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Great Barrier Reef Tours and Activities

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Encompassing roughly 3,000 individual reefs and dotted with almost 900 islands and coral cays (small sandy isles), Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most unforgettable natural treasures. Snorkelers and certified divers flock here to see the unparalleled array of marine life.

The Basics
With experts expecting much of the reef’s diversity to dwindle in the next decade, there’s never been a better time to plan a visit to this natural wonder. Seeing the entire Great Barrier Reef could take weeks. The most important scuba diving and snorkeling spots include the Saxon, Hastings, and Norman reefs in the outer Great Barrier Reef. Join one of the area’s many snorkeling and scuba diving-focused cruises or day trips. You can also turn your trip into an educational opportunity by getting your PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certificate. 

You can also explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site from above with a cruise in a catamaran or a glass-bottom boat. Scenic helicopter flights offer an overview and will give you a sense of the immensity of this remarkable ecosystem.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Keep in mind that strenuous water activities are not recommended for people with medical conditions affecting the heart or lungs.
  • If you experience motion sickness, take preventative medication at least 30 minutes prior to boarding the boat. 
  • A stinger suit to protect you from jellyfish is recommended if you will be swimming in the waters off Green and Fitzroy Islands or the Frankland Islands.

How to Get There
The Great Barrier Reef runs 1,426 miles (2,300 kilometers) from Bundaberg to Australia’s northernmost tip, coming closest to the continent right around Queensland. Scuba diving excursions, snorkeling trips, and reef cruises depart from Cairns, Cape Tribulation, Port Douglas, and Townsville. The boat ride from Cairns can take 45–90 minutes, depending on which island you’re headed to.

When to Get There
The water is at its clearest from April to October, but the reef can be enjoyed all year round. From December to March (summertime in the Southern Hemisphere), the water temperature is around 86℉ (30℃). From May to August whales migrate to the reef, and in the spring the coral spawns.

Reefworld
A popular way to experience the Great Barrier Reef, Reefworld consists of two giant pontoons floating over Hardy Reef, one of the site’s smaller reefs. Here, you can snorkel, scuba dive, explore in semi-submersibles, or stay dry in an underwater viewing chamber. Tours to Reefworld depart from Port of Airlie, near Airlie Beach.
Address: Pier Marina, Pier Point Road, Cairns, Tropical North 4870, Australia
Admission: Free
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29 Tours and Activities to Experience Great Barrier Reef

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Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling and Diving Cruise from Cairns

Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling and Diving Cruise from Cairns

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1265
If snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef is on your bucket list, don’t miss this day trip from Cairns. The 35-metre superyacht, Evolution, departs Cairns with a record 5 hours spent exploring 2 spectacular and exclusive outer Great Barrier Reef locations for an adventure-filled day! You’ll visit 2 different locations on the barrier reef for the chance to see tropical marine life in the clear waters. Lunch is included onboard the boat, and you have the option to upgrade to include additional adventures such as introductory or certified scuba diving or a helicopter flight over this UNESCO World Heritage site. Both water sports enthusiasts and novices are welcome. Includes instruction and equipment provided by friendly and professional instructors.
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  • 8 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$129.20
From
$129.20
Taking safety measures

Passions of Paradise Great Barrier Reef Snorkel and Dive Cruise from Cairns by Luxury Catamaran

Passions of Paradise Great Barrier Reef Snorkel and Dive Cruise from Cairns by Luxury Catamaran

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983
Go snorkeling or scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef on a full-day cruise from Cairns. Relax on board your 80-foot (25-meter) luxury catamaran as your captain sails to two exclusive locations on the Great Barrier Reef. Choose to snorkel or dive, with full instruction provided by guides, and see an array of colorful fish, sea turtles, and corals. Your tour includes morning and afternoon tea, and a buffet lunch, with additional beverages available for purchase.
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  • 9 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$144.86
From
$144.86
Taking safety measures

Great Barrier Reef Luxury Snorkel and Dive Cruise from Cairns

Great Barrier Reef Luxury Snorkel and Dive Cruise from Cairns

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540
Spend a day on the Great Barrier Reef at two different snorkel and dive sites on this luxury catamaran cruise from Cairns. Travel in style aboard a comfortable catamaran to a mooring off of Upolu Cay. Take a glass-bottom boat to Upolu Cay, then have time to snorkel or scuba dive. Refuel with a buffet lunch on board the catamaran before heading to your next destination, for more water time, including a guided snorkeling tour.
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  • 9 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$167.17
From
$167.17
Taking safety measures

