Scuba Dive the Great Barrier Reef

Trying to work out where to stay at the Great Barrier Reef? Discover a great selection of accommodation, the length and breadth of the Great Barrier Reef and beyond. Search for hotel rooms and book online.

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  • Luxury Reef Hotels
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  • Capital City Hotels
  • Hotels Beyond The Reef

Great Barrier Reef’s islands are simply enchanting, with the choice of over 100 islands from unique and exotic islands to the world famous Whitsundays.

Queensland is unique amongst the Australian states in that it has a number of genuine coastal capitals.

Discover a diverse range of experiences in the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef is a gathering of brilliant, vivid coral providing divers with the most spectacular underwater experience imaginable.

Scuba Diving
Snorkel and dive the Great Barrier Reef.

Map of the Great Barrier Reef

If you are a certified Scuba diver or a snorkeller, the Great Barrier Reef has some of the best ocean life in the world. If you have never done a Scuba dive before, the Great Barrier Reef offers some great places to learn to Scuba dive.

The Great Barrier Reef is world renowned for it’s amazing scuba diving locations. Bommies, coral reefs and an abundance of marine life stretch for the entire 2,300km length of the reef.

There are a wide range of dive sites along the Great Barrier Reef, there are calm, protected, shallow spots around the islands, perfect for first-timers, there are gentle reef sites, rich in fish life and corals and the deeper sites on the outer reefs for those with some experience. All sites are best reached by boat ranging from luxury cruisers to spectacular sail boats. For those visitors who have never put their head under the water, but want to see if they can enjoy snorkelling or scuba diving, there are excellent one-day, first-time dive trips.

Scuba Dive the Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef offers a range of scuba dive experiences for both the beginner and the experienced diving expert. Diving expeditions depart daily from all the major cities and towns along the coast and from most island resorts. No matter where you stay on the reef, you are always within a 20 – 60 minute boat ride of an excellent diving spot.

The late, great Jacques Cousteau famously named the Heron Bommie off Heron Island as one of his top ten favourite diving sites in the world.

Douglas Adams, the author of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy wrote an amusing anecdote about his experience diving at Hayman Island on the reef.

The Great Barrier Reef offers all manner of accommodation for singles, couples and families. The keen diver will be able to fine a suitable location to stay regardless of budget.

The Great Barrier Reef, Australia is one of the natural wonders of the world and a superb place to indulge in the best scuba diving in the world.

Cairns Diving Tour Operators

Diving from Cairns offers a truly unique reef experience for the traveller who seeks a more personalised and relaxed approach to exploring the Great Barrier Reef by mask, snorkel and fins.

Diving Day Tours

Great Adventures – Great Barrier Reef Adventure
Destination: Outer Barrier Reef (Norman Reef)

Great Adventures – Green Island & Great Barrier Reef Adventure
Destination: Outer Barrier Reef plus 2 hour stopover on Green Island

Reef Magic Marine World – Outer Barrier Reef Tour
Destination: Outer Great Barrier Reef, Moore Reef

Sunlover Cruises – Outer Barrier Reef Scuba Dive Tour
Destination: Moore Reef Pontoon

Quicksilver – Great Barrier Reef Tour
Destination: Outer Barrier Reef, Agincourt Reef

Ocean Freedom – Upolu Cay Tour
Destination: Upolu Cay & Upolu Reef

M/V Osprey – Outer Barrier Reef Tour
Destination: 2 Outer Barrier Reef Locations

Reef Experience – Outer Barrier Reef Tour
Destination: Norman, Saxon, Hastings and Michaelmas Reef Locations

Reef Quest – Outer Barrier Reef Tour
Destination: 2 Reef Locations on the Outer Barrier Reef – (17 private exclusive dive sites)

Seastar – Michaelmas Cay & Hastings Reef Tour
Destination: Michaelmas Cay & Hastings Reef

Great Barrier Reef Experiences

There are plenty of things to experience on Great Barrier Reef.


