How to get there & luggage requirements

Enjoy greater flexibility with your travel plans and start your holiday on the day that suits you – and stay on the Reef as long as you like! Reef Encounter trips depart from Cairns every day, via our transfer vessel ‘Reef Experience’.

Alternatively, you may choose to transfer to and/or from Reef Encounter by helicopter. The helicopter transfer is an optional extra that you may select during your booking process online.

By Boat Transfer

Daily transfers to and from Reef Encounter are provided by its sister vessel, Reef Experience, from the Cairns Marina. Check-in is directly at the boat, Reef Experience – at 7.30am

Cairns MapOn the morning of your tour please be at Cairns Marlin Marina – ‘A-Finger’ at 7.30am to check-in onboard Reef Experience – your transfer vessel which will take you directly to Reef Encounter

7:30am – Check-in. Boarding time onboard Reef Experience
Breakfast served prior to DEPARTURE
8:00am – Departure
4:30pm – Approximate daily arrival time returning into Cairns

Bus transfers to and from your accommodation to Cairns Marlin Marina are available at an additional cost, see below

Shuttle Bus to Cairns Marina

Bus pickup and/or drop off is an optional extra that can be selected during booking.

City Return (Bus) $12 per person
Outer City / Northern Beaches Return (Bus) $22 per person
Port Douglas One Way (Bus) $35 per person
Port Douglas Return (Bus) $70 per person


By Helicopter Transfer

A helicopter transfer is an optional extra that you may select during your booking process online. You may choose to transfer to or from Reef Encounter with one of our birds-eye helicopter tours – low flying scenic excursions over the coral reef that are a wonderful way to start or end your Great Barrier Reef adventure! (Minimum two guests required for helicopter transfer)

Helicopter One Way* $560 per person (minimum 2 people required)
Helicopter Return* $1120 per person (minimum 2 people required)

*Helicopter transfers depart and arrive to Nautilus Aviation, located at Cairns General Aviation. Transfers are available to and from your accommodation. Reef Encounter work in conjunction with industry experts in Queensland air touring – Nautilus Aviation – leaders in luxury helicopter experiences in North Queensland, Australia

Please note that strict luggage restrictions and weight restrictions apply for air travel. We offer a free luggage storage facility at Reef Encounter’s office in the city – 100 Abbott Street, Cairns, Qld 4870. Office opening times are from 7am – 9pm, 7 days a week. It is also possible if time permits for your luggage to be transported on our fast boat, Reef Experience


Luggage Requirements

Please bring with you only a small to medium overnight bag with personal items – casual clothes, personal toiletries, sun hat, swimming clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses, medication if needed etc. As the air-conditioning is a set temperature for the heat during the day it can become quite cool in the evenings – even just being on the Great Barrier Reef can be cooler at night.  We therefore recommend bringing something warm to wear for the evenings (jumper/pullover/cardigan)

Large Luggage

For large luggage pieces that are not required at the reef, we offer a free luggage storage facility at Reef Encounter’s office in the city – 100 Abbott Street, Cairns, Qld 4870. It is about a 15-minute walk to the Cairns Marina from our offices. Office opening times are from 7am – 9pm, 7 days a week. If you have selected a bus pick-up option on the morning of your tour, you may leave any large items with the bus driver who will deliver them to our office storage facility


What to Bring

  • For safety reasons Reef Encounter has a ‘no shoe’ policy. There is no need to bring extra pairs of shoes – socks are great
  • Personal dive/snorkel equipment if you would prefer to use your own. While equipment hire is included in your booking, you are welcome to bring any personal dive/snorkel items if you wish to. (Optional extras for hire are wetsuits and prescription lens masks)
  • Cash or credit card for purchases
  • Proof of certification if you are a Certified Scuba Diver (must be equivalent of Open Water Level or above) – this will be checked by the Dive Supervisor at the start of your trip. All persons intending to scuba dive should read the Scuba Divers Important information page. [Read More]
  • Dive medical if you are intending to Scuba Dive and require one to comply with Australian Dive Regulations – See our SCUBA Divers Important Information page to avoid disappointment on your trip. IMPOTRANT – dive medicals will only be accepted if they are conducted using the Australian Medical Examination Form AS4005.1 and clearly state this on the medical Certificate that you provide the Dive Supervisor onboard Reef Encounter