1 Day Compass Outer Barrier Reef Budget Tour from  Cairns

Adults from $115

Explore the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef by swimming and snorkelling followed by an Aussie barbeque lunch.

Spend four hours snorkelling at two Outer Barrier Reef locations, feast on a barbeque lunch and sip on wine with crackers on your trip back to shore.

  • Small-group full-day budget tour to the outer Great Barrier Reef
  • Four hours of snorkelling at two premium reef locations
  • Guidance from friendly and experienced crew
  • Fruit platters, refreshments, and a tropical lunch on-board
  • Includes snorkel gear and swimming aids

Get aboard Compass and embark on a budget family-friendly tour to the Outer Barrier Reef spots which are teeming with life. Snorkel and swim through colourful coral gardens, get close to a variety of marine life, including giant clams, stingrays, sea cucumbers and even white-tip sharks.

At noon, break for a BBQ lunch along with fresh, healthy salads and head to the second location to see more of the marine world. Enjoy wine and crackers on the ride back to Cairns.

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Departures: Daily

  Start Finish Duration
1 Day Compass Outer Barrier Reef Budget Tour from Cairns 8:00am 5:30pm 9 Hours


Ticket Price
Adults $115
Children (4-14 yrs) $95
Family (2+2) $400
Infants (0-3) Free


Book your Extras now so you don’t miss out!

Wet-suit/Stinger-suit Hire Hire of a Wet-suit $5pp
Glass Bottom Boat Tour Glass Bottom Boat Tour (Subject to weather conditions) $15pp
Scuba Dive Introductory Scuba Dive (Subject to medical restrictions) 1 Dive: $65pp, 2 Dives: $115pp
Scuba Dive Certified Scuba Dive (Subject to medical restrictions) 1 Dive: $55pp, 2 Dives: $100pp
Underwater Camera Hire Hire of an Underwater Digital Camera (Must Pre-Book) $59
Gear Hire Prescription Mask $10
Hotel Transfers Return Transfers from Cairns City Hotels $12pp (Adult/Child)
Hotel Transfers Return Transfers from Northern Beaches Hotels $22pp (Adult/Child)



Group Size: 80ppl max


  • National Park Fees
  • Fresh Fruit Platters on Boarding
  • BBQ Lunch with Assortment of Salads
  • Glass of Wine, cheese & crackers
  • Snorkelling Gear & Tuition
  • Boom-Netting (Subject to weather conditions)
  • Complimentary Tea & Coffee
  • Flotation Devices

Rated: 43210 (4.3/5 based on 21 customer reviews)

54321 We spend a very good day on the boat. Everything was nice, crew, diving, lunch, snacks. However we advise you to take the medecine against seasick when you arrive (even if you are not subject). Then you will really enjoy the Cruise!
Laurent — 14 August, 2019

54321 Had a great day staff are brilliant and so helpful! Long trip out to the reef about 2hrs out and was very bumpy a lot of people being sick so if u get sea sick this probably isn’t the trip for you but if not great day out!
Jess — 29 December, 2017

Linck — 5 October, 2017

43211 Staff very friendly, amazing reef destinations, good equipment, very good value for money
Tanja — 25 August, 2017

54321 This trip is great if you don’t get sea sick…Unfortunately I got very sick and the boat is not quite made for rough weather so was very difficult times getting to and from the reef. However, the absolutely fantastic crew on board and the snorkelling and scuba diving session made it all worth it in the end. The crew really love their jobs and it radiates in the way they treat their passengers – everyone was so lovely and took really good care of me. The food smelt great (although I could not eat). The reef was phenomenal, so beautiful! All in all, I highly recommend this trip if you don’t get travel sickness as the crew members will make it so so so enjoyable for you!! 🙂 Thank you for a lovely day out in the reef 🙂
Nisha — 13 June, 2017

54321 It was a great day out with my family! Crew were awesome (and good looking!). My favourite part of the day was the second reef, which was a lot calmer and with lots of fishes!
Samantha Currey — 7 May, 2017

54321 Perfect day, we will recommend this trip as it was very nice! The crew were also awesome and the second dive was just amazing! 🙂
Eric Ropraz — 27 April, 2017

54321 It was a perfect planned day. Crew were positive and nice. Scuba diving was awesome! I would recommend ReefFree to my friends and family!
Rebeckha Tisell — 26 April, 2017