Townsville, a thriving metropolis, is the unofficial capital of North Queensland and one of the fastest growing regions in Australia.


Rockhampton is set under Mount Archer, posing an impressive backdrop for the vibrant City centre, coast and the outback beyond.

Charters Towers

Charters Towers
Charters Towers is one of the most beautiful inland cities in Queensland, with unrivalled architecture and a unique history.

Diving the Great Barrier Reef: Regions, Season, Guide & Tips (2022 EDITION)

Scuba Diving the Great Barrier Reef is one of the most unique experiences known to diver.

Being the world’s largest coral reef system – one that stretches for over 2,300km (1,400 miles) – an area so huge it can be seen from space, it is home to an insane variety of marine life from sharks, turtles, whales and manta rays to reef fish, macro life, seahorses and cephalopods. Crikey!

With superb coral reef, insane visibility up to 60m, one of the best shipwrecks in the world and beginner friendly conditions as well as a few more challenging dive sites – there is something here for everyone.

Yet, this can make it difficult to categorise the major diving regions of the Great Barrier Reef – which areas are known for what kind of marine life, underwater conditions and how do you access them?

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Some regions are much harder to reach than others, making the travel logistics harder, but the underwater sites more pristine and rewarding.

In this whale shark of an article I’ll be guiding you through the major dive regions of the Great Barrier Reef.

I’ll also cover options for how to dive here and all the other travel logistics you need to consider like when to go, how to get there and the types of dive safari available. Let’s do this!

Table of Content:

Diving Regions of the Great Barrier Reef

#1 Outer Great Barrier Reef

  • Easiest to reach

The Outer Great Barrier Reef refers to the part that is located around the central region of the entire Great Barrier Reef, some 60km from the shore of Cairns. It can be reached within 90 minutes by most high speed boats and subsequently is accessible by both liveaboards and from dive resorts. More divers go here than any other region of the Great Barrier Reef.

With many shallow dive sites that are lacking in currents, this is an excellent region for beginners and indeed more people complete their open water certification here than nearly anywhere else in the world, besides Koh Tao.

The underwater topography itself very interesting and varied, with the outer great barrier reef being comprised of a never ending assortment of hard coral pinnacles, caverns, and ledges to explore; these are home to many reef fish, reef sharks, turtles and sessile marine life.

In deeper waters, one will encounter pelagic fish like Maori Wrasse, Jacks, Barracuda and Trevally as well as the chance to also spot whale sharks and manta rays during the colder months.

The Outer Great Barrier Reef grows from the ocean floor up, rather than from a land base. The upside of this, is that it means there is a lot of open space to swim around in and a good mix of reef life and larger pelagics to be enouuntered.

There’s a number of liveaboards that explore these favourite regions of the outer great barrier reef including Rum Runner, which offers short and action packed trips lasting just 1 – 2 days and Ocean Quest, which offers fluro night dives and is also the cheapest option!

#2 Ribbon Reefs

  • Can only be reached via liveaboard

The Ribbon Reefs are a series of long and thin stretches of coral reef, located further north from the Outer Great Barrier Reef, being some 50-100km further north than the region referred to by divers as the outer great barrier reef.

Due to their greater distance from the city of Cairns, these reefs are both more pristine and generally only accessed by liveaboard.

Generally speaking, the ribbon reefs are no more than 450m wide and tend to be fairly shallow; reaching as high as to 5m below the water’s surface. Consequently, many of these dive sites are also beginner friendly, especially as currents are not very strong at many of them.

The marine biodiversity to be found here is extremely impressive, more so than that of the outer reef region further down south. In addition to many reef fish and various interesting macro critters around the colourful hard corals, one can also encounter a great deal of large pelagic ish including Sweetlips, Coral Trout and Triggerfish.

There’s also turtles, reef sharks, manta rays and whale sharks during the colder months and cetaceans including minke whales! Several liveaboards such as Spoilsport and Spirit of Freedom actually offer special minke whale themed diving expeditions!

