TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice icon
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Jules D
Jules D
11. January, 2021.
Awesome way to see the reef, fantastic hospitality on board Amazing experience! Our first time on a liveaboard and we couldn't have asked for more. My husband and I both got our Open Water cert and couldn't imagine a better way to do it. The team were friendly and helpful, the equipment and safety gear was impeccable, and the reef was totally unforgettable. Great food, excellent accommodation, awesome hospitality. Big shout out to Beth and Carlos for making our trip so enjoyable. Thank you!
Ruth S
Ruth S
1. January, 2021.
Annual mother daughter dive trip This trip was great value. The liveaboard was comfortable and well presented, the food was great and the crew were happy and obliging. The diving was excellent and safety standards and equipment quality high. The transfer and management of all the passengers was efficient and we felt well looked after.
Beatrice KSY
Beatrice KSY
28. December, 2020.
SUPERB LIFE AT SEA! FANTASTIC EXPERIENCE!!!! We've never been on a liveaboard boat and this way surpassed our expectations! My brother, husband and I booked for Christmas 25-27 Dec 2020. Crew was 9999 out of 10! Special mention to Beth, Heather, Julia, Luke, Carlos, Jo, Silvain and Holly who made our trip and our dives super memorable! We were really nervous about the dives as we are newbies but the attention and care these bunch of legends took to look after us was phenomenal. Cannot recommend them enough. The amazing energy and synergy the crew had was infectious! They were all one big happy family who adopted all of us (the passengers) into their family. We also met some amazing people on the boat and we all hung out together even after coming back to shore. Wished we stayed on longer. Awesome people aside, - Accommodation was clean and comfortable. Had everything you need easily! Common areas - the black couches and dining room felt just like home! - Food was also amazing! Dan the chef whips out all our meals, snacks and desserts by himself. Love that they were all super delicious, catered to our dietary requirements and the best part - very balanced healthy meals with lotsa greens!!!!! We even had a Christmas lunch onboard, and had our first Christmas ham! Thanks Dan!!!! - Now the reason we came on, Diving. We went to Norman reef and Saxon reef. All were super beautiful!!! GBR goodness! Water visibility was 10-20m minimum. Quite lucky considering its monsoon season. Countless Marine life, corals and the night dive was exhilarating with the big fishes (SHARKS) all coming out to play! We felt like we were casted in a 'Finding Nemo 3' movie. Definitely recommend the 6:30am and 7:30pm water sessions! - Also, do get the photographer on board to take all your pics, we had Silvain and he is AMAZING! The photos package at the end of trip was THE BEST souvenir you can take with you. We learnt so much about life under the sea and so in awe with this natural wonder. Thank you the Reefy team for making this so memorable! We are already planning to get back in a few months!!! Cannot wait! KEEP UP THE AWESOME PASSION & ENERGY! 💗 Beatrice, Vern & Darien
Anthony J
Anthony J
27. December, 2020.
3 Days at the Great Barrier Reef that made up for 2020 COVID19 ! Great BIG THANK YOU to the Reef Encounter and Reef Experience crew for my live-aboard Christmas Weekend. The entire crew were amazing !!! We enjoyed their Aussie approach to providing one of the best diving experiences I have ever had. I had my first intro dive with Compass, and just accomplished my 100th hour of diving with the same company different boat, The Reef Encounter. After a challenging year, this companies crew made up for ALL OF IT !!! I highly recommend this company, after 172 dives, they still make every trip feel special. The Great Barrier Reef is greater when you travel with Compass, Reef Experience or stay over night on The Reef Encounter. I love this company as much as I love diving.
seth230
seth230
27. December, 2020.
Fantastic experience. Great Value for Money with this boat. The food, accommodation, and staff all surpassed expectations. The Scuba was terrific as well. We had a fantastic time, and will be recommending this boat to anyone visiting Cairns.
Belle
Belle
17. December, 2020.
Awesome We loved this experience. We all got our open water diving tickets and the instructor and staff were just amazing. We stayed 3N/4D and it was worth every dollar. The food was excellent and there was heaps of it (and that’s saying something with 3 teenage boys). The accommodation was comfortable. The Great Barrier Reef was phenomenal. As fairly prolific travellers this experience is in our top 5!
