All year round offers great scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef but the best visibility, the least rain and wind, is from August to December. Manta rays and hammerheads visit the Coral Sea from April to September. Minke whales make an appearance during June and July. Coral spawning occurs in November or December.
Details about visas to visit Australia can be found in our tourist visa information section.
Almost all of the top quality best dive sites are too far to visit on a daytrip. Absolute beginners might enjoy the Cairns daytrips but for anyone with even limited experience, it is strongly advisable to join one of the Great Barrier Reef holiday cruises and get to the sites further away from Cairns.
Also, these liveaboard tours offer multiple scuba dives per day and spectacular night dives from your floating hotel.
Yes there has been a lot of coverage of scientific studies that are rather alarming. While it is a concern that the sections tested have, like many other places in the world, indeed suffered recent damage, a liveaboard on the Barrier Reef will have no trouble bringing you site after site where the corals and marine life are in great health. One must remember that the Great Barrier Reef covers an enormous area, some 2,575 kms in length and 335,000 square kms!
The practice of divemastering in Australia varies from boat to boat so please check with us if this is an issue of particular concern to you. On some Australian liveaboards there will be a member of staff in the water who acts more in a safety capacity than as a guide or leader for the dive. You may need to pay extra if you would like an in-water guide. Some Great Barrier Reef tour boats have an open deck policy so you can dive for as long as you want and even during meal times.
The Ribbon Reefs are the best place in the world for prolonged dwarf minke whale encounters. They are present from May to August but during June and July you are almost guaranteed to see one.
Strangely, the coral of the Great Barrier Reef spawns simultaneously. Timed with the full-moon of November, eggs and sperm are released in a mass coral orgy. With all this floating fish food around you can also expect some great marine action.
Yes, there are lots of great activities and tourist attractions for holiday-makers in and around Cairns and Queensland. Cairns is known as the "Adventure capital of Australia" and Queensland is "Australia's No. 1 beach holiday destination", so you should never be short of things to do here. Find out more in our Cairns and Queensland tourist attraction pages.
On liveaboard holidays at the Great Barrier Reef most single travellers are expected to share a cabin with another guest or guests. If this is not acceptable to you, you can reserve a 2-share cabin for yourself although you must expect to pay a single supplement on top of the normal price. There is quite a range in supplement prices, 70% to 100% of the published price being the level you might expect to pay. There may be some room for negotiation with the operator, so please check with us first.
From top-of-the range international holiday resorts to cheap one-star lodges, there's something to suit everyone's taste and needs in Australia. And you can be sure that whatever option you go for, it will be backed up with their 'Low Price Guarantee', so you will always get top-dollar value for money accommodation.