Cairns & Port Douglas Outer Great Barrier Reef Reef Pontoon Tours
The reef activity pontoons that sit on the outer edges of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are a favourite for families of all ages. The day tour boat moors next to the pontoon and is accessible all day via connecting platforms with safety rails. The reef pontoons are full of fun amusements including semi-submersible submarines, glass bottom boats, touch tanks, inside and outside underwater theatres & observatories, and you can also participate in fish feeding sessions with a marine biologist or even go on a snorkel adventure with a marine biologist.
These outer reef pontoons also offer incredibly easy access into the water with submerged platforms and flotation devices for those that are not so able and for those that are not so confident swimmers.
Should any of your group have a disability that is not a problem as some of these day tour operators have specifically catered to enable disabled persons to also enjoy and experience a day on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef even if they are in a wheelchair.
Please take a look here for the best selection of the outer Great Barrier Reef pontoon tours that would suit where you are staying and the facilities that would suit your families requirements.
Quicksilver Outer Barrier Reef Pontoon Day Tour Port Douglas
One of the most well known and most highly awarded tourism companies in Tropical North Queensland Australia is Quicksilver Cruises which departs daily from Port Douglas with pick-ups from your holiday accommodation in Cairns. This company has the most highly engineered boats that have the smoothest ride out to the Great Barrier Reef and we recommend all of our guests that suffer from seasickness to book this boat as they will get there in better condition than any other with Quicksilvers unique Wave Piercer hull design. The Quicksilver pontoon also has a hydraulic platform to enable wheel chair guests to get into the water and have a snorkel around just like everyone else. There is plenty of space and things to see and do for the whole family on this day tour it really is one of the very best to see and experience for your families enjoyment.
Great family activities and facilities on this pontoon are snorkelling, fish feeding, marine biology presentation, scuba diving, scenic helicopter flights, underwater observatory for non-swimmers, semi-submersible submarine tours, glass bottom boat tours, baby change facilities, sun shaded relaxation areas, kick boards and full flotation vests for kids, Ocean Walker helmet diving for the adults and safe enclosed platforms enabling all family members to enter the water safely. Bonus on Quicksilver Cruises the 2nd child travels free see terms and conditions.
Reef Magic Cruises Cairns
Another very popular outer reef day tour to a pontoon is Reef Magic Cruises. One of the smaller day boats they take you to an amazing reef called Moore Reef where the snorkelling and scuba diving is just awe inspiring. It’s also here that you will definitely come across an overly friendly fish called Wally who likes to come up and say hello and rub against you so you give him a pat. Wally also likes to photo bomb everyone on the reef just like Gavin the Parrot Fish does when you are out with Seawalker from Green Island. Wally is a huge Humphead Maori Wrasse and is very friendly so no need to be worried if he takes an interest in you. He is big but very gentle as well so your children will just love him.
Activities on this pontoon are scuba diving, scenic helicopter flights, glass bottom boat, semi-submersible submarine, snorkelling, fish feeding, a marine biology presentation, and even a safe swimming enclosure for the children to enjoy the water and see the fish. You can even have a massage out on the reef if you like on this 2 storey pontoon. Bonus on Reef Magic Cruises the 2nd child travels free see the terms and conditions.
Great Adventures Outer Barrier Reef Tour Cairns
Departing from Cairns 365 days of the year is the highly popular Great Adventures Outer Barrier Reef tour this particular family day tour is so requested and you can choose to combine it with a 2 hour stop off at Green Island and then spend a few hours out on the pontoon on the outer Barrier Reef where you will have the opportunity to ride around in semi-submersible submarines with the kids, cruise in a glass bottom boat with grandma and grandpa, watch all the snorkelers and divers from the underwater observatory, feed the fish with a marine biologist and even take a scenic helicopter flight over the reef. There are great facilities on this reef trip for families of all ages and there is a selection of 2 reefs they visit according to the best weather conditions which is quite unique to ensure you really enjoy your day in the best conditions. Great news the 2nd child travels free with Great Adventures Cruises see the terms and conditions.
