Great Barrier Reef Hotel – Reef Encounter

Great Barrier Reef hotel is a boutique floating hotel, a beautiful way to explore the reef.

This hotel is one of the most unique holiday escapes in Australia.

Our floating hotel on the Great Barrier Reef.  With daily transfers operated by our sister vessel Reef Experience, allowing guests have the freedom to start their trip on the day that suits them and stay for as long as they like.

Also, helicopter transfers are an option landing directly onboard Reef Encounter’s onboard helipad.

Consistently rated ‘number one  liveaboard by both industry professionals and independent reviewers such as Google Reviews,

Reef Encounter is large enough to provide all the cruise ship comforts yet small enough to access spectacular reef locations not accessible to other vessels.

Family owned and operated. Our passion is to deliver Australia’s best Great Barrier Reef experience.

We take extreme pride in our products, boats, crew, and, most importantly, our guests!

Stay for as many nights as you like in superbly appointed staterooms, or choose to upgrade to the Top Deck Club for that extra bit of VIP luxury.

With daily transfers from Cairns by boat or helicopter, Reef Encounter is an excellent alternative to a resort based holiday.


  • The best crew

  • The Reef Encounter team is the best in the business, winning personal and professional awards for outstanding customer service in the tourism industry year after year.
  • The latest snorkelling equipment (wetsuits are a small additional charge)
  • Glass bottom boat tour upon request
  • On the voyage to Reef Encounter, you will have the option to listen to an informative Marine Biology presentation about the coral reef and marine animals.
  • A barbeque buffet breakfast on the outbound voyage.
  • On your return voyage back to Cairns, enjoy a complimentary glass of wine and a cheese and fruit platter.
  • Free luggage storage facility available at their offices in the Cairns City
  • Daily transfers to the Reef Encounter operated by our sister vessel Reef Experience allow daily departures.
  • Helicopter Transfers

  • Great Barrier Reef Accommodation
  • Check-in time: 10 am (approximately) Check-out time: 8 am (approximately)*
  • Spacious, air-conditioned stateroom with spectacular ocean views
  • Towels and toiletries provided (soap, shampoo and conditioner)
  • All staterooms have Australian power outlets.
  •  Staterooms have ensuite toilet and shower.
  • Double bed or twin-single bed staterooms available
  • *For late checkout times and to keep your stateroom until departure, please upgrade to our Top Deck Club.


Great Barrier Reef Hotel Sample Itinerary

Please note, this itinerary is based on a 3 day, 2-night liveaboard stay. Any additional days will be additional ‘full days’.

*This itinerary may vary due to weather conditions, seasons and other circumstances

First Day – Arrive

  • 7:30 am
    First, board the transfer vessel ‘Reef Experience’ at Cairns Marlin Marina for breakfast, check-in and your journey to Reef Encounter
  • 9:30 am
    Next, Arrive onboard Reef Encounter for your ‘Welcome and Safety Talk.’
  • Next, settle in and relax in your stateroom
  • 10:30 am
     Water Session: Time to snorkel for all guests before lunch
  • 12:00
  • 13.00
    Water Briefings:  / Snorkel Adventure Briefings
  • 13.30
     Water Session:  snorkel time
  • 15:00
    Reef Encounter moves to another spectacular outer barrier reef location
  • 15:30
     Water Session:  snorkel time. Glass bottom boat tour
  • 18:00

  • 20:00
  • Full-Day – At the Reef

  • 6:00 am
    An optional wake-up call for the early morning dive and snorkel session
  • 6:30 am
     Water Session: Sunrise  snorkel time. Glass bottom boat
  • 7:30 am
  • 8:00 am
    Reef Encounter moves to another spectacular outer barrier reef location
  • 8:30 am
     Water Session: Snorkel Time
  • 10:30 am
     Water Session: Snorkel Time
  • 12:00
  • 13:30
     Water Session: Snorkel Time
  • 15:00
    Reef Encounter moves to another spectacular outer barrier reef location
  • 15:30
     Water Session: snorkel time. Glass bottom boat tour available upon request
  • 18:00
  • 20:00


