Ribbon Reef, Cod Hole and Coral Sea

Coral Sea Dreaming

Very similar to Vagabond, this is a live aboard sail boat that sleeps 12 plus a crew of 2-3, (Skipper/Divermaster/Cook). They do 2 day/1 night trips to the GBR and are very professionally run. Alcohol is included on some trips but officially it's BYOB.  Soda/Juice was $2 each. Meals are well prepared. Dive sites are spectacular and the company prides itself as having the best access to the reef. Note that all companies have different designated dives sites and it is often better to go with smaller operations like this, where you won't be inundated with the big day trippers and floating hotel passengers (who travel in very large packs).   Dive groups on the sail boats tend to be small (just 2-4 divers on boat) and dives are indeed exceptional. 4-5 dives available per trip including optional night dive.  The boat travels to Flynn, Milne and Thetford reefs and snorkelling is as good as the diving. Dive masters are professional, capable and informative.   Cruises have a peaceful, relaxed pace.  Highly recommended for those wanting to escape the mass tourism of the bigger boats.  


Reef Encounter 

Cairns liveaboard floating hotel, Reef Encounter, caters to scuba divers and snorkellers and offers outstanding overnight trips to the pristine Northern Outer Great Barrier Reefs. With 21 air conditioned, en-suite, ocean view cabins Reef Encounter offers comfort in the heart of Australias natural wonder. Voyaging between Reefs, guests enjoy multiple outer Great Barrier Reef locations during each day spent aboard this award winning vessel.

With daily departures from Cairns via a transfer vessel, guests can choose the number of nights they wish to spend onboard and are not limited with return and departure dates. http://www.reefencounter.com.au/  Telephone + 61 7 4037 2700

Spirit of Freedom

Spirit of Freedom offers unsurpassed Great Barrier Reef diving, aboard one of Australia’s largest, liveaboard dive vessels.  Certified as an Advanced Ecotourism Operator through Ecotourism Australia, Spirit of Freedom is committed to protecting the unique reef environment, whilst allowing visitors to explore and enjoy its majestic wonders.

For a comprehensive blog about what to expect on Spirit of Freedom check out this page - Spirit of Freedom Trip Reports


Taka is a very well-organized, clean and capable 30 meter monohull.   It is one of 3 dive boats from Cairns capable of accessing Osprey Reef, which requires steaming outside the protection of the Great Barrier Reef for a bit. The food is exceptionally good and (too) plentiful. One dives up to 4 times a day, the tours are optionally guided by friendly and experienced divemaster/instructors.  

The crew is friendly and fun, and the ambiance is youthful and adventurous. Taka requires divers to be certified, so there are no beginners to slow you down. If one waits till last minute, they're quite willing to deal on the price.

They will also go to Osprey Reef where they do their famous "shark feed."   Make sure that they expect good weather, because otherwise Taka will be unable to get to that destination. 


Vagabond Dive

**There have been reports that this business is no longer offering trips. If there is evidence to the contrary, please make appropriate corrections/updates.** - TripAdvisor moderators

This is a live aboard sail boat that sleeps 12 plus a crew of 3, ( a captain/dive master, a dive instructor & a cook ). They do 2 or 3 day trips to the GBR.  12 people on a 3 day trip would be a bit cramped but usually they are not full capacity.  Their dive instructor is PADI certified and can complete open water PADI course divework.   The class work and the pool sessions must be completed before the trip.  If you are looking for personal attention and a peaceful experience this is an ideal choice.


The Turtle