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Saxon Reef

Updated Fri 15 Jul 2022

Women in a wetsuit holding up an underwater camera

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!

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, the Saxon Reef is best explored aboard an adventure-filled overnight Great Barrier Reef tour!

Saxon Reef Dive Sites

Group of people scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef

Although smaller in size than its popular neighbouring reefs, Norman and Hastings, the Saxon Reef still has a pristine selection of divine dive sites for both novice and experienced divers.

  • Twin Peaks
  • Clipper Mooring
  • Turtle Bommie Mooring

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!

Saxon Reef Corals

Person snorkelling amongst colourful corals of the Great Barrier Reef

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 soft corals and spot reef sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles!

Saxon Reef Marinelife

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 swimming within a pink anenome

A crowd-favourite found amongst Australia’s sprawling Great Barrier Reef sites, the Clownfish is a small, striped reef fish that lives within coral 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.

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

Humphead Maori Wrasse swimming over coral formations

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!

White-tip Reef Sharks

As one of the most common sharks found amongst the Pacific coral reefs, it is no surprise that the White-tip Reef Shark is often sited on Saxon Reef! Characterized by its white-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!

Moray Eels

Moray eel

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.

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

Sea Turtle swimming amongst colourful corals

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!

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

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