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Saxon Reef, Great Barrier Reef

Updated Mon 29 Apr 2024

Protected by Great Barrier Reef Marine Park legislation, Saxon Reef is one of the quieter diving spots on Queensland’s Outer Reef. Filled with shallow sections of coral formations for snorkellers and slopping coral bommies for avid divers, Saxon Reef is best explored aboard an adventure-filled day trip or overnight Great Barrier Reef tour!

Women in a wetsuit holding up an underwater camera


Where is Saxon Reef Located? 

Situated 55 kilometres northeast of Cairns in the sunny state of Queensland, Saxon Reef is an underwater haven home to a gleaming lagoon area and a wide variety of unique marine life. Nestled between Norman Reef and Hastings Reef on the world-renowned Great Barrier Reef, the Saxon Reef covers approximately 1.9 square kilometres of the Outer Reef - giving life to numerous teaming dive and snorkel locations!

Saxon Reef Fish Bowl


Where can you dive at Saxon Reef?

The best spots to dive at Saxon Reef include Twin Peaks, Fish Bowl, Clipper and Turtle Bommie. Saxon Reef has some of the most pristine selections of dive sites you'll find across the expansive Great Barrier Reef ecosystem. It's shallow lagoons and deep swim-throughs offer both beginner and advanced scuba divers a rich and exciting underwater experience. 

Explore our range of overnight diving tours that visit the Outer Reef, or live chat with a knowledgeable dive expert to find your perfect dive match!

Group of people scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef


Jump aboard one of these day trip boats to experience Saxon Reef!


Saxon Reef Corals

The Saxon Reef is home to a collection of coral ‘bommies’ that are situated in both shallow lagoon areas and further below the surface in deeper reef sections. 

The shallow sections of Saxon Reef allow inexperienced snorkellers and visitors with lower levels of fitness to explore the reef’s corals gardens with ease. Laden with rocky coral formations and iconic clownfish anemones, you’re sure to feast your eyes on numerous varieties of hard and soft corals.

The deeper drop-off sections of Saxon Reef are made up of steep coral walls that lead to sandy ocean floors. Here, scuba divers can marvel at a wider range of hard and soft corals and spot reef sharks, lagoon rays, and sea turtles!

Saxon Reef Coral Garden with Stingray


Saxon Reef Marine Life

Less interrupted by human interaction, Saxon Reef beholds an abundance of unique and common reef marine life from white-tip reef sharks, sweetlips, numerous species of wrasse, and the quirky butterflyfish. Here are some of our favourites!


Clownfish

A crowd-favourite found amongst Australia’s sprawling Great Barrier Reef sites, the Clownfish is a small orange, white and black-striped fish that lives within soft corals known as anemones! Surviving in a mutually assistive symbiotic relationship with an anemone, whose tentacles sting other marine species, the anemone both lures prey and protects the Clownfish from larger species.

Clownfish swimming within a pink anenome


Spanish Dancer Flatworms

Nudibranchs are another common sight on the Cairns Great Barrier Reef! The Spanish Dancer Flatworm is a nudibranch species that can grow up to 60 cm and is often clad with a speckled orange-red exterior. In the Saxon Reef, the Spanish Dancer is commonly seen in the shallow lagoon areas.


Maori Wrasse

Various species of the magnificent Wrasse are often sited peacefully making their way through and nibbling on corals of Saxon Reef. The Maori Wrasse can be identified through their luminescent shimmering scales and large head and mouth. Growing up to two metres in size, we recommend you bring your GoPro along to capture the moment with these reef locals!

Humphead Maori Wrasse swimming over coral formations


Reef Sharks

As one of the most common sharks found amongst the Pacific coral reefs, it is no surprise that the Reef Shark is often sited on Saxon Reef! Characterised by its white or black tipped dorsal and tail fins, the reef shark can be spotted regularly cooling down on the sandy bottom floor during the warmer months - stingrays too!

Black Tip Reef Shark


Moray Eels

With long slithery bodies and skin laden with colourful patterns, the Moray Eel sure is a site to see! Occasionally found swimming through the rocky coral formations on the Saxon Reef these unique creatures should not be touched by divers or snorkellers, and a respectful distance should be maintained.

Moray eel


Painted Crayfish

Rock lobster! The Painted Crayfish is typically found in the waters off North Queensland and Papua New Guinea living amongst coral reefs and rocky shelves. An extremely active species by nightfall, the Painted Crayfish often feeds on the shallow reef and sand flats.


Sea Turtles

Perhaps one of the most majestic and mesmerising sights you’ll be granted on your reef adventures, the Sea Turtles are common locals on Saxon Reef as they generally drift and feed along the coral nooks. As they swim gracefully along colourful coral formations, their ancient soulful presence can be felt from a mile away!

Sea Turtle swimming amongst colourful corals


Searching for a Great Barrier Reef tour that includes a visit to the enchanting Saxon Reef?

Live chat with a team member or call us on (07) 4082 7470 for expert local advice and deals!

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