Cairns Reef Tour | Outer Reef Pontoon | Great Adventures

Tour Code: 126

Departing: Cairns

Pickup: Cairns, Palm Cove

Family Deal Save $148
  • Swimmers and non-swimmers can choose from a range of aquatic adventures from the stationary activity pontoon on this popular Cairns Great Barrier Reef tour.
  • View the rich marine life without getting wet when riding around on an underwater semi-submersible submarine tour on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
  • This is the only place in Australia where you can cruise the reef on an underwater scooter (optional activity). Pre-book your Scuba Doo tour on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • View the awe-inspiring beauty of the Barrier Reef from 500ft up on a scenic helicopter flight (optional activity)
  • Don’t want to get wet? Snap an amazing pic of the colourful reef standing by the window of the underwater observatory. This is the perfect Great Barrier Reef tour for a non-swimmer.
  • Family Deal - Save $148 based on 2 adults & 2 children

Included In Price

  • Return air- conditioned fast catamaran cruise
  • Tea & Coffee served until departure from Cairns
  • Morning Tea cake selection on outward journey
  • 3 hours at the outer reef activity platform
  • Lunch
  • Use of snorkelling equipment
  • Buoyancy vests
  • Lycra suits
  • Reef Education Presentation
  • Semi-submersible sub-marine coral reef viewing tour for non-swimmers
  • Underwater observatory - for non-swimmers
  • Eco Reef Talk with marine naturalist in underwater observatory
  • Afternoon Tea & Coffee available whilst on the platform
  • Cheese & Biscuits on the return journey
  • Please note languages change on a daily basis

The stable reef activity platform offers a perfect tour for individuals of all swimming abilities. From snorkelling, diving to an underwater observatory, enjoying the semi-submarine, or simply relaxing on the sundeck there is something for everyone.

What we like about this Cairns Great Barrier Reef Tour:

  • This is the perfect Cairns Great Barrier Reef tour for all age groups and capabilities 
  • Non-swimmers can see the reef in 4 ways without getting wet
  • Upgrade to extra activities such as helicopter rides, Scuba Doo, diving, guided snorkel tours
  • Family fare pricing makes it a great deal  

After stepping off your Great Barrier Reef tour boat onto the pontoon, you can spend the next 3 hours exploring the reef in all sorts of ways from this stable structure (great if you don’t fancy being on a boat all day).

There are a variety of in-water and out of water tour activities to match physical capabilities and interests, and which cater to both swimmers and non-swimmers.

  • Try snorkelling or scuba diving
  • Ride under the water on a scuba doo scooter
  • Wonder at the diversity of marine life through the window of the underwater observatory
  • Cruise the reef in a semi-submersible submarine.
  • Join the guided Eco Reef talk in the underwater observatory

If relaxation is more your style, lie back and soak up the tropical life on the sundeck while sipping a drink from the licensed bar or munching on a delicious buffet lunch.

If you prefer your fun at high altitudes, you’ll love the scenic helicopter flight over the Great Barrier Reef (infants age 3 must pay child price)

This a good tour for cruise ship passengers in Cairns. 

Morning Pick Up

You’ll be picked up from your accommodation in Cairns or Northern Beaches by your tour bus and tour guide and taken to the Cairns Marina to catch a vessel to the stunning Outer Great Barrier Reef.

Coach transfers are not included in the tour price.

Journey to the Great Barrier Reef

You’re on your way! You’ll be whisked away in comfort to the Outer Great Barrier Reef aboard a spacious, luxury air-conditioned catamaran.

A morning selection of delicious cakes, teas and coffees are served on the trip out to the reef.

Great Barrier Reef Activity Platform/Pontoon

Arrive at the activity platform where you will enjoy an amazing three hours of exploration and adventure.

Learn about the Great Barrier Reef and its abundant marine life from the Eco Reef presentations given throughout your day.

There is a host of activities included in your tour as well as optional activities to choose from.