dawnsup
dawnsup
9. December, 2020.
Amazing experience !! I had 2 nights on board and everything is brilliant, I drop off 1 star for the food which was below par. I agree that the food is secondary to the total experience, but, it's a shame the food is poor, I don't expect a menu, but when there is no choice, then what they serve needs to be good - the meat in the hamburger and schnitzel was very low quality. No juices for breakfast and no cereals it's easy to have small cereal packets. No fruits. The good stuff is - ALL the staff are excellent. The cabin with ensuite comfortable ( and I am fussy with beds, noises etc.) The diving and snorkel gear is all good - great stinger suits which protect from bites AND sunburn. Excellent professional photographer on board - Tiara was THE BEST ! The purser - Val - is so friendly and is SO efficient, well done ! ALL the staff are very professional. They are very strong on safety protocols and give clear details on what to look for at each site visited. We visited 2-3 outer reef locations each day - they are all beautiful. I liked Hastings reef the best. You must stay 2 nights, one day goes so quickly . It's a fantastic concept to stay out there, seeing sunset and sunrise, peaceful and entirely AMAZING ! We only had around 8 guests on board, that's using only 4 cabins from the 20 cabins, not viable for the operator and they could easily have cancelled the trip with such low numbers. That's 8 guests and 11 crew ! The ocean was so calm, the water now is a warm 29 deg. Even though the coral was spawning, the water was crystal clear. In summary, I absolutely loved the 3 days as the inferior food was outweighed by having such great staff and just to be ON the reef.
mike s
mike s
19. November, 2020.
Birthday Trip Overnight Transferred to the Reef Encounter via the Reef Explorer for an overnight on the reef with my partner booked as Top Deck guests. Although it was a little windy and the sea was choppy, our overall experience was fantastic and we are a very well traveled couple. The staff were all excellent and nothing was too much trouble. They set out a Birthday dinner on the top deck for the two of us watching the sunset into the distant Daintree. Even managed to watch Queensland win the State of Origin decider on the TV. We did not dive but the snorkeling was great. Highly recommended trip for anyone and we will return, thank you.
Matt H
Matt H
14. November, 2020.
Great escape Great diving. Good safety processes. The purser we started with was Beth, she was fantastic, the crew swap pretty regular. We had a different captain and DM during the stay. Pro photographer on board to take pics (about $25 per pic from memory). The boat is a bit old but is quite comfortable. Super hot showers! Good sized cabins. Fixed menu of food but the chef adjusts for people with dietary requirements. Night diving with sharks is a must do.
Markus K
Markus K
30. October, 2020.
Best trip ever Wow! We stayed 5 nights (2 nights as guests/3 as Hosties) on board and did 22 dives. It was an amazing experience. The staff was great, the food awesome and the dives fantastic. We loved every second of board. Would come back anytime!

Matt West
Matt West
20. February, 2021.
I just came back from a huge 5N6D trip. My original booking was only for 2N3D but after experiencing the incredible staff, amazing food and guests I want to continue contact with for years to come, I decided to stay a few more nights. I always felt comfortable, safe and saw some of the most amazing things the GBR has to offer. Do yourself a favour and book twice as long as you originally planned. You will not regret the decision!!!
Stephen
Stephen
31. January, 2021.
Everything was amazing about this trip! Right from when you got on the boat and when you finish the trip with them on the terminal! Everyone during the trip was friendly and extremely welcoming. They were more than accommodating! Special shout out to Nathan who was my dive instructor! Thanks Nathan for making my trip special and for putting up with me during my open water certification 🤗
Bart Klinkenberg
Bart Klinkenberg
29. January, 2021.
Awsome experience! We went for a 2day 1night trip with 6 Dives. One of these Dives was a night dive. Your journey starts in the Cairns marina where they welcome you one one of their vessels. Right after departure they serve you a bacon and egg roll just freshly cooked on the top deck. It takes roughly an hour and a half to make the trip to the Reef Encounter boat. Your bags and shoes will be transported by the staff to the next vessel. Once you come aboard the staff will give you a greeting and the safety briefings will start (only 3). After these briefings you'll be shown to your room and they will hand out your gear. Depending on what you have chosen they will give you instructions on what to do and expect. We went for certified dives without a guide and all we needed to know was explained in a professional yet very pleasant way. On board all meals are provided and so is water and other things like: fruit, sea sickness pills, instant coffee, Milo chocolate milk and tea. All other things have to be purchased like a cola or sunkist. We had good reasonably good conditions during our time and visibility was around 15m. We saw sharks, turtles, sting rays and a lot more. The rest is up to you find out and see! I would definitely recommend this trip to any who likes diving and likes the company of nice, enthusiastic and professional people (the staff) Thanks again and perhaps we'll see you next time.
Michael Li
Michael Li
12. January, 2021.
Had an absolute ball of a trip. Staff were fantastic. Good and accommodation was top notch. Great value for the 14 dives I managed to do over 3 nights.
