Reef Encounter our Great Barrier Reef hotel

Great Barrier Reef Hotel, Reef Encounter is a boutique floating hotel permanently cruising the Great Barrier Reef.   This trip is s a beautiful way to experience the Great Barrier Reef.


Included in our Stateroom packages are accommodation and delicious chef-prepared meals.

Starting from Cairns, daily visitors board our sister boat, Reef Experience, to transfer to the Outer Barrier Reef and Reef Encounter.   Next, choose to begin your Great Barrier Reef stay on the day of your choice and stay as long as you like.

Great Barrier Reef Hotel stays include relaxing on a deck chair to nonstop aquatic action snorkelling and scuba diving, which are available.

Discover thousands of brightly coloured tropical fish in every water session.  Being one with nature is an unforgettable experience, and you will remember it forever.

About the Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the World’s seven natural wonders.  The only natural wonder visible recognised from space.

The Great Barrier Reef stretches over 2000 kilometres from Bundaberg to Papua New Guinea.   Including thousands of individual reefs and hundreds of islands.

This reef is the World’s most extensive coral Reef and is home to 400 kinds of coral, 4000 clams and snails, and 1500 species of fish.

The Great Barrier Reef is home to 6 of the Worlds 7 sea Turtles visitors see them most days.

Located in the Coral Sea, off the Northern Queensland coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the most massive living thing on earth.

Boutique Floating Hotel

There are 21 staterooms with private bathrooms and large windows overlooking the Great Barrier Reef.  We have a fully-equipped scuba diving and snorkelling deck onboard, offering Nitrox for our scuba divers.

A heated jacuzzi is a great place to stargaze or swap stories about what you saw underwater.

Our onboard helipad provides an excellent way to arrive or depart for those looking to add a bit more pizzazz to their stay.  Helicopter transfers generally take around 30 minutes, as the pilots always do, including a scenic transfer pointing out any marine life and coral cays during your flight.


Our talented chef prepares all meals onboard, offering a delicious array of tropical delights sourced locally in Far North Queensland.

Three delicious meals are served in our saloon each day, with extra snacks and fresh fruit available throughout the day.

While the vessel is stationary, coffee, tea, milo, and espresso are available.

This Great Barrier Reef hotel is consistently rated ‘number one scuba diving and snorkelling liveaboard by industry professionals and independent reviewers.  Please click on the link to see what our guests are saying Google Reviews.

Who are we

Family-owned and operated (and all scuba enthusiasts)

The best crew on the reef ensures you have the best Great Barrier Reef experience.

We take extreme pride in our products, boats, crew, and, most importantly, guests!

We look forward to welcoming you onboard.


Our days start early and end not so late as it does seem that fresh air, lots of in-water activities and the gentle rocking of the boat tire most.  However, the crew onboard will be available until the last person turns in for the night.

Stay as you like in superbly appointed staterooms – you may never want to leave.

Reef Encounter is an excellent alternative to a resort-based holiday, with daily transfers from Cairns by boat or helicopter.


  • Accommodation Check-in time: 10.00 am
  • Check-Out time: 8.00 am
  • Onboard accommodation is in staterooms with large windows overlooking the Great Barrier Reef.
  • All staterooms have their ensuite toilet, showers and towels and toiletries.  (soap, shampoo and conditioner).
  • All staterooms have Australian power outle.ts
  • All meals are prepared daily by our Talented onboard Chef—breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert—fresh fruit is available throughout the day, along with tea & coffee.
  • We cater for all dietary requirements – please let us know any dietary requirements when you make your booking.
  • Top-of-the-range snorkelling and scuba diving equipment
  • Glass bottom boat tours
  • Informative Marine Biology presentation.
  • Onboard you will find a dining saloon, TV and lounge area Outdoor.
  • Reef Encounter has barista coffee,
  • There is also a freshwater hot tub and a spacious sundeck with sun loungers.
  • Fully licenced bar
  • Easy access to scuba diving and snorkel platforms
  • Helicopter pad.