Activities included in your Great Barrier Reef Tour

Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef

Ideal for everyone! All snorkellers will be given a pre-briefing on how to snorkel to ensure their comfort in the water and to maximise their enjoyment.

There are buoyancy vests and noodles for those who would like more support. Snorkel guides will also help you with your equipment once you are in the water.

You will be amazed at the underwater world of ornate coral structures and brightly coloured marine life. 

Reef education and guided Eco Reef Talk

Learning about the reef and its inhabitants will really bring your experience alive.

There is a guided Eco Reef Talk in the underwater observatory and a reef education presentation given on your day.

If you want to get wet and up close, then join a guided snorkel tour (extra cost); your guide will take you on an educational snorkel, introducing you to and teaching you about the exotic marine life that inhabits the Great Barrier Reef.

  • Find out what a sea cucumber is.
  • Learn amazing facts about giant clams.
  • Discover why ‘Nemo’ can live in his anemone home. 

Semi-submersible submarine tour Great Barrier Reef 

Going down! It feels like you are on a submarine but you will be sitting just under the surface of the water in a viewing gallery whilst the captain steers the vessel from above.

You will glide gently around the coral bommies (coral mountains) and see the amazing formation of the corals.

  • View the colourful darting reef fish and vibrant angelfish.
  • Observe the fascinating parrotfish (they excrete sand!).

Your captain will also point out a host of exciting sights as you take this underwater journey of discovery.

Optional upgrade activities

Introductory scuba diving (optional activity)

Yes, you can go scuba diving without a certification (subject to a medical questionnaire).

What better place to experience your first scuba dive than in the crystal blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef?

You will be taken out in a small group (maximum 4) with an experienced diving instructor.

After a pre-dive briefing and some basic skills, you will descend with your instructor slowly to a shallow depth (maximum 12m 36ft) for your dive which lasts approximately 30 minutes.

This is the nearest you will feel to being a fish underwater. You won’t want to come up! 

Certified scuba diving (subject to availability and booked on the day; optional activity)

If you are a certified diver, you can dive straight off the pontoon platform to explore the incredible underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef.

You’ll be able to experience up to three dives in the day with a number of dive sites available from the pontoon to provide you with varied topography and underwater life.

An experienced Dive Instructor/Master will lead your dive, so stick with them and they'll show you all the hiding places for the best things to see.

Your maximum depth will be 18 metres (60 feet) as you swim amongst the gentle undulating coral gardens and peaks of the coral bommies.

Be surrounded by the exotic marine life of these iconic diving sites on the world famous Great Barrier Reef.

Scuba Doo underwater scooter (optional activity)

If you’re in the mood for something a little more exciting than snorkelling then Scuba Doo is for you!

The Outer Great Barrier Reef platform is the only place in Australia where you can cruise the reef on this amazing underwater scooter.

Suited to swimmers and non-swimmers alike*, you will be wearing a helmet like an astronaut as you ride on your underwater bike that resembles a wheel-less moped, and follow your guide on an underwater journey like no other.  

* must be over 12 years of age and subject to a medical questionnaire

Scenic helicopter flight (optional activity) 

Now that you have seen the reef from under the water, what better way to see it than from the sky?

Your helicopter ride will take you over the Norman Reef and 500ft above the amazing Great Barrier Reef.

You might spot turtles, sharks, manta rays and dolphins swimming below.

You can even fly from the pontoon back to Cairns.

This is a ride of a lifetime and you’ll be surprised that it won’t break the bank.

Pre-bookings essential as helicopter seats are limited to only 6 per day.  

***Please ote: infants age 3 must pay child price***

See more cruise ship tours and Great Barrier Reef tours from Cairns.

Accommodation Return Transfers

Please note: All return transfers will depart Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal 17.30pm. 
Reservations staff will be contacting all passengers with transfers the day prior to travel to update them
on locations and times.

