Frequently Asked Questions

We are here to make sure your trip to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the trip of a life time!  Below are our most Frequently Asked Questions BUT you may have more.  If that is the case please contact us so we can help!

How do I know what dates are available?

Our website has live availability and will only let you book if we have space available.

What is the difference between snorkelling and scuba diving?

Snorkelling doesn’t require tanks and other expensive equipment like regulators. Snorkelers remain at the surface, allowing you to breathe with your face down. Scuba diving allows you to breathe underwater, diving several meters in depth

Can snorkelers and divers travel on the same trip?

Yes! Snorkelers and divers can travel together on any of our trips offered. On Reef Encounter, snorkelers and divers are welcome to share a room. They can participate in the same water sessions throughout the day.

I'm travelling alone. What are my options?

When you are travelling by yourself or in a group of odd numbers  there are 2 options that you can choose from

Option number 1 is to take the room ‘Sole Occupancy’ which means that you have a double stateroom to yourself the price is extra

Option number 2 is to share a twin stateroom ( 2 single beds) with someone of the same gender who is unknown to you – there are a lot of people who travel by themselves which makes this option quite popular

Where will I be diving and how deep are the dives?

Reef Encounter and Reef Experience visit four Outer Great Barrier Reef locations on a regular basis – Norman, Saxon, Hastings and Breaking Patches. Rarely, when weather is poor at these locations we will visit Michaelmas Cay/Reef which is a sheltered location. The dive depths vary at each reef. Deep dives are available up to 30 metres at certain reefs providing the diver holds a minimum Advanced Open Water certification. Open Water divers can dive to 18 metres. Introductory divers can go to 12 metres for a maximum of 40 minutes.

Are there sharks on the Great Barrier Reef? Should I be concerned?

Frequently Asked Questions

White Tip Reef Shark

You are very likely to see sharks on the reef, but no need to worry – only harmless sharks who are more afraid of you than you are of them! Common shark sightings are grey whaler sharks, white tipped reef sharks and black tipped reef sharks.

I have my equipment. Can I bring it with me onboard?

You are welcome to bring your own equipment, however we do provide high quality all dive and snorkel equipment onboard. Most equipment is included in the price of your trip. Extra costs are required for wetsuit on Reef Encounter (included on Reef Experience). Prescription masks are also available for hire.

Do I Need my Certification?

Qualified (certified) divers are required to provide proof of their certification level. Your scuba qualification must be ‘Open Water Level’ or higher, for you to go diving as a Certified Diver. This will be checked by the Dive Supervisor at the start of your trip. If unable to verify your certification level, all operators reserve the right to refuse a person scuba diving as a certified diver.

We are able help verify your diver rating in the case of lost/missing licenses but must be contacted in advance of your travel date. For most major dive agencies, we can often assist you to find proof of your qualification via the training agency if we are given enough time in advance of your trip. See ‘Contact Us’

Will weather affect my trip?

Weather is always a big factor when choosing the date for a reef trip. However, many people judge this based on the weather in Cairns. Remember that Reef Encounter and Reef Experience both travel 70 km off the coast of Cairns and the weather is much different out on the reef. Rain does often hug the coastline (as we get poor weather off the mountains), so even if it’s dreary in Cairns it’s more often than not beautiful out at the reef!

If it does rain, will I still be able to snorkel and/or dive?

People often ask if they can snorkel and dive when it’s raining. The answer is YES! Rain does not typically affect snorkelling conditions. Often it’s raining and snorkelers and divers will find the best visibility and calm waters. What is important to consider is wind and wave speed along with current. When waves are minimal and the waters are calm, you will find it easier to snorkel.

Are there Age & Medical Conditions for Scuba Diving?

Queensland, Australia has some of the strictest scuba diving rules in the world but also the safest scuba diving record.    Certified divers, beginner/resort divers and anyone participating in scuba dive training should not assume that because it is considered safe for you to scuba dive in another country that it will be fine in Australia.

Many medical conditions, health issues and/or medications (both past and present) may prevent you from participating in scuba activities unless a dive medical certificate to Australian Standards AS4005.1 can be provided to the dive supervisor onboard.

Some prescription and non prescription medications may also prevent you from diving (including some malaria prevention tablets) or require you to bring a medical certificate to Australian Standards AS4005.1 with you on your trip

*If you are thinking about trying a scuba dive, complete our MEDICAL QUESTIONNAIRE

What About Flying after Scuba Diving?

You should not travel to a high altitude (fly or visit a mountain area etc) within 12 hours of completing a single dive or 18 hours after multiple dives. It is recommended to wait 24 hours, if possible, before doing so. This is important information if you were planning on flying out of Cairns or visiting the Tablelands within these time periods.

