8. August, 2021.
The best live-aboard dive operator from Cairns I have now completed nine trips on Reef Encounter, and every time the experience has been amazing. I come mainly for the diving but the reason I always dive from the same company is due to the excellent crew and dive boat. The whole setup is professional from start to finish; from the moment I book my trips with the office, to the moment I step off the transfer boat back in Cairns at the end of the trip. The food on the boat is outstanding and nothing is too much trouble for the chef to prepare, including birthday cakes if your birthday happens to be while you are on board. The diving is first class, at each site a briefing is conducted and the best routes for both diving and snorkeling are explained so that everyone can get the best experience at each site. The dive staff are knowledgeable, helpful and very safety conscious, but also ensure everyone that goes in the water is also having a good time. About me, I am a highly experienced Divemaster with over 1000 dives completed, I have used many dive operators around the world, but this is my favourite.
21. July, 2021.
Experience of a lifetime Experience of a lifetime! We stayed for 3 nights/4 days with one of us completing their open water and other adventure diver, Amy our instructor looked after us SO well, we felt like royalty! And helped us fit our dive requirements around our stay (and find the octopus I wanted to see!). Highly recommend the top deck for experience of the dedicated crew member alone, what luxury to have that much experience just for us! Would come back in a heartbeat (as many of the people staying with us had done!)
19. July, 2021.
Great trip We were concerned about a male crew member (we think the chef - larger guy wearing backwards cap who dived in an animal hat) who appeared to engage in inappropriate touching with female crew members. We saw him frequently hug female crew members from behind. Otherwise the boat trip was great - the crew were all fantastic. Great notes on dives and snorkels, lovely attention to detail and everyone’s needs. Would highly recommend the trip.
10. July, 2021.
Saving up to go again The negatives first. The weather. Overcast, windy, rainy and a choppy sea made the snorkelling uncomfortable and the first 2 days onboark a bit queasy. (nothing we can do about this). The boat has aged and not too gracefully. The soft couch is actually a saggy couch. The glass bottom boat was only available on the 3rd day and it is a very tired looking dinghy. Our family of 4 spent 3 days, 2 nights on a dive/snorkel trip. 1 of us did the open water course, another did the advanced course and the other 2 just snorkelled. The dive instructors are fantastic and the crew are brilliant. They are living on board as well and have very long days to help us every moment. I cannot find a fault with any of these guys. Every thing on board was clean, there was plenty of good food to eat and plenty of time and space to chillax. The showers deserve their own review. Unlimited high pressure scalding hot water came out of the non water saving shower nozzle. The 6ft child said they were too low. Dive gear: typical rental standard well maintained bcd's and regs. Wetsuits are not worth the $5 per day and the masks,fins and snorkels are old and worn as well. This could do with an upgrade to newer equipment. Full foot fins are a pain to get on/off on a rocking dive platform, I'd prefer boots and half foot fins. Big tank fills were the go with about 230 bar each dive. Overall a great trip. I'm bringing up my own gear next time and will be asking to work on board for some extra diving. Buy the photo's. By the way, the diving was fantastic!
2. July, 2021.
Best 2 days my sister (21) and myself (18) have just got back from a 2 day, one night snorkel adventure with reef encounter. We had the time of our lives. From the extraordinary staff to the cooked meals to the sizzling colours of the reef - we can honestly say that we had so much fun. Jasmine was absolutely amazing at organising everything in such a calm manner, and still had time to have a good chat with anyone. The only reason we are not giving 5 stars was because of the creaking bedside table while we tried to sleep, every time the boat rocked, the bedside table creaked pretty loud with it all night. This is just a minor problem that can easily be fixed by jamming one of the pillows in between the bed and the table. Other than this, we had such a great time and already want to go back, if I were to do it again, I would stay longer because of how well we were treated and all the amazing people that we met
1. July, 2021.
Complete experience of the Great Barrier Reef Thought it was over-priced at first, but it was all worth it with a very comfortable room incl. a big bed and ensuite, delicious food, hard-working and professional crew members, and most of all, the experience you can only get out on the Great Barrier Reef. I tried scuba diving for the first time. My instructor, Angus, was patient with me and made my diving experience memorable. My highlight was spotting turtles :)
