Dream come true In September my husband, Ron, and I went on a Reef Encounter Cruise for 4 days /3 nights. I’m writing to you to express our appreciation of everyone involved. We had an amazing trip and were so thankful for the care and attention that we received. In particular, Martine, who was our personal valet took great care of us and helped us with everything that we needed. SCUBA diving had always been a great dream of mine and when I turned 60 years old, I had decided I had to give it a go. I could not have asked for anyone better to be my first instructor than Martine. He was knowledgeable, patient and extremely supportive. At times, I was extremely nervous and started to panic. Martine was always calm and supportive and held my hand throughout the whole dive to ensure that I had an amazing time looking at our brilliant marine life on the Reef. He made the whole experience wonderful and I’m very grateful for his cheerfulness, kindness and direction. Ron had decided that he was not going to SCUBA but he was happy to snorkel (which we have done many times before – although not for a while). Ron also appreciated Martine’s care and support. So, at times, Ron and I were doing different activities, but this didn’t worry Martine as he watched over us and was always organised to care for both of us. Of course, here he was supported by the rest of the staff, who were also fantastic. Heather, Owen, Kohler, Levi and Adrian did an amazing job on lookout and helping us and the other passengers on board and we realise that without their professional abilities we would not have had such a successful time. Will and Beth, our Bursars, were always there with a smile to take care of all our needs, as well as the other passengers and made our trip an absolute joy. Dan, the chef, organised fabulous meals, always delicious and plentiful! Thank you to everyone involved in Reef Encounter for making my dream come true. Now I can say I’ve SCUBA dived on the Great Barrier Reef! And – I can’t wait to do it again! Of course, when we return, we will be choosing to snorkel and dive with Reef Encounter – hopefully Martine will let me hold his hand again! Merri Bothwell
Awesome This is a must do out on the reef. The reef encounter team are friendly and professional, nothing is to much trouble. My divers Carlos/Martin/Angus were awesome and made my diving experience amazing. The reefs that we visited looked great with a great biodiversity of corals and fish. I also highly recommend the night dive.
You really don't want to leave The worst part of our 4 days/3 nights top deck experience was, that we really did not want to leave. We did all of the 14 dives on offer for this time and loved each and every one of them. Big thanks to the wonderful crew with special thanks to Levy our valet and dive guide. He was super attentive yet unobtrusive from the moment we boarded and we absolutely loved diving with him. Big thanks also to chef Dan, who always provided us with delicious meals, while taking into account our dietary requests - he made our dining experience under the stars extra special. And also a special thanks to Beth, who was a wonderful host - we can't wait to be back!
Incredible experience, can't wait to return! Everything the boat had to offer was exceptional. The crew were super friendly and helpful. The food was amazing, as was the diving! Would highly recommend and very keen to return one day.
The trip of a lifetime! The trip of a lifetime! Dani and I did a 4 day 3 night trip and loved every minute of it. The crew were exceptional and took great care of us. The diving: All the sites were excellent and the site briefings provided great information about each site. I would recommend taking one their guides, our guide (Levi) managed to find things we would not have seen and always lead us right back to the boat. There is a good balance and focus on safety as well as enjoyment. I had my own gear which was no issue for them, and all the rental drive gear Dani used was new and well maintained. The dive-deck is spacious and well set up to make gearing up easy. Getting in and out of the water was also easy thanks to the hight adjustable dive platform. The Food: High quality food and lots of it. Special needs were taken care of with no issues and any reasonable request was meet by the chef. The accomodation: Comfortable, spacious, air conditioned and unlimited hot showers!! The Crew: Wonderful group of people, special thanks to Beth, Levi, Dan (the chef) and Silvan. Can not wait to do another trip. Dani and Paul
Amazing, can't wait to get back out there! My husband & I had the best time! We did one night, 2 days. The crew were awesome, professional & serious when required, but fun & relaxed too, which made the trip. I snorkled, but did one with a crew guide which gave me confidence & allowed me to go further & see things I wouldn't have on my own. My husband dove and had fantastic experiences. The boat even hosts a professional underwater photographer with the option to purchase photos. He'll also photograph snorklers so they don't miss out & we had couples shots on the deck overlooking the reef too. Our room was upgraded without us asking, which was a lovely thing to do, the bed was massive & comfy & the room big & well kitted out. We had an en suite & the shower was hot :) The food was also exceptional, you will NOT leave hungry! Dietary requirements (I was pesco no diary) were kindly & well catered for with options (e.g., snack - fruit salad or vego curry puffs with sweet potato fries?) Amazing. There's a decent bar with beer, wine & options for cocktails AND a proper coffee machine, various milk options including soy (yey) and loads of soft drinks. I don't have a bad word to say about the boat, the crew or the experience, highly recommend. Thanks so much! Katie & John @roamfree82
Amazing experience We chose the 2 night/3 day option & that was the perfect amount of time. The crew on board were really friendly and was such a relaxed vibe. Meals were generous and delicious! Our room was comfortable & clean. Perfect if you just want to snorkel the whole trip or give diving a go. Would recommend this to anyone looking to experience the Great Barrier Reef.