Great Barrier Reef itinerary First Day

  • 7:30 am  Board Reef Experience our transfer vessel and breakfast
  • 8:00 am Depart to Great Barrier Reef
  • 9.30 am Arrive onboard the Great Barrier Reef hotel for your ‘Welcome and Safety Talk’ before being shown to your room to settle in and relax
  • 10.30 am Water Session: Time to snorkel for all guests before lunch
  • 12.00 Lunch
  • 13.00 Water Briefings: Certified Diver Briefings / Try Scuba Diving Briefings / Snorkel Adventure Briefings
  • 13.30 Water Session: Scuba dive or snorkel time
  • 15:00 Reef Encounter moves to another spectacular outer  Great Barrier Reef location.
  • 15:30 Water Session: Scuba dive or snorkel time.  Glass bottom boat tour.
  • 18:00 Dinner
  • 18:45 Night Dive Briefings
  • 19:00 Night dive commences for all those scuba diving.
  • 17:30 Night Dive Briefings
  • 18:00 Night dive begins for all those scuba diving.
  • 19:15 Dinner
  • 20:00 dessert


  • 6.00 am A wake-up call for the early morning dive and snorkel session.
  • 6:30 am Water Session: Sunrise scuba dive or snorkel time.  Glass bottom boat tour.
  • 7:30 am Breakfast
  • 8:00 am Reef Encounter moves to another spectacular outer barrReefreef location.
  • 8:30 am Water Session: Scuba Dive or Snorkel Time.
  • 10:30 am Water Session: Scuba Dive or Snorkel Time.
  • Noon Lunch
  • 13:30 Water Session: Scuba Dive or Snorkel Time.
  • 15:00 Reef Encounter moves to another spectacular outer barrier reef location.
  • 15:30 Water Session: Scuba diving, snorkelling and Glass bottom boat tour are available.
  • 18:00 Dinner 18:45 Night Dive Briefings
  • 19:00 Night dive commences for all those scuba diving.
  • 17:30 Briefing for the night dive
  • 18:00 Night dive begins for all those scuba diving.
  • 19:15 Dinner
  • 20:00 dessert


  • 6.00 am A wake-up call for the early morning dive and snorkel session.
  • 6:30 am Water Session: Sunrise scuba dive or snorkel time.  Glass bottom boat tour
  • 7:30 am Breakfast
  • 8:00 am Reef Encounter moves to another spectacular outer barrier reef location
  • 8:30 am Water Session: Scuba Dive or Snorkel Time 10:30 am Water Session: Scuba Dive or Snorkel Time.
  • Noon Lunch
  • 13:30 Water Session: Snorkel-only session available to passengers before departure
  • 14:45 Departing passengers board the transfer vessel ‘Reef Experience’ for the journey back to Cairns.
  • Complimentary wine, cheese and biscuits on the return journey.
  • 16:30 Approximate arrival time to the Cairns Marlin Marina.

How to get there Reef Experience, our Reef Encounter transfer vessel departs from Cairns Marlin Marina: ‘A-Finger’.

  • Boarding starts at 7:30 am for an 8:00 am departure.  Travel time is around 90 minutes to the outer barrier reef.
  • Reef Experience arrives at  Cairns Marina on your final day at approximately 4:30 pm.

Where to Park

  • There are several parking stations throughout Cairns within walking distance of the Marina.  Click here to see available parking.

Excess Luggage

  • During your Great Barrier Reef hotel stays, we offer free luggage storage facility available at our Cairns city office.