Last Day Day – Departure

  • 6:00 am
    An optional wake-up call for the early morning  snorkel session
  • 6:30 am
     Water Session: Sunrise snorkel time. Glass bottom boat tour
  • 7:30 am
  • 8:00 am
    Room Checkout Time. Access to a shared transfer/baggage room with a bathroom is available, along with all other boat facilities
    *For late checkout times and to keep your stateroom until departure, please upgrade to our Top Deck Club
  • 8:00 am
    Reef Encounter moves to another spectacular outer barrier reef location
  • 8:30 am
     Water Session: Snorkel Time
  • 10:30 am
     Water Session: Snorkel Time
  • 12:00
  • 13:30
     Water Session: Snorkel  before departure
  • 14:45
    Departing passengers board the transfer vessel Reef
  • Experience‘ for the journey back to Cairns. Complimentary wine, cheese and biscuits served on the return journey15:00
    Reef Encounter moves to another spectacular outer barrier reef location16:30
    Approximate arrival time to the Cairns Marlin Marina, Cairns Australia

Would you like to view our VIP Service for many added incisions and Great Barrier Reef luxuries? Click here to see our Top Deck Club.


Nothing compares with how amazing it is to stay on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef!

While you are on board, there will be plenty of opportunities to Snorkel and scuba dive with brightly coloured fish and coral.

At night, take in the stars from the top deck or our onboard heated hot tub.


Included in Reef Encounter Stateroom packages

  • Great Barrier Reef accommodation with Reef Encounter, Cairns best Great Barrier Reef liveaboard
  • A variety of spectacular outer Great Barrier Reef locations during your stay
  • Snorkelling or scuba diving, depending on which you select upon booking.
  • Delicious  fresh meals
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Breakfast and lunch is served in a buffet format. Dinner is plated. Fruit is available throughout the day, along with tea and coffee.
  • All dietary requirements will be catered for – please advise us of these when booking.

Optional Extras

  • Barista Coffee
  • Soft Drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Nitrox
  • Tshirts and hats
  • Snacks
  • Photos
  • Wetsuit hire (Please note stinger suits are provided during wet season/summer from November to May)

What to bring

What to bring

  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Light jacket
  • socks
  • An extra quickdry towel
  • Camera
  • Travel Voucher
  • Certification card and logbook for certified divers
  • Cash or credit card for onboard extras

Reef Encounter is a barefoot experience.

How to get there

Getting to Reef Encounter

Reef Encounter is always on the Great Barrier Reef.

By Boat (included in tariff)

Our sister vessel Reef Experience operates daily transfers meeting up with Reef Encounter.

Boarding starts at 7:30 am on Finger A on the Marlin Jetty, Cairns.

Reef Experience will bring you back to the same destination around 4:30 pm on your final day.

Helicopter Transfers (optional extra)

Reef Encounter has a helipad on board for guests looking at adding some magic to their stay. You may choose to take a spectacular scenic flight.

Important Information

Cabin Share Advisory: Please note that the allocation of same-gender cabin shares in twin-share cabins cannot be guaranteed.

Important Information for Scuba Divers

This information is for all guests participating in scuba diving activities.

Australia has the strictest scuba diving rules globally and the safest scuba diving record. Therefore you must understand Queensland’s scuba diving laws. Great Barrier Reef liveaboard boats are regulated by the Queensland Government Code of Practice and comply with all rules, including the requirements for a dive medical, where applicable, as required by law.

Please complete our dive medical questionnaire, as some medical conditions, age and medications may prevent you from scuba diving. A certificate from your doctor stating that you are “Fit to Scuba Dive” or a Queensland dive medical may be required.

Flying after Scuba Diving

Plan your travel itinerary. On the final day of your Reef Encounter stay, your last dive will be completed by 1 pm.

Do not fly or go to altitude for at least 18 hours after scuba diving for a single no decompression scuba dive. You should not fly for 24 hours after your last scuba diving in multiple dives.

If Skydiving or Hot Air Ballooning, you must wait 24 hours after your dive. We recommend waiting a minimum of 24 hours whenever possible.

100 Abbott StreetCairnsQueensland, 4870


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Check-In: 10:00 am

Check-Out: 8:00 am

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Great Barrier Reef Hotel Accommodations