Seastar Luxury Outer Great Barrier Reef Island and Reef Tour from Cairns

Seastar Luxury Outer Great Barrier Reef Island and Reef Tour from Cairns

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420
Ensure a memorable experience on the Outer Great Barrier Reef on this full-day, all-inclusive cruise aboard a catamaran. Head for Michaelmas Cay and Hastings Outer Reef and plunge into the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef by snorkeling amongst its rich marine life. If you have selected the option, you can also include an introductory or certified dive. Includes morning and afternoon tea, as well as a buffet lunch.
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  • 8 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$168.35
From
$168.35
Taking safety measures

Outer Reef Pontoon Experience from Cairns

Outer Reef Pontoon Experience from Cairns

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255
Enjoy the natural delights of the Great Barrier Reef on an activity cruise from Cairns that gives you several ways to experience this renowned underwater world. After traveling by catamaran to a pontoon moored on the reef, you can observe marine life on a glass-bottom boat or semi-submersible vessel; go snorkeling to spot sea turtles; get your hands wet in the touch pool; upgrade to include a Seawalker Helmet dive; or upgrade to include an introductory or certified scuba dive. Snacks and a boxed lunch are included, and the pontoon is equipped with showers.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$155.82
From
$155.82
Taking safety measures

Green Island & Great Barrier Reef Sailing Cruise from Cairns - only 25 guests

Green Island & Great Barrier Reef Sailing Cruise from Cairns - only 25 guests

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173
Sail on a 2-masted schooner from Cairns to Green Island for a full day of snorkeling, swimming, and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Have a choice of options for exploring Green Island, spending time in the water around the magnificent coral reefs, walking in the rain forest, or lazing on the white sandy beaches. Enjoy the expertise of the superb crew, in addition to buffet lunch, morning and afternoon tea and a glass of wine as you cruise back to Cairns.
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  • 9 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$167.17
From
$167.17
Taking safety measures

Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

Green Island Day Trip from Cairns

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602
Explore the Great Barrier Reef and a lush island rain forest on this full-day catamaran tour to Green Island from Cairns. Create your own perfect day on this protected coral cay with a variety of activities including snorkeling, scuba diving, Seawalking, nature walks, and tours on a glass-bottom boat. Upgrade to include a delicious buffet lunch on board the catamaran and/or a ride in a semi-submarine. It’s a fantastic way to discover the underwater wonders of the world’s most famous reef!
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$85.35
From
$85.35
Taking safety measures

Great Barrier Reef Day Cruise from Cairns Including Snorkeling and Marine Biologist Presentation

Great Barrier Reef Day Cruise from Cairns Including Snorkeling and Marine Biologist Presentation

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573
Discover the underwater beauty of the Great Barrier Reef on a full-day tour from Cairns. Glide across the Coral Sea on a catamaran ride to a premium outer reef location with diverse marine life. Spend hours at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed reef with exclusive access to an activity platform staffed by marine biologist guides. Snorkel, scuba dive, or opt to take a glass-bottom boat tour.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$231.77
From
$231.77
Taking safety measures

3-Day Green Island Great Barrier Reef Package from Cairns

3-Day Green Island Great Barrier Reef Package from Cairns

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7
Enjoy a tranquil getaway at the luxurious Green Island Resort, located in the UNESCO-listed Great Barrier Reef marine park. Spend a day cruising around the Outer reefs, snorkelling amid schools of tropical fish and enjoying thrilling underwater views on a semi-sub cruise. Back on the island, take a hike through the rainforest or try water sports like kayaking or windsurfing, then sip a complimentary cocktail as you watch the sunset. This 3-day tour from Cairns includes accommodation, some meals and round-trip transfers by catamaran.
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  • 3 days
  • Taking safety measures
From
$732.12
From
$732.12
Taking safety measures

Great Barrier Reef Adventure from Cairns

Great Barrier Reef Adventure from Cairns

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14
Experience the breathtaking beauty of the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef. From Great Adventures' spacious reef activity platform moored at the majestic Outer Reef, the coral and marine biodiversity is at its most extreme. There’s an abundance of activities for all ages, swimmers and non-swimmers to enjoy. Snorkel and dive or stay dry and discover the reef in the underwater observatory or from the air-conditioned semi-submersible. There’s also a great range of exciting optional activities includingl scuba diving, scenic helicopter flights and the exclusive Scuba-Doo underwater scooter.
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  • 7 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$202.80
From
$202.80
Taking safety measures

3-Day Best of Cairns Combo: The Daintree Rainforest, Great Barrier Reef, and Kuranda