Sunlover Reef Cruises Cairns
Leaving Cairns Marlin Marina each day around 9.30am Sunlover Cruises goes out to Fitzroy Island first to drop off day trippers and holiday makers to the resort island and then makes it’s way to beautiful Moore Reef where families can swim, snorkel, scuba dive, ride around in glass bottom boats and semi-submersible submarines, take a scenic flight above the reef in a helicopter or just sit back and relax with a cocktail in a nice shaded area where you can watch all of the other family members having some fun. There is even a kid’s ocean swimming pool enclosure on this pontoon and the crew will bring some of the marine life and things of interest up from the bottom of the ocean for the kids to see and touch they just love it. The boat is also fitted out with all the right gear for the smaller family members such as mini masks and snorkels and flotation vests. All meals are fully catered and you can also buy a 2 day pass to spend a day on Fitzroy Island and the second child travels free. Bonus for families the 2nd child travels free with Sunlover Cruises please see terms and conditions.
Activities, Things To See And Do On The Great Barrier Reef
For an extra charge you can even indulge in guided snorkel tours, introductory or certified diving or try out the amazing easy to do underwater helmet walking experience with from Green Island. This involves a large helmet connected to oxygen being placed on your head in order for you to walk the oceans floor without even getting your hair wet or having to worry about pressurization. The group leaders will put on a show involving fish feeding and you will get to meet Gavin the famous photo bombing Parrot fish. Your tour leader will safely pass around findings from the bottom of the ocean so everyone can have a look and feel.
Certain day boat tours on the outer Great Barrier Reef also offer this amazing underwater scooter experience called Scuba Doo and you ride around the bottom of the ocean past coral bombies on an underwater motor bike! It’s great fun you just have to give it a go!
Many areas are available on the reef pontoons to relax in a lounge chair, take a seat at a table or relax in the shade for a cool down. Lunch morning and afternoon teas are all provided and you can even buy extra snacks and drinks thru ought the day.
The Cairns and Port Douglas islands are fantastic as they offer sandy coral cay beaches that you can just wade into the water and go as deep as you feel comfortable. The boat cruises out to the islands differ between forty five minutes to an hour and forty five minutes based on travelling by fast catamaran across calm water or sailing. These Great Barrier Reef islands are home to gentle sea turtles and dugong (or as known in other parts of the world Manatees) due to the underwater pastures of sea grass surrounding them. Corals and marine life are easy to see not only by snorkelling but also by glass bottom boats and semi-submersible submarine rides which are available directly off the islands. The main day tour boat moors 400 meters away from the island and offers continuous transfers all day long between the boat and the island.
Big Cat Green Island
Green Island is the only Cairns Great Barrier Reef island where the transfer is not necessary as the island has a jetty that connects the boats with the island to enable the guest’s easy access to land. Green Island is a commercialised island, including a luxury five star resort, a small zoo shops, cafes, restaurants and bars as well as a swimming pool and underwater observatory (all accessible at extra cost). You can circumnavigate Green Island in approximately forty five minutes. The centre area of the island is filled with beautiful walkways and paths and offers a cool breeze through the shady trees. The island is a very shallow water island therefore great for small children. Take a look at the Green Island half day and full day tour options here.
Great Adventures Green Island & Outer Barrier Reef Tour
This is one of the most popular day tours from Cairns as it offers a few hours on Green Island for you to wander around and explore all the things there is to see and do on Green Island and then you are picked up from the island jetty and taken to the outer Barrier Reef for the rest of the day to go snorkelling, scuba diving, or riding around on Scuba Doo. This reef day tour will certainly tick all the boxes for families from the very young to the very old and you will all remember it as one of the most memorable days of your family holidays together.
Wavedancer Low Isles Port Douglas
It does not matter if you are staying in Cairns or in Port Douglas as the coaches will pick you up from your holiday accommodation and take you to the boat marina for your day tour to Low Isles with Wavedancer this is the perfectly relaxing reef tour to suit a family. Leaving at a respectable time of 10.30 am from the Port Douglas marina you are on your way to a beautiful little tropical island on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef for the day. Low Isles is very famous for the number of sea turtles that inhabit and nest on these isles and also famous for the maritime history the old light house and research station played in past years. The light house and the research station are still in use and quite often there are scientists from the world over residing here and studying our oceans. The waters around the island are home to a myriad of hard and soft corals which is then home to a wonderful variety of marine life for you to find and explore by snorkelling or joining in on the glass bottom boat tours. Another great thing about this reef tour is that 2nd child travels free on this one too but please see the terms and conditions.
