Snorkeling in Cairns: Exploring the Great Barrier Reef

Welcome to Cairns, Australia – home to the Great Barrier Reef and some of the world’s most breathtaking underwater scenery. Whether you’re a seasoned snorkeler or a first-timer, Cairns offers a world of adventure and discovery waiting to be explored.

At Cairns, you’ll find various snorkeling options for all ages and skill levels. From guided tours to private charters, there’s something for everyone. The Great Barrier Reef offers a unique underwater experience that can’t be found anywhere else.

Discover the World’s largest living thing

The Great Barrier Reef is one of Cairns’ most popular snorkelling spots. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest coral reef system in the world, spanning over 2,300 kilometres. The reef is home to a diverse array of marine life, including over 1,500 species of fish and 600 species of coral.

Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You’ll be amazed by the vibrant colours and diversity of the marine life that call the reef home. Keep your eyes peeled for clownfish, sea turtles, and reef sharks!

Choosing a Snorkeling Tour

With so many snorkelling tours, it can be hard to know where to start. We recommend selecting a tour that offers small group sizes and experienced guides. This ensures a more personalized experience and allows you to get the most out of your snorkelling adventure.

Cairns best snorkeling tours  

Reef Experience

This tour offers a full day of snorkelling, diving, and glass-bottom boat tours. With a maximum of 80 guests, you’ll be able to enjoy a more intimate experience on the reef.

For those who have never snorkelled before, Reef Experience Cairns offers an introductory tour that will provide you with all the equipment and guidance you need to explore the reef. More experienced snorkelers can opt for a tour that takes them to deeper waters where they can spot more beautiful marine life.

For certified divers, Reef Experience Cairns tours the most exclusive dive sites on the Great Barrier Reef, such as Saxon, Hastings, and Norman Reefs. These tours offer a unique opportunity to see the reef from a different perspective and discover the hidden treasures beneath the surface.


This Silverswift Cairns tour offers a more luxurious experience, with a maximum of 80 guests and a state-of-the-art vessel. You’ll have access to some of the most pristine snorkeling sites on the reef and an underwater observatory and semi-submersible tour.

Great Adventures

On a Great Adventures Cairns snorkeling tour, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the vibrant coral gardens and encounter a variety of marine life, including tropical fish, turtles, and even reef sharks. Scuba diving tours are also available for those looking for a more immersive experience.

Ocean Spirit

Ocean Spirit Cairns offers a premium sailing experience to the Great Barrier Reef, with various tours and activities catering to all experience levels. Whether snorkeling among the vibrant coral gardens or relaxing on the deck, you will surely have an unforgettable experience with Ocean Spirit Cairns.

Green Island

Green Island Day Tour: This tour offers a full day of snorkelling and relaxation on Green Island, a beautiful coral cay just off Cairns’s coast. You’ll have the chance to explore the island’s white sandy beaches and coral reefs and enjoy various optional activities.

One day is never enough, so everyone should consider a liveaboard experience.

Reef Encounter Cairns Snorkeling: An Unforgettable Experience

If you want a unique and unforgettable snorkelling experience, look no further than Reef Encounter Cairns. This floating hotel and snorkeling platform offers an all-inclusive, multi-day snorkeling adventure on the Great Barrier Reef.

What sets Reef Encounter apart from other snorkeling tours is the opportunity to spend more time on the reef. With accommodation on board the vessel, guests can snorkel and explore the reef at their leisure, day and night.  Onboard Reef Encounter guests can choose from two types of accommodation stateroom or Top Deck Club.

Preparing for Your Snorkeling Adventure

Before you hit the water, it’s important to be prepared. Bring a swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, and a hat. Some tours may provide snorkelling gear, but it’s always a good idea to bring your own if you have it.

It’s also important to listen carefully to your guide’s instructions and follow all safety guidelines. Snorkeling can be a fun and safe activity. Being aware of your surroundings and staying within your comfort zone is essential.

Top Snorkeling Tips for the Great Barrier Reef Cairns

Snorkeling is an excellent way to explore the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef Cairns. With crystal-clear waters and vibrant coral gardens, the reef offers an unforgettable underwater experience. Whether you’re a seasoned snorkeler or a first-timer, these top snorkeling tips will help you make the most of your adventure.

  • Choose the Right Snorkeling Gear

The right snorkeling gear can make all the difference in your experience. Invest in a high-quality mask that fits snugly on your face and doesn’t leak. Choose fins that fit comfortably and provide enough propulsion to help you swim effortlessly. If you’re snorkeling in the summer, consider wearing a rash guard to protect your skin from the sun.

  • Use the Buddy System

Snorkeling with a buddy is not only safer, but it also allows you to share the experience with someone else. Ensure you and your buddy have a clear plan of where you’ll be snorkeling and when you’ll return. Keep an eye on each other and stay within arm’s reach.

  • Practice Proper Snorkeling Technique

Proper snorkeling techniques will help you conserve your energy and breathe more efficiently. Keep your body relaxed, and use slow, steady strokes with your fins. Breathe through your mouth and keep your snorkel tube above the water to prevent water from entering your mouth.

  • Respect the Marine Life

The Great Barrier Reef Cairns is home to diverse marine life, including turtles, sharks, and colourful fish. To ensure their safety and preservation, respecting their environment is important. Avoid touching or harassing marine life; never take anything from the reef.

  • Follow Safety Guidelines

The reef can be unpredictable, and following safety guidelines is essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable snorkeling experience. Always listen to the instructions provided by your tour guide, and never venture outside designated snorkeling areas. If you feel uncomfortable or experience difficulties, signal your buddy or guide for assistance.

  • Consider a Guided tour

A guided tour is an excellent way to explore the reef and ensure a safe and informative experience. Tour operators like Reef Experience and Great Adventures offer snorkelling tours catering to all experience levels. They provide all necessary equipment, safety instructions, and informative guides to help you learn more about the reef’s ecology and conservation efforts.


Snorkeling in Cairns is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. Whether you’re a seasoned snorkeler or a first-timer, the Great Barrier Reef offers a world of adventure and discovery waiting to be explored. With a variety of tours and snorkeling spots to choose from, there’s something for everyone.

So what are you waiting for? Book your Cairns snorkeling adventure today and discover the magic of the Great Barrier Reef for yourself.

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