29. June, 2021.
Wonderful experience! We have just got back from 3 days and 2 nights on the Reef Encounter. What a wonderful trip! We booked the Top Deck experience as our 2 kids (20 & 17) had only just got their Open Water Dive certification and we wanted a dedicated diver to be with them at all times. We were very lucky to get Santi as our personal guide. He was friendly, enthusiastic and helpful at all times, we could not have asked for more. My husband found his license from 30 years ago and also ended up diving. Santi took me for out for an intro dive but it wasn’t for me, I preferred snorkeling. On the last morning Santi, my daughter and I went for the early morning snorkel session which was absolutely wonderful as a I made friends with a Slender Suckerfish who followed me around, attached himself to me and even cleaned me until we found a turtle for him to transfer to. The rooms on the boat were spacious and we could have as many hot showers as we liked. The beds and pillows were also very comfy. The main deck area had very relaxing couches to spend some time on napping or reading one of the many books they had on offer or to play a board game. The food was lovely and plentiful, I felt like I had 2 servings on each plate at meal times. Although there was not specifically a choice of meals if you did not like something on the upcoming menu the chef could accommodate individual tastes. Our son does not eat fish and the chef switched his meal to chicken. Although we had booked Top Deck we ate all our meals in the dining room as the weather was not really suitable for dining outside on the Top Deck (we were offered). It would have been lovely to have had a nice night with clear skies dining outdoors, but maybe next time. All the staff were very friendly and learnt our names quickly. I felt safe and well instructed at all times. We wish we could have stayed longer as the trip was very relaxing even though we were exhausted from the diving and snorkeling. We will be back!
25. June, 2021.
Barrier Reef Bliss Our family of 4 just had 2 nights aboard the Reef Encounter and all rated it 10/10! We chose the snorkelling package and saw beautiful coral and marine life, including reef sharks, turtles, a grouper, endless fish and a dolphin (from the boat). We moved between reefs over the 2 days so had variety in what we saw too - there are 5 snorkelling sessions available daily and 6 diving sessions (including a night dive). The staterooms were comfortable, the food served at meals was very good and plentiful (we have 2 GF family members, one of whom is also vegetarian, and the staff were aware of this and brought our special meals to us each time) and all of the staff were very friendly. Having a transit room available to use on the departure day was also great. One thing to note - don’t pack any fancy clothes as everyone is very relaxed (no dressing for dinner) and the rule is bare feet at all times. We definitely recommend Reef Encounter.
12. June, 2021.
Awesome experience Seriously amazing experience. So relaxing but so much fun. The crew were fabulous, always friendly and helpful. The food was great and plenty of it. Will be doing it again.
9. June, 2021.
Hard to top this for an accessible yet immersive Great Barrier Reef experience Good: All the staff on the boat were fantastic, and there to make your experience memorable while keeping you safe at all times. Particular mention has to go to Bryce and Holly for their efforts. The team were also helpful to (what we would have thought were) odd requests from other travelers highlighting how much they wanted to make your experience fantastic. As many of the Tripadvisor comments indicate, and part of why we chose this tour above others, the food was really fantastic. It was exactly the homely food to fill you up after being in the water, but with a touch of class that made it special. Of course the raison d’etre for this tour was going to see the Reef, and it truly was a step above comparable location day tours as the change in sea-life as the daylight changed, specifically the night-dive and 6am dive was truly what made the tour worth it. Scuba diving with reef sharks and trevalla, and seeing (admittedly slight) bioluminescence at night, while seeing a turtle sleeping in the morning were sights I would not forget. Annoying: It could be slightly better the check-in process, there was no contact from the company in the lead up to travel outside of contact I made (the only automated email was the confirmation of booking with some details). Similarly, as a relatively new diver it would have been useful to be suggested to bring your own fins/boots to utilize as I ended up with blisters on my feet. Similarly the gear provided utilized a weight belt instead of a weight system integrated with the BCD, and while no serious issue with the gear the wetsuit was less well fitted with which I had learned to train with a few weeks prior (the Top Deck gear appeared to be a much better quality so worth considering). Tips: While I appreciate it’s not the cheapest way to travel, I wish we had done 1 more night on the reef. Similarly in regards to my annoying, I think it’s great they differentiate the gear between Top Deck and regular as I’d much prefer the accessibility of the general room pricing. I just wish I had purchased fins & dive boots instead of utilizing their fins!
