Cairns Reef Tour | Outer Reef Pontoon | Great Adventures

Tour Code: 126

Departing: Cairns

Pickup: Cairns, Palm Cove

Family Deal Save $148
  • Swimmers and non-swimmers can choose from a range of aquatic adventures from the stationary activity pontoon on this popular Cairns Great Barrier Reef tour.
  • View the rich marine life without getting wet when riding around on an underwater semi-submersible submarine tour on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
  • This is the only place in Australia where you can cruise the reef on an underwater scooter (optional activity). Pre-book your Scuba Doo tour on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • View the awe-inspiring beauty of the Barrier Reef from 500ft up on a scenic helicopter flight (optional activity)
  • Don’t want to get wet? Snap an amazing pic of the colourful reef standing by the window of the underwater observatory. This is the perfect Great Barrier Reef tour for a non-swimmer.
  • Family Deal - Save $148 based on 2 adults & 2 children

Included In Price

  • Return air- conditioned fast catamaran cruise
  • Tea & Coffee served until departure from Cairns
  • Morning Tea cake selection on outward journey
  • 3 hours at the outer reef activity platform
  • Lunch
  • Use of snorkelling equipment
  • Buoyancy vests
  • Lycra suits
  • Reef Education Presentation
  • Semi-submersible sub-marine coral reef viewing tour for non-swimmers
  • Underwater observatory - for non-swimmers
  • Eco Reef Talk with marine naturalist in underwater observatory
  • Afternoon Tea & Coffee available whilst on the platform
  • Cheese & Biscuits on the return journey
  • Please note languages change on a daily basis

The stable reef activity platform provides an ideal setting for both swimmers and non-swimmers. Whether you choose to snorkelling, diving, visit the underwater observatory, take a cruise in a semi-submarine, or try Scubadoo, there is something for everyone.

What to Expect

Visitors to Cairns love the idea of a safe floating pontoon on the Outer Great Barrier Reef as it enables everyone no matter age or ability to enjoy all the activity both in the water and out of the water from the platform. You can even take a helicopter ride out the platform or fly back to Cairns from the platform for another birds eye view perspective of the Great Barrier Reef, her islands and sand cays below. Join one of the best Great Barrier Reef tours from Cairns, where the turquoise waters await to unfold their underwater treasures. This reef tour is tailored to cater to everyone, from thrill-seekers to those who are non-swimmers and prefer to soak in the scenery from a comfortable distance on the pontoon or in the underwater observatory.

Features and Highlights

Dynamic Great Barrier Reef Activities:

Snorkelling and Scuba Diving:
  • Immerse yourself in the crystal-clear waters and explore vibrant coral ecosystems and marine life. Please note the snorkelling safety tips and the scuba diving medical questionnaire. (Diving is an extra cost)
Semi-Submersible Submarine Ride:
  • Discover the reef's beauty without getting wet on a semi-submersible submarine tour. This underwater ride offers panoramic views of coral formations and schools of colourful fish. Fun for all the family and non-swimmers to see the marine life and the coral reefs.
Underwater Observatory:
  • Get face-to-face with the reef’s diverse inhabitants without diving in. It’s like an aquarium, but you’re in the fish’s world sitting on comfortable bench seats watching all the action!
  • Scubadoo is something you simply must try, its like riding a motorbike underwater. There is no scuba tank to breath in its just climb onto the Scubadoo and pop your head into the helmet and off you go under the sea.
Scenic Helicopter Rides from the Pontoon
  • Whilst you are out on the pontoon you can take a 10-minute scenic helicopter ride to see the reef from above but make sure to book early as seats are limited.
Family-Friendly and Accessible:

Engaging for All Ages:

  • The Great Barrier Reef tour platform is equipped with facilities that ensure comfort and safety for families and non-swimmers, making the wonders of the worlds most magnificent coral reef accessible to everyone. Spend 3 lovely hours exploring the reef.
Educational Content:
  • Learn about marine conservation and the delicate ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef through live presentations and interactive displays.

Helicopter Fly/Cruise or Cruise/Fly

  • Travel to and from the Great Barrier Reef on a 25-minute scenic helicopter ride from Cairns to land on the pontoon or fly from the pontoon back to Cairns. You must book early for this dynamic experience as seat capacity is limited to only 6 guests per Great Barrier Reef tour daily.  

