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Scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef

Check out our best picks for diving with manta rays, reef sharks and minke whales in the world’s biggest coral reef system.

When you think of Australia, one of the first things that comes to mind is the Great Barrier Reef – and for good reason. With crystal clear water and colourful coral, it's a haven for seasoned divers and first-timers alike.

You've a choice of scuba diving in Cairns, Port Douglas, Magnetic Island, The Whitsundays and Heron Island. But once you've chosen your location (if that matters to you) where should you start?

The answer: here. That's because we've found the best scuba diving deals for a range of different budgets and experience levels so that you can get out there sooner and see what lies beneath.


Our top picks:

Best for budgets: Magnetic Island Intro Dive, Pro Dive Magnetic Island

Best for budgets: Magnetic Island Intro Dive, Pro Dive Magnetic Island from RedBalloon

Highlights:

  • Cost: $125
  • Duration: Full day tour with 3-hours in the water
  • Pick-up location: Magnetic Island
  • Diving location: Around Magnetic Island
  • Suitable for: Beginners - no experience necessary
Highlights:
  • Take an introductory dive for just $125, which is one of the cheapest prices in the area.
  • Get the chance to head straight into the water for your first real dive.
  • Full gear hire included.
  • Use the purpose-built training pool.

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Best for value: One Day Introductory Dive Special, Cairns Dive Centre

Best for value: One Day Introductory Dive Special, Cairns Dive Centre from Adrenaline

Highlights:

  • Cost: $190
  • Duration: Full day tour with a 30 minute introductory dive and 5 hours on the reef
  • Departure location: Cairns
  • Diving location: Off the coast of Cairns at Milln Reef, Moore Reef, Thetford Reef and Briggs Reef
  • Suitable for: Ages 12+, no experience necessary

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Best for dive time: Great Barrier Reef Overnight Snorkel and Dive Trip, Divers Den

Best for dive time: Great Barrier Reef Overnight Snorkel and Dive Trip, Divers Den from Get Your Guide

Highlights:

  • Cost: $480
  • Duration: 2-3 days
  • Pick-up location: Cairns. Hotel pick-up available
  • Diving location: Outer Great Barrier Reef
  • Suitable for: Certified divers only
  • Experience 5 dives over 2-3 days, including night dives. On-board meals are also included.

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Best for kids: Silverswift Outer Great Barrier Reef Dive, Silverseries Dive and Snorkel

Best for kids: Silverswift Outer Great Barrier Reef Dive, Silverseries Dive and Snorkel from Viator

Highlights:

  • Cost: $226.50
  • Duration: 10 hour tour including 5 hours on the reef
  • Departs location: Fleet Reef Terminal, Cairns
  • Diving location: Cairns
  • Suitable for: Ages 12+, no experience necessary
  • Visit three different diving sites.

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Best for first-timers: Learn to Scuba Dive on the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns Dive Centre

Best for first-timers: Learn to Scuba Dive on the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns Dive Centre from Adrenaline

Highlights:

  • Cost: $545
  • Duration: 4-day course, no overnight stay
  • Departure location: Cairns
  • Diving location: Great Barrier Reef and Fitzroy Island
  • Suitable for: No experience necessary
  • Learn to dive up to 18 metres and spend one day on Fitzroy Island and another on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Includes snorkel training dive and four open water dives.

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Best for experienced divers: Great Barrier Reef Diving and Snorkeling Cruise from Cairns, Down Under Cruise and Dive

Best for experienced divers: Great Barrier Reef Diving and Snorkeling Cruise from Cairns, Down Under Cruise and Dive from Viator

Highlights:

  • Cost: $165
  • Duration: Full-day diving tour with three dives and all-day snorkelling. Five hours in total in the water.
  • Pick-up location: Cairns
  • Diving location: Certified divers preferred however lessons and introductory dive available if required
  • Suitable for: Ages 12+
  • Guided tour that includes buffet lunch, live entertainment and on-board marine biologist

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When is the best time to dive the Great Barrier Reef?

You can dive all year round on the Great Barrier Reef, but for the best visibility and the least rain and wind, plan your trip for mid-August to mid-December.

For the best chance of seeing manta rays and hammerhead sharks, visit from April to September. Minke and humpback whales make an appearance between June and September.


