Cairns Liveaboards Connects You To The Worlds Best Dive Sites

Cairns Liveaboard


Everyone claims to have the worlds best something or another. It is also very difficult to establish world best on something subjective like a dive site. However, anyone who has been diving for a while will have to admit that the dive sites of the northern portion of the Great Barrier Reef enjoys a great deal of respect as being outstanding sites. Add in the vast number of these sites that many divers the world over know the name of you can see why the area has such a great reputation.

The reefs in this area can cater to a wide range of diving abilities, also some of the Liveaboards are also well established for non-divers as well. For the dive vessels leaving Cairns there are a few general destination with hundreds of potential dive sites.
The outer reef area is by far the most visited. Dive boats from Cairns can make day trips to these reefs. The most noted of these would include: Hasting Reef, Saxon Reef and Michaelmas reef and Cay.
There are also a number of Cairns Liveaboards that visit these reefs giving more in-depth visits than the daily boats can do. Further away is the Ribbon Reefs.

A string of reefs about 55 miles long to the north of Cairns and extend to the area around Lizard Island. The ribbon reef is made up of ten major reefs not named just numbered and a number of smaller ones plus bommies.  Out in the deep Coral Sea are a number of underwater mountain ranges, some come very close to the surface. One of these has formed a reef top and is called Osprey reef. The reef extends from the ocean floor more than a thousand meters down to just meters below the surface in places.

Major Liveaboards Sailing From Cairns

Outer Reefs: MV Reef Encounter

The MV Reef Encounter is one of the many Liveaboards that call Cairns their home port. The design of the boat and the different programs that the MV Reef Encounter has sets it apart from the other Diving Liveaboards from Cairns. The MV Reef Encounter is laid out more like a boutique hotel than a typical Liveaboard dive vessel. A 35 meter long catamaran she has 21 ocean view staterooms each with en suite facilities. There is a hot tub overlooking the bow, and a large sun deck.
It is the only tourism vessel in the Great Barrier Reef with a helipad on the roof. The MV Reef Encounter “Reef Sleep” program is geared not only to scuba divers but to anyone who wishes to experience the thrill of a night on the Great Barrier Reef. Guest, whether scuba diver, snorkelers or just ocean lovers, can stay however many nights that they wish. While most Liveaboards have schedules that take them into port every few days or once a week, the MV Reef Encounter stays on the reefs for an extended time.
Guest are ferried to the vessel along with fresh food and other supplies by the MV Reef Experience a daily dive vessel, owned by a sister company.

The MV Reef Encounter frequents four of the larger reefs that are a part of the outer barrier reefs.  A MV Reef Encounter typical day for a scuba diver on-board would be to wake up early and do a sunrise scuba dive, have breakfast and maybe going snorkeling for a while, another dive before lunch, another dive after lunch follow by some time on the sun deck, a excellent dinner and a night dive.

Finish off the evening,watching the stars from the hot tub while have a nice cocktail. There are five water sessions a day for snorkelers and divers, plus a night dive. Diver may chose four of the session for scuba. Over the course of the day the vessel will visit two or three reefs.

Outer Reefs And Ribbon Reefs: Spirit Of Freedom

The Spirit of Freedom does a weekly dive trip departing at noon every Monday from Cairns. Divers wishing a shorter trip can take a three day segment and leave the vessel at Lizard Island for a flight back to Cairns. The three day segment takes the divers out to the outer reefs on the first day for an afternoon dive and a night dive. Overnight the Spirit of Freedom relocates to the northern most reefs of the Ribbon reef chain, reefs 9 and 10. For Two days the divers will explore some of the dive sites on these reefs. The Cod hole dive site is one that will be done, as it is the most famous site in the chain. Wednesday night is spent in a cove of Lizard Island and guest are transferred to the island and the airfield the following morning for a low level flight back to Cairns.

The Spirit of Freedom has 11 cabins only two of which have ocean views and carries up to 26 guest and a crew of 10.


Ribbon Reefs: Mike Balls Spoilsport

Mike Ball’s Spoilsport also does the Ribbon Reef in a manner similar to the Spirit of Freedom. The Spoilsport departs in the early evening on Thursdays for a week long adventure. However, The spoilsport starts with a four day segment that includes some ribbon Reefs before going to the Osprey reef. The Ribbon Segment can be started on Mondays with a flight to Lizard Island and then a transfer to the vessel. By lunch time the divers are ready to dive on ribbon reef 10. The Spoilsport has 14 staterooms.

Osprey Reef: Spirit Of Freedom And Mike Ball’s Spoilsport

As a part of their seven day departures both of these vessels visit the Osprey reef out in the coral sea. The spoilsport does it on the northbound leg while the spirit of Freedom does it on the south bound leg.