Cairns Snorkeling Trip | Tour the Great Barrier Reef & Beyond

(92 customer reviews)


Last updated on May 20, 2024 7:25 pm
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Cairns, in Northern Queensland, is a calm and laid-back city. This friendly destination is the gateway to some of Australia’s most iconic attractions, such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree National Park. Cairns is the perfect place for adrenaline junkies, adventure lovers, and passionate divers. It’s conveniently located close to these activities, meaning you won’t have to travel too far to enjoy them.


  • Exploring the Great Barrier Reef
  • Seeing vibrant marine life such as sea turtles, clownfish, and dolphins
  • Day trips to incredible islands

Know before you book:

  • If you have any health issues, please confirm with the tour provider if the activities are suitable for you
  • Not wheelchair accessible




Prices of Cairns Snorkeling Tours in 2021

Cairns Snorkeling Tours start from around $63 ($85 AUD) and can go up to $326 ($440 AUD), depending on the type of tour as well as the duration of the trip. Compare prices below:

Cairns Snorkeling Trip Times

Starting times may vary, according to the availability of the trips and duration, but most snorkeling tours usually start at around 8 am.

Best Time to go snorkeling in Cairns

Cairns has a tropical climate which means that it’s warm and sunny all year round; even in winter. So the best time to visit Cairns is anytime really! However, if you’re looking for the best combination of dry warm weather, fewer crowds, and off-peak accommodation, the best time to go snorkeling in Cairns is either April or September.

It is important to note that in between November and May, Cairns experiences the “Stinger Season” where it’s common to find jellyfish washing up along the shores. So proceed with caution.

Cairns Snorkeling Tours

Explore these various snorkeling tours including Great Barrier Reef tours and neighboring islands departing from Cairns.

Fitzroy Island Day Trip from Cairns

Clown Fish

Fitzroy Island is located just 18.5-miles from Cairns and is situated within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The area has a beautiful array of colorful sea life that includes clownfish, sea turtles, and other tropical fish. Explore the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef on this half-day trip to Fitzroy Island.

What we liked:You can choose between a half-day and full-day.

  • Use of snorkel gear (if option selected)
  • Use of stinger suit (if option selected)
  • Glass-bottom boat tour (if option selected)
  • Lunch (if option selected)
  • Return boat transfers by high-speed Fitzroy Island ferry

  •  Hotel pickup and drop-off
  • Food and drinks, unless specified
  • All fees and taxes

After you arrive from Cairns by a fast ferry, you can snorkel off the Great Barrier Reef, lounge on the white-sand beach, or see the coral from a glass-bottom boat. You can upgrade to the Activity Pass Plus Lunch where you’ll be provided with a picnic lunch, snorkeling gear, a stinger suit, and a glass-bottom boat tour. You can also follow the hiking trails on the island.

Duration: 5-8 hours

Departure Time: 8:30 am

Departure Point: Various depending on the tour booked.

Tour language: English

Know before you book

  • There are 5 main walking trails in the Fitzroy Island National Park that range from 30 minutes to 3 hours, each at varying fitness levels.
  • Family packages are for 2 adults and 2 children.
  • Child rate applies for those between 4 and 14 years old; under 4 years travel free of charge.
  • Smoking is not allowed
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2-Day Great Barrier Reef Drive and Snorkel Boat Trip

Sea Turtle

Explore the best that Australia has to offer with this epic two-day Great Barrier Reef tour. Enjoy an overnight stay aboard the 172-square foot Coral Sea Dream yacht and explore the Great Barrier Reef from 29 moorings and 9 reef locations.

What we liked: You get to enjoy unlimited snorkeling over 2 days!


Day 1:

Board the vessel for morning tea and meet the crew, before setting off to the reefs around Cairns. Along the journey, the crew will conduct nature and diving briefings. You’ll stop at reefs such as the following.

  • Flynn Reef
  • Milne Reef
  • The Three Sisters Reef

You’ll encounter small reef sharks, turtles, and fish. In the afternoon you’ll enjoy lunch and afternoon tea in between your dives. The crew will also offer guided snorkeling tours for those interested in learning more about the reefs. Divers who want to explore the reef at night will then be prepped. And after the dive, dinner will be served.

Day 2:

Wake up at dawn and catch the beautiful sunrise over the Coral Sea. Divers wanting to snorkel or scuba dive will be able to take an early morning dive, after which breakfast will be served. The boat will then depart for its next location after which morning tea will be served.

After morning tea, the crew will move onto the next reef. This is a great time to relax and take in your stunning surroundings. Lunch will be served just before departure. If you’re lucky you may even see dolphins and humpback whales (only in the winter months though) on the way back.

