For those who want to experience the best diving holidays that Australia's Great Barrier Reef has to offer, there is no substitute for a diving tour of the Coral Sea regions of the Ribbon Reefs, Osprey Reef and Bougainville. Experienced scuba divers must accept nothing less.
Running along the northern edge of the Barrier Reef in north Queensland and holding such famous dives as the Cod Hole and Steve's Bommie, the Ribbon Reefs consist of long, thin reefs ranging in depth from 5-20 metres and usually no wider than 450 metres.
Characteristically covered in colourful coral, the Ribbon Reefs teem with marine critters, large and small. The further north one travels in Queensland the better visibility one encounters, due to changes in the land and decreasing agricultural run off. This means the Ribbon Reefs often enjoy excellent visibility. [More details on these dive sites: Ribbon Reefs].
The Australian North Coral Sea contains an isolated reef system located off the coast of Cairns to the very far north. Osprey Reef and its lesser known neighbours to the south, Holmes Reef and Bougainville, represent world class diving and the best tours that Australia has to offer.
The distance at once spells one thing: an abundance of unspoilt marine life. As a remote oceanic reef, not part of the continent of Australasia, there are deep water upwellings here, meaning plenty of nutrients that support an abundance of life. Visibility here ranges from the impressive to the incredible.
Home to large schools of pelagic fish, bigeye trevally, bronze whaler sharks and barracuda, it also features plenty of moray eels, exotic cuttlefish and sea hares. Gorgonian fans, sea whips and beautiful, bright yellow soft corals flourish in the crystal clear waters and on the mountain pinnacles and sheer walls that disappear in the depths far beneath the Coral Sea. [More details on these dive sites: Osprey Reef - Holmes Reef - Bougainville].
Liveaboards visiting this richest region of the Great Barrier Reef are normally for 7 nights' duration, although tours can be as short as 3 nights. You will need to take a short domestic flight to or from Lizard Island, either at the start or the end of the cruise.
The boats operate open-deck policies which allow you to dive when you prefer. They are also photographer-friendly, often with dedicated camera facilities, underwater photo competitions and courses.
These charters are very popular so we recommend booking well in advance. Experienced divers may not be satisfied with the quality of diving on the Great Barrier Reef in locations other than at the Coral Sea sites.
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The Great Barrier Reef is a year round scuba diving holiday destination, with steady water temperatures (24 to 29°C) and a wonderful tropical climate. December to February are the warmest and wettest months. September to December have the calmest seas. Routes are most likely to require changes during monsoon season, especially January and February.
There are also some seasonal patterns for marine life: minke whales are most commonly seen between June and August. Humpback whales are mostly likely between August and October.
The Coral Sea liveaboard cruises normally depart either from Cairns or Lizard Island (where Captain Cook stopped to plan his escape from this maze of reefs). A short and spectacular plane ride over the reef is required, to travel between Cairns and Lizard Island, either before or after your safari. Obviously the longer trips cover a wider area and are more likely to include more distant sites and offer a greater overview of this wonderful region. [More information on: How to get to Cairns].
You can view which ports the various boats use on their trips in the 'Departures & Prices' section of each boat's web page. If departing from Cairns, the boat operator normally provides a transfer to the boat from the local airport or hotels (if you overnight beforehand). We will send you full departure details (Including domestic flight arrangements) during the booking process.
We recommend you take out insurance to cover diving and travel activities, including trip cancellation. See our insurance programme for a competitive quotation:
If you plan on staying in Australia before or after your Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea liveaboard diving safari, you can find a large range of accommodation options at hotelscombined.com, our affiliated hotel reservation specialists. Browse their website, use their on-line chat to ask questions, then simply use your credit card to make your booking:
All bookings carry a 'Low Price Guarantee' to ensure you get top-dollar value for money.
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