and TV for a perfect voyage.
The exceptionally smooth, 30m Spoilsport features a twin hull design to improve stability while sailing to the Coral Sea, Australia. Custom built, guests have access to nitrox and camera facilities.
- Free WiFi
Explore Australia’s Great Barrier Reef upon one of the most coveted liveaboard, the 37m MV Spirit of Freedom. All 11 cabins feature an en-suite, air conditioning, storage and housekeeping services.Spirit of Freedom
What to Expect On a Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard
Take a liveaboard in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia and you will be diving one of the ultimate bucket list destinations for not just every diver, but most of the world's population. Great Barrier Reef liveaboards visit this world famous and stunning marine area which has earned it's name as a 'must visit area' in this spectacular part of the world. Delving a little deeper into people's ambitions, they'll likely cite diving on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) as one of their life goals. This is for good reason too, as the reef is a 2300 kilometre stretch of unrivalled natural beauty, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, a World Heritage Site, and is THE place to dive on our planet. A liveaboard dive trip is the best way to explore this region as it consists of more than 900 islands and 2900 individual reefs, forming a spectacular turquoise chain from Lizard Island in the north of Queensland, all the way down to close to Heron Island in the south of Australia's 'Sunshine' state.
A Great Barrier Reef liveaboard will take you to the crystal clear tropical waters of the Coral Sea, which is comprised of billions of coral polyps, making it the largest living organism on the planet. It is so large and vast that it is visible from outer space - even if you spent a lifetime exploring the reef, it would be impossible to view it all. Day trips are possible but will only allow you to witness the crowded inner reef for a few hours, and will leave you wishing for more time to explore what is on offer. The best way to truly experience the underwater marvels of this iconic structure is by setting sail on a diving liveaboard cruise lasting a number of days, meaning you will be able to witness a wide variety of the incredible biodiversity that the reef supports. Even aboard a liveaboard cruise, you'll still only touch the surface (pardon the pun!), and no doubt by the end you'll be thinking of planning another similar trip in the near future!
The Great Barrier Reef Underwater
Being the World's largest reef system, you can expect to see pretty much everything you could imagine on a GBR liveaboard tour. You'll see the full compliment of reef fish, including Clownfish, Fusiliers, Butterfly Fish, Angelfish, Trout and Batfish, all swimming amongst a backdrop of stunningly colourful hard and soft corals.
If you look hard enough (or more likely your expert Divemaster who'll know where to look!), there's some incredible macro life to be seen aswell, such as brightly patterned Nudibranchs and tiny but graceful Shrimp. You won't need to rely on your guide to spot the tons of circling Reef Sharks, elegant Turtles (green and loggerhead), and huge Manta Rays that are present at many sites frequented by liveaboard operators - you'll have to make sure you have your camera handy though as you won't want to miss these creatures in their natural habitat! Other animals that divers report sitings of frequently include Sea Snakes, Cuttlefish, and Leopard Moray Eels.
Some dive sites have their own unique attractions, none more famous than Cod Hole in the northern Ribbon Reefs, home to a friendly and docile family of giant Potato Cod (Grouper), and Maori Wrasse.
All of this life is present all year around, and if you are visiting between June and December, you may have the added bonus of viewing dwarf Minke Whales, Humpback Whales, Dolphins and the annual spectacular coral spawning.
It's also not just beautiful reefs and their associated coral gardens that are on the diving radar here either - the SS Yongala wreck is widely recognised as one the finest dive sites on the planet, situated towards the southern end of the reef.
Dive Sites & Areas On The Great Barrier Reef
It would be naive to write about every single dive site on the Great Barrier Reef, as it's likely you'd be here for a lifetime if so! The few 'best of', and on many liveaboard itineraries, are described below:
OSPREY REEF is famous for it's 40m+ visibility and almost guaranteed sitings of large numbers of sharks at North Horn. Located in the Coral Sea, and accessible via liveaboard from Cairns, the reef features many small caverns and swim throughs, making the dive sites here fun for everyone.