Comfort and Convenience:

Relaxation Zones:
  • Ample space on the Great Adventures pontoon allows you to relax under the sun or shade with stunning ocean views, making it easy to unwind after snorkelling and scuba diving.
Full-Service Catering:
  • From a light morning snack to a robust tropical buffet lunch, we keep you energized and satisfied throughout the day.

Detailed Great Barrier Reef Tour Itinerary:

  • Set sail from Cairns aboard a comfortable high-speed catamaran, beginning your journey with stunning coastal views as we head to the outer reef.
Arrival at the Pontoon:
  • Positioned on the outer reef at Norman Reef, the pontoon serves as your base for a day of a myriad of activities. Whether you choose to go diving, snorkelling, or staying dry, the reef is yours to explore.
Lunch with a View:
  • Enjoy a delicious buffet lunch featuring fresh seafood and local produce, served on the pontoon with the Great Barrier Reef ocean as your backdrop.
Leisure and Learning:
  • After lunch, relax on the deck or participate in educational talks about the reef. There’s plenty to learn and see!

Inclusive Experience:

All-inclusive Activities:
  • From guided snorkelling tours with marine biologists to scenic helicopter flights from the platform (available as an optional upgrade), every detail is designed to enhance your Great Barrier Reef tour experience.

Ease of Participation:

Safety and Gear Instruction:
  • Comprehensive briefings and high-quality equipment ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all skill levels.

Accessibility Options:

  • The pontoon is equipped to ensure that everyone, regardless of physical ability, can enjoy and see as much of the reef as possible.

Join us on this memorable Great Barrier Reef tour from Cairns and experience one of the world's most stunning natural wonders in a way that suits you best. Whether you're diving into the deep blue or observing from above, this tour offers a full spectrum of immersive activities to make your visit truly unforgettable.

For a great value deal have a look at our Green Island and Outer Great Barrier Reef combo deal or our helicopter and Great Barrier Reef tour combos from Cairns and Port Douglas.

If you are going to the Whitsundays have a look at all your Great Barrier Reef tour options.

Why Go Out To A Great Barrier Reef Pontoon from Cairns?

A pontoon platform that sits out on the reef permanently is just perfect for those guests that want to see the Great Barrier Reef but do not fancy spending the whole day in the water snorkelling or scuba diving or just sitting on a boat.

It is also perfect for families with children as they have lot's of room and activities for them to participate. The multi-level pontoon deck ensures plenty of room for everyone to move about or even relax on a sun lounger with a nice cocktail in hand.

A reef trip out to a pontoon is also perfect  for non-swimmers as they can ride around in the semi-submersible submarine and see all the corals and marine life and they can also sit in the underwater observatory and watch all the underwater action of the scuba divers and snorkellers. They can even relax and have a coffe or an ice-cream on deck whilst sunning themselves.     

A pontoon is also a great option for those days when the weather may be a little blowy and also a bit rough as it offers you some protection from the wind so you can still enjoy the in-water activities.

Whether you are a total non-swimmer and do not wish to swim or a scuba diver the team at Great Adventures will help you every step of the way.

Activities on board Your Great Barrier Reef Day Tour

Once arriving at the Great Barrier Reef platform the crew encourages you to actively participate in all the day's scheduled activities. The multi level floating pontoon, situated on picturesque Norman Reef is without a doubt the most comfortable pontoon on offer in this area.

Once you have decided which in-water activities you would like to enjoy for the day it's time to begin your Great Adventure! Whether you are a non-swimmer or a scuba diver the team on the Great Barrier Reef adventure will help you every step of the way.

Great Adventures also have an underwater observatory where you can spot the divers and view the colourful array of reef fish swimming around and listen to a reef eco talk with one of Great Barrier Reef Cruises experienced marine naturalists.

What can you do and see on a Great Barrier Reef Pontoon?

A pontoon on the reef offers all the fun in water toys and the complimentary activities on board the pontoon include a Semi-Submersible Submarine Boat Ride that has glass windows all around for you to see the reef and marine life from your comfortable seat, a step down underwater observatory which is located at the base of the platform where you can take photographs of your friends and family snorkelling and or scuba diving outside the glass winodws.

All your snorkelling gear is included and the crew will give you demonstrations on how to use them and in water supervision is provided for your safety.

If you are not a very strong swimmer or you have children with you just ask the crew for a pool noodle and or a floatation vest so you can float around in the water for as long as you like.

