Great Barrier Reef liveaboard

Have you ever wanted to stay on a Great Barrier reef liveaboard before?

Well considering one day on the reef is never enough… It makes sense to maximise your time there by staying on a liveaboard!

Great barrier reef liveaboard boat drone pic
Image credit – Our captain Salty Phil’s drone
Great barrier reef liveaboard boat drone pic
Image credit – Our captain Salty Phil’s drone

What is a liveaboard?

As the name suggests it’s a boat or vessel designed to live aboard on.

Great barrier reef liveaboard boat

Which are usually purpose built with snorkeling and diving in mind. Boat sizes vary but you can expect a liveaboard to accommodate 10 -30 people.

What’s included on a Great Barrier Reef liveaboard?

This will depend on the company you book with but most trip costs will cover-

  • Accommodation on the boat
  • Linen
  • Meals
  • Snorkel gear

Diving equipment and marine levies are additional.

Our Great Barrier Reef liveaboard experience

Unfortunately our original trip fell through due to the boat being damaged a few weeks prior to departure.

Coral Sea Dreaming Barrier Reef liveaboard

But they recommended Coral Sea Dreaming – A beautiful 60ft steel hulled sailing boat that has capacity for a maximum 12 guests.

Coral Sea Dreaming Barrier Reef liveaboard

Luckily they still had availability and we booked the last double cabin that was available.

Cabin on Great barrier reef liveaboard boat

Phew, everything worked out in the end!.. And just a couple of weeks later we’re excited to arrive at Marlin Marina at 7.45am for a 8am departure.

Marlin Wharf Cairns

And it’s a beautiful day to be heading out to sea β›΅

Cairns city skyline from the water

Coral Sea dreaming has 30 moorings over nine reef systems and our destination today will be Michaelmas Cay.

Coral Sea Dreaming's reef moorings

Our cruise out there will take a few hours. Which we pass by with having a tour of the boat:

Coral sea Dreaming liveaboard

The boat offers 3x double cabins and a shared single bunk room.

Shared cabin on Great Barrier reef liveaboard

Guest to crew ratio is 4:1. On board there are two toilets which also double as showers – A hot shower at that might I add!

Once we’ve all had a tour of the boat it’s time for the snorkel and scuba briefing. An awesome deal that Coral Sea offer is a free introductory dive for anyone keen to give it a go. Which is a great opportunity to try before you buy!

Intro dive on great barrier reef liveaboard

With the business side of things now done, all we have to do is enjoy the cruise out to our destination.

Heading out to the reef

Michaelmas Cay

Is a small reef sand island on the western tip of Michaelmas Reef. Which is located approximately 40km north east of Cairns.

Michaelmas Cay

But you’re not allowed on the cay itself as it’s a protected sanctuary for migratory sea birds.

Michaelmas Cay

To ensure that this is enforced, the cay is under constant surveillance by satellite. Hefty fines apply for anyone who sets foot on land.

Birds at Michaelmas Cay

So best to stick to the surrounding water and fringing reef, which can be enjoyed fine free!

When we arrive, get our wetsuits on and hit the water with the quickness.

Coral sea dreaming great barrier reef liveaboard

Everyone else is diving so we’re the only snorkellers. Was going to try the intro dive but we needed a prior medical clearance for G as he has asthma.

That’s ok though I’ve briefly tried scuba diving and wasn’t a huge fan… And besides I love snorkeling so happy just to be doing that.


Think this actually worked out in our favour… As we got to explore alot more of the reef and we had it to ourselves pretty much the whole time.

Backflip great barrier reef

Plus we got to see heaps of turtles!!.. Which the divers didn’t 🐒🐒🐒

Turtle great barrier reef
Turtle great barrier reef

Besides the sea birds and turtles, another thing we saw heaps of was – giant clams!!

Giant clam

Giant clams are actually really cool.

Giant clam

Did you know they are super sensitive to light? So when you swim over one they literally “clam” up (slam shut).

Giant clam

And the best thing about snorkeling was…That as soon as our last snorkel was done, we could clock on πŸ»πŸ˜‰

Cheers to a good day out on the reef

Which was a great way to enjoy the sunset!

Sunset on great barrier reef liveaboard

You see the divers are doing a night dive. So they have to wait until they’ve finished before they can enjoy a cold one…

Night diving great barrier reef liveaboard

After dinner the divers head out on their night time adventure.

Night diving great barrier reef liveaboard

Now it’s just me, G and captain Phil enjoying the starry sky out on the Great Barrier Reef 🌌😊

It isn’t a late night but unfortunately don’t have the best sleep. Which was disappointing as was hoping it would of been a more relaxing sleep.

Double cabin on great barrier reef liveaboard

But in reality, when the door is shut the small cabin feels super claustrophobic. Thankfully there was a little fan but it didn’t really help much with the stuffy situation.

Wake up and have breakfast before we set sail north to our next destination – Hastings reef.

Hastings Reef

Is a horseshoe shaped reef located 50km north-east of Cairns. This makes it part of the “Outer reef”.

Coral at Hastings reef

Here you will see lots colourful fish, interesting sea creatures, coral caves, overhangs and plenty of sheer water drop offs!

Coral at Hastings reef

Today is alot choppier than yesterday so the sailing there is a lil rockier.

Once we arrive at Hastings reef can def see the difference in water.. Yesterday the water was pretty flat, almost like glass.

Great barrier reef liveaboard boat
Missing yesterday’s calmer waters

But today there is a swell forming slight waves.

This will make our snorkeling a bit harder but Phil reckons we’re strong enough swimmers to handle it πŸ’ͺπŸŠβ€β™€οΈ!!

Snorkeling great barrier reef

The swim out to the reef is def more strenuous and water sometimes ended up in our snorkel. Especially when we didn’t swim across the swell quite right.

Also if you stop swimming you get dragged with the current. So it doesn’t always pay to stop as you end up having to make up more ground haha.

Unfortunately the choppiness affects the visibility a bit too. But to our delight when we get to the reef it’s much calmer and clearer.

Hastings reef

See lots more cool fish and interesting coral.

Starfish Hastings reef

After a bit of exploring head back to the boat for a break. Once we’ve had some fresh water and a snack head back out for some more exploring.

Break time on great barrier reef liveaboard

Since it’s going to take us about four hours to get back we leave Hastings Reef just before lunch.

Dive platform great barrier reef liveaboard

Enjoy some lunch and drinks on the way back. The wind has picked up and so has the swell. Phil said if it was like this yesterday they would of had to cancel the trip!

Cheers to a good trip

Very thankful we had the great weather we did and were still able to head out.

As we near the marina entrance the crew surprise us with some champagne as it’s someone’s birthday 🍾πŸ₯‚

Cheers to a good trip

Which was a lovely way to end the trip. What a great time we’ve had out on a Great Barrier reef liveaboard!! Highly recommend πŸ‘πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘

Great barrier reef liveaboard

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