About the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The marine park stretches over 300 000 square kilometres and runs almost parallel to the Queensland coast – stretching from the town of Bundaberg in the south up past the tip of Cape York.

The reef lies between 15 kilometres and 150 kilometres off shore and is around 65 Km wide in some parts. Each reef system is a gathering of brilliant, vivid coral structures providing scuba divers with the most spectacular underwater experiences imaginable.

The Great Barrier Reef was declared a world heritage area in 1981 and added to the National Heritage list in 2007.

The Great Barrier Reef is actually made up of over 3000 individual reefs and 600 islands which reveal many astounding underwater attractions, including the world’s largest collection of corals.

In fact, more than 400 different kinds of coral! It is home to over 1500 species of tropical fish, dolphins, whales, more than 200 types of birds, around 20 types of reptiles including 5 out of the 7 species of marine turtles, and giant clams over 120 years old.

What is coral?

 Coral is a marine organism in the class Anthozoa. There are over 2,000 species in this class, many of which form distinctive colonies of genetically identical organisms.

Many people refer to these colonies as “coral”, and to the individuals inside the colonies as “polyps.” Coral plays a critical role in the marine environment, with collections of colonies known as reefs hosting around 25% of the known marine organisms, despite the fact that coral is present on less than 1% of the ocean floor.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • What is the cancellation policy?

  • We require a minimum of 48 hours notice to re-schedule 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.
  • 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