Where’s Wallis? Diving on the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns

The company: Quicksilver Group – Silverswift Series Tour

The cost: $314.50 ($250 after using discount voucher in Ironman Cairns race pack)

The reefs: Flynn Reef and Coral Garden

Flynn Reef – on the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef aka ‘The Outer Reef’

The trip:

  • 8.30am departure Cairns Reef Fleet Ferry Terminal
  • 1.5 hour journey to the ‘Outer Reef’ (featuring lots of vomit :O )
  • 3 x 45 minute dives at 3 different sites
  • Morning tea and buffet lunch included
  • Return to Cairns at 4.30pm

The details:

After visiting Green Island on my last 2 trips to Cairns, I wanted to venture further out onto the Great Barrier Reef, and visit ‘The Outer Reef’.

There are multiple companies that offer Outer Reef day tours from both Cairns and Port Douglas, and after some research the two that kept appearing for diving were Tusa Dive and Silverswift.

When I called Tusa Dive, their boat was out of the water for a month for maintenance, which made it an easy choice.

I was a little nervous to dive on the outer reef, as I only recently did my open water qualification in Sydney (more details of that here) and hadn’t done a boat dive before, only from the shore.

Once we boarded the boat the group was split into divers and snorkellers, with divers staying on the top level to have our briefing whilst the snorkellers tucked into morning tea down below.

At the check in desk they’d said “It’s windy today – make sure you take some seasickness medication” and this was then reiterated on the PA system as soon as we set sail.

This made me a bit nervous…I have a mild phobia of being sick, I just hate it, so I’d already popped a couple of ginger tablets before boarding the boat. They were giving out more ginger free on the boat, but also had some other medicine which you could buy ($3.50 for 2 tablets). They warned me that it contained anti-histamine, therefore could make me drowsy…probably not ideal when diving, but I’d rather be drowsy than sick!!

Once we were out of the harbour it quickly got choppy. The boat was really ‘bouncing’ up and down and the group of 20 or so divers were gradually getting paler and paler as we attempted to pay attention to the dive briefing, whilst trying really hard not to be sick.

Doing 3 dives at 3 different sites during the 5 hours we had out on the reef (excluding travel time) meant that we had to have the planning of a military operation. This meant going down to the deck and getting kitted up into our dive gear whilst we were still driving full pelt to the first stop.

That’s when people started vomming. I’m a real sympathy sicker, so I basically had to stare at the horizon, attempting to block out the multiple people around being ill.

Once we hopped into the water it was SO much better. I had a lovely dive buddy Sam who was also up from Sydney to watch friends compete in the Ironman race the next day, all of these snaps are courtesy of her (@samsusananderson):


Even though the water was a balmy 24 degrees, once we were out it was pretty chilly in the breeze. I was very glad that I’d grabbed a jacket and some leggings before leaving the house that morning

Bit of a loud jacket and leggings combo up on deck surveying the reef…
The reef from the boat. I’d love to see it from the air!

Before long (and thankfully with more napping than vomming) we were back in Cairns, and up at the crack of dawn the next day to watch the Ironman race.

Sunrise at Palm Cove

Overall, diving on the Great Barrier Reef was a wonderful experience. Yes, it was expensive, but I think it cost almost as much just to do to boat trip or snorkelling.

I wouldn’t recommend just doing the boat trip, as you can’t see much from above the surface, but if you don’t have a diving qualification then you can either do an ‘introductory dive’ or snorkelling.

Any divers out there with recommendations of their ‘must do’ dives around the world to add to my list? I’ve heard that Yongala Wreck off Townsville and The Navy Pier in Exmouth, WA are both amazing.


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