Frankland Islands Cruise and Dive
Frankland Islands is just ideal if you are looking for a Cairns Great Barrier Reef deep water island with large bommies of corals directly off of the island that you can just casually swim out too. Frankland island is unique and highly protected by the Great Barrier Marine Reef Park Authority, therefore only allowing one hundred people maximum per day at the island and only one single tour operator with a license to have access to this precious and peaceful coral cay island each day. Like Green Island, Frankland Island does possess lots of shaded area in the middle of the island but furthermore, the day tour operator also offers small tents to the guests, allowing for those who want to lie on the beach but not in the direct sun or to store personal belongings in away from the direct heat. Frankland Island portrays the feeling of being on a deserted island of your dreams. Guided island walks & snorkel tours are available at an extra cost and as they are conducted by a marine biologist they are not to be missed. This island is also very well known as the location that offers a higher chance of swimming with and seeing sea turtles.
Ocean Spirit Cruises Michaelmas Cay
Ocean Spirit Cruises to Michaelmas Cay is one of our most popular more luxury top end family day tours that departs from the Cairns Marlin Marina on a daily basis heading out to a tropical oasis in the middle Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Michaelmas Cay is a unique sand cay where migratory birds rest before their next epic journey around the world and if you are a bird lover this gives you the opportunity to photograph them up nice and close. Guests can wander around twenty five percent of the Sand cay to relax and explore and this can be very beneficial as this does allow for keeping the younger family members all nice and close.
Michaelmas Cay differs in the way that the center of the sand cay island is not filled with rich green forest but is instead simply a coral cay with ground cover for nesting some of it bought in by the birds themselves. Many adore the excitement of this island due to the turquoise waters rolling up the cays edge on all sides of you. On your Michaelmas Cay day trip you can partake in an introductory scuba dive straight from the beach which is a lot more comfortable for a lot of first time intro divers wanting to give it a try. You can even explore the reef in a semi-submersible submarine if you are a non-swimmer. Ocean Spirit Cruises to Michaelmas Cay is the perfect reef day tour for families visiting Cairns and looking for all of the best things to see and do in the region to suit them. And bonus offer on this reef trip the 2nd child travels free see the terms and conditions.
Passions of Paradise
Another one of our very favourite day tours for families is Passions Of Paradise true to its name the company and crew responsible for this day tour really are passionate about ensuring their guests have a great day out and that they experience all of the wonderful things there is to see and do on the Great Barrier Reef. Travelling to two reef locations on the one day you will first go to Michaelmas Cay and then onto Paradise Reef. This great value reef day tour is highly sought after as the boat carries a smaller number of passengers making it a more personalised adventure for the family.
Some of the optional extra things to do are scuba diving and glass bottom boat tours. Your family will really love this tour and so will you as it is great value. Be advised you must book early on this day tour as it is so very popular for not only families but for all guests looking for a high quality less expensive reef trip that goes to some one of the most unique snorkelling locations far away from crowds to see pristine reef systems.
Fitzroy Island Cairns
If your children are a little older and you are looking for a day on an island where they can go off and do their own thing so you can then relax with the younger members of the family or your partner? Then Fitzroy Island may just be the fun island for you and your family. Teenagers just love the in water trampoline where they can expend some energy and jump and jump until they are sick of jumping and they can then go off on a sea kayaking adventure to circumnavigate the island with a tour leader or they can hire a stand up paddle board (SUP board) and cruise around by themselves. On this island you can also take a glass bottom boat tour. Families can also purchase a discounted activity package that may or may not include lunch or you can buy lunch from the bistro restaurant on the island. There is also a shop for those little extra treats during the day like ice-creams and drinks and of course a bar for the folks.
These are just some of the fabulous Great Barrier Reef Island tours and for a full comprehensive list have a look at The Tour Specialists for all the activities and everything to see and do for families in Cairns and Port Douglas in Queensland Australia.