Jules Dalla-Libera
Jules Dalla-Libera
12. January, 2021.
Amazing experience! Our first time on a liveaboard and we couldn't have asked for more. My husband and I both got our Open Water cert over 4 days/3 nights and couldn't imagine a better way to do it. The team were friendly and helpful, the equipment and safety gear was impeccable, and the reef was totally unforgettable. Great food, excellent accommodation, awesome hospitality. Big shout out to Beth and Carlos for making our trip so enjoyable. Thank you!
Beatrice Koh
Beatrice Koh
28. December, 2020.
FANTASTIC EXPERIENCE!!!! We've never been on a liveaboard boat and this way surpassed our expectations! My brother, husband and I booked for Christmas 25-27 Dec 2020. Crew was 9999 out of 10! Special mention to Beth, Heather, Julia, Luke, Carlos, Jo, Silvain and Holly who made our trip and our dives super memorable! We were really nervous about the dives as we are newbies but the attention and care these bunch of legends took to look after us was phenomenal. Cannot recommend them enough. The amazing energy and synergy the crew had was infectious! They were all one big happy family who adopted all of us (the passengers) into their family. We also met some amazing people on the boat and we all hung out together even after coming back to shore. Wished we stayed on longer. Awesome people aside, - Accommodation was clean and comfortable. Had everything you need easily! Common areas - the black couches and dining room felt just like home! - Food was also amazing! Dan the chef whips out all our meals, snacks and desserts by himself. Love that they were all super delicious, catered to our dietary requirements and the best part - very balanced healthy meals with lotsa greens!!!!! We even had a Christmas lunch onboard, and had our first Christmas ham! Thanks Dan!!!! - Now the reason we came on, Diving. We went to Norman reef and Saxon reef. All were super beautiful!!! GBR goodness! Water visibility was 10-20m minimum. Quite lucky considering its monsoon season. Countless Marine life, corals and the night dive was exhilarating with the big fishes (SHARKS) all coming out to play! We felt like we were casted in a 'Finding Nemo 3' movie. Definitely recommend the 6:30am and 7:30pm water sessions! - Also, do get the photographer on board to take all your pics, we had Silvain and he is AMAZING! The photos package at the end of trip was THE BEST souvenir you can take with you. We learnt so much about life under the sea and so in awe with this natural wonder. Thank you the Reefy team for making this so memorable! We are already planning to get back in a few months!!! Cannot wait! KEEP UP THE AWESOME PASSION & ENERGY! 💗 Beatrice, Vern & Darien
Kim McArthur
Kim McArthur
28. December, 2020.
I cannot say enough how pleased I am with my 5 day diving experience on the Reef Encounter. I dove 4 times each day and the professionalism along with the secure safe feeling everyone had was 5 star. The environment on board in regards to facilities and food exceeded my expectations. Each and every crew member on board was friendly, available and helpful with questions and my needs. A specific thank you to Kohler for showing me all the rare and not so rare fish and creatures on each dive. On my return back to shore, we ran into an unhappy person who became quite belligerent in regards to the level of happiness that our returning ‘shipboard’ family was having. I want to apologize for our overflowing exuberance and also point to the unrealistic expectations and total lack of human decency and enjoyment of life you must live day in and day out. If you want a romantic adventure over the Great Barrier Reef with your partner do not book on to a family boat with children and other VIP paying members. To quote you ‘you are a dickhead’!!! To my fellow reviewers. When she reviews about the terrible experience she had. What she paid for and expected please understand the base from which she jumps. Reef Encounter/Experience. 5 Stars!!!!!! Thank you
Thomas Niel
Thomas Niel
29. October, 2020.
Fantastic experience ! Such a great liveaboard in FNQ, the staff was very professional from start to finish. Great atmosphere on the boat and on the dive deck. Plenty of options for certified divers, including Nitrox. I felt properly looked after for once in the area, and can not wait to come back. Plenty of COVID rules in place around the boat which make us feel safe without interfering with the awesomeness of the trip. Please do your self a favour and spend a few nights on this boat you won't regret it. Thank you everyone for making this trip special for us.
Cherie H
Cherie H
11. October, 2020.
I had the best dive trip! Went for 4 days/3 nights and had an absolute ball, I could stay forever! Food was amazing and the diving was even better. We went to so many incredible dive sites on the GBR. The crew were all so friendly and welcoming and the facilities on the boat were wonderful. I could not recommend reef encounter more highly, will definitely be back for more diving.
Ryan W.
Ryan W.
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.
Julia M.
Julia M.
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!
Marley S.
Marley S.
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.
Thomas B.
Thomas B.
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!
Katy Q.
Katy Q.
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.
pretty w.
pretty w.
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!
Tasha P.
Tasha P.
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.
Kitty B.
Kitty B.
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!!

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