Reef Encounter Accommodations

Reef Encounter: Great Barrier Reef liveaboard trips

Experience the Great Barrier Reef like never before with Reef Encounter’s multi-day liveaboard dive trips departing from Cairns. Whether you’re a snorkeler or a diver, our trips offer a range of options to suit every budget and itinerary. What sets a liveaboard trip apart? You get more time to explore the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, including sunrise and sunset views and the chance for thrilling night and early morning dives.

About Reef Encounter

Reef Encounter Stateroom Accommodations: Comfort and Views in the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef

Experience the ultimate ocean getaway with Reef Encounter’s stateroom accommodations. Each of our 21 rooms spans 12.5 square metres and features large windows offering stunning views of the Great Barrier Reef. Wake up to the sight of sunlit waters and vibrant marine life from the comfort of your well-appointed room.

Gourmet Dining and Luxurious Leisure

While on board, indulge in the culinary delights prepared by our skilled chef. Each meal is crafted to reflect the region’s flavours, using fresh, local ingredients to satisfy every palate. Whether you enjoy a hearty breakfast, a sumptuous lunch, or a dinner under the stars, our dining options enhance your sea-going experience.

Unwind in Style

After a day of diving or snorkelling,  relax and rejuvenate on our spacious sundeck. It’s the perfect spot to soak up sunshine and vitamin D during the day. The sundeck also provides comfortable seating and breathtaking panoramic views of the endless ocean.

Hot Tub Under the Stars

One of Reef Encounter’s highlights is the hot tub on the vessel’s bow. Ideal for relaxing after a thrilling night dive, the hot tub offers a warm, soothing escape as you unwind under the starlit sky. It’s a favourite spot for guests to relax their muscles and share stories of the day’s underwater adventures.

Stargazing and More

As evening falls, the sundeck transforms into a serene setting for stargazing. Away from the city lights, the clear skies above the Great Barrier Reef offer a spectacular celestial display. It’s an enchanting way to end your day, looking up at the constellations while the gentle sea breeze complements the tranquil atmosphere.

Accessing Reef Encounter

Setting sail from Cairns,  accessible via boat or helicopter, the Reef Encounter relocates twice daily between the most breathtaking outer barrier reef locations. An onboard chef highlights the flavours of North Queensland with delectable meals, catering to various dietary preferences. Guests can indulge in snorkelling, introductory and certified diving experiences, or a personalised open-water dive course—all conducted in the vivid waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Whether seeking serenity or adventure, the Reef Encounter offers a peerless way to experience one of the world’s most exquisite natural wonders.


Thanks to our day boat, Reef Experience, daily departures for all liveaboard options are convenient. It provides comfortable and swift transfers between Cairns and Reef Encounter, essentially a permanent fixture on the reef. This flexibility ensures a hassle-free itinerary for your adventure.

Reef Encounter siun deck


Boutique Floating Hotel

Please note that Reef Encounter charges an additional $100 peak season surcharge per booking per person for bookings made from December 23rd to January 2nd and from March 28th to April 2nd each year.

Please see our important information for medical conditions.


Accommodation Information

  • Check-in Time: 10:00 am
  • Check-Out Time: 8:00 am

When you choose onboard accommodation at Reef Encounter, you’re in for a comfortable and memorable experience. Our staterooms feature large windows that provide breathtaking views of the Great Barrier Reef right from your room. Plus, you’ll enjoy the convenience of ensuite facilities, including toilets, showers, and all the towels and toiletries you need, such as soap, shampoo, and conditioner.

We understand the importance of staying connected, so all staterooms are equipped with Australian power outlets, ensuring you can charge your devices effortlessly.

Delicious Meals

The culinary experience aboard Reef Encounter is exceptional. Our talented onboard chef prepares all your meals, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and delectable desserts. You can also enjoy fresh fruit, tea, and coffee throughout the day. We’re committed to catering to all dietary requirements, so please inform us of any specific needs when booking.

Onboard, you’ll find a comfortable dining saloon, a TV and lounge area, and an inviting outdoor space. If you’re a coffee enthusiast, our barista coffee will surely please your palate: a freshwater hot tub and a spacious sundeck adorned with sun loungers for relaxation.