7. August, 2021.
Reef Encounter was AWESOME. Lots of dives each day and in different locations. Great staff, great food and to top it off there’s a hot spa at the end of the day. We saw so many turtles, different types of fish and coral and it was an experience we won’t ever forget. Thanks Team 😊
3. August, 2021.
Honestly an amazing 3d/2n trip! Couldn't have asked for a better experience 🙂 Crew was so friendly and awesome, boat was incredibly comfortable, food on point and the diving experience out of this world! Did my Advanced diving certificate which went super smoothly with Jade as my instructor. Would highly highly recommend and can't wait to come back for more!
Rob and Sue Hilton
21. July, 2021.
Great 4 day 3 night diving trip. Thank you
21. July, 2021.
Could not have asked for more for my first scuba experience. Fantastic live aboard experience, made all the more special thanks to the care and attention of our assigned staff member Amy - strongly recommend the Top Deck package for anyone looking for the perfect way to experience the reef. Great food, patient and careful instruction. A clear focus on safety - as well as fun. Amazing amazing amazing. Turtles, sharks, thousands of tropical fish, cuttlefish... Thank you Reef Encounter and Amy!
Evelyn T Nguyen
15. June, 2021.
We did the 2D 1N liveaboard with Reef Encounter and they definitely exceeded our expectations. I managed to do 6 dives during my stay while my boyfriend did an introductory dive and we both enjoyed our experience. The crew was absolutely the nicest and everyone made a real effort to accommodate and assist the guests. The meals were phenomenon, like from quality restaurants. Their photographers worked so hard in and out of water to give us some of the best photos ever. I highly recommend Reef Encounter for your dive trip in Cairns.
9. June, 2021.
Thank you to every single fabulous person who ensured that our recent 4 day Reef Encounter liveaboard experience was so special. We four friends from Brisbane have just enjoyed a most magnificent experience. Russell was the experienced diver, Juanita and Matt, two enthusiastic snorkellers and I was the committed but terrified ‘learn to dive’ life enthusiast. Carlos, our dive instructor was the Hero of the Day. Endlessly patient, infinitely good humoured, and absolutely so highly skilled and talented in dive teaching. But Carlos was not alone. Every single team member on the Reef Encounter boat was so nice, so well humoured and so confident and professional in their respective roles. The trip was seriously great value, super fun and so very exciting being out there 50 km from Cairns on the Barrier Reef. Thank you so much to every single one of the great team on Reef Encounter for making our holiday so memorable. Margo, Russell, Juanita & Matt - Brisbane
17. May, 2021.
I had the best time diving. Definitely one of the best experiences I have had in Australia. I went for 2D and 1N trip and it exceeded all expectations. I did 6 dives in total and 1 was nightly. I had never dived at night and it was one of the best experiences of my life, I saw so many sharks and turtles. The crew are the best, they provided me with a great stay on the boat and incredible dives in the Great Barrier Reef. I will definitely be back to take my advanced diving course with them. Thank you so much guys.
8. May, 2021.
Definitely one of my best experiences in Australia! Beautiful day dives and absolutely amazing night dive full of reef sharks. The whole crew was great (not only on board but also in the office), very responsive, friendly and caring, preparing the gear before each dive and making sure everyone is having a great time. The food was delicious and I really appreciated that there was no problem preparing vegan meals for me. My only regret is that I booked just one night as I was a bit concerned about sleeping on the boat - No reason! The boat is really beautiful, rooms are surprisingly big with own bathroom, towels and shampoos provided. Plus the slight rocking during the night was very pleasant and I slept like a baby. Once you're there, you don't have to worry about anything, just enjoy the time :) I highly recommend Reef Encounter not only for experienced divers but anyone who is craving for unforgettable adventure on Great Barrier Reef. Thank you so much!
30. April, 2021.
Loved this boat, we never wanted to leave 😍 Awesome, friendly helpful crew, amazing delicious food (the entire trip was eat, dive, eat, dive, eat, dive, eat 😋), and a comfy private bedroom and bathroom, air conditioned and perfect for sleeping. They take safety very seriously too and you literally just show up on the deck in your wetsuit and your gear is all ready for you to put on and jump in (after you do your own checks of course), no lifting tanks or anything, so luxurious. We will definitely be back, missing the boat and the crew already!