There is so much you can participate in even if you are a non-swimmer or your children are very little. They can splash around in the childrens swimming enclosure and have just as much fun as everyone else.

Optional extras (in the booking form) are guided snorkelling tours with a marine biologist or marine naturalist, scuba diving, Scuba Doo and helicopter scenic flights over the reef (infants age 3 must pay child price). During times of school holidays and peak season we strongly advice you pre-book these extra activities well in advance to ensure you do not miss out on these experiences.

Semi-Submersible Submarine Tours

The semi-submersible glass bottom submarine tours operate from the stable platform on a regular basis and this is a great activity for families and for the non-swimmer as the semi-submersible submarine tour travels around the huge coral bommies and gives you a similar perspective of a scuba diver while staying dry and comfortable!

From the semi-submersible submarine tour the amount of marine life and coral that you have the chance to see is endless. Make sure you keep an eye out for the elegant green sea turtles, the giant clams and the ever popular Nemo and his friends hiding in his anemone.

Guided Snorkel Safaris On The Reef

Great Barrier Reef Cruises caters for a range of people and different levels and abilities. The boat crew are very patient with beginner snorkelers and offer full instructional guidelines to help you in the water.

Guided snorkelling trips are available at an additional charge and the crew take you away from the pontoon to some of the most beautiful coral you will ever see.

They take you to the coral reef bommies that hide spectacular marine life such as green sea turtles, giant Maori Wrasse and all types of tropical fish in brilliant colours.

Scuba Diving (Introductory & Certified Diving)

If you have ever wanted to try scuba diving for the first time or it has always been your dream to scuba dive on Australia's Great Barrier Reef the crew will be more than happy to make that dream a reality as you see that their passion for underwater is second to none and they appreciate the smiles on the divers faces as they resurface and get told that was the best experience they have ever done.

It's a lot of fun and no scuba diving experience is necessary to try an introductory scuba dive (medical questionnaire to be filled out on board) as all dives are fully escorted and guided by the experienced crew on your Great Barrier Reef adventure.

For the certified scuba divers the dive instructors will guide you to on an underwater adventure away from the pontoon and other divers to see more spectacular parts of the Great Barrier Reef and marine life in all its wonder.

Please note: You will need to be fit and have absolutely no medical conditions at all so please ensure you fill in the medical questionnaire correctly and honestly when onboard as it could save your life.

Children must be 12 years and older to scuba dive in Australia.

Scuba Doo - Underwater Motor Bike - Great Barrier Reef Australia

If scuba diving isn't your thing why not try the Scuba Doo, the only place in Australia where you can ride a scooter underwater! Cruise to the Great Barrier Reef activities platform where your professional guide will take you on an underwater scooter journey on a Scuba Doo bike to remember.

No experience is necessary and non-swimmers are welcomed to join this Scuba Doo activity. (Medical questionnaire to be filled out on board)

Please note: You will need to be fit and have no medical conditions at all so please ensure you fill in the medical questionnaire correctly and honestly as it could save your life.

Children must be 12 years and older and a certain height.

Cairns Helicopter Flights - Great Barrier Reef

See the Great Barrier Reef From Above and Below

Great Barrier Reef Adventures offer spectacular scenic helicopter flights around Norman Reef and the option of flying out to the pontoon or returning to Cairns in a helicopter.

As you fly around 500 feet over this remarkable decorative reef system you may be lucky enough to spot turtles, manta rays and sharks.

The helicopter flights must be pre-booked as this is an extremely popular way to see the reef and you would not want to miss the opportunity to see this natural wonder from above. (see the booking form)

Oh and you will be pleasantly surprised on the cost of this activity it will definitely not break the bank.

***Please note: infants age 3 must pay child price***

Great Barrier Reef Tour Cairns - Lunch

After a busy morning snorkelling, scuba diving or enjoying your trip on the semi- submersible submarine then there's no better way than to head back to the platform and enjoy the sumptuous lunch the Great Barrier Reef Cruises crew have been waiting to serve for you.

With a full hot and cold tropical buffet lunch there is no nicer setting then to sit under the shaded platform and view the Great Barrier Reef while having a glass of wine or beer and enjoying a full buffet lunch that includes some fresh prawns and various hot and cold meats and meat dishes or a warm vegetarian curry.