Reef Encounter’s fully licenced bar ensures you can enjoy your favourite beverages while enjoying the reef’s beauty. Easy access to scuba diving and snorkelling platforms means you’re just moments away from your underwater adventures. And for those seeking an elevated view, we even have a helicopter pad for scenic flights.

Reef Encounter offers an incredible reef experience and the comfort and amenities to make your stay exceptional.

Snorkeling with Reef Encounter: Immerse Yourself in the Underwater Wonders of the Great Barrier Reef

Dive into a world of vibrant underwater spectacle with Reef Encounter’s premier snorkelling adventures. Positioned directly on the Great Barrier Reef, our luxurious liveaboard offers the perfect platform for snorkelers of all levels to explore the reef’s dazzling coral gardens and abundant marine life.

A Snorkeler’s Paradise

Snorkelling with Reef Encounter provides unparalleled access to some of the clearest and most colourful sections of the reef. Easy water entry from the catamaran’s lower decks places you right in the heart of this underwater treasure trove. Swim amidst schools of tropical fish, float over expansive coral formations, and watch for sea turtles and friendly reef sharks, all in their natural habitats.

Guided snorkelling Tours

Our expert marine guides accompany you on each snorkelling session, pointing out hidden wonders and explaining the reef’s ecological importance. These guided tours enhance your experience and educate you on the conservation efforts that help preserve the reef for future generations.

Top-Notch Snorkelling Gear and Support

At Reef Encounter, we provide high-quality snorkelling equipment to ensure your comfort and safety in the water. Our crew is always on hand to assist with gear fitting and to offer tips on snorkeling techniques, making this experience accessible even for beginners.

More Than Just Snorkelling

While aboard, enjoy the full amenities of our floating hotel, including comfortable staterooms with ocean views, delicious meals prepared by our onboard chef, and relaxing lounges on deck. Whether you’re soaking up the sun after a snorkel session or enjoying a sunset over the sea, Reef Encounter offers a complete reef experience.

Scuba Diving with Reef Encounter: Dive into the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef

Join us aboard the Reef Encounter for an exceptional scuba diving adventure in the world’s largest and most famous reef system. Our state-of-the-art catamaran is your floating dive base, directly over some of the Great Barrier Reef’s most spectacular dive sites.

Dive into Diversity

Each dive with Reef Encounter offers a chance to explore different facets of the reef’s vibrant ecosystem. From intricate coral gardens and sheer reef walls to underwater pinnacles and channels, every dive is a doorway to discoveries. During migration season, encounter a stunning array of marine life, including turtles, colourful fish, and even gentle giants like manta rays or minke whales.

Expert Guidance and Top-Notch Equipment

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, our skilled dive masters and instructors are on hand to ensure a safe, enjoyable, and enlightening experience. We provide high-quality diving gear and detailed briefings on each site’s topographical and biological significance.

Dive Courses and Certifications

Reef Encounter is not just a diving expedition; it’s also a renowned diving school. Take advantage of our personalised open-water dive courses to earn your SSI certification while aboard, or enhance your diving skills with the advanced and speciality courses offered during your stay.

A Comfortable and Convenient Dive Experience

Our liveaboard experience means no time is wasted on lengthy boat rides from shore daily. You’ll wake up right on the reef, free to dive multiple times throughout the day, including thrilling night dives that reveal the reef’s nocturnal wonders.

Relax and Recharge

After your dives, relax in your private stateroom, enjoy gourmet meals prepared by our onboard chef, and soak in the panoramic views of the Coral Sea from our spacious decks. We aim not only to offer dives but also to create memorable experiences that last a lifetime.

Reef Encounter Itinerary

First Day:

7:30 am: Board Reef Experience, our transfer vessel, and enjoy breakfast. 8:00 am: Depart to the 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. Noon: Lunch. 1:00 pm:

Water Briefings:

Certified Diver Briefings: Try Scuba Diving Briefings or Snorkel Adventure Briefings. 1:30 pm: Water Session: Scuba dive or snorkel time. 3:00 pm: Reef Encounter moves to another spectacular outer Great Barrier Reef location. 3:30 pm: Water Session: Scuba dive or snorkel time—glass-bottom boat tour.