Amazing Did a 1 night stay on reef encounter and it was amazing. Definitely recommend doing the liveaboard overnight over the day boat, wish we had stayed more than one night, and definitely do the dives! Amazing staff and great food. Take travel sickness tablets.
Amazing experience and loved every minute Did a 1 night 2 day scuba package and loved it, all staff were great and couldn’t do enough to help you and make you feel at home, all dives were amazing and saw a lot .
Once in a lifetime Wanted to see the reefs, or GBR, as they call it. Had done some thorough reseaching beforehand and came to the conclusion, that the Reef Encounter would maybe suite our family best since being safe for a 9-year old and offering both snorkling and scuba diving. The other adult of us took all the dives that were available and the other snorkeled with the child. Was the first time for the kid to snorkel on the sea, so he was a bit nervous at first. After having a suitable safety vest, he felt safer and started to enjoy more of the reef experience. The room was spacious enough for us three - just like any other hotel room in a ship. Very high standard. The food was delicious and it was plenty. The staff was friendly and professional. It felt safe to operate under their instructions. We stayed two nights and were happy to have extended our stay from one night as two. One would've been nice, but two nights was definitely a lot better and made the experience even more memorable.
Johan Stilund Hansen
Never been diving before. I took an introduction dive and got totally hooked. Then I took an open water certificate during the 3 days I was staying. Very friendly staff and guests. Delicious food. Great diving instructors with incredible knowledge about diving. Can totally recommend to take some days on the boat. Ps. The reef is still very much alive. With lots of sharks, turtles and more.
Awesome 2 day diving trip, the ship's service is incredible and the crew is the best. The reefs are a little bit deteriorated and with a greenish (dead) colour.
Awesome - nice dive sites, dive site briefings, new scuba equipment and helpful crew. Everything went smoothly without issues. One of the best experiences of my life!
The friendliest and most professional staff. Boats great food was amazing just a 5 experience in every way.
We had an amazing trip with reef encounter. All scubagear was practically new, visited great locations on the reef. Skipper takes into account weather conditions when he picks the spots so that divers have the best experience in the water without strong currents etc. The crew was super kind, always willing to help or make a joke. Awesome food, great variety and they take into account any dietary requirements/preferences you might have. All in all a very very relaxing environment, only thing you have to think about is which dives you want to join, everything else is done for you. I would recommend this trip to everyone that is interested in scubadiving on the outer reef. We did the 3d2n trip.
What an amazing experience. We went out an a 1 night overnight experience as snorkelers and I must say besides the night shark dive I would have always preferred snorkeling over diving. So much of the reef is close to the surface, I have been to Hawaii, all over the Virgin Islands plus Colombia reef and this was the best variety of fish I've seen - stingray, jellies, sharks, all varieties of reef you could hope for, only thing we didnt see that I could dream of were turtles and octupi. My only disappointment was that the room didnt look quite as lovely as the pics and food was a bit of a bummer. The oven broke which of course isnt their fault but I would have preferred faster mediocre meals opposed to slower sub par meals, I.e. 2 hour+ wait for spaghetti vs. A sandwich
We did a 2 night/3 day trip and it was the highlight of our trip to Australia. All of the staff were so friendly and accommodating. My wife has a food allergy and they so nice about it and all of the food was amazing. We saw so much scuba diving (sharks, turtles, eels, grouper, lionfish....) and we will never forget it. We highly recommend Reef Encounter!
Had a fantastic trip. The diving was super and the rooms and food was way better than expected. Would rightly recommend
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!!