26. April, 2020.
This was one of the highlights of our trip without a doubt! You pay for outstanding service, food, and a once in a lifetime experience! We stayed overnight on the boat and would recommend anyone to do the same! Just be sure to review the medical restrictions and waivers needed to scuba dive since they do not refund uncompleted dives.
14. May, 2017.
This was a great first snorkeling and scuba diving experience! Without certification you get to go on a ~20min dive, and 2 snorkeling sessions. The crew are friendly and accommodating. You are fed without additional charge (but FULL disclosure the wine offered in the way back to Cairns is not the best...). High quality photos are taken both underwater while diving and on deck, but are a bit pricey. I recommend this tour!
8. March, 2017.
We did top deck and it was definitely worth it! This experience was the best part of our trip to Australia. Rob was our guide for the day and I highly recommend that you request him for your next trip. We got to see the best spots and get a personal tour of the Great Barrier Reef. He was super friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, and made sure we were safe.
21. February, 2017.
These folks are simply amazing. My wife and I booked our honeymoon to complete our diving cert with another group. They wouldnt honor our previous classes so we cancelled and booked with reef encounters. We initially only booked for one night and had such a great time we extended for a day. Got our certification! The staff is simply incredible. Fun and friendly and took very good care of us. The dive instructor was brilliant. We both had some anxiety and he was able to keep us calm. The diving was amazing. Saw several sea turtles, small sharks, and all sorts of cool things. Highly recommend the guided tours. They show you things you wouldnt find on your own. Food was incredible. Our future dive boats have some very big shoes to fill!
23. December, 2016.
So you made the decision to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia and definitely want to visit GBR, woohoo! Now which of the million tour options to choose from... Reef Experience is absolutely the best choice our family of 4 made and this is why: Booking - amazing. Easy to do online (huge plus for int'l folks like us) or over the phone. We procrastinated and booked 20hrs before departure around busy holiday season... but everything from pickup to dropoff was absolutely perfect. Most other tours had no availability. Value Pack - snorkeling, intro dive, glass boating, marine biologist presentation, BBQ breakfast/lunch and equipment all included. There's also plenty of photography, snorkel tour and additional diving add-ons. Shuttle pickup/dropoff also free. Visiting the outer reefs aka the good stuff (we went to Hastings). Perfect for a group that might have individual interests or doesn't want to miss out on any type of experiences. Cost - Best deal around. Most other tours charge about $50-100 more for the same package, while the only cheaper options are on smaller boats (more prone to seasickness and mediocore facilities). Plus its family owned and aussie operated so there's a good chance your money is going to where it should. Staff - I loved all of them. Diving instructor Evelyn spoke fluent Chinese and immediately put my parents much more at ease. Mikhil was adorably funny in his safety/snorkel presentation, and ever so patient in leading us anxious n00b divers into the water. You can tell Mr. Photographer has done this too many times before with his endearing sarcasm, but gave me some great (and easy to rememeber) tips on how to use my GoPro. Everytime getting in and out of the water, there was always a smiling face making my life easier with the equipment. These same quirky personalities xmas decorated the boat with Peggy the inflatable Penguin and gave us each a wave of enthusiastic high fives to end our trip.
