Cairns Reef Cruises & Island Tours

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Looking for all the best Cairns Reef Cruises to witness the Great Barrier Reef from a range of different angles? Get the best deals and discounts on reef tours here! Discover the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest and most spectacular coral reef system, with a great Cairns reef cruise. Spend the day exploring its dazzling colours of coral and tropical sea life by snorkelling, scuba diving, or viewing the spectacular beauty in a glass bottomed boat or semi-submersible. Cruise to Green Island, Fitzroy Island or the Outer Reef for an unforgettable natural experience full of marine life and incredible views in every direction. Cairns' cruises of the Reef are some of the best in Australia - book yours today!

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Fitzroy Island Day Trips from Cairns

Fitzroy Island Day Trips from Cairns

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Green Island Day Trips from Cairns

Green Island Day Trips from Cairns

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Budget Great Barrier Reef Day Trip

Budget Great Barrier Reef Day Trip

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Great Barrier Reef Snorkel and Dive Cruise to 2 Reef Locations
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Great Barrier Reef Snorkel and Dive Cruise to 2 Reef Locations

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Great Barrier Reef Cruise with BONUS Cairns Aquarium Entry
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Great Barrier Reef Cruise with BONUS Cairns Aquarium Entry

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Great Barrier Reef Cruise to Great Adventures Activity Platform

Great Barrier Reef Cruise to Great Adventures Activity Platform

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Green Island Day Trip with Glass Bottom Boat OR Snorkel Hire

Green Island Day Trip with Glass Bottom Boat OR Snorkel Hire

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Green Island Day Trip with Glass Bottom Boat AND Snorkel Hire

Green Island Day Trip with Glass Bottom Boat AND Snorkel Hire

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1 Day Green Island & Great Barrier Reef Package

1 Day Green Island & Great Barrier Reef Package

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Great Barrier Reef Snorkel and Dive Sailing Cruise
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Great Barrier Reef Snorkel and Dive Sailing Cruise

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Michaelmas Cay Sailing Cruise

Michaelmas Cay Sailing Cruise

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1 Day Cairns Green Island & Kuranda Skyrail Package

1 Day Cairns Green Island & Kuranda Skyrail Package

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Great Barrier Reef Luxury Snorkel and Dive Cruise

Great Barrier Reef Luxury Snorkel and Dive Cruise

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Cairns 2 Day Reef Cruise & Cape Tribulation Day Tour Package
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Cairns 2 Day Reef Cruise & Cape Tribulation Day Tour Package

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2 Day Cairns Reef Cruise & Kuranda Day Tour Package
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2 Day Cairns Reef Cruise & Kuranda Day Tour Package

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2 Day Cairns Reef Cruise, Green Island and Kuranda Skyrail and Train Packages

2 Day Cairns Reef Cruise, Green Island and Kuranda Skyrail and Train Packages

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Great Barrier Reef Cruise to Marine World Activity Platform

Great Barrier Reef Cruise to Marine World Activity Platform

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Great Barrier Reef Cruise to Moore Reef Activity Platform

Great Barrier Reef Cruise to Moore Reef Activity Platform

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1 Day Cairns Green Island, Kuranda Skyrail and Scenic Railway Package

1 Day Cairns Green Island, Kuranda Skyrail and Scenic Railway Package

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Great Barrier Reef Cruise & Scenic Helicopter Flight Package
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Great Barrier Reef Cruise & Scenic Helicopter Flight Package

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Cairns Great Barrier Reef Snorkel and Dive Cruise to 2 Reef Locations

Cairns Great Barrier Reef Snorkel and Dive Cruise to 2 Reef Locations

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3 Day Ultimate Great Barrier Reef Cruise Pass

3 Day Ultimate Great Barrier Reef Cruise Pass

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Fitzroy Island Half Day Trip on Thunderbolt

Fitzroy Island Half Day Trip on Thunderbolt

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3 Day Cairns Reef, Rafting, Skydive & Bungy Package

3 Day Cairns Reef, Rafting, Skydive & Bungy Package

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1 Day Green Island & Scenic Flight Package

1 Day Green Island & Scenic Flight Package

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Green Island Full Day Sailing Cruise

Green Island Full Day Sailing Cruise

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Great Barrier Reef Cruise & Fly Packages
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Great Barrier Reef Cruise & Fly Packages

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Great Barrier Reef Cruise & Skydive 2 Day Package
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Great Barrier Reef Cruise & Skydive 2 Day Package

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Great Barrier Reef Cruise & Hot Air Ballooning 1 Day Package
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Great Barrier Reef Cruise & Hot Air Ballooning 1 Day Package

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2 Day Cairns Reef Cruise & Tully River Rafting Package
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2 Day Cairns Reef Cruise & Tully River Rafting Package

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2 Day Cairns  Reef Cruise & Barron River Rafting Package
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2 Day Cairns Reef Cruise & Barron River Rafting Package

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Cairns Lunch and Dinner Harbour Cruises

Cairns Lunch and Dinner Harbour Cruises

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Fitzroy Island Sea Kayak Tour

Fitzroy Island Sea Kayak Tour

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3 Day Cairns Reef Cruise, Kuranda & Cape Tribulation Package
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3 Day Cairns Reef Cruise, Kuranda & Cape Tribulation Package

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Kuranda Riverboat Cruises

Kuranda Riverboat Cruises

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Cairns Buffet Dinner Cruise

Cairns Buffet Dinner Cruise

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Johnstone River Glass Bottom Boat Safari Cruises

Johnstone River Glass Bottom Boat Safari Cruises

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Port Douglas Great Barrier Reef Cruise to 3 Reef Locations

Port Douglas Great Barrier Reef Cruise to 3 Reef Locations

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Port Douglas Outer Great Barrier Reef Cruise to Reef Activity Platform

Port Douglas Outer Great Barrier Reef Cruise to Reef Activity Platform

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Port Douglas Outer Reef Cruise to 3 Reef Locations

Port Douglas Outer Reef Cruise to 3 Reef Locations

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Low Isles Sailing Cruise

Low Isles Sailing Cruise

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Outer Great Barrier Reef Overnight Cruise

Outer Great Barrier Reef Overnight Cruise

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Cairns Boat Hire

Cairns Boat Hire

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Great Barrier Reef Snorkel and Dive Cruise from Mission Beach

Great Barrier Reef Snorkel and Dive Cruise from Mission Beach

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About Cairns Reef Cruises

The Great Barrier Reef is such a drawcard to Tropical North QLD that one of the first things most visitors to Cairns will want to do is head down to the Cairns Reef Terminal and join one of the many local operators for an adventure out into its wildlife-rich waters. While enthusiasm for this is understandable - it's one of the world's most incredible natural wonders, after all - the need to determine exactly which reef cruise to take is a key decision that first needs to be made.

Cruises of the reef from Cairns typically come in two major varieties: larger vessels that cater to big groups and provide a number of convenient facilities while also often helping cut down on price, and smaller tours that limit guest numbers and visit more exclusive parts of the Great Barrier Reef for an increased monetary investment. Add in the option to head to nearby islands and cays or more accessible trips - including Green Island, Fitzroy Island, Michaelmas Cay and more - and there's a dizzying array of options for experiencing what the reef has to offer.

We outline each of the main reef cruise options from Cairns below to help clear up any confusion about which cruise is best for you.

Travel guides

Fitzroy Island Cruises

Region travel guides

Like Green Island, Fitzroy Island is also relatively easy to access from Cairns and lies only slightly further offshore, however it's far less visited and as a result better for those who put enjoying a little more seclusion and peace as opposed to its neighbour. While Fitzroy Island is lacking in the facilities and extras that Green Island comes with, in exchange the island offers some great opportunities for on-island exploration in addition to its obvious reef offerings in the surrounding waters. The island is quite hilly, and is largely covered by rainforest, with a number of great walking tracks on which to embark.

Snorkelling is available just offshore and of a very enjoyable quality, with plenty of active marine life to witness up close and more slices of water to have to yourself without sharing with other travellers. Diving is also a possibility here, and as a result a cruise to Fitzroy Island might serve as a better alternative for the more confident or advance reef-goer than Green Island.

Outer Reef Cruises

Region travel guides

Those wanting to see the reef at its absolute best and most colourful will need to book a cruise to the Outer Great Barrier Reef - the edge of the reef that lies furthest out towards the edge of the continental shelf. These tours take more time and often require more money, but the sheer beauty and gorgeous marine life they offer is a snapshot of this wonder at its best; inner islands can't match the combination of water clarity and quantity of colourful marine life that the Outer Reef boasts. The Outer Reef is a large area where numerous individual reefs can be found, and cruises to the Outer Reef typically orient around a particular reef or pair of reefs depending on which company you travel with.

The likes of Flynn Reef, Hastings Reef, Milln Reef and a number of others all feature prominently on Cairns cruise itineraries, with each having its own distinct character and emphasis on either diving or snorkelling, respectively. While they require a full day to experience, given that the Great Barrier Reef is often a once in a lifetime proposition, investing in an Outer Reef cruise from Cairns can make for some unforgettable memories.

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