Generally, divers characterise the ribbon reef into 10 separate reefs, which not too surprisingly are numbered ribbon reefs #1 through to #10 – there are many fantastic dive sites around each.

An all time favourite dive site, located at ribbon reef #10 is Cod Hole, which is world famous for the numerous and friendly Potato Cod that divers will encounter here! These Potato Cod reach truly vast proportions due to having been fed by divers for over two decades.

They’ll expect no less from you and subsequently don’t be surprised if for the entire duration of your dive, you are encountered by several of these mighty yet harmless fish.

Because the Ribbon Reefs are too far from the dive resorts of Cairns to be accessed by them, it is mostly liveaboard divers who come here. However, 10km north of Ribbon lies Lizard Island, which in addition to being the location of many great additional dives, including superb macro dives has a dive resort from which you can access the upper ribbon reefs.

That said, the best way to fully explore the dive sites around all ten of the ribbon reefs is undoubtedly with liveaboard.

#3 Far North: Osprey Reef & Yongala Wreck

  • The most seldom visited diving areas of the Great Barrier Reef

Located some 350km from Cairns, Osprey Reef is the most northerly of the Coral Sea Reefs. It is a submerged atoll, separated from the continental shelf by a deep water trough. Most dive sites here are defined by vertical walls rising from the deep, covered in a mish mash of many soft coral species that comprise a dazzling array of colours.

The marine biodiversity here is genuinly incredible, with the most defining characteristic of this area, being the large pelagic fish species such as sailfish, marlin and whale sharks…as well as numerous sharks including grey reef, silky, silver tip and even hammerhead sharks.

That said, amidst the reef, one can still spot many smaller animals like countless reef fish, olive sea snakes, pipefish, scorpionfish and gobies. There’s also green and loggerhead turtles as well as a good chance of spotting eagle rays and even manta rays.

This area is generally regarded as one of the very best diving destinations in Australia due to both the superb visibility, pristine coral reef and many large pelagic species found here.

Osprey Reef, is without a doubt among the all time most off the beaten track dive destinations of the Great Barrier Reef. Only a few liveaboards venture this far, namely: Spoilsport and Spirit of Freedom. Whilst this does mean places can be limited, the plus side is you won’t have to share your dive sites with many, if any other divers.

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An all time favourite dive site of Osprey Reef and certainly the best area for witnessing huge numbers of sharks all at once is North Horn.

The most common sharks here are silver tip and grey sharks, but all of the previously mentioned species can also be seen and it’s common practice to organise special shark feeding dives for those prepared to experience the ultimate adrenaline rush.

Another far northern dive site of the Great Barrier Reef is the legendary Yongala Wreck – a 110m long former freight steamer that sank in 1911 along with all 124 of it’s passengers during a tropical cyclone.

Only discovered in 1958, the Yongala Wreck is now widely considered to be one of the hands down best wreck dives in the world. Lying on a 33 meter deep sandy bottom; this mighty shipwreck is in excellent condition, although it’s illegal to actually swim inside due to the fact that all of it’s passengers perished, making it a gravesite.

However, the main reason for diving here is to observe the insane variety of exciting marine life cursing around the outside of the wreck. One can spot giant groupers that are literally the size of a small car, vast schools of barracuda, manta and eagle rays, numerous sea turtles, sea snakes, reef sharks and may even glimpse bull sharks and tiger sharks.

It’s even possible to glimpse bottlenose dolphins, whale sharks and brydes whales! Truly, Yongala Wreck is a pelagic lovers paradise and few dive sites, wreck or not can boast such an insane and consistent variety of large marine animals.

There’s also many thousands of reef fish making their homes amidst the colourful hard corals, soft corals, gorgonian fans and sponges that colourfully adorn the outside of the wreck.

Do note that this is one of the few Great Barrier Reef dive sites that’s mainly suited for more experienced divers due to the poor visibility and strong currents usually found here. For those up to the challenge though, the rewards are well worth it – if you really want to dive on the edge, it’s even possible to arrange a special night dive around the Yongala Wreck for a jaw dropping, albeit somewhat spooky experience.