Scuba Diving


How To Book

  • Click on the Book button,
  • next, Choose a Double bed or twin share.
  • Next, enter dates, then how many people are at your party.
  • Select how many rooms.
  • Now select with the drop-down how many people are doing each package.
  • Enter the activities that you would like to do.
  • Then decide on transfers via helicopter or boat.  Then choose your accommodation location and then click Next.
  • View your whole booking and the total price.
  • Enter contact details, dietary requirements, and messages you want us to know.  Read and agree to the terms and conditions.
  • The last step is to select how you would like to pay.   Then dream of how amazing staying on the Great Barrier Reef will be.

Next, view other Great Barrier Reef accommodations.


Nothing compares with how amazing it is to stay on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef!

While you are on board, there will be plenty of opportunities to Snorkel and scuba dive with brightly coloured fish and coral.

At night take in the stars from the top deck or our onboard heated hot tub.


Included in Reef Encounter Stateroom packages

  • Great Barrier Reef accommodation with Reef Encounter, Cairns best Great Barrier Reef liveaboard
  • A variety of spectacular outer Great Barrier Reef locations during your stay
  • Snorkelling or scuba diving, depending on which you select upon booking.
  • Delicious  fresh meals
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Breakfast and lunch is served in a buffet format. Dinner is plated. Fruit is available throughout the day, along with tea and coffee.
  • All dietary requirements will be catered for – please advise us of these when booking.

Optional Extras

  • Barista Coffee
  • Soft Drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Nitrox
  • Tshirts and hats
  • Snacks
  • Photos

What to bring

What to bring

  • Hat,
  • Sunglasses
  • light jacket
  • socks
  • Camera
  • Travel Voucher
  • Certification card and logbook for certified divers
  • Cash or credit card for onboard extras

Reef Encounter is a barefoot experience.

How to get there

Getting to Reef Encounter

Reef Encounter is always on the Great Barrier Reef.

By Boat (included in tariff)

Our sister vessel Reef Experience operates daily transfers meeting up with Reef Encounter.

Boarding starts at 7:30 am on Finger A on the Marlin Jetty, Cairns.

Reef Experience will bring you back to the same destination between 4 and 4:30 pm on your final day.

Helicopter Transfers (optional extra)

Reef Encounter has a helipad on board for guests looking at adding some magic to their stay. You may choose to take a spectacular scenic flight.

Important Information

Cabin Share Advisory: Please note that the allocation of same-gender cabin shares in twin-share cabins cannot be guaranteed.

Important Information for Scuba Divers

This information is for all guests participating in scuba diving activities.

Australia has the strictest scuba diving rules globally and the safest scuba diving record.

Therefore you must understand Queensland’s scuba diving laws.

Great Barrier Reef liveaboard boats are regulated by the Queensland Government Code of Practice and comply with all rules, including the requirements for a dive medical, where applicable, as required by law.

Please complete our dive medical questionnaire as some medical conditions, age and medications may prevent you from scuba diving.

Our mission is always to provide our passengers with the very best Great Barrier Reef tour.

If you have any questions, we will be delighted to assist you.

Please contact our office on +61 7 4037 2700 or email our helpful team today.

Alternatively, you may like to consult your Doctor for a Queensland Dive Medical using the Australian QLD Standard Form AS.4005.1

Flying after Scuba Diving

Plan your travel itinerary.

On the final day of your Reef Encounter stay, your last dive will be completed by 1 pm.

Do not fly or go to altitude for at least 18 hours after scuba diving for a single no decompression scuba dive. You should not fly for 24 hours after your last scuba diving in multiple dives.

If Skydiving or Hot Air Ballooning, you must wait 24 hours after your dive.

We recommend waiting a minimum of 24 hours whenever possible.


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Check-In: 10:00 am

Check-Out: 8:00 am

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Reef Encounter Accommodations


2 Reviews for “Reef Encounter”

  1. Alison Broughton

    Excellent Crew! Super helpful and everyone was professional, friendly and made the experience super easy going! The accommodation was great and the meals were fantastic.

  2. Greg Lord

    Awesome helpful crew. The food was great and the accommodation exceeded our expectations. Clean and roomy. Thank you so much we will be back!!!


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