Great Barrier Reef FAQs

Frequently asked Questions about visiting the Great Barrier Reef

About Cairns Weather 

Tropical North Queensland temperature ranges from 22-29º Celsius (75-85º Fahrenheit)  which makes our region perfect all year round  to enjoy water activities including snorkeling and scuba diving

Cairns Weather


What is the Water Temperature?


Do the Great Barrier Reef Tours still operate if it is raining ?

Yes all the tours will still operate if it is raining  there is a good chance that it will not be raining at the reef.

Do you have credit card facilities onboard?

Yes, we accept Visa, Mastercard, Bankcard & Eftpos (minimum spend may apply)


Will I get Seasick? 

Hopefully not we have both natural ginger onboard as well as medicated travel calm (small charge)  which should be taken 30 minutes prior to departure


What if the weather is bad?

In bad weather we are happy to move your booking with out charge to the next most suitable day, subject to availability.

If we decide that the weather is not safe to travel in we will give you a full refund

 Can I pay with Credit card?

Yes we accept Bankcard, Mastercard, Visa and Eftpos onboard our vessels

Are life Jackets available? 

life jackets are certainly available if we need them in an emergency.  Life jackets are designed to keep you upright making it impossible for snorkeling or scuba diving.  We provide snorkel noodles and strongly recommend the use of wetsuits which also provide buoyancy and protect you from sunburn and coral cuts


 What is the cancellation policy? requires 48 hours advance to make any changes or cancel a booking. The cancellation fees are as follows:

20% cancellation fee 30 days or more prior to departure.

50% cancellation fee if within 30 days prior to departure.

100% cancellation fee within 14 days prior to departure.

Please note we must receive at least 48 hours’ notice from you when rescheduling a reservation subject to availability.

There will be no refund of any part of your tour costs should you fail to load on your scheduled tour.  Our vessel departures cannot be delayed because of your late arrival.  This includes events beyond your control, medical problems, airline delays, inclement weather etc.

There is no refund or compensation given for any prepaid courses, equipment or guides if you are unable to complete the tour in its entirety.

Please refer to Trade Practices Act 1974.

Travel insurance is highly recommended.

Will I need travel insurance and dive insurance?

Travel insurance and dive insurance are highly recommended. Please be aware that trip cancellations, scuba diving and in-water activities are not covered by all travel insurance companies. Please read the wording of your policy carefully. In a medical emergency, any evacuation, vessel relocation or medical expenses are the financial responsibility of that passenger.

We strongly recommend dive insurance

Is the reef better from Cairns or Port Douglas?

This depends more on the actual reef site visited rather than the departure point. Both Cairns & Port Douglas locations have professional operators with access to world class snorkel and dive sites. Our Reef locations are all on the Outer Barrier Reef and are exceptional

if you are staying in Port Douglas you are best to take a reef tour that departs from Port Douglas

if  you are staying in Cairns you are best to take a reef tour that departs from Cairns

Scuba Diving Questions

Please see our dive medical information we don’t want anyone disappointed on our tours cause they can’t scuba dive if you need to see a doctor best you do it prior to your trip – there is no dive doctor at the Great Barrier Reef  and a simple questionnaire will let you know if you do need to see a doctor please read more

What is the minimum age to scuba dive?

The minimum age to participate in scuba diving is 12 years. A medical questionnaire must be completed and signed by a parent/guardian for divers under 18 years.

Can I Scuba Dive with no experience?

Yes you certainly can our friendly scuba dive instructors are the best on the Great Barrier Reef and can have you in the water and enjoying the magic of scuba diving in no time.

Please be sure to read our medical information click here for more details

Can I learn to scuba dive?

Reef Encounter our liveaboard vessel offers an outstanding learn to scuba dive course where all dives are done on the Great Barrier Reef with a maximum of 4 people in a class

Read more information about our learn to scuba dive course


What if I’m a certified diver and forget my certification card?

With both PADI and SSI we can often find your information on their database with your full name, date or birth and dive centre please contact our office for more details

I normally wear glasses or contact lenses. Can I wear these under my mask?

Depending on the strength of your glasses a standard snorkel/dive mask may be sufficient as they magnify objects underwater by around 25%.  Glasses cannot be worn under a mask however prescription masks are available in a range of magnifications for only a $10 fee.

Contact lenses can be worn snorkelling however please note some water may get into your mask. Gas permeable contact lenses are suitable for scuba diving however a prescription mask is preferable.


Should I be concerned about Jelly Fish or Marine Stingers?

While certain species of Jelly Fish can be found in tropical waters at any time of year, the majority are harmless to man. Official ‘Stinger season’ in Cairns is from November to May when water temperatures suit the few species of concern.

While incidents involving serious stings are extremely rare our crew are trained to recognize sting types and apply appropriate first aid assistance if required. We recommend the use of  a wetsuit

Are there sharks at the reef?

Yes of course, they are a top predator and form a vital part of the worlds marine eco system. However most are shy and quite harmless such as the common white tip reef sharks which only grow to approximately 5 feet and are very timid.

An encounter with a reef shark is a magical experience but enjoy it quickly as they will generally swim off in the opposite direction if they feel they are being watched or if you get to close

I am driving to the marina, where can I leave the car? 

Our map will show you

Cairns Map
Cairns Map


Can we sit anywhere on the boat?

You are free to sit where ever you please, except areas signed as staff only. Choose between air-conditioned cabins on the upper and lower decks all with large viewing windows.

On Reef Experience the Top Deck Club does have allocated seating in the Wheelhouse on all other parts of the vessel guests are invited to move around freely whilst the vessel is stationary

Seating outside on the upper rear deck in the fresh air and sunshine on our sun lounges is very popular.

For your own safety try not to move around the boat too much when the boat in underway, especially in rough weather.

What do I need to bring?

Hat, Towel, Sunscreen, Sunglasses, something to swim in, a dry change of clothes, cash or credit card for optional activities and onboard purchases such as souvenirs, professional photos from our on-board photographer or a drink from the bar.

Do you supply towels?

The best idea is to bring one from your hotel or accommodation on Reef day tours they are supplied on our liveaboard tours.

Are there toilets onboard the Great Barrier Reef tours?

There are toilets on the boats which are accessible at all times throughout the day

Do you cater for vegetarians & other dietary requirement?

Yes we can cater for all dietary requirements please let us know at time of booking so that we are well prepared for you

Is the snorkeling equipment also in child sizes?

We have snorkeling equipment in both adult and child sizes. Fins range from children’s size 1-3 to Adults 11-13 and masks are in adult and child fittings. Wet suits and lycra suits are also available in sizes ranging from XS to XXL.

Do you have baby-sitting or child minding facilities?

No, parents are responsible for supervising their children at all times. Our friendly crew can help organise the timing of your activities so that one parent is always free to attend to the children.

Do you have lockers on board?

No sorry we do not have lockers onboard

Do you cater for the disabled

Our vessels are disability friendly and we will always do our utmost to provide assistance but on all vessels there are stairs

The best idea is to give us is to send us an email and tell us your needs and then we can tell you which reef tour will best met your needs – send us an email

If you are even slightly interested in snorkeling our crew can show you how under close supervision in shallow our coral lagoon. Personal flotation devices and floating rest stations in the water make snorkeling as easy as possible.

If you are concerned about getting in the water for any reason please be sure that you are travelling with a great local company and our crew will assist you in the water even if you can not swim

if you have any questions please send us an email or call our office