...Good for: Visibility, large animals, small animals, underwater photography...
...Not so good for: Non-diving activities, wrecks...
Holmes Reef is a remote spot in the Coral Sea west of Cairns. It is much further from shore than the Outer Barrier Reef and is, along with Osprey Reef and Bougainville, among the Great Barrier Reef’s most world-class dive sites. It can only be visited by Australian liveaboards that venture to the Coral Sea, and only when weather conditions permit.
Holmes Reef is named after the young Captain Henry Holmes whose ship, the Thomasine, sank here en route to Hong Kong at a time when the reef was uncharted. Happily Holmes and most of his crew survived. They would certainly not have appreciated the splendour of the undersea world on these reefs, which would come to immortalise their struggle. Show more
Amazing - This site has a difficult name to live up to, but as a shallow wall teeming with sharks, soft corals and swim-throughs, it somehow manages it! You can expect to see grey reef sharks, silvertips and white tips numbering in the dozens. Show more
Thanks to its remote location, Holmes Reef is accessible only by Great Barrier Reef liveaboard only. Only those liveaboards that take in Osprey Reef can include Holmes Reef, particularly when the weather is fair. For more information on the cruises, duration options, and all the other travel information you might need to enter Australia, visit:
Since visiting Holmes Reef is dependent on weather conditions, your captain will probably make the call in the early stages of your trip, so it is unlikely it can be promised in advance.
As Holmes Reef is only visited by liveaboards that go to Osprey Reef, you should consult the diving season of Osprey Reef when considering your Great Barrier Reef vacation. Holmes Reef is subject to similar weather influences to Osprey Reef although variations do occur. As such Homes Reef is something of a fair weather destination.
Review our maps below of Great Barrier Reef, showing the location of Holmes Reef, and its host country Australia. Here, you will find information on how to get to the Great Barrier Reef.
Operators following Coral Sea itineraries leave from or return to Lizard Island, which is accessible by flight, or Cairns. The flight to Lizard island departs from Cairns and flies over the reef, an exciting scenic trip in itself!
Depth: 5 - >38m
Visibility: 20 - 40m
Currents: Normally gentle, can be strong
Surface conditions: Can be choppy
Water temperature: 25 - 30°C
Experience level: Beginner - advanced
Number of dive sites: 8+
Distance: ~250 km east of Cairns
Recommended length of stay: 2 days