Got a large family or group and find that the price is really racking up for your desired reef trip on a regular commercial day tour trip? Why not spend that money on your own personal private boat charter where YOU make the decision of where you are going on the Great Barrier Reef and YOU decide for how long and YOU are the only ones experiencing this utopia with no mass tourist crowds to deal with?
Private charter boats give you your own skipper and crew so you and your family can just sit back, relax and cruise off into the blue yonder of the Coral Sea for a fun packed day for your personally designed Great Barrier Reef excursion.
All private charter boats depart from either the Cairns Marlin Marina, Yorkeys Knob Marina or the Port Douglas Marina and each individually sized boat provides differing options to give the flexibility for your specific private charter requirements.
We have private charter boats for one day hire, overnight charter or extended charters that may combine some game fishing on the reef and even some snorkelling and or scuba diving. They also range from the smaller more stable catamarans that cater for a comfortable 12 guests up to the ultra-luxury multi-million dollar private white boat charter that caters for only 8 guests to the overnight live aboard boat that is perfect for 26 pampered family members and guests.
You can charter a boat for a full day, half day or even a sunset charter. If you are wishing to take your family on a real Great Barrier Reef adventure we can plan a 3-4-5-6 or 7 day itinerary that may include a flight from North Queensland or the top of the Cape to being you back to Cairns for your departure home after your adventure. We can plan the perfect private charter itinerary for you as we are the local experts in all private charter touring for Cairns and Port Douglas in Queensland Australia.
Cairns Diving and snorkelling off of the back of the boat is not half as scary as it may sound and in fact it is made very simple with the hydraulic platforms that are submerged as the boat anchors or via ladders on the smaller sailing vessels that come down the back of the boats right into the water allowing for secure, safe and easy entry into the water. Many of these boats offer the best opportunity to see a much great deal of the reef in one day as they visit two or three sites and some to even an island as well. Some of these boats pick their sites daily based on weather, conditions, tides and visibility, allowing for the best reef adventure and experience in the best conditions. Most of the boats that have these roaming permits simply offer snorkelling/diving off the back of the boat and do not generally offer semi -submersible or glass bottom boat tours but are fantastic in the manner that you generally get the most time in the water snorkelling around this underwater paradise we call The Great Barrier Reef.
Please note: These types of reef tours are more suited to those families with older teenage children who love to snorkel and scuba dive. They are not designed and not suited to cater for young families at all.
Poseidon Agincourt Outer Barrier Reef Tour Port Douglas
Always the first boat to be booked out in the holiday season and peak season is Poseidon Reef Cruises popular due to its great reputation and the fact that it has a roaming permit that allows it to choose from a huge variety of locations to visit each day based on the weather, tide, wind, currents and marine activity. The region it visits is called the Agincourt Ribbon Reefs and if you are a keen scuba diver you may have read many articles and seen many videos and documentaries on this amazing part of underwater world on the Great Barrier Reef. Sir David Attenborough and his team say it is one of the most magnificent places they have ever had the privilege to visit and explore.
The other unique thing about this day boat is that it has a Dwarf Minke whale licence that allows its guests to swim 10 persons at a time in the water with these incredibly inquisitive little baleen whales during the month of July to September. This boat is only suited for those families that have children that are teenagers that enjoy snorkelling and scuba diving.
Silversonic Port Douglas Agincourt Ribbon Reefs
Another great boat that also has a roaming permit to visit 3 scuba diving and snorkelling locations in the one day is Silversonic. This boat also has a Dwarf Minke Whale swimming permit just like Poseidon and the extra added attraction of the “Ride Control System” that is turned on when the ocean is a bit rough to enable the boat to glide across the waves which is perfect for those guests that may suffer from any seasickness issues
Ocean Freedom Cairns
Another extremely popular day boat that is more suited to the families with older children is Ocean Freedom. She visits two reef locations in the one day and also offers a glass bottom boat tour and scuba diving of which she is famous for being the go to boat for your very first time introductory dive. This boat has the highest crew ratio to guests of any boat out of Cairns and this enables the crew to spend time with the guests and provide a guaranteed 1 dive master to every 3 guests and on most occasions 1 dive master to every 2 guests and sometimes when things are quiet they can even do 1:1 introductory scuba diving lessons which is great if your teenagers wish to try out diving for the very first time.