Our buffet caters for all sorts of special dietary requirements you may have and we request advance notice for food intolerances 

As your day at the reef starts to wind up the pontoon platform offers fresh water showers and change rooms to wash all that salt off you. On the return journey to Cairns you are offered afternoon tea with cheese and biscuits.

See more Great Barrier Reef tour options such as Seawalker another great underwater experience for non-swimmers. 

Accommodation Return Transfers

Please note: All return transfers will depart Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal 17.30pm.
Reservations staff will be contacting all passengers with transfers the day prior to travel to update them
on locations and times.

Please see below timetables:

Pick up time@ 06:40
MANTRA AMPHORA (49-63 Williams Esplanade Palm Cove)
PARADISE ON THE BEACH RESORT (119-121 Williams Esplanade Palm Cove)
PEPPER'S BEACH CLUB & SPA PALM COVE (123 Williams Esplanade)
REEF HOUSE (99 Williams Esplanade Palm Cove)
REEF RETREAT (10-14 Harpa Street Palm Cove)

Pick up time @ 06:45
MANGO LAGOON (81-85 Cedar Road Palm Cove)

Pick up time @ 07:00
CNR Moore & Trinity St Bus Stop

Pick up time @ 07:30
CAIRNS SHERIDAN (295 Sheridan Street)
THE LAKES CAIRNS RESORT & SPA (2 Greenslopes Street)
PALM ROYALE HOTEL (7-11 Chester Court)
CAIRNS COLONIAL CLUB (18-26 Cannon Street)
QUEEN'S COURT (167-171 Sheridan Street)
RYDGES ESPLANADE RESORT (Bus Area - Esplanade Side)

Pick up time @ 07:35
181 ESPLANADE P/Up Lake Street Side (181 Esplanade)
BAY VILLAGE (Cnr Lake & Gatton Streets)
CORAL TREE INN (162-172 Grafton Street)
CAIRNS PLAZA HOTEL (145 Esplanade)

Pick up time @ 07:40
RILEY (p/u from DOUBLETREE BY HILTON - Abbott St side)
DOUBLETREE BY HILTON (121-123 Esplanade)

Pick up time @ 07:45
FLYNN BY CRYSTALBROOK (p/u Abbott Street entrance near Night Markets)
MANTRA TRILOGY (p/u Abbott Street entrance near Night Markets)
THE BENSON HOTEL (Cnr Grafton & Spence)
GILLIGANS - P/up The Benson (50 Grafton St)

Pick up time @ 07:50

Pick up time @ 08:00
YHA CAIRNS CENTRAL (20-26 McLeod Street)

Tour Languages Offered
  • English
Departs From


Departure Time
  • Cruise/Cruise: departs 10:30am returns Cairns 5:30pm
  • Cruise/Fly: departs Cairns at 10:30am returns Cairns 3:40pm
  • Fly/Cruise: departs Cairns at 12:30pm returns Cairns 5:30pm
  • Fly/Fly: departs Cairns at 12:30pm returns Cairns 3:40pm
Departure Instructions

Departure from Reef Fleet Terminal, 1 Spence St Cairns. It is recommended to check-in 30 minutes prior to departure.

Pickup Locations
  • Cairns
  • Palm Cove
  • Please note: All return transfers will depart Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal 17.30pm.
  • Our Reservations staff will be contacting all passengers with transfers the day prior to travel to update them on locations and times.
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Outer Great Barrier Reef: Moore Reef or Norman Reef depending on weather conditions.
Months of Operation

January - December

Days of Operation


For Christmas and New Year there is a high demand so advance booking is advised.


7 hours (approx) or less depending on options

Available for Purchase / Hire
  • Introductory scuba diving (no experience necessary, subject to medical questionnaire) - minimum age 12
  • Certified scuba diving - minimum age 12
  • Guided Outer Barrier Reef Snorkel Tour (40 minutes in water + 10 minute safety brief)
  • Scuba-Doo Underwater Scooter (25 minutes in water + 10 minute safety brief)
  • Infants age 3 will be charged the child price for any helicopter component booked, this charge will be added to your booking total
  • Helicopter flights
Fitness Level Required

Low, Medium


Scuba Diving – minimum age 12


Scuba Diving, Scuba Doo and Helmet Diving Restrictions

  • Certain medical conditions and medications may preclude some people from scuba diving and helmet diving/scuba doo.
  • Participation is subject to medical questionnaires completed on board with the tour operator.
  • Minimum age for scuba diving and helmet diving/scuba doo is 12 years.
  • Flying after scuba diving: a wait of 12 hours is recommended after one dive, 18 hour after 2 dives and at least 24 hours after multiple dives, before ascending to an altitude of 300 metres or greater.

