Are you short on time but still want to see as much of the Great Barrier Reef as you can? A 1 Day Scuba diving trip is a golden ticket to the reef’s best underwater vantage points.
There is a huge variety of day trips available to Scuba divers depending on:
Day trips generally depart early in the morning – any time from 7am, weather permitting – and return to the mainland before sunset. Depending on the tour, day trips visit at least one and sometimes up to three different dive sites on the reef. Most day trips stick to the inner reef or islands closer to shore however, some tour operators have fleets of faster vessels that can ferry divers to the outer reef in a day.
The most popular dive spots either have a permanent mooring where tour boat tie up or even a large pontoon or platform anchored at the reef’s edge where boats can dock and passengers can disembark.
TIP: Most day trips provide meals, either included in the ticket price or as an option to purchase onboard. Morning tea is taken on the boat trip out to the reef, lunch is served between dives and afternoon tea is dished out on the return journey.
Journey times to the reef depend on:
A trip to the outer reef, even in a high-speed catamaran, can still take two hours while some islands and inner reef dive spots can be reached in 30-60 minutes. On average, it’s best to factor in 60-90 minutes travel time each way. Rest assured, all tour operators are committed to maximising your time under the water, not just on it!
One-day tours depart daily from major ports and towns along the central and north coast of Queensland including:
Again, this depends on the tour operator and the type of day trip you’ve booked. Most One-Day Scuba Diving Tours aim to spend five to six hours on the reef, not including the journey to and from the mainland. This is ample time to Scuba dive several times as well as snorkel, swim and even try extra activities such as Glass Bottom Boat Tours or a scenic helicopter tour.
Many one-day tours aim to visit two dive sites, giving you a chance to dive at least twice. You may even be able to squeeze in a third dive, depending on the tour you’ve booked and the time you have available. Talk with your tour operator to plan the best day trip for you. Some tours offer all-inclusive Scuba diving while others book Scuba dives on a pay-as-you-go basis so you can choose how many times you dive once you’re out on the reef.
Instructors will factor in your level of experience as well as the time available at each site when helping you plan your day. Novice divers can take part in guided dives of the reef, partnered with an instructor one-on-one or in a small group while more experienced, certified divers can explore the Great Barrier Reef at their leisure with a dive buddy.
Some parts of the reef are relatively shallow and dives rarely descend lower than 15-18 metres while other sites, particularly at the outer reef, can reach down to 35 metres and are suited to people with Advanced Open Water Diver certification or higher.
TIP: The deeper waters of the outer reef are rich with unforgettable experiences for adventurous and seasoned divers. As well as an abundance of marine life, the coral reef is home to a dazzling array of caves, walls and drop-offs as well as spectacular formations you can swim through.
The Great Barrier Reef is the most breathtaking of classrooms in which to learn the basics of Scuba diving and a one-day tour provides a wonderful opportunity to master those new skills. Many tours cater to first-time and uncertified divers and offer specially-tailored Introductory Scuba Diving experiences but it’s vital you confirm this with the operator before booking a tour.
Some day trips are designed specifically for experienced divers and these dedicated dive boats offer very little for passengers who aren’t certified.
As most day trips leave early in the morning, it’s best to take your time and pack a small bag the night before with a few essentials to ensure your day trip is comfortable.
Use this checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything:
TIP: Many of the boats and pontoons do not permit smoking or restrict smoking to certain areas and times. Be prepared to leave cigarettes at home and pack alternatives such as patches or gum if needed.
The World Heritage-listed reef draws divers from across the globe and lugging a full Scuba kit halfway around the world isn’t always practical. Tour operators understand this so most stock their boats with all the equipment you’ll need to Scuba dive, from masks and fins to stinger suits and full air tanks. The cost is usually included in the tour price. Some specialised day trips and charters require divers to supply their own equipment but operators are happy to help you hire what you need.
Of course! Let your tour operator know when you book your day trip what equipment you plan to bring and whether you need anything from them, for example, an air tank refill. That way, they can make room for your gear on the dive deck.
If you’re not sure you can spend a whole day Scuba diving or if you’re just looking for a way to while away the time between dives, many tours offer a host of extra activities. Larger tour boats and those that moor on pontoons anchored next to the reef provide the most variety. Some are included in the tour price and others are available for a small fee:
If your boat anchors near an island, other activities you can try include:
Talk to your booking agent and speak with staff onboard if there’s something you’d like to try.