Quicksilver Vs Reef Magic Vs Sunlover Vs Great Adventures


Quicksilver Vs Reef Magic Vs Sunlover Vs Great Adventures

The question of the decade for all you snorkelers and divers coming to Cairns to experience the Great Barrier Reef.

After receiving thousands of emails from customers asking this very question! What is the difference and who is the best out of Quicksilver Vs Reef Magic Vs Sunlover Vs Great Adventures!

Ok let’s begin!

All four reef companies are pontoon companies. They all pay large amounts of money to the Australian government to own a reef permit. Each of the four reef operators have different reef permits situated on different parts of the reef.

The Boat companies don’t share!

They do not share between each other, that means the individual day boat will visit their own pontoon and no one else! That’s right! If you go with Quicksilver, then the only boat allowed on their pontoon is the Quicksilver boat! If you go on the Reef Magic then the only boat allowed on their pontoon is the Reef Magic Boat.

Great so we got that all cleared up.

What’s the Difference between them?

Not allot!

That’s right they all offer very similar attractions, so this is what can make it hard to understand why they charge different pricing. Hang in there we will get to that in a minute.

They all offer unlimited snorkeling and all snorkel equipment like, snorkel, fins and masks. They all charge extra for a lycra suit or wetsuit. Which sometimes you should wear in the summer months due to jellyfish. The lycra suits they usually charge about $8 per person.

They all offer Underwater observatories, these are large underwater viewing platforms with large windows located underneath the pontoons. Usually you just walk down a flight of stairs in the underwater chamber to look out the windows. Good for people who do not swim, you can watch people diving and sea all the fish.

Every pontoon has showers and toilets and change rooms for people to get dressed into their swimwear.

The transfer boats that bring you to the pontoon dock up along side of the pontoons for the whole day. They do not move. There is a bar on board every pontoon so you can always buy beer wine and soft drink from the bar. Alcoholic drinks are extra on all the pontoons they are not included in the day ticket price.

Every pontoon includes a buffet lunch, they are all very similar offering, prawns, hot soup, cold meats, salads and desserts. All pontoon companies cater to Vegetarian on the buffet, please note there are sometimes nuts in the buffet so make a note at the time of booking if you have nut allergies.

Every pontoon includes a Semi-Submarine. A Semi-Submarine is a boat with a very deep hull that extends nearly 5 metres under the water. This allows you to take a flight of stairs down beneath the deck of the boat and sit on a comfortable chair and look out the large windows to the reefs. Every pontoon operator offers Semi-Submarine tours that always depart every 40min or so all day. So there is plenty of time for every once to enjoy a Semi-Submarine tour at least once or twice while they are out on the pontoon.

What’s Not Included?

This is where we will talk about the differences.

Quicksilver does not have a glass bottom boat tour. Great Adventures Outer Barrier Reef Pontoon does not have a glass bottom boat tour. Sunlover Cruises & Reef Magic Cruises also include Glass Bottom boat tours from their pontoons. Glass bottom boat are a very shallow boat with glass windows on the bottom of the hull of the boat so you can sit and look thru the floor of the boat. Because of this shallow hull design a glass bottom boat can travel over very shallow water on top od the reef. Also offer great views!

Why don’t Quicksilver & Great Adventures offer a GlassBottom Boat?

Not sure to be honest!

They should and I’m not sure why they do not, maybe they feel that there are plenty of other activities to keep people entertained and customers would already be very busy trying all the activited.

Where are they located?

Ok, this is where we talk about the different pricing and possibly why they are priced differently.

Once of the main factors that affect the ticket price of visiting one of the four reef pontoons is the distance each pontoon is located from the mainland of Australia.

Yep the further the boats travel, the more fuel they burn so the more they charge you. Makes sense.

So the closest two pontoons to Cairns are Reef Magic Cruises and Sunlover Reef Cruises. These are both located on Moore Reef. Reef Magic is located on the Northern end of Moore Reef while Sunlover Reef Cruises is located on the Southern end of Moore Reef. In fact Sunlover probably travel just that little bit further to get down to the Southern end of Moore Reef.

Great Adventures actually have 2 pontoons one located on Moore reef and once located on Normann reef. Normann reef is located much further off shore than Moore Reefs. So this is reflected in the price being a little bit more for Great Adventures pontoon.

The pontoon company that travels the furthest is definitely Quicksilver. In the true sense for the Quicksilver do travel to the Outer Barrier Reef in fact around 65klm offshore. Not only that they depart from Port Douglas and not Cairns. So if you are staying in Cairns then you will need the Quicksilver bus transfer that picks you up from a Cairns hotel and takes you to Port Douglas where you board the Quicksilver boat that goes out to the Quicksilver platform on Agincourt Reef.

So that makes Quicksilver a little more expensive than the other 3 pontoons companies. They travel the furthest so burn more fuel that the others.

Which is the best location?

So that brings us to the question which is the best location?

In general, all four pontoon companies offer great service, great amenities and have good reef life around them.

But to try to make a judgment as a general rule of thumb the further you travel offshore. The further away from any human impacts like towns, roads, creeks, river systems, farming and any other man made issues. The further away from these issues and the closer you are to the continental shelf of Australia. The more improved the water quality and natural environment. Scientists attribute these healthier environments to better coral growth and marine life.

So  if you read into all the information provided in general the further offshore you travel the better the marine life and environment. It starts to point to the Quicksilver Outer Barrier Reef pontoon. Solely due to the face it does site on the very Outer Barrier Reef Agincourt reef systems. The furthest reef from land.

How much do they charge?

At the time of writing this article the pricing for a day ticket to the Great Barrier Reef on the four pontoons that depart from Cairns and once from Port Douglas are:


Quicksilver Outer Barrier Reef – $232.00 + $6 reef tax + Bus Transfer from Cairns $28.00.

Great Adventures Outer Reef Pontoon – $218.00 + $6 reef tax

Reef Magic Cruises Cairns – $199.00

Sunlover Reef Cruises Cairns – $199.00



So in conclusion, at the top of the pack, the Quicksilver Outer Barrier Reef cruise starts to stand out a little more than the others. But the other options from Cairns are also a great alternative especially if you didn’t want to travel to Port Douglas and if you want to save a little bit of money.

Either way which every Great Barrier Reef pontoon you choose, it will only be one day on the Great Barrier Reef. Keep in mind the Great Barrier Reef is more that 2800klm long and over 60klm wide made up of thousands of reefs systems. The more times you can get out there and snorkel and dive on the reef the more opportunities you have to see this amazing natural underwater world.

If you need help choosing a reef tour contact our reservation department we are very well versed with all Cairns Reef Tour companies. CONTACT US