Tusa Snorkel and Dive
Leaving from Cairns early in the morning this boat heads out to a location chosen by the skipper on the morning of departure. They look at the weather, currents and tides and then decide the best reefs to visit to ensure great underwater visibility and comfort in any weather conditions. Tusa has a roaming permit so she can go to a large number of locations on the outer Barrier Reef to suit her dedicated snorkelers and scuba divers. Tusa also has a guarantee that if you dived with them over a 7 day period you will not re-visit a reef system you have already seen that week. A great reef tour for the teenagers and older family members
Great Barrier Reef Cruises Cairns | Multi Award Winning Tour | Dive-Snorkel | Scuba Doo | Pontoon
- Departs From: Reef Fleet Terminal, 1 Spence Street
7 hours approx
Visit Norman Reef with Great Adventures! Spend the day snorkelling and/or scuba diving in one of the most beautiful location on the Great Barrier Reef. Scuba diving is accessible to certified divers as well as beginners. While visiting the Outer Barrier Reef with Great Adventures you will experience a wide variety of tropical reef fish as well as other marine life. Reef pontoons offer a range of extra activities such as underwater observatory, semi-submersible submarines and much more all from a safe and stable platform. Great Adventures departs daily from Cairns in Tropical North Queensland Australia.
Great Barrier Reef Cruises | Cairns | Sand Cay Experience | Michaelmas Cay
- Departs From: Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal
8.5 hours experience with 4 hours on the Reef
Board Ocean Spirit, a luxury sailing catamaran, for an unforgettable day at Michaelmas Cay on the Great Barrier Reef! This very unique location is great for families where children can ease themselves in the water from the beach. A Marine Biologist is there the whole day to guide you through your discoveries, enjoy a semi-submersible tour, snorkel and soak up the sun on this stunning sand cay.
Barrier Reef Tour Port Douglas - QS - Outer Barrier Reef Cruise
- Departs From: Marina Mirage Port Douglas
10:00 - 16:30
Cruise to the outer Barrier Reef on the Wave Piercer Quicksilver in air conditioned luxury whilst relaxing in club style seating. Watch the on-board presentations of the day's activities the crew have in store for you. They will show you how to use the snorkelling gear and also brief the scuba divers and Helmut divers on the times and places of departures. Quicksilver Cruises to the very edge of the Great Barrier Reef and this region is called Agincourt Ribbon Reef. This body of water is known as some of the most pure water in the world free from pollution and abundant with brilliant coloured corals and a fabulous array of marine life. Quicksilver Cruises is the perfect reef tour option for groups travelling together or those travelling with younger children, elderly folks and guests that may not be strong swimmers and also a great option for those that do not actually want to get in the water and get wet but still wish to see the Great Barrier Reef from a Semi-submersible submarine or a scenic helicopter flight so they can also enjoy the day tour. Quicksilver Cruises are a multi award winning tour company and are listed in the tourism Hall of Fame Pick ups and transfers are available from your Cairns, northern beaches and Port Douglas hotels and resorts.
Green Island Full Day Tour | Ferry | MV - BC
- Departs From: Reef Fleet Terminal, 1 Spence Street, Cairns
5 Hours on Green Island - 9:00am Departure (Big Cat)
4 Hours on Green Island- 11:00am Departure (Reef Rocket)
Return to Cairns at 5:00pm for both tours
Green Island is a tropical island paradise on the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkel, dive and swim in the warm island waters, view the spectacular reef from a semi-submarine or glass bottom boat, explore the National Park or just relax on the idyllic sandy beach. Big Cat offers a range of full or half day tours which depart daily at 9am, 11am and 1pm from Cairns. Big Cat has Advanced Eco Certification and due to its zero carbon footprint has achieved Leader level Climate Action Certification.
Small Group Great Barrier Reef Tour | Cairns | Queensland | Australia | POP
- Departs From: Reef Fleet Terminal Cairns
9 hours (approx)
Travel with us from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef on a magnificent 25 meter custom designed sailing catamaran. We depart daily to beautiful Michaelmas Cay and Paradise Reef, giving you the choice of two destinations where you can soak up the sun, snorkel with the fish, scuba dive, glass bottom boat ride or simply enjoy sailing on a really special boat.
