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Australia’s Best Liveaboard  ‘Reef Encounter’ Great Barrier Reef, Cairns

Cairns best liveaboard ‘Reef Encounter’ – surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef – is one of the most unique holiday escapes in Australia. See it at its best – day and night!

Consistently rated ‘number one’ scuba diving and snorkelling liveaboard by both industry professionals and independent reviewers such as Google Reviews,  Reef Encounter is large enough to provide all the comforts of a cruise ship yet small enough to access spectacular reef locations not accessible to other vessels.

Family owned and operated (and all scuba enthusiasts) it is our passion to deliver outstanding Great Barrier Reef encounters.

We take extreme pride in our products, our boats, our crew and most importantly, our guests! We believe that Reef Encounter is unbeatable on service and value.

Stay for as many nights as you like in superbly appointed staterooms, or choose to upgrade to the Top Deck Club for that extra bit of VIP luxury.

With daily transfers from Cairns by boat or helicopter, Reef Encounter is an excellent alternative to a resort based holiday.

Reef Encounter Facilities

  • A fully air-conditioned 35-metre catamaran hotel, designed for the utmost stability and comfort at sea
  • Large dining saloon
  • TV and lounge area
  • Outdoor, freshwater hot-tub
  • Spacious sundeck with sun loungers
  • Fully licenced bar
  • Large, easy access dive and snorkel platforms
  • Helicopter pad on the roof for low-flying scenic helicopter tours over the coral reef as your transfer to/from Reef Encounter (optional extra)

Reef Encounter Accommodation

  • Check-in time:  10.00am    Check-Out time:  8.00am
  • Spacious, air-conditioned cabins – with ocean views
  • All cabins have their en-suite toilet & shower
  • Towels and toiletries provided (soap, shampoo)
  • All cabins have Australian power outlets

What’s Included

  • Sleep on the Great Barrier Reef with Reef Encounter
  • All meals prepared fresh daily, by our onboard Chef. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Fruit available throughout the day along with tea & coffee. We cater for all dietary requirements – please advise us of these when booking
  • The best crew on the reef! The Reef Encounter team is the best in the business, winning personal and professional awards for outstanding customer service in the tourism industry year after year
  • The latest snorkelling and scuba diving equipment (wetsuits are a small additional charge)
  • Glass bottom boat tour upon request
  • On the voyage to Reef Encounter, you will have the option to listen to an informative Marine Biology presentation about the coral reef and marine animals
  • Free luggage storage facility available at our offices in the Cairns City

Reef Encounter Overnight Itinerary Sample

Day One

7:30 am Breakfast onboard Reef Experience, Marlin Jetty “A” Finger, Cairns. Meet your Top Deck Attendant.

8:00 am Depart Marlin Jetty Marine Biologist Presentation Scuba Dive and Snorkel briefing

9:30 am Arrive Outer Great Barrier Reef ~ Transfer to Reef Encounter

10:30 am Snorkel Session – Sun bake and relax

12 Noon Buffet Lunch

1:30 pm Scuba Dive and Snorkel Session – Relaxation time

3:00 pm Cruise to our next Outer Great Barrier Reef Location

3:30 pm Scuba Dive and Snorkel Session – Relaxation Time

5:30 pm Sunset Cocktails

6:30 pm Dinner under the stars (weather permitting)

7:30 pm Night scuba dive, Relaxation time, Stargazing, board games or movie

Day Two

6:30 am Early Morning Scuba Dive or Snorkel Session

7:30 am Breakfast served in your Cabin

8:00 am Cruise to next Outer Great Barrier Reef Site

8:30 am Scuba Dive or Snorkel session

10:30 am Scuba Dive or Snorkel session

Noon Buffet Lunch

1:30 pm Snorkel Session, Glass Bottom Boat Tour – Sunbake – Relax

3:00 pm Transfer from Reef Encounter to Reef Experience Wine, Cheese and Tropical Fruit Platters on return Journey

4:30 pm Arrive at Marlin Marina Cairns Itineraries can change slightly due to different Season

How to Get There

Your transfer vessel, Reef Experience, departs from Cairns Marina: ‘A-Finger’ View map to Cairns Marlin Marina

Boarding commences at 7:30 am for check-in, directly on the vessel ‘Reef Experience.’

Arrive back to Cairns Marina at approximately 4:30 pm

Where Can I Park?

There are several parking stations throughout Cairns in walking distance of the Marina.  Click here to see where.

Important Information for Scuba Diving

We have a passion for showing you Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, so please make sure you understand the scuba diving laws.

Queensland, Australia has some of the strictest scuba diving rules in the world but also the safest scuba diving record.   The Queensland Government Code of Practice regulates us and comply with all regulations, including medical as is the law.

To avoid disappointment, we recommend guests complete our dive medical questionnaire as some medical conditions, age and medications may prevent you from scuba diving.   It is always our mission to provide our passengers with the very best Great Barrier Reef experience.