Summer Schedule

6:00 pm: Dinner. 6:45 pm: Night Dive Briefings. 7:00 pm: Night dive commences for all those scuba diving.

Winter Schedule

5:30 pm: Night Dive Briefings. 6:00 pm: A night dive begins for all those scuba divers. 7:15 pm: Dinner. 8:00 pm: Dessert. Next Day: 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. 1:30 pm: Water Session: Scuba Dive or Snorkel Time. 3:00 pm: Reef Encounter moves to another spectacular outer barrier reef location. 3:30 pm: Water Session: Scuba diving, snorkelling, and a glass bottom boat tour are available.

Summer Schedule

6:00 pm: Dinner. 6:45 pm: Night Dive Briefings. 7:00 pm: Night dive commences for all those scuba diving. Winter Schedule 5:30 pm: Briefing for the night dive. 6:00 pm: A night dive begins for scuba divers. 7:15 pm: Dinner. 8:00 pm: Dessert.

Last Day:

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. 1:30 pm: Water Session: Snorkel-only session available to passengers before departure 2:45 pm: Departing passengers board the transfer vessel ‘Reef Experience’ for the journey back to Cairns. Complimentary wine, cheese, and biscuits on the return journey. 4:30 pm: Approximate arrival time at the Cairns Marlin Marina. Experience the Great Barrier Reef in all its glory with this comprehensive itinerary designed for enjoyment and comfort.

How to get to Reef Encounter

Reef Experience, our transfer vessel to Reef Encounter, departs from Cairns Marlin Marina, specifically from ‘A-Finger.’

Boarding begins at 7:30 am for an 8:00 am departure.

The journey to the outer barrier reef takes approximately 90 minutes, ensuring a comfortable and scenic ride. On your final day, the Reef Experience returns to Cairns Marina at around 4:30 pm, concluding your unforgettable Great Barrier Reef adventure.

Where to park

Conveniently, there are multiple parking stations located within walking distance of Cairns Marina. View the available parking facilities to explore your parking options and find the one that suits your needs best. This ensures a hassle-free start to your Great Barrier Reef adventure.

Preparing for your Reef Encounter adventure is easy when you know what essentials to pack.

Here’s a handy checklist to ensure you’re fully prepared:

Swimwear: Don’t forget your swimwear for snorkelling and enjoying the crystal-clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

Sun Protection: Protect yourself from the Australian sun with sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat.

Comfortable Clothing: Casual and comfortable clothing is suitable for onboard activities.

Pack a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings.

Footwear: Comfortable walking shoes or sandals for exploring the reef and relaxing on the boat.

Personal Items: Bring essentials like your passport, driver’s licence, and required medications.

Towels: Beach and bath towels are provided onboard Reef Encounter.

Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated during your trip with a reusable water bottle.

Camera: Capture the stunning underwater scenery and memorable moments with an underwater camera or waterproof case.

Motion Sickness Medication: Consider bringing appropriate medication if you’re prone to motion sickness.

Chargers and Adapters: Ensure your electronic devices stay powered with chargers and any necessary adapters.

Cash or Card: Some optional activities, snacks, or souvenirs may require cash or card payments.

Toiletries: personal toiletries, including toothbrushes, toothpaste, and specific skincare items. Travel Documents: Keep your booking confirmation and identification handy for a smooth check-in process.

Remember that Reef Encounter provides snorkelling equipment and scuba diving gear, so you won’t need to bring these items. This checklist will prepare you to enjoy your Great Barrier Reef experience.

Upgrade to Reef Encounter’s Top Deck Club Package: Ultimate liveaboard package on the  Great Barrier Reef

Discover our liveaboards


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
  • Wetsuit hire (Please note stinger suits are provided during wet season/summer from November to May)

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 around 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. A certificate from your doctor stating that you are “Fit to Scuba Dive” or a Queensland dive medical may be required.

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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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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