RIBBON REEFS Lie to the north of Cairns. Isolated they are only reachable via a few liveaboards. They are a chain of ten individual reefs offering sheltered warm waters, and due to their remoteness are in pristine condition.
MILLN REEF is a spot perfect for snorkelling and diving, and is also a great place to do a night dive (sleeping turtles and crabs are common) if you wish. It consists of 3 large coral pillars, located around 60 kilometres from Cairns.
FLYNN REEF Features arguably Australia's best coral garden, is a place where you can see the full array of hard and soft coral that the GBR has on show.
COD HOLE has a resident family of giant Potato Cod which will let you you take some fabulous close up photos - there's not many places you can take a selfie with a fish that is likely larger than you! Don't worry though, they're ever so friendly and curious, and love interacting with divers. Here it's common to see the sometimes even larger Maori Wrasse aswell. This site is part of the Ribbon Reefs.
LIZARD ISLAND is a national park on an island of the same name, situated to the very north of the GBR. It's a tropical paradise, ideal for unwinding after a few days of diving, or honing your diving skills prior to a trip in the calm, sheltered waters that surround it.
NORTH HORN is one of the more well known parts of Osprey Reef, and is renowned for it's famous shark feed, where divers are almost guaranteed to see a wide range of these predators, including Grey Reefs, Silkys, Silvertips and Hammerheads.
BOUGAINVILLE REEF benefits from an exposed position on the outer reef, which does mean it can only be visited by liveaboard and when conditions permit. As a result it offers some of the most unspoilt and pristine diving in all of Australia, regularly frequented by Manta Rays and Turtles.
SS YONGALA WRECK is a wreck that has long been recognised as as one of the finest dive sites in the world. Sunk in 1911, the ship is relatively intact, having developed a mesmerising variety of corals and boasting some of the most diverse marine life on the whole of the GBR.
Tips For Divers
There is diving to suit every level of diver on the Great Barrier Reef, from calm, gentle, warm waters for newbies, to challenging swim throughs and caves for the more experienced. Some trips will require evidence of dive experience, but there are many that request no minimum logged dives. Most of the time full equipment is available to rent (please check this!), but remember to bring your certification. You'll also want your logbook as recording what you've seen is all part of the fun! Visibility is always great - often well in excess of 25 metres, and sometimes over 40. Water temperatures range from 22 to 30 degrees Celsius.
The native language of Australia is English, although commonly dive crews will speak a variety of others. Currency is the Australian Dollar, and ATMs are easily found onshore (not onboard though!). Internet access, healthcare, and transport in Australia is of high quality, although as always please ensure that appropriate travel insurance has been purchased.
Getting To The Great Barrier Reef
Undoubtedly the best method of exploring the GBR is sailing through the Coral Sea amongst the reef on an Australian liveaboard dive cruise.
Liveaboard.com has several cruises to choose from to suit every budget, with the vast majority departing from the port of Cairns in Queensland. There are a few small regional airports (for example Townsville, Rockhampton, Lizard Island) where it is possible to fly into from other areas of Australia, but by far the easiest, cheapest and convenient way to visit the reef is to fly directly into Cairns. It's airport has good international connections, allowing most visitors to fly directly from many overseas locations, although many daily flights also arrive here from the major hubs of Sydney and Melbourne, incase one of your first Australian destinations is there.
