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How Much Does It Cost To Go To The Great Barrier Reef?

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Thu 28 Dec 2023

How much does it cost to go to the Great Barrier Reef? Most day tours cost around $250 and 2 or 3 day overnight tours cost around $500 - $1000. Generally speaking, the more you pay, the better experience you'll get as you'll have nicer amenities and potentially more inclusions. Overnight tours often amount to about the same as day tours if you look at the cost per day. No matter what you pay for a visit to the Outer Reef from Cairns, the trip will be 100% worth it!

(Note that all prices listed in this article are general estimates and may not reflect the exact prices listed on the tour pages. Read every tour page in-depth before booking!)

girls posing on a dive ship from Cairns

How Much Does It Cost To Go To The Great Barrier Reef?

Day tours to the Great Barrier Reef cost around $250, whereas liveboards can cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000. As one the largest coral reef system on Earth and a World Heritage Site, the Great Barrier Reef is a well-protected world wonder that is one of the best places to visit in Australia. Cairns in particular is often called the Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef due to its close proximity to the Outer Reef and its huge variety of tours. If you're looking to book an epic reef tour full of snorkelling, scuba diving, and beautiful scenery, Cairns is the place to do it!

Visiting the Great Barrier Reef is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and here is what you might spend on a tour!

Here are some of the most popular Great Barrier Reef day tours from Cairns!

girl snorkelling with a Maori Wrasse

Great Barrier Reef Day Tours

Day tours are the most popular way to visit the reef from Cairns. Most day tours cost around $200 - $250 for the full day, which includes 2 snorkel sites, lunch, snacks, and all the gear. Scuba diving, scenic flights, and guided snorkel tours may be extra cost, so just read each tour page in-depth. Many consider Reef Experience to be the best value day tour!

Though the pricier reef tours have a higher upfront cost, the value is still as good as the cheaper tours. For example, Down Under Dive Cruise/Fly includes a scenic helicopter flight over the reef, and Great Adventures includes a visit to Green Island. 

guy on Passions of Paradise reef tour

Great Barrier Reef 2-Day, 1-Night Tours

Extend your trip to the Great Barrier Reef with a 2-day, 1-night overnight tour! Liveaboards are an immersive and incredible way to spend a bit longer on the reef and visit more reef sites. Enthusiastic snorkelers and scuba divers will have a blast spending the night on the Great Barrier Reef, and liveaboards include all meals, accommodation, and snorkel gear. Scuba diving is often extra cost. 

  • The cheapest liveaboard is Rum Runner, which is only $320 for snorkelers. This is a similar price to a day trip!

  • A mid-range price for a liveaboard is $515 on Reef Encounter. This is the snorkel price and you get to stay in a lovely stateroom. 

coral reefs underwater near Cairns

Great Barrier Reef 3-Day, 2-Night Tours

Embark on an even longer Great Barrier Reef adventure with a 3-day, 2-night liveaboard. There are only a few 3-day liveaboards and all are highly rated with great inclusions. Sleep in a comfy bed out on the reef and have the chance to do 10+ snorkels or dives including night dives! 

  • The cheapest 3-day liveaboard is Oceanquest, which costs around $800 for snorkelling and $900 - $1000 for scuba diving. 

  • Pro Dive and Reef Encounter both offers a mid-range option at about $850 for snorkelers and $1000 - $1200 for scuba divers. 

girl snorkelling in the great barrier reef corals

Great Barrier Reef 3+ Night Tours

If 3 days still isn't enough, you can book longer liveaboards on the Great Barrier ReefMany longer liveaboards are suitable for advanced divers or very confident snorkelers, as you will spend a lot of quality time in the water! 

  • Spirit of Freedom offers the best immersive liveaboards for advanced divers. Book a 3-day for around $2500, a 4-day for around $3,000, or a 7-day for around $5,500

  • Mike Ball offers a 3-night liveaboard for around $2,800 and a 4-night liveaboard for around $3,000. 

girl scuba diving in Cairns

How to choose the best Cairns Great Barrier Reef tour

Choosing the best reef tour can be tough as there are so many amazing options! There are plenty of cheap options if budget is your main concern, and there are lots of more expensive but higher-quality tours and overnight trips that have cool inclusions like scenic flights, scuba diving, or island visits. We have compared reef day tours here if you want to see tour inclusions side by side! But no matter which tour you pick, a Great Barrier Reef experience is sure to be a memorable one. 

people eating lunch on a great barrier reef tour

Check out our guide to choosing a Cairns Reef Tour if you need more advice! Or you can contact us at (07) 4082 7470 or live chat with our team online to ask any other questions. 

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