14321 I simply hated the trip. I did the booking on the phone because I was travelling with 2 young kids , one older lady and a disable (who luckily decided not to do the trip) so I did enquired about the comfort and facilities of the boat and how the day was going to go….. they told me it was a comfortable boat with modern facilities and it was a backpackers diving boat very small not adequate for rough weather, with not enough seats and tables to accommodate everybody, only one dirty toilet with a see through door and not adequate safety features, for example, no speakers to listen to safety instructions, the crew had to yell them out…. on top of that the weather was highly rough, no cancellation was offer just purchasing sea sickness tablets and of course we got veeeery sick so we could not enjoy the snorkel session, neither the food…. it was a complete 8 hours nightmare of a trip…. i have bruises all over my body from lying on a very uncomfortable floor…….we could not even get onto the glass boat due to weather conditions not happy with the experience at all i think i was sold a very unappropriated trip for the requirements we had despite calling the office to ensure I had wa was after… a nice once in a lifetime relaxing family tour on the reef only highly…. the probably very underpaid crew was really friendly and helpfull
tatiana quiros jimenez — 25 April, 2017

21321 The places we went to barely had any coral left, my first thought after we finish diving was: the great barrier is dead. Anyways the staff was great, but is not worth it.
Cecilia Escudero — 23 April, 2017

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54321 Really friendly crew that made me feel secure and safe during my first dive ever! The best part of the day was the introduction diving which was really good and the food tasted delicious 🙂
Synne Bjornestad — 22 April, 2017

54321 Such a fun day!! Amazing crew, very friendly and made the trip really fun! Best part of the day was getting the guided dive trip 😉
Julie Kvalheim — 22 April, 2017

54321 I very much enjoyed my trip, will recommend to other people, good service. A bit more scuba dive time would have been good but overall great trip!
Sam Maher — 21 April, 2017

54321 Very friendly and helpful staff, thanks to Hugo especially for its help! The best part of the day was the second dive after the introduction dive which was amazing and offered an amazing view on the reef and the fishes. Food was also very delicious!
Boris Lutz — 11 April, 2017

54321 The crew were fun, friendly and information. There were also very easy to talk to if you had any questions. My favourite part of the day was the 1st snorkelling area and the lunch! Overall a very enjoyable experience. I am going to recommend it to friends. Well organised, plenty of time to do everything. Great service but a little longer for scuba dive would have been nice.
Julie Weaver — 21 March, 2017

54321 Amazing day trip to the reef. I did several good ones but is from far the best. I really recommend it.
Omar — 18 March, 2017

54321 The explorer tour with Compass was great! All the staff was extremely friendly and helpful. The food was fantastic and of course the dive was so much fun! I am very happy that I choose to experience the reef with them!
Jessica — 22 November, 2016

14321 Without a doubt the worst Sea tour I have ever experienced. Do not listen to what is offered no fruit platters when boarding, no commentary on the reef. No audio possible from upstairs deck. Vessel is old, filthy & staffed by either or by inexperienced and our it seems backpackers. Lunch buffet was a joke clearly evidenced by overflowing bin of wasted food. Whilst snorkelling, diving conditions were poor & let’s face it not really good reef conditions or actual diving area’s. I question a number of other aspects with regard to safety, management and general organisation. I should say unorganised, overall complete waste of money, offers no value. The best part of the trip was berthing at the end of the day. Whilst it pretends to be a full day 6 hours of a slow, smelly diesel chug doesn’t leave time to experience much at all. Equipment dirty, poorly maintained, food was rubbish along with cheap dirty plastics cups to drink out of (not enough for all onboard). Oh & to top it off small chip bags for passengers as nausea bags. Do yourself a favour forget this entirely & go for a full or 1/2 day tour on a decent vessel. This gets you to your destination quicker more comfortable & with much more professionalism that this amateurish outfit. If I could I would give this 0 stars worst $396.00 (4 adults) I have poorly invested in a long long time.
Greg Steel — 6 June, 2015