3-Day Best of Cairns Combo: The Daintree Rainforest, Great Barrier Reef, and Kuranda

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12
Save money by combining the Cairns region's three top activities in one 3-day tour. Begin by exploring the underwater world of the UNESCO-listed Great Barrier Reef with an included introductory dive. On the second day, head for Daintree Rainforest (also UNESCO-listed) to explore the world's oldest continuously surviving rainforest. Your final day is spent gliding above the rainforest canopy on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, then exploring quaint village of Kuranda before returning on the historical Kuranda Scenic Rail.
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  • 3 days
  • Taking safety measures
From
$473.20
From
$473.20
Taking safety measures

Cairns 2-Day Combo: Great Barrier Reef Cruise and Kuranda

Cairns 2-Day Combo: Great Barrier Reef Cruise and Kuranda

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8
Experience two of Cairns’ spectacular natural attractions on with on a 2-day combo tour of the Great Barrier Reef and Kuranda, ideal for first-time visitors. On the first day, you’ll take a cruise on the Great Barrier Reef and have the chance to snorkel with the world’s most biodiverse marine life. Then, on day two, you’ll take the Kuranda Scenic Railway to the mountain town of Kuranda, where you’ll explore the Rainforestation Nature Park. A buffet lunch and hotel pickup and drop-off are included on both days. Accommodation is not included.
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  • 2 days
  • Free Cancellation
From
$377.42
From
$377.42

Ultimate Great Barrier Reef and Rainforest 45-minute Helicopter Tour

Ultimate Great Barrier Reef and Rainforest 45-minute Helicopter Tour

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8
Enjoy the best of both worlds on this exhilarating 45-minute helicopter flight, crossing both land and sea. Swoop over the lush rainforest and thundering waterfalls of the Barron Gorge, then admire the vast reefs and aquamarine waters of the UNESCO-listed Great Barrier Reef. Spot landmarks like Stoney Creek Falls, Green Island and Arlington Reef, and snap aerial photos of the Northern Beaches and Palm Cove. This tour includes hotel pick-up and drop-off from Cairns.
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  • 45 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$396.01
From
$396.01
Taking safety measures

Great Barrier Reef 30-Minute Scenic Helicopter Tour from Cairns

Great Barrier Reef 30-Minute Scenic Helicopter Tour from Cairns

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5
Enjoy unforgettable views of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as you fly over the UNESCO-listed natural wonder in a helicopter. Experience the magnitude of the vast reef as you float overhead on a 25-minute flight, spotting landmarks like Green Island and Upolo Cay and swooping low enough to see coral clusters and schools of tropical fish and rays. This tour includes pick-up from Cairns and Northern Beaches hotels.
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$316.65
From
$316.65
Taking safety measures

Cairns Reef and Rainforest Combo: Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef

Cairns Reef and Rainforest Combo: Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef

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2
Marvel over two UNESCO-listed natural wonders with this great-value combo deal from Cairns. On the first day, set sail for a thrilling cruise around the Great Barrier Reef, spot exotic fish on a glass-bottomed boat tour and marvel at the colorful corals on an introductory scuba dive. On the second day, venture inland to explore the ancient Daintree rainforest, hike through the Mossman Gorge and admire views over the reef from Cape Tribulation. Best of all: the small-group tours both include lunch, hotel pick-up and all activities.
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  • 2 days
  • Taking safety measures
From
$361.56
From
$361.56
Taking safety measures

4-Day Cairns and Great Barrier Reef Tour

4-Day Cairns and Great Barrier Reef Tour

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5
Experience the highlights of Tropical North Queensland with this diverse 4-day tour of Cairns and surrounds. Explore the famous coral gardens and marine life of the Great Barrier Reef with a catamaran cruise, snorkeling adventure and visit to an underwater observatory. Delve into the area’s indigenous history on a tour of Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, and explore the village of Kuranda after a ride on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. All accommodation, ground transport and logistics are arranged for a smooth, hassle-free vacation.
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  • 4 days
  • Taking safety measures
From
$634.25
From
$634.25
Taking safety measures

Private Helicopter Tour: Reef Island Snorkeling and Gourmet Picnic Lunch

Private Helicopter Tour: Reef Island Snorkeling and Gourmet Picnic Lunch

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16
Indulge yourself and your loved ones with a private helicopter tour that takes you out to a secluded island on the Great Barrier Reef. Admire the reef from above during your 25-minute scenic helicopter flight, then experience its natural beauty up close after your pilot gently lands on the gorgeous and remote Vlasoff Cay (or Turtle Beach if Vlasoff Cay is occupied). Enjoy a two-hour retreat in paradise with everything you need provided, including a picnic basket with champagne and nibbles, picnic blanket, deck chairs, beach umbrella and snorkeling equipment.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$626.16
From
$626.16
Taking safety measures