Great Barrier Reef Diving Reviews
Lovely. My favorite dive happened to be in the Ribbon Reefs in the GBR. Lot's to see visibility was great. We had strong current the entire trip which was true here as well.Diving Great Barrier Reef in May on the Spoilsport
Schön, wenig Korallenbleiche an den äusseren Riffen!Diving Great Barrier Reef in May on the ScubaPro III
Clear, calm and spectacular views in various locations with excellent, trained staff equiped with invaluable local knowledgeDiving Great Barrier Reef in May on the ScubaPro I
Fantastic, but some visibility issues due to recent typhoonDiving Great Barrier Reef in April on the Ocean Quest
I'm glad to see the sites we did are still in decent shapeDiving Great Barrier Reef in March on the Spoilsport Liveaboard
Best diving experience I've ever had. Amazing variety of flora and fauna, as well as great water temperature.Diving Great Barrier Reef in March on the Ocean Quest
Wonderful All the pastel colours of Easter! The fish,the turtles the Trevallys,the reef sharksDiving Great Barrier Reef in March on the Ocean Quest
Indescribable. The area is so vast, that I feel absolutely comfortable booking another trip as I know it'll take a great deal of time to properly explore what the reef has to offer.Diving Great Barrier Reef in March on the Spoilsport Liveaboard
AwesomeDiving Great Barrier Reef in March on the ScubaPro I
awesomeDiving Great Barrier Reef in February on the ScubaPro III
Wonderful - this had been on my bucket list for many years and it did not disappoint! The GBR is amazing and so precious. I loved being an observer to this beautiful world under the sea!Diving Great Barrier Reef in January on the Spoilsport Liveaboard
Big fishes and beautiful coral and even sharks! Very good.Diving Great Barrier Reef in January on the ScubaPro I
An amazing experience. Lots of wildlife, healthy coral, many colourful fish, guaranteed to see a turtle or shark.Diving Great Barrier Reef in January on the ScubaPro I
- For marine life, the reef was excellent. Fish all over at all dive sites, lots of sharks to see and all sorts of different coral to see. - However, all the coral is very pale, at all of the dive sites the coral appeared bleached and pale.Diving Great Barrier Reef in January on the Spoilsport Liveaboard
Reef is so beautiful! So much to see! Favorite dive site was the last one.Diving Great Barrier Reef in December on the ScubaPro II
Massive variety of fish, corals were wonderful, some bleaching and dead corals, but mostly alive and lovely. Warm, lovely water, and good visibility in generalDiving Great Barrier Reef in December on the Ocean Quest
It was a special diving. The night dive (not the flluoro) was excellent. Diving between those sharks and big fishes was a thrill. Rooms are more than adequate.Diving Great Barrier Reef in December on the Ocean Quest
As amazing as everyone saysDiving Great Barrier Reef in December on the ScubaPro III
The visibility was spetacular.Diving Great Barrier Reef in December on the Ocean Quest
Spectacular of course. Beautiful and healthy looking coral. Sharks. Turtles. Giant clams. Clown fish. Hundreds of other species of fish. What more could you ask for than to dive the great barrier reef?Diving Great Barrier Reef in December on the ScubaPro I
Due to high winds the first couple of days, the visibility wasn't very good, but the diving was still enjoyable.Diving Great Barrier Reef in November on the Spoilsport Liveaboard
The Great Barrier Reef is amazing but make sure to go at the right season to see all the colours. Some parts are obviously bleached but there is still plenty to see.Diving Great Barrier Reef in November on the ScubaPro I
Only one word: SPECTACULAR 😎Diving Great Barrier Reef in November on the Spoilsport Liveaboard
Lots of colorful fish.Diving Great Barrier Reef in November on the ScubaPro I
Great, calm.Diving Great Barrier Reef in November on the ScubaPro III
Great!!!!!!!!!!!!Diving Great Barrier Reef in November on the Spoilsport Liveaboard
Excellent diving with beautiful coral and marine life, should be experienced by every diver.Diving Great Barrier Reef in November on the ScubaPro I
Fairly good visibility and not much current so pleasant diving. Enjoyed seeing all the soft corals & different marine life.Diving Great Barrier Reef in November on the Ocean Quest
Diving in the Great Barrier Reef was amazing as it one of the seven natural wonders of the world.Diving Great Barrier Reef in January on the Ocean Quest
Amazing - I would come back for other reefs I didn't get to dive.Diving Great Barrier Reef in October on the ScubaPro I