Top scuba diving companies along the Great Barrier Reef

Diving company
Location
Duration
Extras/inclusions
Suitable for
Price (from)
Book
Pleasure Divers Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island
3 hours
Introductory dive, dive gear
No experience necessary
$125.00
Cairns Dive Centre
Cairns
1 day
5 hours on the reef, buffet lunch, wetsuits, port and entry fees
No experience necessary (for introductory dives)
$190.00
Down Under Cruise and Dive
Cairns
8 hours, 30 minutes
5 hours on the reef, wetsuits, buffet lunch, live entertainment, onboard marine biologist
No experience necessary (for introductory dives)
$215.00
Ocean Freedom
Cairns
9 hours
Luxury catamaran cruise, 6 hours on the reef, port and entry fees, lunch, wetsuits
No experience necessary (for introductory dives)
$285.00
Silverseries Dive and Snorkel
Cairns
10 hours

5 hours on the reef, morning and afternoon tea, buffet lunch, snorkelling and dive equipment including prescription masks, fuel surcharge andenvironmental management charge

Ages 12 and up, no experience necessary (for introductory dives)
$285.50
Silversonic Dive and Snorkel
Port Douglas
8 hours
5 hours on the reef, buffet lunch, equipment, return coach transfers
Ages 12 and up, no experience necessary (for introductory dives)
$240.00
Get Your Guide
Calypso Snorkel and Dive
Port Douglas
7 hours
Buffet lunch, 3 reef sites, reef talk, hotel transfers, dive gear
Certified divers
$301.50
AquaQuest
Port Douglas
8 hours
2 dives, buffet lunch, dive equipment, hotel transfers
Certified divers
$240.00
Tusa Dive Cairns
Cairns
8 hours
2 or 3 dives, buffet lunch, dive equipment, reef talk and presentation
Certified divers
$315.00
Poseidon Cruises
Port Douglas
8 hours
Introductory scuba dive, return transfers, reef talk, dive equipment
No experience necessary
$315.50
OceanQuest
Cairns
2 days
Twin share cabin, dive equipment, all meals onboard, guided tours, refreshments
Certified divers
$480.00

Scuba diving deals

Adrenaline Adrenaline
Exclusive

Extra 15% off with code

Valid on your first purchase with Adrenaline. Experiences include skydiving, scenic flights, hot air ballooning, V8 experiences, rally driving, scuba diving and more. Minimum spend of $179. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Adrenaline Adrenaline

Up to 67% off + extra $15 off with code

Valid sitewide on experiences $79 or more across Australia including skydiving, ghost tours, driving, go karting, sailing, hot air ballooning, diving, bridge climbing, scuba diving and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Adrenaline Adrenaline

$30 off activities and experiences

Valid on select dates and activities like hot air ballooning, skydiving, horse riding, ghost tours, surf lessons, scuba diving, theme parks and more. Destinations are Sydney, Perth, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Melbourne. Minimum spend of $179. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

RedBalloon RedBalloon
Exclusive

Up to 50% off experiences + extra 10% off with code

Valid on all dates, including over Christmas on activities like skydiving, quad biking, bridge climbing, canyoning, hot air ballooning, helicopter scenic flights, abseiling, scuba diving, cruises, ghost tours and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

RedBalloon RedBalloon
Exclusive

$10 off site-wide

Valid for use on any activities like skydiving, quad biking, bridge climbing, canyoning, hot air ballooning, helicopter scenic flight, abseiling, scuba diving, ghost tours and more. Minimum spend of $80. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Adrenaline Adrenaline

10% off activities and experiences

Valid on select dates and activities like whale watching, sailing, jet ski, scuba diving, kayaking, parasailing, fishing and more. Must book two or more people in single order. Destinations are Sydney, Perth, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Melbourne. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Experience Oz Experience Oz

Cook Islands experiences from $89

Valid for travel on select dates until June 2020. Includes activities like snorkeling or scuba diving, sightseeing of marine life, return transfers and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Get deal

Deal ends

Adrenaline Adrenaline

Up to 40% off water sports activities

Valid on select dates and activities like whale watching, sailing, jet ski, scuba diving, kayaking, parasailing, fishing and more. Destinations are Sydney, Perth, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Melbourne. T&Cs apply.

Last verified


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