  • 10-minute introductory dive
  • All snorkel and dive equipment (wetsuits, stinger suits, computers)
  • Freshly made meals and snacks
  • Fresh linen and bath towel
  • Use of hot shower and 2 toilets (shared)
  • Unlimited snorkeling

  • Reef levies and fees payable on-board
  • Camera hire (available for purchase onboard)
  • Certified dives (available for purchase onboard)
  • Dive courses (available for purchase onboard)
  • Introductory diving + night diving (available for purchase onboard)
  • Alcohol (available for purchase onboard)

Departure point: Cairns City QLD 4870, Australia

Departure time: 8 am (Boarding starts at 7:45 am)

Tour language: English

Know before you book:

  • This tour is suitable for people with a moderate level of fitness
  • The minimum age for SCUBA diving is 12 years
  • All snorkelers and divers must complete a medical questionnaire on board the boat. Certain medical conditions (i.e. asthma, heart disease, epilepsy) may exclude some people from diving.
  • The trip is weather-dependent. The local partner reserves the right to change trip locations and cancel or reschedule due to mechanical, weather, or any other unforeseen circumstances

This tour is not suitable for:

  • Children under 4 years
  • People with mobility impairments
  • Non-swimmer
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Premium Great Barrier Reef Snorkel and Dive Cruise from Cairns

Premium Snorkeling

If you’re looking for a luxurious escape, you need not look further than this tour. You’ll board a luxurious vessel that will whisk you away to 2 pristine outer Great Barrier Reef locations. Here you will enjoy a scrumptious picnic lunch, go snorkeling, and learn from a multilingual crew.

What we liked: Not only do you get to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, but you can do so on an award-winning vessel. It boasts 3 large sundecks, 2 indoor air-conditioned saloons, and a spacious dive deck.

  • Four hours on the outer reef at two exclusive snorkel and dive locations
  • Morning tea or coffee
  • Fresh pre-packed picnic lunch
  • Hot freshwater showers
  • Detailed snorkel and dive briefings
  • Use of dive/snorkel equipment, including masks, snorkels, fins, and flotation devices
  • Use of wet and stinger suits
  • Prescription mask (optional)

  • Environmental Management Charge and levies ($20 per person, to be paid onboard)
  • Snacks
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Scuba diving
  • Certified diver guides
  • Photos
  • Digital camera hire
  • Souvenirs
  • Return transfers from the Northern Beaches (can be purchased for $20 per person: please advise if required)
  • An additional $15 for guided tours

Duration: 8 hours

Departure time: Varies depending on the tour booked

Departure Point: Varies depending on the tour booked

Tour Languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese

Know before you book:

  • You must fill out a travel information form
  • There are various tours available such as Premium Snorkeling Tour, Introductory Dive, and Premium Certified Diver tours
  • Certified divers: please bring a cert-card and logbook. You will also be asked to fill out and sign an Advice to Divers Form. Medical Standards differ from country to country, and certain medication / medical conditions may exclude you from diving in Australia.
  • Introductory Divers: if you are doing an introductory dive you will be asked to fill out and sign a medical declaration form
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Cairns: Green Island & Reef Full-Day Sailing Cruise

Green Island

Snorkel along the Great Barrier Reef and enjoy a complimentary snorkeling tour with a marine naturalist. You’ll also get to spend time on the tropical Green Island and enjoy some of the island’s activities.

What we liked:  This tour is great for families and has a wide variety of activities to choose from.

  • Snorkeling instruction and in-water assistance as required
  • Top-quality snorkeling gear including wetsuits, lycra suits, and buoyancy vests
  • Diving equipment (for diving included options)
  • Snorkeling tours with a marine naturalist
  • 1 or 2 scuba dives (depending on option selected)
  • Coffee, tea, fresh fruit, and Danish pastries onboard
  • Coffee and tea throughout the day once moored
  • Fish feed
  • Large smorgasbord lunch
  • Transfers to and from Green Island beach
  • True sailing experience on the return journey
  • Tropical afternoon tea: platters of fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, and cake
  • Glass of wine

  • Port/administration fees per person, which can be paid directly at check-in
  • Island activities (glass bottom boat/semi sub: inform skipper onboarding and pay directly on the island)
  • Underwater cameras
  • A range of merchandise (available for purchase)

Duration: 9 Hours

Departure Point: Varies according to tour booked

Tour Language: English

Know before you book:

  • All potential divers will be required to fill out a medical questionnaire on board the boat to assess whether they are fit to dive
  • The minimum diving age is 12 years old
  • Introductory dives are available for guests with no previous experience in scuba diving
  • Certified dives are available for guests with scuba diving certification
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9Expert Score
Cairns has a number of snorkeling trips and tours with a wide range of activities and adventures to enjoy for all travelers.
  • Tours are suitable for the whole family
  • Cairns has tons of activities
  • Most tours offer delicious food
  • You get to explore one of the greatest wonders of the natural world, The Great Barrier Reef
  • All tours depart from Cairns
  • Hotel pickups and drop-offs are not always included.
  • Most trips aren’t wheelchair accessible
  • Additional fees and taxes are not included in the tour price

92 reviews for Cairns Snorkeling Trip | Tour the Great Barrier Reef & Beyond

4.8 out of 5
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    Rough trip out to the reef. Suggest taking tablets. Was a totally awesome day. Snorkelled. Did the introductory diving option and then home to Cairns via helicopter. Staff were amazing, attentive and very patient teaching you diving. Loved it.

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    Fantastic day. The boat Evolution has to be the best in Cairns. Spacious, clean, fast and the crew are excellent. The chopper trip home was brilliant! Brand new helicopter (had that new helicopter smell!) and the pilot was great. I asked him his background and he is super over qualified to be flying tourists around (Rescue/Oil Rig pilot). Can't recommend this tour enough.

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    Going out on the boat was great and the lunch they supplied . And the swim in the nice blue water the crew were helpful and the helicopter was very enjoyable ride back.

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    Great experience… wonderful food. Well organised. Helpful and knowledgeable team. Advise hire of underwater phone pouch.

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