Diving in Australia: The Great Barrier Reef

Diving at the Australian Great Barrier Reef has always been a dream of mine. So you can only imagine the satisfaction when I finally got to see kaleidoscopic corals, sharks, sea horses and oh…Wally, the epic Napoleon fish. Definitely more than GREAT! 

What makes is SO Great?

For those who have been living under a rock: Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s seven natural wonders included on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. With it’s 344,400 square kilometres it’s the largest and unfortunately endangered reef system on the planet. Last year alone 67% of it got killed by coral bleaching, caused by global warming.

Expectations vs Reality

The first thing that crosses your mind when someone mentions the Great Barrier Reef is probably the vivid coral surrounded by turquoise waters. And let me be real: the pictures don’t lie. The area is absolutely breathtaking. Inside and out.

Under the Sea

I flew to Cairns the day before the excursion so I wasn’t really allowed to dive twice or too deep (chance of decompression). Still a little risky, but I decided on a single dive. I did not regret it what so ever.

BUT… As much as I loved the dive. I’m sure to say I’ve seen more color and fish elsewhere. So if you’re on a budget but you still want to experience the underwater beauty of the reef, I’d go snorkeling. I did that the year after the dive and I saw basically the same or even more. But whatever you decide, I’m sure you will not regret it. There’s no way!


•  I advise to book the diving trip with a smaller group. I went with a popular, busy tour and we all went diving in a small area demarcated by some sort of metal mesh. The groups caused a lot of movement (dust). But that’s honestly the only remark I can give. The buffet, the gear and the staff were great.

•  A trustworthy diving company is a must. Not only will you feel a lot safer but they will also find your diving licence online in case you didn’t bring it. If you don’t have a PADI, but a different diving certificate, you will get a pop quiz before you go in to actually make sure you can dive.

•  Bring some cash on board. Food and drinks are usually included on most trips but always keep in mind that additional tours/options like extra paid photo’s, dives or tours can happen and they can don’t have a cash machine on board.

•  For those who don’t like to get wet, there is plenty to do as well. You can book a helicopter tour or jump on a glass bottom boat to get a glimpse at the pristine waters of the legendary reef. 

•  You can book your day tour tickets in almost every travel shop in Cairns. Most of those shops are open every day till 9PM or even later. The prices can vary but you should aim for about 200-250 AUD per trip. Getting them online works too if you have a possibility to print out the confirmation.