Intro Dive Medical Advanced Dive Medical Seawalker Medical

Read more about Diving Safety on the Great Barrier Reef.

Additional Information
  • For scuba diving and helmet diving, medical, height and age restrictions apply; must be 12 to 70 years.
  • All schedules, activities and prices may be varied without notice.
Eco Certifications
Certified Tourism
Eco Certified Guide
  • Sunscreen, Hat, Sunglasses, Swimming costume, Towel, Cash or credit card, Camera
  • Souvenirs available for sale on board the boat.

Customer Reviews

Average Rating

Judith P

Reviewed on March 06, 2019

An amazing day. The crew and staff so very helpful in every way. The lunch was so good, the snorkling was great. Everything was perfect. The pontoon was clean and everything was provided. We did a guided snorkel and he was so patient and helpful. Highly recommend this company.

Response From The Tour Specialists

Judith thank you so very much for your review of your Great Barrier Reef tour from Cairns. This particular outer reef pontoon tour is one of our most popular as there are so many things to do and so many ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef from this pontoon and its tour options. We look forward to welcoming you back to Cairns in ther near future

John P

Reviewed on March 06, 2019

Great time on the Barrier Reef. Amazing staff. Great Lunch and enjoyable day.


Reviewed on July 21, 2018

Our family of 5 enjoyed it very much. Our only criticism would be the quality of the food for lunch - it really was not very appetising. The staff were fantastic and it's very well organised.

Response From The Tour Specialists

Thank you for your review of the Great Barrier Reef tour Siobhan. We have passed on your comments regarding the buffet lunch on the day. We look forward to welcoming you back to Cairns in the future

Gregory L

Reviewed on March 25, 2018


Response From The Tour Specialists

The Tour Specialists are pleased to hear you enjoyed your day on the Great barrier Reef Greg and we look forward to your next visit to our region.

Alma M

Reviewed on August 18, 2016

The trip on the catamaran and the staff were really great. We also enjoyed the semi sub and underwater viewing. Just a bit dissapointing that the lunch seemed a bit chaotic and nowhere to sit on the pontoon as tables taken over with other guests bags etc. We ate on the catamaran- thought we would have been able to relax on a sun bed but that was the same.

Containes notes on wheelchair access
Wheelchair Accessibility

For an Outer Reef experience, Great Adventures recommend their Quicksilver Outer Reef Cruise, however the following is provided for your information.

Number of Steps

There is a ramp to access the vessel~|~there is a motorised chair lift to enable a transfer between upper and lower decks~|~There are no wheelchair accessable toilets on board the boat or pontoon.

Onboard Access

At the Outer Barrier Reef there are ramp facilities from the vessel to the floating platform. There are no disabled facilities on the platform and the platform does have decking whereby wheelchair wheels can get stuck.

Access to the underwater observatory, swim platforms and semi-submersible is by stair only

  • Family Fare: 2 Adults and 2 Children (not applicable with other discounts)
  • Child Fare 4-14 years inclusive
  • Infants age 3 will be charged the child price for any helicopter component booked, this charge will be added to your booking total

All cancellations must be in writing.

We understand things may change, so we have made cancellations very easy.

In every instance we always recommend you purchase travel insurance for life’s last-minute hiccups.

Please see our terms and conditions for details prior to booking.

Operators policy:

  • Cancellations received within 24 hours are subject to full cancellation.
  • Note: Infants age 3 will be charged the child price for any helicopter component booked, this charge will be added to your booking total

Cairns Reef Tour | Outer Reef Pontoon | Great Adventures

Tour Code: 126

Departing: Cairns

Pickup: Cairns, Palm Cove

Family Deal Save $148



Prices are AUD, per adult and include all levies fees and taxes.

Child: au$156.00
Family: au$740.00

Tour Code: 126



15 yrs & over

4 - 14 yrs

0 - 3 yrs

Ages of Children
(Discounts May Apply)
1300 761 612
+61 427 074 745
1300 761 612
+61 427 074 745

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