Great Barrier Reef Locations Cairns Northern Reefs

Great Barrier Reef locations out from Cairns provide outstanding coral reefs with an abundance of brightly coloured fish.

Spectacular Outer Great Barrier Reef locations,  well over 15 dive and snorkel sites over a range of the best Outer Great Barrier Reefs from Cairns.

Each day, the vessels Captain decides which reef locations to visit based on year, weather, and other conditions.  The Captain also ensures the reef site offer guests the best reef experience and comfort.

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.

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’.


Breaking Patches Reef

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

A popular afternoon destination 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, with 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 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 coral and wide variety of marine life here are 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.  This site also has blue-spotted lagoon rays, nudibranchs, trevally, coral trout, whitetip reef sharks, blue tangs, lionfish.

This is the most impressive reef for sunrise snorkelling and night diving due to 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 with giant clams, sea cucumbers and blue spotted lagoon rays on the sandy bottoms and lots of soft corals.

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