Generally speaking, you can only visit the Yongala Wreck with those same liveaboards that venture to Osprey Reef, Spoilsport and Spirit of Freedom.

How to go Scuba Diving at the Great Barrier Reef

Option 1 – Liveaboard:

This is where you live…. aboard…a boat specially outfitted for scuba diving, aka a liveaboard, for anywhere from a few days to several weeks, whilst being toured around the best and most hard to access dive sites in the region; many of which can only be reached in this way – including Ribbon Reefs and the Far Northern Dive Sites like Osprey Reef and Yongala Wreck. The boat’s crew will include dive guides, naturalists and chefs.

Liveaboards vary a lot! Some are more like backpacker hostels on water with basic amenities and dorm style accommodation – they can be very affordable indeed especially with the price of meals also being included. Other liveaboards are huge vessels with lavish features like luxury cabins, spas and jet skis.

Furthermore, whereas some liveaboards are more suitable for beginners – by visiting easier dive sites and allowing guests to undergo scuba diving courses throughout the trip; other liveaboards are tailored towards advanced divers by requiring a minimum number of logged courses and scuba certification level for all guests. In addition to visiting the all round best dive sites, these vessels will also incorporate more challenging dive sites into their itineraries.

When it comes to choosing a Great Barrier Reef liveaboard, not only are there a lot of options; their is insane variation amongst them in terms of the dive itinerary, type of diver they are designed for, boat facilities, extra activities, cost, etc. So, how the hell do you choose the best option for you? Easy. Check out Diving Squad’s brutally honest Reviews of the Best Great Barrier Reef Liveaboards.

Honestly, I feel that the best way to dive the Great Barrier Reef is via a liveaboard. There’s several reasons for this: firstly, you will get to experience a much wider variety of dive sites then you would if you were diving from a dive resort; due to the fact that you’re not limited to the dive sites that can be reached from Cairns in less than half a day. The best and most off the beaten track dive sites can only be reached via liveaboard!

Secondly, your time spent travelling between dive sites will be aboard a larger and more comfortable vessel than any you’d travel on from a dive resort. We’re talking vessels with their own bars here, TV entertainment rooms – luxury cabins. You name it!

Thirdly, you can choose a very specific kind of adventure – whether you want to go on a liveaboard experienced that just lasts a couple of days or embark upon a diving adventure for over a week – pair up with other novice divers or rub shoulders with seasoned pros, it’s all possible. Check out the article on Great Barrier Reef liveaboards for more info!

Many liveaboards are surprisingly affordable and because they include the cost of meals and accommodation, you will actually end up spending less money then you would at many dive resorts. Furthermore, a considerable amount of liveaboards only require you to have your open water certification, making them beginner friendly – such as the liveaboards Ocean Quest and Coral Sea Dreaming.

Is Diving The Great Barrier Reef Safe?

A trip to the Great Barrier Reef is a bucket-list experience for many scuba divers. The world’s largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef spans more than 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers) off the coast of northeastern Australia. With an average depth of around 43 feet (13 meters), it’s home to an incredible diversity of marine life, including 1,500 species of fish, 411 types of hard coral, 1,625 species of mollusk, and many more. But is diving the Great Barrier Reef safe? Here’s what you need to know before you dive the Great Barrier Reef.

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The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most recognizable marine destinations. It is critical to be water-smart and use common sense in order to stay safe in the water. Unless you are permitted to swim, most tours do not allow you to swim. Floatation devices can be used if you are able to swim but require assistance. If you come into contact with a tautosaur, it is a marine animal that can seriously hurt you if you do so. During the months of May to September, your stinger suit will protect you over 75% of your body and keep you safe. We are medically trained to handle emergencies; however, you must inform your crew when we become ill.

If you want to truly immerse yourself in the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, scuba diving is an excellent choice. You can snorkel at sea for a quick look, but scuba diving eliminates any frustrations you may experience by simply snorkeling along the reef, such as tiredness, breathing, and vision issues.

Snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef is a must do on your itinerary, and you should stick to the best and safest places on the reef. We’ll look at some of the best snorkeling spots along this incredible stretch of coastline.

Sediment, nitrogen, and pesticides from nearby farms have all contributed to the decline in water quality and growth of algae. Fishing, particularly illegal fishing, and tourism are also issues. Corals have also been impacted by the crown-of-thorns starfish, a natural predator.

The Great Barrier Reef attracts over one million visitors every year, whether they snorkel, dive, or simply swim around the impressive reef in its beautiful waters. It is the reef that draws visitors to the area.

Are There Dangerous Sharks In The Great Barrier Reef?


There are dangerous sharks in the great barrier reef, but they are not common. The most dangerous shark in the great barrier reef is the great white shark.

Australia has the highest number of shark species on the planet, with 180 different species found in the country. Large great whites and tiger sharks are the only sharks that have been observed attacking humans, with most of these species posing little threat. Most of the sharks that visit the Great Barrier Reef are harmless to humans, despite the fact that sharks occasionally appear here. Sharks have a one-in- 3,748,067 chance of killing you. It is not uncommon for humans to be unconcerned about these reef sharks. Sharks are not commonly encountered while snorkeling or scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. A trip to the reef can be a highlight, if not the highlight, of any shark trip.

A World Heritage site, the Great Barrier Reef is a globally important marine environment that supports a diverse range of marine life. A variety of dangerous creatures can pose a threat to humans, but the reef is a popular tourist destination. The delightfully cute and harmless-looking blue-ringed octopus, as well as cone snails, can be dangerous predators. Lionfish, stingrays, stonefish, and sea snakes are just a few of the creatures to be aware of. There are a number of dangerous creatures on the Great Barrier Reef that pose a risk to humans, but it is a beautiful and important area. Visitors to the reef should always be cautious, especially during the peak summer months.

What Is The Biggest Shark In The Great Barrier Reef?

Whale Sharks are known for their ability to migrate over 1,000 miles from warm and tropical waters and swim to depths of over 1,000 meters. Feeding aggregations are common on a number of reefs, including Ningaloo Reef.

What Is The Most Dangerous Thing In The Great Barrier Reef?


Climate change is the most serious threat to the Great Barrier Reef, which is threatened to extinction.

It is the largest coral reef system in the world, and it is located in the Great Barrier Reef region of Australia. It covers approximately 133,000 square miles and stretches for 1,429 miles. This coral reef can be found off the coast of Queensland, Australia, in the Coral Sea. It is one of the seven wonders of the world, and it has been estimated to be 500,000 years old. By 2050, the Great Barrier Reef could be gone. Coral cover has shrunk by half over the last 30 years. Coral reefs, which are made up of thousands of tiny animals known as polyps, are home to thousands of these creatures. Corals, unlike plants, do not produce their own food.

Bull sharks and tiger sharks are two shark species that are known to pose a threat to humans, but the vast majority of sharks found on the Great Barrier Reef are generally safe to come into contact with. White tip reef sharks, which are also known to have venomous bites, are the most common, but a black tip reef shark can also bite. Palytoxin, which can be found in a variety of zoanthid coral species, can be toxic to humans if consumed. Although sharks are not usually dangerous to tourists, it is always a good idea to be aware of the risks associated with visiting the Great Barrier Reef.

What Is The Most Dangerous Thing In The Great Barrier Reef?

The box jellyfish is the most venomous venomous animal on the planet, according to experts. Because these deadly animals prefer calm, warm waters, they are most commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef.

What Is Killing Great Barrier Reef?

The Great Barrier Reef has been severely harmed by human activity. Toxic coastal pollution, overfishing, and unsustainable tourism are just a few of the problems that contribute to the degradation of our oceans. Aside from climate change, which causes coral bleaching and ocean acidification, coral bleaching and ocean acidification are also threats.




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