Live-aboard dive trips are a fantastic way to get in a whole lot of diving in a short time and to experience the thrill of falling asleep to the gentle rocking of the waves on the Great Barrier Reef. On top of that, because your meals and accommodation is included it works out much cheaper per dive than doing day trips from Cairns. There are 2 types of live-aboard trips you can do:•On a small yacht •On a larger boat Which you prefer will depend a little on what sort of person you are. If you really must have your creature comforts then you will prefer the bigger boats with their ensuite rooms but on the yachts you will find it easier to get to know everyone onboard. Cost-wise and generally speaking the smaller yachts will be a little cheaper. •Coral Sea Dreaming•Pro Dive•Kangaroo Explorer•Spirit of Freedom•Mike Ball
For most backpackers a reef trip will be the highlight of their Australian travel, so it is paramount to get on a boat that goes to the “best reefs”. Although all reefs in the Cairns region are loaded with fish and coral, their are some that are better than others. There are 4 different regions that the boats go to:1.North Eastern reefs-Michaelmas, Saxon,Hastings and Normal reef. These reefs are great for snorkelling but in the “Guides” opinion they are not as good for diving as the other reefs, being shallower and generally less interesting at depth. Good for beginner divers however and for snorkellers. 2.North Eastern reefs- Miln, Flynn, Thetford and Moore Reefs. These are the best dive sites easily accessible from Cairns with steep sloping walls and depths up to 30 mtrs. Best site out of these is the “3 sisters”. Pro Dive, Kangaroo Explorer and Coral Sea Dreaming go here.3. Ribbon Reefs. Incredible dives including the “Cod Hole” and “Steve’s Bommie”. Absolutely packed These are way north of Cairns and require a minium of 4 days. Can be expensive. Mike Ball and Spirit of Freedom go here. 4. Coral Sea (Osprey Reef). Absolutely the best dive sites in the wholeof Australia with 1000 mtr walls, pristine coral and lots of large predatory fish. Usually combined with the Ribbon Reefs. These trips are expensive but worth it if you can afford it. Mike Ball and Spirit go here.