32121 I need to start off by saying that this was my second visit to the Great Barrier Reef, although my first one was at the Whitsundays Island and was much better in terms of marine life and atmosphere on the boat. Compassion is a family owned business who manages to survive because they are the cheapest in Cairns ( well from what I saw but I saw plenty other boats at the marina for which I had not seen any brochures at the various tourist office so keep digging the best deal). The deal they advertise is misleading because of the following and this is a genuine and most accurate review as I literally just got off the boat today. The boat left the marina at 8.15 We arrivesd at the first snorkelling spot at 10.45, which means 2.30 hours sailing time there. The sea was suite rocky so my advice is take one of the seasickness ginger they offer as they are free and will guarantee you to feel OK. During the 2.30 hours sailing trip, one of the diving instructors ( Malina I think her name was) delivered a short briefing on snorkelling and overall safety on the boat. Whilst it was fairly informative, her tone was patronising and it highlighted a clear lack of professionalism and experience. Also, there were no mentions of sealife such as jellyfish which are active in the places we went to. 2 people got stung today and the staff were not particularly alarmed. On this note, one member of staff ( tall, ginger with a beard) was very rude to me when I asked for a full wetsuit ( rather than the half knee one they gave to everybody). He said to me in a very condescending tone that “I should stop reading stuff on lonely planet” which was inaccurate and inappropriate considering I was paying 5 dollars to hire a wetsuit which was not even a full one. This was a bad move and made me feel like I was not a valued customer whose safety should be top priority. Lunch was good but again the young person serving lunch was not aware of the content of the dishes he was serving. He was not able to tell me which meat the steaks were made of. Not good! Each dish should be labelled. Wine, cheese, fruit platter and crackers on the way back was Nice but staff should be advising customers sait on the top deck that this was being served because by the time I came down,80% of the good was gone. We sailed about 15min to the second snorkelling spot which was OK too. We left at 14.30 which means that you only really get 2.30-3 hours of snorkelling in total at most! We were back at 17.00. The top deck was great, good was decent but please improve your staff attitude and professionalism.
Ines S — 27 March, 2015

54321 The service from staff and the calibre of the boat were both truly excellent, as was also the on-board catering for our day trip out to Norman’s Reef. The staff were friendly and considerate. We chose the wrong day to go (it was our only option) as the sea was rough on 8 June and this spoiled our reef viewing experience considerably. As an older couple (we are both mid-sixties), we chose not to snorkel nor scuba dive. We did venture out on the glass bottom boat and this was a highlight for us as we could clearly see the coral. The sea was far too rough to see the coral from the boat that took us out to the reef. However, the weather is beyond the control of the tour operators. The experience of the day out alone was worth it to us.
Keith Allnatt — 8 September, 2014

54321 Great crew, delicious lunch and amazing experiences in the beautiful Great Barrier Reef! I totally recommend!
Miriam Ilmanen — 27 May, 2014


The below itinerary can change due to tides and weather.

Day 1

Pickup from Northern Beaches and Outer Cairns Accommodation

6:15am – 7:00am

Extra $22 per person (Pay onboard)

Pickup from Cairns City Accommodation

7:00am – 7:30am

Extra $12 per person (Pay onboard)

Meet at Marlin Jetty, Cairns and Board Vessel for a 8am Departure


Arrive at First Reef Location


Reef chosen may be a choice of Norman, Saxon, Hastings or Breaking Patches Reefs.


Snorkel amongst the beautiful corals, fishes, turtles and more, up close and personal.


Enjoy a relaxing swim in the warm tropical waters!

Scuba Dive

Opportunity to enjoy a Scuba Dive!

Depart First Reef Location

Humphead Wrasse, moray eels, giant clams, anemones and living organisms are almost always seen here.

BBQ Lunch with fresh salads


Enjoy a delicious buffet lunch on tour!

Arrive and Second Reef Location


Reef chosen may be a choice of Norman, Saxon, Hastings or Breaking Patches Reefs.


Snorkel amongst the beautiful corals, fishes, turtles and more, up close and personal.

Glass Bottom Boat

Subject to weather conditions

Depart Second Reef Location


Sensational location for diving and snorkeling, home to many angelfish, lionfish and parrotfish.


Afternoon Tea

Enjoy the provided afternoon tea.

Return to Marlin Jetty, Cairns


Dropoff at Cairns City Accommodation

5:30pm – 6:00pm

Dropoff at Outer Cairns and Northern Beaches Accommodation

6:00pm – 6:30pm

Tour Map

Our Tour Review

The Good

This tour appeals to adventurous budget travellers who can swim and want to snorkel or scuba dive (certified scuba diving and introductory scuba diving are optional extras).

It is a basic budget tour which includes lunch and snorkeling at the outer reef at a value-for-money price.

Things to Consider

2.5-hour cruise to the Outer Great Barrier Reef on an older and slower boat so it may not suit people who suffer seasickness.

The basic price of $115 suits people who are on a budget but still want a full day trip which goes to the outer reef.

Our Recommendation

This tour is ideal for price-conscious travellers who want to see the outer Great Barrier Reef.

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