12. April, 2016.
I hesitate to use the word budget, but when you're searching around it's clear that this is the cheaper option on the reef. I was a bit hesitant to book as I've been on some REAL low budge tours in Au that were clearly not setting the bar too high for themselves. This FAMILY OWNED operation was above and beyond my greatest expectations and I struggle to find a single pitfall. For starters, everything is included in the price. No nickle and dime dive gear rental fees or reef taxes. The prescription masks were provided for free. The guided dive tours were well priced and affordable. ($15/dive or like $65 for the three days) I took advantage of the $100 ADVANCED OPEN WATER COURSE..... seriously, read that again! $100 add on for 5 guided dives and a cert at the end. Are you serious!? We dove deep, we dove with perfect buoyancy, and we dove off a tiny boat James bond style. It was epic. Almost as epic as the instructor - Mac, I'm looking at you! You're a legend. Which brings me to the staff. You could not ask for a better staff. They're all incredibly personable, charismatic, and try to make sure you have a good time. With the exception of two guided tours where they swam a bit too quickly for my liking, I had a great time. A couple of the dive spots weren't the best but the last one, Norman Reef I think, it was a massive cliff that was teeming with all sorts of creatures. Best dive of the trip for sure. Make sure you do those 6am dives, it didn't get better! And, it's a little embarrassing but I suppose pretty relevant since there's another, slightly cheaper option out there who has had some safety issues. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, look around on TA and you'll see the owner's response to someone asking for a refund when they cut the tour short after someone drowned) In one of our night dives where the guide went a little too fast, I slowed down a bit and took in the surroundings.... a bit too much. Turns out I was following the wrong torches and my group thought I went missing. It was only a minute or two but my group was already on the surface with my guide searching for me. They are ON IT for safety. The private rooms were great and I enjoyed the sunrise every am from our massive windows. The food really deserves its own paragraph. The chef here is amazing. There's only so much "hot dog in a slice of white bread with some slices of cheese" that you can take on budget tours. I was dreading it. This guy is phenomenal. Breakfast was eggs Benedict, quiche, bacon, massive platters of perfectly ripe fruit and all the snacks, cakes, cookies a person could want. There is SO MUCH FOOD. like, too much. You eat and dive and then eat again. Absolutely every request is taken into account. I asked for no mayo on a sandwich and he rocked out with three for me.... THREE! If you ever wanted to try vegan, this dude as your chef is the time to do it. The only downsides: - hot tub wasn't ready or hot the whole time. On the last day when we couldn't dive again, before leaving, there wasn't much to do between 830am dive and 3pm departure. - I would kill for a fresh towel every day. There are dryers but they still get mucky with salt water and we brought two of our own. - my regulator leaked and when i used the octo it was even worse. like, mouthfuls of salt water. When i brought it up, they didn't change the gear out. That kinda sucked. And my mask leaked pretty bad but that's to be expected with old, regularly used equipment. If you want perfect, bring your own. - the boat moves every day and some spots are not as great as others. I would gladly dive Norman two days in a row instead of moving on to some of the less spectacular ones - I really wish camera rental was more affordable. $50/day is steep. If it was $50/trip I would be all over it. I could've also rented one on land for cheaper but didn't have time. that's it... this place is a well-oiled, awesome machine!
11. April, 2016.
Everything was as described on their website from pick up to drop off. We were picked up right on time from our motel. Free hotel pick up and drop off is included. Then take a nice comfortable boat to the reef locations. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly. They gave us a nice breakfast of bacon and egg sandwich with coffee or tea. We were given everything we needed, wetsuits, snorkels, life jackets and floating noodles if you aren't the most confident swimmer. All you need to bring is a towel, sunscreen, and change of clothes if you want to change afterwards. The staff is very attentive, made sure no one swam out too far. The intro dive was wonderful. They have so much patience teaching and guiding, even if you mess up (like I did) and need to come up for air. They give a lunch which is pretty tasty as well. With steak, chicken, sausage, veggie option, and 3 or 4 different salads. Then take you to a second location for an optional 2nd scuba dive for $55 or more snorkeling. The photographer took amazing pictures. I got 5 on a CD for $49, and there are other options. They don't take AMEX for purchases on the boat, only cash and MasterCard or visa I think. OVERALL, IT WAS MONEY VERY VERY WELL SPENT. Trip of a lifetime, I'm so happy I booked with Reef Experience and you should too. FAIR WARNING: If you get sea sick easily, this or ANY boat trip is not the best for you. My BF threw up twice and spent most of the time lying down feeling miserable. They offer natural ginger pills, Dramamine or whatever the chemical used pill is for $3 or $4 AUD. But if you have a weak stomach, (like my BF) think hard before going. He took 2 prescription strength pills and they didn't help. I had a blast tho.
8. March, 2016.
Really impressed with this company. They were recommended to us by friends who used them 2 years ago, so we went with the best. The food is fantastic (fed 3 times during the trip) the crew was incredibly helpful and friendly. I felt safe traveling with them and trying scuba diving for the first time. They will pick you up at your hotel and drop you back off on time. Would not go with anyone else since this is a once in a lifetime experience. They also respond very quickly to emails!!