Cairns Great Barrier Reef Tour | 3 Reef Locations | 1 Day | MV - SS
- Departs From: Reef Fleet Terminal Cairns
5 Hours to explore the Great Barrier Reef at 3 different sites
Return cruise approx 1.5 hours each way
Silverswift visits the best dive sites off Cairns including Flynn, Milln, Thetford and Pellowe Reefs, known for their abundance of marine life and water clarity. With a unique roaming permit and over 16 different sites to choose from, each site is chosen for ecological and visual diversity, and selected for the best experiences on the day.
Green Island Tours | Full Day Snorkel & Dive Adventure | Cairns | Great Barrier Reef | Australia
- Departs From: Marlin Marina
7 or 5 hours on Green Island
Boat ride 45 minutes each way
Offering a variety of activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving, Seawalker, glass bottom boat tour, helicopter scenic flight, Green Island is suitable for all types of travelers. This is a great option for families travelling with young children, bring your pram on board and enjoy a shady walk through the island. Booking with Great Adventures also gives you access to the Green Island Resort swimming pool.
Barrier Reef Tour Port Douglas | SV - WD Low Isles Snorkel Reef Trip
- Departs From: Port Douglas Marina Mirage
Low Isles is a tropical island paradise that lays just a short distance from the world famous village of Port Douglas on the Great Barrier Reef Sit back in the club style seating and enjoy your cruise on the luxury 30 meter catamaran Wavedancer in air conditioned comfort A fabulous day snorkeling and exploring the soft coral reef that is home to a wide array of colourful tropical reef fish A fully catered day so you only need to bring your swimmers, towel, hat and sunscreen and a great sense of adventure
Frankland Islands Cruise & Dive - Full Day Tour
- Departs From: Deeral Landing on the Mulgrave River
9 hours (approx), that's 4 hours on the island
All of their tours include: Fresh Tropical lunch with seafood Glass bottom boat or semi-submersible coral viewing tours Guided Island Walk Reef Ecology Presentation Maximum 100 People All day snorkelling plus equipment Morning and Afternoon Tea
Snorkel & Dive Tour Cairns
- Departs From: A Finger at the Marlin Marina (Check in at the Reef Fleet Terminal)
9 Hours Approx
You have now arrived to see one of the seven wonders of the natural world so why not do it in style and without the crowds. Tusa is a fast moving streamlined machine that has you on Australia's Great Barrier Reef in just 90 minutes from Cairns. Limited to only 60 passengers but built to carry 120 you can lounge around in style and receive personalised service from the attentive Tusa crew members. The Tusa company motto is "Diving the Reef is our Passion but "Sharing it is our Obsession" and this rings true once you board Tusa Dive and Snorkel. Rate is inclusive of Reef Levy.
2 Day 1 Night Liveaboard | Sail - Snorkel & Dive | Great Barrier Reef | SV-CSD
- Departs From: Berth 2, 'A' Finger, Marlin Marina Cairns
2 Days - 1 Night
Departs at 8:00am and returns at 4:00pm the next day
You will get to experience the Great Barrier Reef, one of the Great Natural Wonders of the World, in a unique setting. We change the cruise to suit the activities you are interested in most. This is one of our personal touches that will make your Australian sail and dive experience one you will talk about for years.
Cairns Pontoon Reef Tours | Dive-Snorkel | Helicopter | Glass Bottom Boat Moore Reef
- Departs From: Reef Fleet Terminal Cairns
90 minute cruise each way
4 hours on pontoon
Luxury travel to the reef on-board our air-conditioned catamaran; Informative presentation hosted by our marine naturalist; Delicious chef-prepared buffet luncheon featuring fresh seafood, hot dishes, salads and sumptuous tropical fruits; Guided coral viewing from our semi-submersible craft and glass bottom boat; On-board touch tank to experience unique marine life up close; All snorkelling equipment; Afternoon tea; Optional activities to personalise your day on the water including Certified and Introductory Diving, Seawalker® Platform Helmet Diving and Guided Snorkel Tours; Scenic Helicopter Flights are also available and may be booked onboard.