Please see below timetables:

Pick up time@ 06:40
MANTRA AMPHORA (49-63 Williams Esplanade Palm Cove)
PARADISE ON THE BEACH RESORT (119-121 Williams Esplanade Palm Cove)
PEPPER'S BEACH CLUB & SPA PALM COVE (123 Williams Esplanade)
REEF HOUSE (99 Williams Esplanade Palm Cove)
REEF RETREAT (10-14 Harpa Street Palm Cove)

Pick up time @ 06:45
MANGO LAGOON (81-85 Cedar Road Palm Cove)

Pick up time @ 07:00
CNR Moore & Trinity St Bus Stop

Pick up time @ 07:30
CAIRNS SHERIDAN (295 Sheridan Street)
THE LAKES CAIRNS RESORT & SPA (2 Greenslopes Street)
PALM ROYALE HOTEL (7-11 Chester Court)
CAIRNS COLONIAL CLUB (18-26 Cannon Street)
QUEEN'S COURT (167-171 Sheridan Street)
RYDGES ESPLANADE RESORT (Bus Area - Esplanade Side)

Pick up time @ 07:35
181 ESPLANADE P/Up Lake Street Side (181 Esplanade)
BAY VILLAGE (Cnr Lake & Gatton Streets)
CORAL TREE INN (162-172 Grafton Street)
CAIRNS PLAZA HOTEL (145 Esplanade)

Pick up time @ 07:40
RILEY (p/u from DOUBLETREE BY HILTON - Abbott St side)
DOUBLETREE BY HILTON (121-123 Esplanade)

Pick up time @ 07:45
FLYNN BY CRYSTALBROOK (p/u Abbott Street entrance near Night Markets)
MANTRA TRILOGY (p/u Abbott Street entrance near Night Markets)
THE BENSON HOTEL (Cnr Grafton & Spence)
GILLIGANS - P/up The Benson (50 Grafton St)

Pick up time @ 07:50

Pick up time @ 08:00
YHA CAIRNS CENTRAL (20-26 McLeod Street)

Tour Languages Offered
  • English
Departs From


Departure Time
  • Cruise/Cruise: departs 10:30am returns Cairns 5:30pm
  • Cruise/Fly: departs Cairns at 10:30am returns Cairns 3:40pm
  • Fly/Cruise: departs Cairns at 12:30pm returns Cairns 5:30pm
  • Fly/Fly: departs Cairns at 12:30pm returns Cairns 3:40pm
Departure Instructions

Departure from Reef Fleet Terminal, 1 Spence St Cairns. It is recommended to check-in 30 minutes prior to departure.

Pickup Locations
  • Cairns
  • Palm Cove
  • Please note: All return transfers will depart Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal 17.30pm.
  • Our Reservations staff will be contacting all passengers with transfers the day prior to travel to update them on locations and times.
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Outer Great Barrier Reef: Moore Reef or Norman Reef depending on weather conditions.
Months of Operation

January - December

Days of Operation


For Christmas and New Year there is a high demand so advance booking is advised.


7 hours (approx) or less depending on options

Available for Purchase / Hire
  • Introductory scuba diving (no experience necessary, subject to medical questionnaire) - minimum age 12
  • Certified scuba diving - minimum age 12
  • Guided Outer Barrier Reef Snorkel Tour (40 minutes in water + 10 minute safety brief)
  • Scuba-Doo Underwater Scooter (25 minutes in water + 10 minute safety brief)
  • Infants age 3 will be charged the child price for any helicopter component booked, this charge will be added to your booking total
  • Helicopter flights
Fitness Level Required

Low, Medium


Scuba Diving – minimum age 12


Scuba Diving, Scuba Doo and Helmet Diving Restrictions

  • Certain medical conditions and medications may preclude some people from scuba diving and helmet diving/scuba doo.
  • Participation is subject to medical questionnaires completed on board with the tour operator.
  • Minimum age for scuba diving and helmet diving/scuba doo is 12 years.
  • Flying after scuba diving: a wait of 12 hours is recommended after one dive, 18 hour after 2 dives and at least 24 hours after multiple dives, before ascending to an altitude of 300 metres or greater.

Intro Dive Medical Advanced Dive Medical Seawalker Medical

Read more about Diving Safety on the Great Barrier Reef.

Additional Information
  • For scuba diving and helmet diving, medical, height and age restrictions apply; must be 12 to 70 years.
  • All schedules, activities and prices may be varied without notice.
Eco Certifications
Certified Tourism
Eco Certified Guide
  • Sunscreen, Hat, Sunglasses, Swimming costume, Towel, Cash or credit card, Camera
  • Souvenirs available for sale on board the boat.

Customer Reviews

Average Rating

Judith P

Reviewed on March 06, 2019

An amazing day. The crew and staff so very helpful in every way. The lunch was so good, the snorkling was great. Everything was perfect. The pontoon was clean and everything was provided. We did a guided snorkel and he was so patient and helpful. Highly recommend this company.

Response From Barrier Reef Australia

Judith thank you so very much for your review of your Great Barrier Reef tour from Cairns. This particular outer reef pontoon tour is one of our most popular as there are so many things to do and so many ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef from this pontoon and its tour options. We look forward to welcoming you back to Cairns in ther near future

John P

Reviewed on March 06, 2019

Great time on the Barrier Reef. Amazing staff. Great Lunch and enjoyable day.


Reviewed on July 21, 2018

Our family of 5 enjoyed it very much. Our only criticism would be the quality of the food for lunch - it really was not very appetising. The staff were fantastic and it's very well organised.

Response From Barrier Reef Australia

Thank you for your review of the Great Barrier Reef tour Siobhan. We have passed on your comments regarding the buffet lunch on the day. We look forward to welcoming you back to Cairns in the future

Gregory L

Reviewed on March 25, 2018


Response From Barrier Reef Australia

The Tour Specialists are pleased to hear you enjoyed your day on the Great barrier Reef Greg and we look forward to your next visit to our region.

Alma M

Reviewed on August 18, 2016

The trip on the catamaran and the staff were really great. We also enjoyed the semi sub and underwater viewing. Just a bit dissapointing that the lunch seemed a bit chaotic and nowhere to sit on the pontoon as tables taken over with other guests bags etc. We ate on the catamaran- thought we would have been able to relax on a sun bed but that was the same.

Containes notes on wheelchair access
Wheelchair Accessibility

For an Outer Reef experience, Great Adventures recommend their Quicksilver Outer Reef Cruise, however the following is provided for your information.

Number of Steps

There is a ramp to access the vessel~|~there is a motorised chair lift to enable a transfer between upper and lower decks~|~There are no wheelchair accessable toilets on board the boat or pontoon.

Onboard Access

At the Outer Barrier Reef there are ramp facilities from the vessel to the floating platform. There are no disabled facilities on the platform and the platform does have decking whereby wheelchair wheels can get stuck.

Access to the underwater observatory, swim platforms and semi-submersible is by stair only

  • Family Fare: 2 Adults and 2 Children (not applicable with other discounts)
  • Child Fare 4-14 years inclusive
  • Infants age 3 will be charged the child price for any helicopter component booked, this charge will be added to your booking total

All cancellations must be in writing.

We understand things may change, so we have made cancellations very easy.

In every instance we always recommend you purchase travel insurance for life’s last-minute hiccups.

Please see our terms and conditions for details prior to booking.

Operators policy:

  • Cancellations received within 24 hours are subject to full cancellation.
  • Note: Infants age 3 will be charged the child price for any helicopter component booked, this charge will be added to your booking total

Cairns Reef Tour | Outer Reef Pontoon | Great Adventures

Tour Code: 126

Departing: Cairns

Pickup: Cairns, Palm Cove

Family Deal Save $148



Prices are AUD, per adult and include all levies fees and taxes.

Child: au$156.00
Family: au$740.00

Tour Code: 126



15 yrs & over

4 - 14 yrs

0 - 3 yrs

Ages of Children
(Discounts May Apply)
1300 231 118
+61 427 074 745
1300 231 118
+61 427 074 745

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