Reef Encounter Medical Questionnaire

We are happy to help you with any questions you may have.   Please contact our office on 07 4037 2700 or email us at [email protected]

Alternatively, you may like to consult your Doctor for a Dive Medical using the Australian Standard Forms ‘AS.4005.1

Flying after Scuba Diving

For a single no decompression scuba dive, you should not fly or go to altitude for at least 18 hours after a scuba dive.  For multiple dives, you should not fly for 24 hours after your last dive. If Skydiving or Hot Air Ballooning you must wait 24 hours after your dive. We recommend waiting a minimum of 24 hours whenever possible

Would you like our VIP Service?  see our Top Deck Club

Check-In: 10:00 am

Check-Out: 8:00 am

Read policies

Stateroom Liveaboard Accommodations

Twin Bed Stateroom Cabin - Reef Encounter

Twin Share

2 x Single beds, en-suite cabin. Share with another guest

Reef Encounter double stateroom

Double Bed

1 x Double bed, en-suite cabin. Requires 2 guests or sole occupancy

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18 Reviews for “Stateroom Liveaboard”

  1. Kristi B

    Our stay (my sister and I) aboard Reef Encounter was an incredible experience. The dive master, Macca, was incredibly friendly, kind when I had some issues, and made me feel confident in what was going on. Our dive guide, Dan, was also exceptional and I can't say enough about how great he was when I had some issues diving. The food was amazing, in fact for most meals there was way more food that a single person could eat. Although we did try. The rooms were more than comfortable and we found that the rocking of the boat made for a great night's sleep. The diving was beautiful even though during our time the weather was cloudy and the water was fairly choppy. I wish we had much more time.

  2. Nathan

    "Find overall experience great. No hassles and everything ran smoothly. Exceptional rooms -- Food was unreal. Bedding and showers above expectations."

  3. Dolores

    "The crew was great, very helpful with all activities. Amazing meals, the accommodation was very clean and comfy. Thank you for everything, it was my first time diving and I had a great time!"

  4. Bill

    "Fantastic crew. Michael is a great dive master guide, Marley was also excellent. Rest of crew was very accommodating, friendly and makes us feel like family. Room was very comfortable overall ship is great. Meals were excellent! You'll get 5 stars from us on Trip Advisor!"

  5. Katie

    The crew were friendly, approachable and able to provide helpful information re. locations, equipment, and the daily schedule. The meals were excellent and the room was very comfortable and clean. Lovely warm shower! I thoroughly enjoyed my 2 day stay on Reef Encounter and would definitely recommend it!

  6. Yoganya

    Very friendly & helpful. Hitomi was an absolutely awesome dive instructor- thank you! Accommodation was very comfortable and more spacious than expected - very comfy couches and beds. Meals were good, all dietary requirements met with enthusiasm. We had a wonderful time, thank you to all the crew who looked after us. It might be a few years before I'm back, but will definitely come with you guys again!

  7. Antoinette N

    The crew were excellent, nothing was too much of a bother. Super friendly and super helpful and cheery. The rooms were super comfy and the food was delicious! Was totally not expecting the standards to be that high! Will be highly recommending to my friends and family <3

  8. Jo L

    The crew were so friendly, polite, helpful! I had full confidence in the dive instructors. The meals were delicious. Perfect food for being at sea. So healthy -- great fruits and salads.

  9. Cortney

    Our stay on Reef Encounter was awesome. Everything was perfectly accomodated. Crew was fantastic, enthusiastic, helpful, and nice. I felt very comfortable and safe staying on board.

  10. Caledonia T

    Everything was great! The room was great. The food was really GOOD. The crew was great. Dives were awesome. Thanks for the positive attitudes and friendliness. It was a great time.

  11. Madison

    Glowing reviews made me book Reef Encounter. This is one amazing company, the highlight of my trip, and I will tell everyone to go on this trip. Amazing, very friendly, helpful, warm and welcoming crew. Accommodation was very comfortable and meals were delicious! I was not disappointed at all. If possible I will be back!

  12. Gary

    I heard about Reef Encounter because it's the #1 recommended on Trip Advisor. I wanted a good price with lots of opportunities to snorkel, this fit the bill. Very nice and friendly crew, personable and very helpful. Meals were excellent and the bed was very comfortable. Excellent job guys, you did everything great, all very clean and great reef sites. Thanks for providing so many opportunities to snorkel.

  13. Yael

    It was an amazing experience! I enjoyed every second of it and the crew was awesome! So nice, kind, patient, professional.

  14. Vinay

    Real friendly crew. Loved the smiles and service around. Our guide was great when in the waters. Awesome accommodation and meals. Kudos to the chef - met my vegan diet requirements beyond expectations! Keep it going. :) Will come back given a chance.

  15. Jacqueline

    I booked on a liveaboard Reef Encounter. Liked that it had proper beds (not bunks) and ensuites in every room. Crew is absolutely fantastic, especially Jade and Ollie who made the perfect pina coladas. All other crew super friendly and helpful. Accommodation was fab, spacious cabins, clean and air con good. Food outstanding, could not feet it, especially rack of lamb! Food was actually gourmet. Thanks for the best 3 days!!! Will definitely give a glowing review on trip advisor. Also the photo packages were good value (unlike other touristic tours). *****

  16. Tiffany

    All of the crew were amazing, so helpful and friendly. The meals were also amazing, great-tasting and large portions. The accommodation was cozy and great!

  17. Nola

    Amazing, super friendly and helpful and knowledgeable crew. I love how they memorised my name almost immediately and always said hello with a smile on their faces. The meals were outstanding and delicious. I was pleasantly surprised by the spread and variety. Compliments to the chefs! We loved our time on Reef Encounter! Will definitely recommend to others and come back again to learn scuba diving :)

  18. Mairhead

    There are not enough words - the crew were amazing, friendly, hard-working, fun, engaging, professional, great chef, love their jobs! Fantastic - they made the trip! The meals were excellent - HATS OFF to the chefs!! Aaron and Peter were legends. We loved diving with all the instructors! Kohler you were amazing and thank you for breakfast tea, nice touch! I will be back for sure - Thank you !


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