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Can You Sleep Overnight On The Great Barrier Reef From Cairns?

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Wed 13 Mar 2024

Can you sleep overnight on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns? Yes, with an incredible type of tour called a liveaboard, you can spend anywhere from 1 night to 7 nights sleeping out on the Great Barrier Reef! There are liveaboards to suit all types of travelers. Whether you're an advanced scuba diver who wants ample quality time with the underwater world, or you're just a snorkeler who wants a more laid-back reef experience, there are many awesome ways to sleep overnight on the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns!

Scuba Diving group navigating the great barrier reef

Can You Sleep Overnight On The Great Barrier Reef?

Cairns offers a multitude of highly-rated liveaboard boat trips that allow you to sleep overnight on the Great Barrier Reef. Though day trips to the reef are the most popular tour option for travelers in Cairns, a liveaboard takes your experience to the next level. Spending at least one night sleeping under the stars, letting the waves rock you to sleep, and waking up to the sunrise over the world's largest coral reef system is truly unbelievable. So if you have at least one night to spare, definitely consider sleeping overnight on the Great Barrier Reef!

Check out our most popular liveaboards from Cairns!

aerial view of Great Barrier Reef corals and ocean

Cairns Liveaboards 

Liveaboard dive trips from Cairns are the best way to spend the night on the Great Barrier Reef. The travelers who seek out liveaboard dive trips are generally experienced and passionate scuba divers who want to further their skills and spend more time underwater. Liveaboards are perfect for those who love scuba diving!

But even if you've never scuba-dived before, you can still have an incredible time on a liveaboard. If you're interested in learning how to scuba dive, a liveaboard is a perfect introduction. Experienced onboard instructors can help you take your first breaths underwater. You can officially complete your PADI course on a liveaboard! And spending a few days on the reef will help you learn how to dive much faster, as it's an immersive experience. 

Even if you have no interest in scuba diving, many Cairns liveaboards cater to snorkelers as well! There is no obligation to scuba dive, so feel free to just roam the surface of the water with a snorkel and mask. On some of the longer liveaboards that run for 3 days or more, there may be a few choppier dive sites that are not suitable for snorkelers. But if that happens you can just enjoy relaxing onboard the spacious dive boats. 

Girls smiling with snorkelling gear on a reef tour from Cairns

What Else To Expect On A Liveaboard Dive Trip From Cairns

Whether you're a snorkeler, introductory diver, or certified diver, a liveaboard dive trip will provide you with an unforgettable reef experience. You'll get the chance to visit multiple reef sites, as opposed to a day trip which usually only visits 2 sites. On a 2-day 1-night liveaboard, you'll get to complete up to 6 dives or snorkels. On a 3-day, 2-night liveaboard, you'll get to do around 10 or 11 dives! And of course, that number only increases if you do a 4, 5, or 6-night liveaboard. 

In addition to the epic snorkeling and diving, liveaboards also offer comfy private and shared accommodation options so you can sleep overnight on the Great Barrier Reef comfortably. All meals are included, and many boats have bars onboard where you can purchase alcohol. All high-quality dive and snorkel equipment is also included, so you don't have to worry about a thing during your trip!

learn to scuba dive on a liveaboard from Cairns

Which Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard Should I Choose?

So if you want to sleep overnight on the Great Barrier Reef, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to liveaboards from Cairns. There are so many amazing options to cater to all types of travelers. If you're looking to spend just one night on the reef, Oceanquest, Reef Encounter, Rum Runner, and Coral Sea Dreaming are all excellent options. They all offer similar trips, but they vary slightly in terms of price and amenities. Read each individual product page for more details!

A better option is a 3-day, 2-night liveaboard. With the chance to do 10 or 11 dives, you are sure to become a more confident diver or snorkeler. Pro Dive, Oceanquest, and Reef Encounter are some of the top-rated 3-day liveaboards. Pro Dive also offers a Mike Encounter option if you want to spot some minke whales during whale season!

For the most immersive experience, you can try a 4-day liveaboard with Mike Ball, Spirit of Freedom, or Reef Encounter.  Many of the longer liveaboards offer night dives, and Mike Ball even offers a scenic flight! Advanced divers can spend a full week on the reef with Spirit of Freedom's 7-day liveaboard

Reef Encounter Liveaboard at sunset in Cairns

Browse through more of the best Cairns liveaboards here so you can find the best way to sleep overnight on the Great Barrier Reef!

Call us at (07) 4082 7470 or chat with our travel experts online if you have any more questions!

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