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Visiting the Reef with a Sunlover Reef Cruise

coralThe Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most amazing living creations, and it is so large that it can be seen from space. You will definitely want a visit on your list of things to do in Australia, and Cairns is generally a popular spot to do it from.

On the Cairns to Sydney road trip, a day was spent on-board a Sunlover Reef Cruise in order to get better acquainted with what they have on offer.

Sunlover Reef Cruises
Reef Fleet Terminal
Tenancy 3, 1 Spence St
Cairns, Qld Australia 4870

Cruises depart at 10 am and return at 5:30 pm. There is parking available at the reef, but be sure to bring enough spare change to fill the meter.

There are several perks of a Sunlover Cruise, and a good point of note is that this cruise leaves at 10 am, meaning you get a little sleep-in if you so desire. But, besides that there’s the buffet lunch, tea and coffee service, free snorkeling supplies, air-conditioned boat, free presentations, along with ample time at the reef (around 4 hours once there) to explore and have an amazing time.


If snorkeling isn’t enough for your curious or adventurous mind, then there are additional features to take advantage of, such as scuba dives, snorkel tours, helicopter rides and a special Seawalker Helmet Diving experience. Of course, these come with an additional price, but the reef is an amazing place, right?!

I for one didn’t get to partake in the introductory dive on-board, but Heather did, and you can read about her experience here. If you do plan on diving while there, be sure to check the health regulations beforehand. Also, check with your doctor if you are taking any medications to see if diving is safe. You don’t want to be disappointed when the time comes.

scuba divers

How the Day Unfolds

Boarding starts a little after 9 am, but don’t forget to pick up an underwater camera before getting on. You can rent one from the Reef Fleet Terminal. Once on-board, tea, coffee and cookies are served. There are also free seasickness pills – I recommend taking them, especially if you want to hang out on one of the upper decks where the motion hits hardest.

boat ride to reef

It takes about an hour and a half to get to the Moore Reef where the pontoon lies. During this time, preparation for diving and helmet diving take place. However, it seems that a surprising number of folks are just there to snorkel (which is awesome by the way), so most will either be hanging around outside in the sun, or inside with a nice cuppa.

self-portrait with fishOnce there, to the pontoon that is, you are free to fly. Since I had no dive time to worry about, I eagerly grabbed my snorkel gear and jumped in to the cool ocean water to take a peek below, and it was awesome. After immediately putting my head in the water, I was surrounded by a school of beautiful fish. I later saw that the lifeguards threw out pieces of food next to the pontoon so that these fish were always there, but hey that just makes it better.

Around 12 pm, the buffet lunch is served, which runs until 1:30. It features various types of dishes from pastas to curries, followed by salads, breads and a plethora of tropical fruits. You can eat as much as you like at any time during this period, which is a plus for any traveler on a budget.

After lunch, you’re free to head back to the deep blue. Like I told everyone I know, I snorkeled the heck out of that reef. Even though I’m sure I passed by the same areas of corals many times, I never got bored. New fish emerged at different times of day; it’s easy to become mesmerized by what lies below.

The ride back to Cairns starts at 4 pm. The day’s photos that have been taken by Calypso Productions are displayed at the buffet area so you can purchase some professional images of your time at the reef.

>> Check out my underwater photos from snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef!