Cairns Best Liveaboard book the best today

Reef Encounter is an exclusive Liveaboard that offers some of the best dive sites on the Great Barrier Reef.

This boutique is a floating hotel with delicious chef-prepared meals and non-stop aquatic adventures.

You can choose your own pace from non-stop to relaxing it is all up to you.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is outstanding,  with brightly coloured marine life on a package that suits you.

Over the many years, we have been in business, we have found that not everybody wants the same activities.

We have made it so easy for everyone in your group to do their Great Barrier Reef Encounter in a way that suits them.

For example, your booking may be one scuba diver and one snorkeller, and it all works perfectly onboard.

Booking is a breeze.

Choose which room type suits you best, next pop in the dates and then select what activities everyone in your party would like to do. It is straightforward, if you need help, you can send us an email, or if we are awake, you can chat with us on our LiveChat.

Reef View Accommodation

The MV Reef Encounter is one most comfortable Liveaboard vessels on the Great Barrier Reef, with a crew onboard to make sure your stay is fantastic.

This fully air-conditioned 35-metre catamaran has only twenty-one reef view staterooms with ensuite bathrooms and a large reef view window.

Accommodation is 12.5-metre square staterooms.

Facilities onboard

Reef Encounter’s fully licensed bar located in the saloon area is ready to serve drinks.

Onboard there is also barista coffee as well as regular coffee, tea and milo.

Forward to the dining saloon on the open bow is a heated hot tub.

Visitors can enjoy the relaxing water, a cocktail and unmatched views of the Great Barrier Reef.

UNESCO called the Great Barrier Reef one of the most beautiful places globally, above and below the water. That is true both during the day and night.

Head to the sundeck during the night to see the moon and stars.  Keep an eye out for the reef glow from phytoplankton in the water.   Scuba Divers green light of dive torches make it easy to spot where the night divers are.

The spacious sun deck has deck chairs that offer a place to relax and soak up the sun.

Reef Encounter has an onboard helicopter pad.  Guests may choose to take a spectacular helicopter flight to or from Reef Encounter.


When you are in and out of the water all day and night diving, burning calories makes everyone hungry.

Delicious chef-prepared fresh meals are included in your reef stay, with fresh produce arriving every day to keep our guests well fed.

We have snacks available after all water sessions, and dessert is served separate from the dinner after the night dive.

For those who wish to observe the life on the reef without getting wet, let the crew know, and they will set you up with a glass-bottom boat tour.

Reef Encounter

Location And Reef Sites

This Australian Liveaboard calls Cairns its homeport but stays out on the Great Barrier Reef among the outer reef area.

She usually visits two or three reefs a day. Four reefs provide the most visited locations, Hasting Reef, Norman Reef, Saxon Reef and Breaking Patches Reef.

Each of these is an outer reef. Michaelmas Cay, with its reef and Jorges patches, are used as backup sites if needed.

Each of the reefs has multiple dive sites and offer outstanding snorkelling and scuba diving.

There are five water sessions a day where you can enjoy snorkelling and scuba diving.  The first one is a sunrise session before breakfast.

After breakfast, there are two additional water sessions. After lunch, there are two more sessions.

After dinner is a twilight/ night dive for certified scuba divers, divers may dive four sessions a day.

Top Deck Club

If you love to be pampered, please see our Top Deck Club. It is one of our most popular packages.

Top Deck Club inclusions

Your own guide/valet from the moment you join us at the Marlin Jetty to start your trip onboard Reef Experience or onboard waiting for you if you decide to arrive in style after a spectacular helicopter flight.

The Top Deck Club guide will show you to your room and organise any equipment.  Then they will also serve you dinner on the Top Deck (weather permitting).   While you are on board, they will show you all the best parts of our Great Barrier Reef locations.   If you would like breakfast in bed, your Top Deck Club valet will also organise that.

Top Deck Club also comes with a late checkout, which means that you stay in your room right up until departure.

Great Barrier Reef liveaboard Itinerary

Please note that the itinerary is only a guide. Activities may change based on weather and tides. You can be sure that the Reef Encounter Skipper will be sure to make the best decisions for your comfort

Day One

  • 7:30 am Board Reef Experience at the Marlin Jetty in Cairns
  • 8:00 am breakfast, check-in and safety briefing
  • 9:30 am Arrive at the Great Barrier Reef and transfer to Reef Encounter
  • 10:30 am First Water Session everyone can snorkel Noon Lunch
  • 1:00 pm Water briefings, certified dive briefings, snorkel briefings
  • 1:30 pm Water Session
  • 3:00 pm Reef Encounter moves to next outer barrier reef location
  • 3:30 pm Water Session, Glass Bottom Boat tour
  • 6:00 pm dinner served in the saloon (Summer Schedule)
  • 6:45 pm Before the night dive
  • 7:00 pm Night scuba diving or 5:30 pm Night diving briefing (winter schedule)
  • 6:00 pm Night dive 7:15 pm dinner served in the saloon
  • 8:00 pm dessert served in the saloon

Last Day

  • 6:00 am Wake up call for the early morning snorkel and scuba diving session. It’s the best water session of the day.
  • 6:30 am Water session, sunrise scuba diving and snorkelling
  • 7:30 am breakfast is served in the saloon
  • 8:00 am room check out for all guests who are not in Top Deck Club. Transfer rooms are available for you to use you leave Reef Encounter
  • 8:30 am Water Session scuba diving and snorkelling
  • 10:30 am Water Session scuba diving and snorkelling Noon Lunch in the dining saloon
  • 1:30 pm Water Session snorkelling only
  • 2:30 pm Top Deck Clients check out.
  • 2:45 pm Departing passengers say goodbye to transfer to Reef Experience, a complimentary glass of wine, cheese and biscuits
  • 4:30 pm Approximate arrival time at Marlin Jetty Cairns

Flexibility and getting to Reef Encounter

One of the items that set the MV Reef Encounter above the majority of the Liveaboard worldwide is its flexibility in the number of days guests can stay aboard.

Unlike the traditional Liveaboard, the MV Reef Encounter stays on the reef for extended periods.

There are a couple of advantages to this arrangement. First, Guest arrival and departure are by the MV Reef Experience.

Reef Experience is a catamaran reef boat owned by a sister company.

This transfer option allows the guest to arrive any day they wish and stay as long as possible.

Second, this option allows for more water sessions.

We generally move the boat twice a day, allowing visitors to see two or three different reefs.  The Captain chooses which reefs will offer visitors the best experience based on weather conditions.

Reef Encounter is proud to be an SSI Diamond Facility

We operate a fantastic personalised open water dive course over 3 or 4 days, with all scuba dives done on the Great Barrier Reef

We are excited to have added Nitrox in late 2019, so you can choose to have your dives on Nitrox.  Guest can also add the Nitrox course if they are not already Nitrox certified.

Several speciality courses are also taught when desired, including the advanced programs and the Stress and Rescue course.

Other courses are available upon request.

Great Barrier Reef Snorkelling

Snorkel all day! Apart from when Reef Encounter is moving or at lunchtime, snorkeler’s can explore the reef at any time of the day.  The reef is very close to our water deck. Snorkel noodles are available onboard if you want to relax and take it all in, and there is so much to take in.

Our onboard hot tub is a great place to relax after snorkelling

You can relax on our sun deck work on your suntan during the day, and at night, you can see the Southern Cross and the Milky way

Introductory Scuba Diving

If you want to give scuba diving a go and are not already certified, you can try our free scuba diving demonstration.  First, we will get you suited up in the dive gear and take you just under the water to show how easy it is to breathe underwater.  Once comfortable, you can choose to go on a paid introductory dive with one of our professional scuba dive instructors.

This dive is shallow, generally around 5 metres deep, but it is the same dive the certified divers are doing.