Scuba diving in Cairns? Any good recommendation?

Scuba Diving In Cairns

Scuba Diving In Cairns

Scuba diving in Cairns? Any good recommendation?

Welcome to our latest article where we attempt to answer the common question most divers coming to Cairns have:  Scuba diving in Cairns? Any good recommendation?

Well, that all depends on your certification level. Like, are you a PADI Openwater diver just fresh out of your dive course. Or are you an experienced diver with over 200 dives?

Let’s start with the Fresh out of Dive School diver. Maybe you only have 10 to 20 dive’s under your belt.

There are two main factors that can help you make a decision and they are:

Tip-01: Where are you staying in Cairns? or in Port Douglas?

Typically this is the best way to think about your day out diving. Because if you are staying in Cairns than it is a bit crazy to drive all the way to Port Douglas (About 1-Hour Drive) than join a dive boat for another 1.5 hours before you arrive at the dive site.

Likewise if you are staying in Port Douglas you would be crazy to drive all the way back down to Cairns to take a dive trip from there.

So let us look at the scenario you are staying in a Cairns hotel, backpacker hostel or even an air bnb.

All the Cairns day dive boats depart from the Reef Fleet Terminal. 1-Spence Street – Google Map Here

So staying in Cairns means it is really easy to get to the reef fleet terminal in the morning so you don’t have to get up too early.

Freshman Diver or Experienced Advanced Diver What are the options?

Now if you are the Freshman diver straight out of dive school or if you haven’t dived for a while there are two main dive boats you should look at.

The first is TUSA T6 Dive & Snorkel and the second we will talk about is Silverswift Dive & Snorkel Cairns.

Both are excellent day dive boats both with their positives and negatives. We will try to reveal those here:

TUSA T6 – The Positives:

TUSA have a roaming permit, so this means they have the ability to move around to many different moorings, depending on the weather of that particular day. This is an enormous positive because the weather is always constantly changing so the skipper makes a decision early in the morning on the way out to the reef. They look at the tide times, the wind speed and direction. Based on this information they decide on that day’s dive location. For experienced or seasoned scuba diver, TUSA allows you to scuba dive by yourself in your own buddy pairs! This is just awesome because not many companies in Cairns allow you to do this.

TUSA T6 – The Negatives:

The negatives for the beginner freshman diver is all their dives are unguided. So this means you either have to man up and learn how to guide yourself around the reef or go with a guide. They charge an extra $10 per dive to go with a guide. So this is not too much of an outlay and really you could just do 1 or 2 dives with a guide and then try by yourself once you get the hang of diving again. Also, another slight negative with their roaming permit means you could be spending your day on the inner reefs or just the middle reefs. This is not necessarily bad but means you won’t be out diving on the outer reefs. The reason they choose to do this is due to weather. So they are still trying to get you the best day possible. But means you might not get out to the outer reefs. A bummer especially if you have your heart set on scuba diving the outer reefs.

Silverswift Dive & Snorkel – The Positives:

The positives of Silverswift are no matter what they always visit the outer reef systems from Cairns. So this means you are paying good money and they pretty much guarantee to take you out to Flynn, Milln & Pellowe reefs. So if you have your heart set on scuba diving the outer reefs from Cairns then Silverswift is a great choice because of there resilience to always go out there every day! Silverswift are also the only boat in Cairns to visit 3 outer reef locations in the one day! So that means you could scuba dive on 3 different reef systems on any given day! So that is awesome for maximising your dive time. The other positive for the freshman diver especially is that all there dives are guided at no extra cost! I say no more!

Silverswift Dive & Snorkel – The Negatives:

The annoying things for experienced divers is all their dives are guided. So if you are a professional or a very experienced diver than sometimes you feel like your back at school following your instructor around and double checking your air. Making sure your at the right depth and return to the boat on time. Photographers will find this annoying being told to keep up and keep moving to stay with the group. The other slight negative which is also a major positive is the boat moves 3 times during the day. So this is just awesome to allow you to maximize your dive time underwater and see as much as possible. Some people might find this style of operation a little rushed. Moving 3 times thru out the day can also mean haveing to restrict your in water time at each site to just 1.5 hours. But this still works fine and if you understand your day you need to move to get to the brand new reefs sites. So the payoff is a bit more movement and stopping and starting but you do get the chance to dive on 3 x different reef sites.

What is the verdict?

So out of all the day dive boats operating out of Cairns you can’t really go wrong if you choose either TUSA or Silverswift. Both have their positives and their negatives. But overall both offer excellent value for money considering you are in a super expensive country like Australia.

For the Freshman Diver: I would recommend Silverswift, because all of their dives are guided and you can visit up to 3 x different reef sites in the one day.

For the experienced diver: I would recommend TUSA Tusa Dive Snorkel Cruise Cairns, because all of their dives are unguided and you have the freedom to explore in your own buddy pairs. This is hugely rewarding and allows you to take your time and take pictures.


Found this article helpful? Please feel free to share on Facebook or Twitter. Even ask a question and we will do our best to write you back!

Until next time happy diving on The Great Barrier Reef Cairns Australia!



Clint Carroll

Clint Carroll is the Manager of Cairns Tour Advice & Booking Centre. An adventure travel enthusiast, travel blogger, avid scuba diver and founder of based in Cairns, Australia. Connect with Clint on Twitter.

Visit The Great Barrier Reef from Cairns

Visit Cairns and Enjoy a Great Barrier Reef Tour. Spend a full day cruise, snorkeling equipment, glass bottom boat, semi-submarine, underwater observatory, hot and cold buffet lunch, morning & afternoon tea.

Clint Carroll

Clint Carroll - Chief Travel writer and Scuba Diving enthusiast at Cairns Tour Info. Follow him on Twitter.

Do you need help choosing?

Can't decide? We have personally been on every Cairns reef and diving trip. We can help you choose the best tour, to suit your experience and budget.


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