Gold Class VIP Great Barrier Reef Cruise from Cairns by Luxury Superyacht

Gold Class VIP Great Barrier Reef Cruise from Cairns by Luxury Superyacht

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Gold Class is a private luxury lounge on the second floor/deck of a 35m Superyacht "Evolution" which operates day tours to the Outer Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, Tropical North Queensland. Concierge service and private hotel transfers, exclusive time with a Marine Biologist is also unique and special inclusion of this VIP experience.
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  • 8 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$625.63
per group
From
$625.63
per group
Taking safety measures

Cruise out and Cruise return, plus 10 minute Scenic Flight

Cruise out and Cruise return, plus 10 minute Scenic Flight

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3
Experience the magic of the Great Barrier Reef from above, with an exhilarating helicopter flight over picturesque reef systems and up close onboard luxury vessel, Evolution. be treated to an Aussie BBQ lunch and snorkelling to discover the mysteries of the underwater world. Activities available onboard at an extra cost include scuba diving (for beginners and experienced divers) and coral viewing from the semi-submersible.
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  • 7 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$228.56
From
$228.56
Taking safety measures

12-Day Great Barrier Reef Marine Conservation Program from Cairns

12-Day Great Barrier Reef Marine Conservation Program from Cairns

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7
Travel to the Great Barrier Reef and become a Marine Conservation Volunteer and official surveyor for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Parks Authority. Your tour operator, No Limit Adventures has teamed up with Passions of Paradise, a leading scuba diving and outer reef operator in Cairns with a high commitment to environmental sustainability. Together we are offering our Marine Conservation Program run on the Great Barrier Reef combining firstly the adventure of scuba diving with the opportunity to help the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) monitor and identify reef health indicators on the Great Barrier Reef. Spend your volunteer holiday in Cairns and enjoy our 12-day program that combines the adventure of diving with marine conservation on the Great Barrier Reef. Become part of our dedicated team and make a genuine contribution to marine conservation and care for the Great Barrier Reef. Your efforts will make a difference for future generations.
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  • 12 days
From
$2,700.36
From
$2,700.36

Learn To Scuba Dive: 4 Day Great Barrier Reef PADI Open Water Course Day Trips

Learn To Scuba Dive: 4 Day Great Barrier Reef PADI Open Water Course Day Trips

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Learn to scuba dive with Cairns longest established dive school. Our instructors are all qualified and dedicated to your success. Minimum age is 12 years old.
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  • 4 days
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$559.86
From
$559.86
Taking safety measures

6-Day Best of Cairns Including the Great Barrier Reef, Kuranda and the Daintree Rainforest

6-Day Best of Cairns Including the Great Barrier Reef, Kuranda and the Daintree Rainforest

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1
Get a comprehensive tour of the Cairns area on this 6-day tour that hits all the highlights and landmarks. Spend a full day exploring the Great Barrier Reef with an introductory dive, ride the Scenic Railway to Kuranda, and walk among the old-growth trees in the Daintree Rainforest. All transportation, meals per itinerary, and five nights' accommodation included.
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  • 6 days
  • Taking safety measures
From
$811.80
From
$811.80
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4-Day Cairns Ultimate Combo: Daintree Rainforest, Reef, Kuranda & Paronella Park

4-Day Cairns Ultimate Combo: Daintree Rainforest, Reef, Kuranda & Paronella Park

Enjoy four fun filled days exploring the Great Barrier Reef, including a free Introductory Dive; Glide over the Rainforest canopy on board the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, enjoy free time in Kuranda Village before returning by the amazing Kuranda Scenic Train; Explore the Amazing Tropical Highlands & Paronella Park. Finish your three days with a visit to the 'oldest rainforest on earth' with a day tour to the stunning Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation. Please note: accommodation is not included
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  • 4 days
  • Taking safety measures
From
$642.51
From
$642.51
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Australia East Coast: End of Semester

Australia East Coast: End of Semester

The Australia East Coast: End of Semester was created with students and backpackers in mind. Travel the most popular route in the world with the Australian travel experts. If you’re wanting a tour that ticks off the bucket list, with a likeminded group, a legendary tour guide, with the option to explore more destinations then this is the tour for you!
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  • 15 days
  • Taking safety measures
From
$1,639.61
From
$1,639.61
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