Great Barrier Reef

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The biggest hurdle in diving the Great Barrier Reef is working out where to start. A collection of 2,900 interconnected reefs and islands stretching from Lady Elliot Island near Bundaberg – to the northern tip of Cape York – it’s over 2,000km long. The reefs around Cairns can be reached on a day trip, whereas the reefs from Cairns north, up to the coral sea can only be reached by liveaboard. In the central and southern Great Barrier Reef, staying on an island provides the best option. Though the Great Barrier Reef has suffered numerous bleaching events – there is plenty of great coral, and hence marine life, out there.

The Location tab has a map of the main dive destinations, and if you have 3 or 4 days to a week to spend spend on your dive trip, check out the Resorts and Liveaboards tabs.

Diveplanit does not sell day trips, so if you only have a day at your Great Barrier Reef destination – you’ll need to do your own research. Here are some factors to consider in making that choice.

There are a number of boats that go out to their various mooring spots on the Reef each and every day. Some boats cater for the mass market, and have an anchored pontoon or even ‘Marine Land’ multi-storey platform on the outer reefs. Obviously, the faster the day boat the better – the less time commuting, and the more time on the Reef. However, beware, the bigger the boat, the more people you’ll be sharing that reef with. Many guests will be snorkelling only, others won’t even get wet. Depending on your diving (and navigational) ability, and extent to which you have your own gear, you may be allowed to dive without a guide – some operators do permit this, some don’t.  Some questions to ask if you’re doing you own research:

  • Number of passengers the boat is surveyed for?
  • Staff to passenger ratio?
  • Number of different dive sites visited during the day?
  • Must all dives be guided?  (Is that included in the price?)
  • What exactly is included in the price (gear hire, reef fee, and transfer to/from your accommodation?)

In terms of value – you get what you pay for. If you think in $/dive, and you pay $240 for a day trip and get 3 dives, then that’s $80/dive – plus a free lunch! Note that the day boats offering diving go out of Cairns, whereas the day boats offering snorkelling go out of Port Douglas. If you leave the water at 3:30pm – don’t forget you can’t fly the next day until 3:30pm!

Getting There

Note that the Great Barrier Reef is about the size of Italy. You can spend a day driving from one place to the next. Pick one spot – fly there. On your next trip, pick another spot and fly there.  Unless you have at least a month, (and a lot of money), don’t try to do it all in one go!

You might not think of staying on an island as ‘diving the Great Barrier Reef’, but there are a number of islands in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park which you should certainly consider.  There are distinct advantages, especially if you have to combine your diving holiday with the needs of other family members.  Lady Elliot Island, Lady Musgrave and Heron Island at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef offer great eco-experiences above and below the water line. Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays, also has some interesting dive options. Townsville and Magnetic Island in the central Great Barrier Reef offers the famous wreck of the Yongala, some great reef diving and the recently established Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA).

There are two classes of liveaboard: let’s just call them luxury and economy.  At the luxury end you have Mike Ball’s Spoilsport, and Spirit of Freedom. These boats cruise out overnight to the top end (Cod Hole) and the outer most reefs such as Osprey Reef.  The meals are cooked by qualified chefs, the staff to guest ratio is between 1:3 and 1:4 and the cabins are pretty luxurious.  Trips last 3, 4 or 7 days, they typically go out weekly, and usually include a low level flight back. With up to 16 dives in 4 days the cost per dive is around $140, but you need to factor in all the meals and accommodation you’re not paying for whilst you spend 4 days and nights in the lap of luxury not to mention the quality of the diving. Prodive Cairns also offer three night trips, though their boats are a little less luxurious.

Another style of live-aboard is a combination of day trip, but with any number of overnight stays on-board a larger vessel that stays on the Reef overnight.  This style of live-aboard is offered by Deep Sea Divers Den, where the day boat Sea Quest delivers divers to the Ocean Quest, and Cairns Dive Centre where the MV Reefkist delivers to the MV Kangaroo Explorer.  The advantage here is that you get three dives each day from a combination of the two vessels, but also a night dive on the ‘mothership’.

The Great Barrier Reef has all of the Great Eight iconic animals – as well as heaps of not so iconic, but just as attractive coral fish of all shapes, sizes and colours. If you have a particular species in mind ask your friendly dive travel consultant where the best place to see it is.

from: AUD 1570
2022 minke whale trips with pro dive cairns

2022 Minke Whale Trips with Pro Dive Cairns

Pro Dive Cairns has announced 3-night trips to the Ribbon Reefs to swim with minke whales! These new 3-night trips ex-Cairns include 10 dives and all meals.

Travel between: 31 May 22 and 02 Aug 22

Book now for 2022

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