Why a Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard Excursion is a MUST!

Is seeing the Great Barrier Reef (aka the “GBR”) on your bucket list? Well, then a liveaboard excursion is your dream come true! Why just take a day and go see the GBR when you can live and sleep on the reef – experiencing it day AND night?!? Read on to find out exactly why a Great Barrier Reef liveaboard excursion is a must! 

What to Expect

Living aboard a yacht (or other seafaring vessel) is the ultimate upgrade from your run of the mill snorkel/dive day trip out on the reef. It also allows you several more opportunities to dive or snorkel and really enjoy the GBR. 

Expect a 1 to 2 hour sail from the marina to the outer GBR (if you’re living aboard with Reef Encounter, this will be on their transfer ship). Once you reach the outer GBR and the vessel you’ll be sleeping on, you’ll get a brief info session to go over everything you need to know. Check out your accommodations, get settled, and then it’s into the water.  Of course in between snorkeling and diving, the crew will also feed you. Basically you’ll be in a floating hotel. How long you stay is up to you and depends in part on who you book your liveaboard adventure with. But whether it’s 1 night or more, rest assured you’ll be well taken care of. 

There is the unpleasant issue of sea sickness. If you’re prone to motion sickness, a liveaboard situation may not be the best idea. Liveaboard vessels are not giant cruise ships, so you will absolutely feel the motion of the ocean 24/7. Seriously. You will literally be rocked to sleep by the ocean (and depending on how rough the water is, the rocking can be very noticeable). Keep this in mind before booking and definitely bring your motion sickness meds of choice (though most tour operators will have these onboard as well)! 

Reef Encounter & Why I Recommend Them

I did my liveaboard experience with Reef Encounter and cannot recommend them enough! Booking was easy – I had some initial questions and received prompt answers via email. Locating and getting onto the transfer vessel at Marlin Marina in Cairns was also no problem. The crew on the Reef Encounter were lovely – super helpful, easy going, and just fun to hang out with. Everything we needed for snorkeling and scuba diving was provided.  The food, while not amazing, was better than I expected (especially as a vegetarian).  And, our room was great and definitely more spacious than I’d have guessed. And yes, plenty of hot water for showers post snorkel/dive sessions!  

More about the snorkeling and diving: each day you’ll have FIVE opportunities to get into the water (+ a night dive if you’re a certified scuba diver). AND the Reef Encounter visits a variety of snorkel/dive sites per day, so you’ll get to see the very best the GBR has to offer. Everyone can snorkel – no minimum age or experience level required. As for scuba, Reef Encounter offers dive packages tailored to all skill levels – including entry level diving lessons for newbies! Snorkeling in the GBR was absolutely a bucket list item for me – I saw so many amazing fish and beautiful coral. Truly an unforgettable experience!

Top Deck Club is SO Worth It! 

I don’t know about you, but I love a VIP upgrade! If you feel the same, then the Top Deck Club is for you. Top Deck Club gets you the best rooms onboard and your own personal valet. Our valet took the BEST care of us – got our luggage to our room, took care of our every need, and was our own personal dive guide. He really went above and beyond! Oh – and did I mention you get a bottle of bubbly on arrival? Nice touch! 

Summing Up

The simple fact of the matter is that the GBR is BIG! There are innumerable fantastic snorkel and dive sites. A day trip is NOT enough if you really want to experience and enjoy the GBR. For most of us, a visit to the reef is likely a once in a lifetime experience, so I encourage you to make the most of it.  And that is why a Great Barrier Reef liveaboard excursion is a MUST! 

Want to visit Cairns and the GBR, but not sure how to best spend your time? Check out this 1 week itinerary

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