Australia Liveaboard Diving

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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. Diving in 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 liveaboard diving are 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 into the less well-known and remote areas of Mermaid and Clerke Reefs in the Rowley Shoals, allowing access to some of the country's most pristine and thrilling marine parks.

Liveaboard Dive Trips in Australia offers various vessels in Australia, from modern purpose-built dive boats to sleek, fast catamarans. Each boat has its own unique feel, ranging from 24m to 37m, and is able to host 20-48 guests. They all include A/C. and electricity, and several of our boats feature free internet, but please check this before 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. To ensure maximum safety and comfort, the first dive is often a 'check' dive, enabling the crew to establish the group and individual diving level and, from there, tailor the trip to cater to everyone's needs. Don't worry; even this first dive will be on a beautiful and unspoiled reef, giving you a taste 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 the 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 its 40m+ visibility, the reef features many small caverns, swim-throughs, and almost guaranteed sitings of several shark species at North Horn.

Ribbon Reef is a 175km line of 10 individual reefs lying to the north of Cairns, which are quite isolated and only reachable via a few liveaboards. Due to their remoteness, these reefs offer sheltered, warm waters and 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 snorkeling and diving; 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 and is best known for its coral garden - one of Australia's finest, featuring a stunning array of hard and soft coral.

Clerke Reef offers an opportunity to explore the underwater world of the Rowley Shoals Marine Park, where crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life create a diver's paradise. This remote reef system, accessible only by liveaboard, promises dive sites featuring pristine coral gardens, wall dives, and encounters with diverse marine species.

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

Lizard Island is an island of the unspoiled national park and the most northerly resort on the GBR. Our liveaboards often involve a scenic reef flight either from Cairns at the start or back to Cairns from Lizard Island.

Western Australia diving is arguably as spectacular as that on the East Coast and may interest those divers interested in a less visited area of the planet. Liveaboards leave Broome in the state's northwest to access the truly unspoiled Clerke Reef and Mermaid Reef in the Rowley Shoals.

Rowley Shoals are a series of three coral shelf atolls 250km west of Broome that attract 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, so they can only 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 the summer (December/January). Minke and Humpback whales can be seen between June and November, whereas the summer offers 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 September to December. Early booking is advised because diving via liveaboard is the only way to explore these pristine reefs.

Tips For Travelers

  • English is the native language of Australia, although many liveaboard operators have crews capable of communicating in many common languages.
  • The local currency is the Australian Dollar, and most major international credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs are 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 must bring your certification and log book as part of the safety protocol.

How To Get There And Ports Of Departure

Most liveaboards to the GBR and the Coral Sea depart from and return to Cairns. Conveniently, Cairns has an international airport that 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 its 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 holiday destinations in their own right, each offering world-class hotels and resorts. From Cairns, you can easily access 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.


Australia diving liveaboards cater to all types of travelers, from the budget-conscious 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 a valid visa. Please visit to find out how to obtain the correct visa.

As always, appropriate travel insurance should be purchased before traveling.

Australia Diving Reviews

  • Rating 9.3 out of 10
  • 9.3 Superb
  • Rating 10.0 out of 10
  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Paige B
  • Flag of United StatesUnited States

i really enjoyed it and will be back to dive again

Diving Australia in July on the Spoilsport
  • Rating 10.0 out of 10
  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Wade W
  • Flag of United StatesUnited States

The diving was phenomenal. Wow What a reef system and OMG MINKE WHALES

Diving Australia in July on the Spoilsport
  • Rating 10.0 out of 10
  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Joshua N
  • Flag of AustraliaAustralia

Great, lots of colourful coral and sea life.

Diving Australia in July on the Spirit of Freedom
  • Rating 8.8 out of 10
  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Alison C
  • Flag of AustraliaAustralia

The experience was amazing, although the damage was sadly evident in some of the reefs, the marine life and visibility was still amazing

Diving Australia in June on the Pro Dive Cairns

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