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Cairns Visitor Info
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Ideas to help plan your Tropical North Queensland holiday

Great Barrier Reef day trips


A day trip to the Great Barrier Reef is a must-do for all visitors and locals to Cairns. Tusa Reef Tours are the Great Barrier Reef experts, providing snorkel and dive day tours to the Outer Great Barrier Reef for the past 35 years. Get away from the crowds and visit their exclusive outer reef moorings and discover the colours and abundant marine life of the reef. You’ll be provided with top-quality snorkel gear including exclusive waterproof bone-conducting headsets with educational reef commentary. A dedicated marine guide will show you how to use the equipment and teach you the best techniques, and soon you’ll be snorkelling over the reef, mesmerised by the tropical fish and vividly colourful corals.

If you would like to experience the thrill of scuba diving, you can opt for an Introductory Scuba Dive and be guided by a highly experienced instructor who will be with you every step of the way. No previous diving experience is required although you will need to be a confident swimmer and be able to meet medical requirements.

Tusa Reef Tours day trips visit two exclusive outer reef sites per day. They include all equipment and instruction, morning and afternoon tea, a fresh and healthy buffet lunch, guided snorkel tour and reef interpretation presentation.

Tusa Reef Tours Dive Deck


For a Great Barrier Reef island experience with a difference, you can’t go past the Frankland Islands. This group of five national park islands is something of a hidden gem.

Frankland Islands Reef Cruises has an exclusive commercial permit to visit Normanby Island, bringing a maximum of 100 visitors per day. The trip starts with coach transfers from Cairns and a rainforest river cruise before crossing to the island – the shortest open water crossing of all the Cairns Great Barrier Reef tours.

Arriing at Normanby Island, you’ll find a paradise of white sands, palm trees, rainforest and healthy fringing reefs. Snorkel straight off the beach and discover turtles, colourful coral gardens, ‘nemo’ clownfish and more. Your day also includes a tropical buffet lunch served right on the beach. You can also swim, kayak, paddleboard and take a guided island walk, discovering tidal pools and a variety of wildlife on the island.

Cairns Island day tour - Frankland Islands Reef Cruises

learn to scuba dive

A PADI Open Water certification is the first step in a world of underwater adventure and the most recognised scuba qualification worldwide. If you are interested in learning to scuba dive, this is the place to start! Divers Den is the number one choice for scuba diving courses in Cairns and their team of diving professionals can take you from beginner all the way through to instructor. In their 30+ years they have taught over 150,000 divers right here on the Great Barrier Reef.

You can complete your PADI Open Water Courses in four days (or less, with PADI’s e-Learning option) and can include a mixture of online courses and classroom study at the Divers Den school here in Cairns. You will hone your diving skills in their dedicated training pool before taking the plunge at one of their many great dive locations on the outer reef.

Options to complete your study aboard the floating reef hotel ‘OceanQuest’ are also available and can also include night dives with additional training.

Learn to Scuba Dive on Great Barrier Reef with Divers Den

Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard Diving

For the experienced scuba diver, a Great Barrier Reef liveaboard trip is the ultimate adventure! Our sister vessel Spirit of Freedom offers premium liveaboard dive experiences from Cairns to the remote regions of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea.

Explore the beautiful and rarely visited Ribbon Reefs, or venture out into the Coral Sea to Osprey Reef, where ancient volcanic atolls have created 1,000-metre walls and natural amphitheatres for sharks and large schooling fish to gather. From the tinest macro life to the grandeur of manta rays, sharks and minke whales, there’s so much to see on a Spirit of Freedom liveaboard.

Trips depart regularly from Cairns, with 3, 4 or 7-night itineraries available. And after an unforgettable dive trip, what better way to reminisce and farewell new friends than with a Spirit of Cairns dinner cruise?

Cairns liveaboard diving - Spirit of Freedom