Are there Special Terms and Conditions for Scuba Diving Activities

  • Yes.  All scuba divers booking a tour with us accept that they have read and agree to the Medical Questionnaire, and therefore are aware of the age, medical and health requirements for scuba within Australia and all other terms and conditions of the trip
  • At the start of your tour with, all persons are required to fill out a standard Queensland Medical Declaration form.   For children, this form must be filled in and signed buy a parent or guardian. All questions must be answered honestly, as it is a legal document. Your safety is our primary concern. For snorkelers, this information will simply help us advise you accordingly regarding snorkelling safety. For scuba divers, some medical conditions and/or medications and/or health issues (both past and present) may prevent a person from participating in scuba diving activities
  • Minimum age for resort scuba diving or participation in scuba diver training is 12 years in Queensland, Australia
  • Minimum age for certified divers is 10 years
  • All junior divers must either be accompanied by a certified parent or guardian or must dive with a dive professional at an additional charge
  • No refunds will be offered for uncompleted dives
  • No refunds will be offered for uncompleted dives due to medical restrictions
  • Certified divers must be ‘Open Water Diver’ level or higher, and bring proof of their qualification with them to be checked by the the Dive Supervisor. If unable to verify your certification level we reserve the right to refuse a person scuba diving as a certified diver
  • Guided dives are available at every reef location for certified divers who choose to take a guided tour (additional charge) – otherwise divers will be buddied together to go scuba diving. Certified divers remain responsible for following safe diving practices and for their own safety
  • Non-qualified divers will be accompanied by a dive professional at all times – with a maximum of four persons to one Scuba Instructor
  • All passengers are strongly advised to purchase comprehensive travel insurance that includes trip cancellation insurance, evacuation and medical cover for scuba diving. Please read the wording of your insurance policy carefully and ensure it covers you for all intended activities – including all scuba activities. In a medical emergency, any evacuation, vessel relocation, medical or other expenses are the financial responsibility of that passenger
  • We reserve the right to change locations, prices, vessels and itineraries due to unforeseen circumstances and without notice, but will full consideration of safety. Each day the Captain will assess weather conditions and other technical issues to determine the vessels location
  • For a single no decompression scuba dive, you should not fly or go to altitude for at least 18 hours after a scuba dive.  For multiple dives you should not fly for 24 hours after your last dive.  If Skydiving or Hot Air Ballooning you must wait 24 hours after your dive.  We recommend waiting a minimum 24 hours whenever possible.
A minimum of 48 hours’ notice is required to make amendments to prepaid tour components; including equipment hire, guided tours or course fees. No reimbursement will be offered if persons choose not to complete the tour as booked in its entirety, once the tour has commenced

What are the Terms & Conditions?

Your itinerary and locations may change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Each day the captain will assess weather conditions and other technical issues to determine the vessels location for that day.

This website acts only as an agent and holds no responsibility for operators or the tours advertised within. Although we endeavor to provide accurate information we are not liable for inaccurate information concerning services. It is recommended all bookings are confirmed 48 hours in advance of the tour departureAll bookings and prices are subject to confirmationPlease read the conditions of individual tours, packages and accommodation, located in the ‘Read Policies’ section at the bottom of each tour information page. Cancellation policies, terms and conditions will differ between tours, packages and accommodations. We are not liable for changes to tours, pricing, locations or itineraries; all of which are subject to change without noticeNeither this site, nor any associated company or agent advertised through this site is responsible for costs or losses resulting from alterations, cancellations, loss of baggage, property damage, delay or personal injuryLinks provided to other internet sites are provided for the user’s convenience and do not constitute endorsement of the information at those sites. We accept no responsibility for material contained in any site that is linked to this internet site

All child prices and family packages are based on children age 4 – 11 years. Under 4’s travel free. 12 years and above are adult prices

Should I have Travel & Dive Insurance?

All persons are strongly advised to purchase comprehensive travel insurance that includes trip cancellation insurance, evacuation and medical cover.

Please read the wording of your insurance policy carefully and ensure it covers you for all potential activities.

In a medical emergency, any evacuation, relocation, medical or other expenses are the financial responsibility of that person.  You should be aware that scuba diving and other in-water activities are not covered by all travel insurance companies

What is the cancellation policy?

A minimum of 48 hours’ notice is required to re-schedule or alter a reservation

Cancellation fees are as follows:

  • 20% cancellation fee 30 days or more prior to departure
  • 50% cancellation fee if within 30 days prior to departure
  • 100% cancellation fee within 14 days prior to departure

There will be no refund of any part of your tour costs should you fail to arrive at a scheduled tour departure time. Tour departures may not be delayed due to passenger circumstances – including events beyond your control, medical problems, airline delays, weather etc.

A minimum of 48 hours’ notice is required to make amendments to prepaid tour components; including equipment hire, guided tours or course fees. No reimbursement will be offered if persons choose not to complete the tour as booked in its entirety, once the tour has commenced

All passengers are strongly advised to purchase comprehensive travel insurance that includes trip cancellation insurance, evacuation and medical cover. Please read the wording of your insurance policy carefully and ensure it covers you for all potential activities

Please refer to Trade Practices Act 1974

Schedules are subject to change