Cairns Dive Sites

Dive the best of Cairns Dive Sites

If you require any assistance or have questions about any of our reef locations please do not hesitate to contact us (+61 7 4051 5777).

Our Scuba Diving and Snorkelling Locations

Hastings Reef


Hastings Reef is a fabulous coral reef in all weather, and we have many different locations to choose from here, depending on which way the wind blows! Being the largest reef Reef Experience visits, it provides good protection and calm diving and snorkelling conditions all year round. Favourite dive and snorkel spots along this reef include ‘coral gardens’, ‘the fish bowl’ and ‘compass mooring’.

Breaking Patches Reef

A popular afternoon destination for Reef Experience when the weather is good, Breaking Patches is a small reef located just north of Michaelmas Cay – a tropical sand island and protected marine turtle breeding ground. As the name suggests, this is a patch reef and is great for viewing giant clams and blue-spotted stingrays. It’s also home to one of our well-loved marine friends – the friendly resident turtle, ‘Gus’.

Saxon Reef

Depending on the time of year, Saxon Reef can be a hive of marine activity. In the right seasons, it’s a great reef to see young cuttlefish families or migrating humpback whales. White tip reef sharks can often be seen sleeping in shallow sandy areas and hiding under coral coves. Popular dive and snorkel spots along this reef include ‘magic mooring’, turtle bommie’ and ‘twin peaks’.

Norman Reef

The furthest north reef location destination that Reef Experience visits, we usually go here in very calm conditions when we can make great journey time. The coral here is simply breathtaking! It’s also home to our giant Maori Wrasse Frank.

Jorgensen Patch

There are wall, gullies, small caves, overhangs and swim-throughs that can be found in the area. With sandy bottoms that have giant clams. There are sea cucumbers and bluespotted rays on the sandy bottoms as well as the giant clams. You can also observe whitetip sharks. schools of damsels and fusiliers

Cairns Dive Sites include the Ribbon Reefs – Divers love Groupers. A grouper is a large mostly slow fish that seem to have a great curiosity.

They will shyly investigate if they see something unusual, like a diver.

They become almost like a groupie, following a diver around the reef. One of the largest members of the Grouper family is the potato cod and these are found in the waters around Australia.

The potato cod can reach up to two meters long and weigh over 100 kilograms. In many parts of the world were they once flourished they are now endangered.  Potato Cods do not travel much, once they find a place they like they stay. Out on the Ribbon Reef there is one portion of the reef that the Cod really like.  One of the Cairns dive sites, that some of the live aboard vessels from the Cairns area stop at, is called Cod hole which is located on Ribbon Reef (10). A number of Potato Cod have made this area of the reef home and don’t mind sharing it. They seem to almost pose for photographs. Not all of them are large, some are a mere meter long and maybe only 60 kilograms.

A few however are diver size and as heavy. Cod Hole is a wonderful part of the reef with a wide range of marine life to make this a remarkable dive site. However, it is the Cods that make this Cairns dive sites one of the best known sites in the world.

The Ribbon Reefs system is a chain of reefs that stretches about 55 miles along the northern portion of the Great Barrier Reef. A few of the daily dive boats journey to the Ribbons, however, they have the preferred dive sites for the liveaboard boats.

The variety of marine life and the different types of submersed terrain makes the Ribbon Reef an ideal destination for them. After a morning dive, the boat can relocate during the surface interval to another site just a few miles away, and the divers have a different environment to dive.

D divers are astonished by what they find from one dive site to the next. Dive vacations of three or four-day duration open the experience up to a wide range of divers. Cairns has more short-duration liveaboard dive vessels than anywhere else in the world.

Cairns Dive Sites – Outer Reefs

The distances from Cairns to the Ribbon Reef dive sites make it difficult for most of-the-day boats to make the trip.

While the Ribbon Reefs are known as some of the best dive sites, many more are closer and offer a world-class diving experience.

Hasting reef is one of the more popular destinations for day trips.

Many Cairns-based dive operators visit the reef as their daily first stop.

That is not a concern to becoming overcrowded as the reef is about 11 kilometres long and offer many different dive sites.

Michaelmas Cay is located at the tip of Michaelmas reef as does the reef itself provides a number of excellent dive sites. The number of dive boats and the number of divers that are allowed to visit the cay is limited each day.

Cairns Dive Sites

Closer in to the mainland are islands such as Green Island and Fitzroy Island.

These islands are often used for half-day tours. They also provide several outstanding dive sites and are more accessible in poor weather. However, being closer in, they are sometimes affected by run off, which reduces the visibility.

There are hundreds of dive sites that the local operators can use.

Each dive boat has its favourites and a long list of alternatives.

The selection of which dive site to use on any given day is generally influenced by the weather and the type of clients.


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