Queensland Australia Liveaboards

Queensland Australia Liveaboards

Liveaboards visit the Great Barrier Reef’s famous areas of Osprey Reef, Ribbon Reef and Cod Hole. Scuba diving in Australia is perfect by liveaboard and on the Great Barrier Reef snorkelling is fantastic.

There are several liveaboards in Queensland Australia which can suit your diving needs, from overnight trips to 7 days or longer. They give access to the largest barrier reef in the world with over 2000 kilometres of fantastic reef systems. Diving Cairns and Great Barrier Reef diving itself offers impressive biodiversity, clear and warms waters. There are predictable encounters with minke whales in June and July each year.

Scuba diving the GBR is often considered one of the must-dos for divers, and it is made easy by joining a liveaboard cruise. One big bonus is that the dives are mostly suitable for all certification levels. As a result, even newer divers can experience an unforgettable trip.

Topography and navigation on the sites are simple. Add this to the excellent visibility, and divers can go as buddy pairs with no complicated route planning needed. The sites are shallow, so there are long no-decompression times and dive times.

Most operators can also offer Great Barrier Reef snorkelling with an optional extra of a first-time dive or get certified on board.

Take a look at the Liveaboard Cruise options below.

Queensland Australia Liveaboards - 8 LIVEABOARDS

From $234 / day

Coral Expeditions II Liveaboard in Australia

An Australian liveaboard with a marine biologist and scuba diving on some itineraries.

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From $356 / day

Coral Discoverer Liveaboard in Australia

A liveaboard in Australia that offers adventure cruises with scuba diving on some itineraries

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From $125 / day

Coral Sea Dreaming Liveaboard in Australia

Ideal for short scuba diving Australia Liveaboard or great barrier reef snorkeling.

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Diving in Queensland Australia

Australia offers a large variety of diving around its island shores, but the vast majority choose to dive at the Great Barrier reef due to its remarkable diversity and ease of access from Cairns. The liveaboards can also offer dives in the Cod Hole, Ribbon Reef and Coral Sea areas which provide breathtaking un-spoilt coral along with fantastic visibility.

Best Places for Diving Queensland Australia

The best scuba diving in Australia can be divided into two areas.

  • Coral Sea – read more about Cod Hole and the Coral Sea

The two main areas offer something different for divers.

The Great Barrier Reef is open for all diver certification levels, snorkelers, first-time divers and guests who would like to take the PADI Open Water Certification.

The Coral Sea Area is for divers with a little more experience and offers dramatic drop off's, shark dives and the chance to visit the furthest sites with very little boat traffic.

On these tours there is a low-level flight included in your cruise one way, this is an experience in itself to pass over the Barrier Reef at such close proximity.

The Special Minke Whale watching trips occur for two months of the year where the whales are migrating through the area. These trips allow an unforgettable experience of snorkelling with the whales in the natural habitat.

For a unique extra, most liveaboards will offer the ‘fluoro' night dives as an entirely different way to view the reefs after dark.

You can read about the diving in Queensland and learn about the dive sites in more detail on our two Queensland Dive Sites pages.

Best Dive Sites in Queensland Australia

In Queensland it is easy for liveaboards to cover a vast variety of dive sites. Many of the further away dive areas, such as Osprey Reef and Cod Hole are only visited by liveaboards. Here are some of the best dive sites in Australia. You can more about these places and more in the Queensland Dive Sites section.

Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier reef is a vast area with a multitude of dive sites, as such, it is almost impossible to name these individually. In general, the area is split into reefs with many individual sites on those reefs.

Too numerous to mention all the areas here, please look at the area description which has a lot of information.


The Great Barrier Reef scuba diving is varied and colourful. The topography is walls, coral bommies, swim-throughs and reef.

Marine life is not shy. One example is a giant Napoleon Wrasse called Wally who is a delight for divers visiting Hastings Reef.

Turtles are frequently seen as are reef sharks and the ever friendly clown fish in their anemones.

Bougainville Reef

This is a unique site that can only be reached at certain times of the year due to its remote nature. This result is the area being pristine.

The Coral Sea

This area is considered as the Outer Reef and can only be dived by joining one of the Liveaboard cruises due to the considerable distance from land.

Several reef systems are covering this area each with its own unique sightings and topography.

The Coral Sea is considered a little more challenging diving due to the drop-offs into the abyss of the continental shelf.

Osprey Reef

Generally considered the best diving in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef area. The reef is the furthest point visited and has nutrient-rich water. It is beyond the continental shelf and currents carry these upwards to the sites.

Holmes Reef 

Is a truly remote spot in the Coral Sea

Ribbon Reefs  

Located along the Queensland coast at the edge of the continental shelf. This area includes the famous Cod Hole with 2m Potato Cod posing for photographs with divers.

Read more information about the Great Barrier Reef Dive Sites

Great Barrier Reef diving offers a huge variety of hard and soft corals and over 1,500 species of fish life. This area provides an unbeatable liveaboard experience.

For more information about The Great Barrier Reef, please click on the photo.

Great Barrier Reef Australia

Read more information about The Coral Sea Dive Sites

The outer barrier reef is only reachable via liveaboards due to the great distance from the Queensland coast. It offers some of the best scuba diving in Australia.

For more information about The Coral Sea Dive Sites, please click on the photo.

Destination Coral Sea Australia

Queensland Australia Scuba Diving Highlights

  • Common Sightings – Napoleon wrasse, Turtles, Anemonefish, Groupers Sharks
  • Special Sightings – Minke Whale, Dolphins, Dougons, Weedy Scorpionfish
  • Topography - Shallow reefs, bommies, coral reefs
  • Visibility - 20m+
  • Certification recommendations - Diving in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is available for all certified divers, and conditions are ideal for newer divers to enjoy the sites while more experienced divers can enjoy the more open sites of the Cod Hole and the Coral Sea.
  • Onboard options - Snorkelling, some trips have a stunning low-level flight included.

Best Time to Go

Scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef can be done year around from Cairns, but there are some seasonal variations.

General recommendations are -

High season -  mid-August to mid-December, this dives the best visibility usually at this time.

Winter season -  April to September has a dry, sunny and warm climate but strong winds.

Monsoon / Summer Season - January to March, rain can happen daily but usually only for a couple of hours.

Hot Season -  November to April.

For special trips with the Minke Whales and the Humpback Whales, the season is May and June. During May and June, special tours are on offer to the areas that the migrating Minke whales can be seen. The offer Great Barrier Reef snorkelling with the whales under careful supervision.

Humpback whales can be spotted August to November.

The Coral Spawning is in October and November, the exact date varies annually and is difficult to predict

Water temp is 24 to 29 C over the year, so a 3mm shorty for the warmer months and a 5mm long for May to October is advisable.

How to Get There

You will need to be in Cairns to join the liveaboards which has an international airport with many direct flights. Alternatively, there are regular domestic flights from Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.