Spectacular Great Barrier Reef Locations

We visit spectacular Outer Great Barrier Reef locations, with access to well over 15 dive and snorkel sites over a range of the best Outer Great Barrier Reefs. Each day Reef Encounter’s Captain decides which reef locations Reef Encounter visits based on the time of year, weather, other conditions and which reef site offers guests the best reef experience and comfort.

Reef Encounter generally visits two reef locations every day –  moving twice per day – once in the morning and once again in the afternoon (weather dependent).


Hastings Reef

  • Access: Boat
  • Depth: 0-16 metres (0-53 feet)
  • Good for Snorkelers and scuba divers

Hastings Reef is a fabulous coral reef in all weather, and we have many different locations to choose from here depending on which way the wind blows!

A large reef that offers good protection and calm diving and snorkelling conditions all year round.

Marine life: anemones, staghorn coral, sweetlips, cod. Damselfish, butterflyfish, white tip reef sharks and lagoon rays

Favourite dive and snorkel spots along this reef include ‘coral gardens’, ‘the fishbowl’ and ‘compass mooring’.

Fish Life

Breaking Patches Reef

  • Access:Boat
  • Depth 1-20 metres (3+66 feet)
  • Good for snorkelers and scuba divers

A popular afternoon destination for Reef Encounter when the weather is good, Breaking Patches is a small reef location just north of Michaelmas Cay – a tropical sand island and marine turtle breeding ground.

As the name suggests, this is a patch reef and is great for viewing giant clams and blue spotted stingrays.

Marine Life: Giant clams, turtles, blue-spotted lagoon rays, sea cucumbers, schools of damselfish, black coral, batfish, crayfish, nudibranchs

It’s also home to one of our well-loved marine friends – the friendly resident sea turtle, called ‘Gus’.

Saxon Reef

  • Access: Boat
  • Depth: 1-20 metres (3-66 foot)
  • Good for scuba divers and snorkelers

Saxon Reef is an awesome reef, lots of bright colourful fish, and good coral.
Depending on the time of year, Saxon Reef can be a hive of marine activity. In the right seasons, it’s a great reef to see young cuttlefish families or migrating humpback whales.

Whitetip reef sharks can often be seen sleeping on the shallow sandy areas and hiding under coral coves.

Great swim throughs, Reef wall that drops down 8 metres, several coral bommies.

Marine Life: anemones, Giant Clams, lionfish, pipefish, moray eels, green sea turtles, tuna, mackerel, barracuda and trevally, titan triggerfish, pipefish,

Popular dive and snorkel spots along this reef site include ‘magic mooring’, turtle bommie’ and the famous ‘twin peaks’.

Norman Reef

  • Access: Boat
  • Depth: 0-27 metres (0-89 feet)
  • Good for scuba divers and snorkelers

The furthest north Outer Great Barrier Reef destination that Reef Encounter visits – the coral and wide variety of marine life here are simply breathtaking!

Outstanding swim-throughs, underwater caves, bronze whalers and it’s also home to our giant Maori Wrasse ‘Frank’.

Marine Life: Bronze whalers, Maori wrasse, moray eels, large bommies, staghorn thickets, anemones, giant clams, red bass, sea turtles, blue-spotted lagoon rays, nudibranchs, trevally, coral trout, whitetip reef sharks, blue tangs, lionfish

This is the most impressive reef for a sunrise snorkel or night dive due to the number of larger inhabitants such as turtles and reef sharks

Jorgensen Patch

There are walls, gullies, small caves, overhangs and swim-throughs that can be found in the area of ‘Jeorgies’ – a reef visited at the right time of year.

With sandy bottoms that have giant clams, there are sea cucumbers and blue spotted lagoon rays on the sandy bottoms as well as lots of soft corals

You can also observe whitetip sharks, schools of damsels and fusiliers schooling in the plankton-rich waters