Great Barrier Reef Budget Cruise – A True Cairns Icon

Experience the icon that has been taking Cairns holidaymakers and locals to the Great Barrier Reef for over 25 years! Compass Cruises, Great Barrier Reef Budget Cruise, is the best value reef tour in Cairns, offering a full, unforgettable day of unlimited snorkelling and a laid-back, cruisey atmosphere, for a low price!



Hop onboard Compass at the Cairns Marina bright and early for check-in at 07.30 am!  Departing Cairns at 8 am, we take a leisurely cruise out to the first of two magnificent reef sites.

On the way over, we get you ready to experience the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef with snorkel and dive briefings. Then by 10:30, we arrive at the first Outer Reef location – the gorgeous Hastings Reef. Enjoy a full 2 hours of swimming, snorkelling, or scuba diving beneath the surface of the coral sea. Our passengers usually see a wide variety of marine life, from anemone and schools of tropical fish to giant clams and brilliant coral. Not a confident swimmer? No worries our friendly crew will assist you!

At 12:30, we devour a delicious tropical buffet lunch prepared fresh by a local chef as we cruise to our next reef location.

Breaking Patches is our next stop and known for being a breeding ground for sea turtles!  We enjoy another couple of hours here in an underwater paradise, snorkelling, scuba diving, and relaxing on the sun deck.

At 15:30, we begin our voyage back to Cairns, but that doesn’t mean the fun is over! On the way home, we get in the water again for boomnetting – “The Wild Ride”. It’s an exhilarating yet safe activity that gives you one last alternative way to experience the reef.

After drying off, we enjoy some wine, cheese and crackers before arriving back in Cairns around 17:30.


  • Up to 5 hours at two Outer Great Barrier Reef locations
  • Unlimited snorkelling and snorkelling gear
  • Buoyancy aids – snorkelling vests and noodles
  • BBQ Lunch with fresh salads (We cater for most dietary requirements and food allergies)
  • Fruit platters while boarding, tea & coffee all day while the boat is stationary, a water fountain to fill your water bottle
  • A glass of wine, cheese & crackers on the return journey
  • Assistance for non-confident swimmers from the friendly crew
  • Lycra suits
  • Boomnetting – “The Wild Ride” (weather permitting)
  • Reef tax, fuel levy & national park fees for visiting the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

Optional Extras

  • Scuba diving for introductory and certified divers (medical conditions apply, minimum age of 12)
  • Dive guide
  • Glass Bottom Boat Tour (weather permitting)
  • Wetsuit Hire
  • Underwater digital camera hire
  • Snack bar purchases
  • Prescription mask hire
  • Bus transfer to/from your accommodation

What to bring

  • Proof of qualification as a Certified Diver
  • Cash or credit card for purchases
  • Swimming Clothes, Towel, Hat, Sunglasses, Sun Cream

How to get there

Compass Cruises departs from Cairns Marina: ‘Marlin Wharf berth 18’ View map to Cairns Marlin Marina

Boarding commences at 7:30 am for an approximate 8:00 am departure, directly on the boat ‘Compass.’

Arrive back to Cairns Marina at approximately 5:30 pm

Where Can I Park?

Many parking stations throughout Cairns are in walking distance of the Marina.  Click here to see where

Important Info

Important Information for Scuba Diving

We have a passion for showing you Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, so please make sure you understand the scuba diving laws.

Queensland, Australia has some of the strictest scuba diving rules in the world but also the safest scuba diving record.   The Queensland Government Code of Practice regulates us and comply with all regulations, including medical as is the law.

To avoid disappointment on your day of travel, we strongly recommend that all of our passengers complete our dive medical questionnaire before booking as some medical conditions, age and/or medications may prevent you from scuba diving.   It is always our mission to provide our passengers with the very best Great Barrier Reef experience.

Medical Questionnaire

We are pleased to help you with any questions you may have.   Please contact our office on 07 4037 2700 or email us at [email protected]

Or you may like to consult your Doctor for a Dive Medical using the Australian Standard Forms’ AS.4005.1

Flying after Scuba Diving

For a single no-decompression scuba dive, you should not fly or go to altitude for at least 18 hours after a scuba dive.  For multiple dives, you should not fly for 24 hours after your last dive.

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


Read policies

Add your review for Great Barrier Reef Budget Cruise


9 Reviews for “Great Barrier Reef Budget Cruise”

  1. Kirstyn

    Amazing! Would definitely recommend 'Compass' to friends.

  2. Shyla

    I booked this because it's the best bang for the buck. The crew were very helpful, fun and friendly. Scuba diving was the best part. Lots of fun! Would go again.

  3. Travis

    Friendly and experienced crew who made us feel welcome. Helpful as well. Snorkelling close to shallow reefs was the best. Thanks for a great day! One off the bucket list.

  4. Issy

    Brilliant scuba diving. It was my best day in Australia.

  5. Heather & Terry

    Excellent. Amy took my wife to snorkel with the aid of a life ring. This is our 2nd visit with you on the boat in the last ten days. You must be good! :)

  6. Alisha

    Best part was the second snorkel in shallow waters. The crew are friendly, helpful. Thanks for an amazing day!

  7. Laura (USA)

    Friendly and great customer service. Thank you for an incredible GBR experience!!!

  8. Caileigh (Canada)

    The crew are amazing. Kind, knowledgeable, friendly. This day was easily top 5 best days of my life! Thanks!

  9. Nicola

    I booked my day reef trip on Compass Cruises as it seemed the best value/I am poor. Crew really lovely, enthusiastic, great chats. The best part of the day was finding Nemo, seeing ninja turtle. Amy was super lovely. Photoguy was super sweet. A+T


Add a review