Cairns Liveaboard Volunteer Programme



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Perfect for Travelling Scuba Divers!

Cairns Liveaboard Volunteer Programme is the ideal trip for certified scuba divers looking for a longer stay to really experience the Great Barrier Reef. Spend at least 4 days and 3 nights on the locally owned and operated boutique floating hotel, Reef Encounter, and enjoy a first-class guest experience before becoming part of the crew for a taste of living and working on the world’s largest coral reef system.

Not a scuba diver? Don’t worry, this experience offers something for everyone, whether it’s enjoying the majestic sunsets, sleeping on the reef, snorkelling to your heart’s content, or, why not  learn to scuba dive too.

*Note: The following information is based on a 4 day 3 night experience but there are options to extend to 5 and 7 nights, or include learn to scuba dive courses. Please ask us.


  • Cruise in luxury on our 35m small ship with spacious en-suite staterooms boasting ocean views.
  • Dive and snorkel at Hastings, Saxon, and Norman Reefs and experience night div with sharks (certified divers).
  • Stay with us for 2 days and 1 night, then volunteer in exchange for scuba dives.
  • Enjoy at least 9 dives over 4 days, plus unlimited snorkelling, breathtaking sunsets and sunrises, and clear starry nights.
  • Our onboard chef prepares three delicious meals daily, along with snacks to keep you fuelled for your underwater adventures.


A Diving Story


2 day 1 night guest experience
Twin or double ensuite stateroom
5 day dives + 1 night dive (guest)
2 nights volunteer experience
2 dives per full day (as volunteer)
Scuba diving and snorkelling gear
All scuba tank refills
Dive orientations and briefings
Marine biologist talk (day 1 transfer)
All meals chef prepared onboard
Light breakfast on day 1 transfer
Tea, coffee and fresh fruit onboard
Hot outdoor shower on deck
Sundeck with sun loungers
Barista style coffee
Drinks from licensed bar
Wet suit hire $5 per day (optional)
Guided dives $15 per dive (optional)
Volunteer staff t-shirt $15
Government reef levy (+$30pp)

Sleeping & Itinerary

  • Sleeping

    Experience the ultimate luxury on this Cairns liveaboard Reef Encounter, a 35-meter catamaran hotel that offers unrivalled stability and comfort at sea.

    The Reef Encounter features 21 spacious and fully air-conditioned cabins that come with a double bed or two single beds at no extra cost. All cabins offer uninterrupted ocean views and come with en-suite toilet and shower facilities. Towels and toiletries are provided for your convenience. Unlike most scuba liveaboard boats, Reef Encounter provides unlimited hot showers, thanks to its on-board freshwater production capabilities.

    Choose from either a double bed cabin or twin share staterooms, both of which are offered at the same cost. If you’re traveling with a friend or simply prefer to share a room with someone of the same gender, the twin share staterooms are perfect.

    Cairns Liveaboard Volunteer Programme:
    • Guest cabins described above are for the guest portion of your stay.
    • Volunteer or crew cabins, a 3 or 4 share cabin, are provided when you switch to the volunteer role.
  • The Liveaboard: How it Works

    As described throughout is the 4 day 3 night Cairns Liveaboard Volunteer Programme experience, 2 days as a guest and a further 2 nights as a volunteer.

    Extend your Cairns Liveaboard Volunteer Programme experience by staying longer as a guest and adding on volunteer days.


    • 2 day, 1 night package (6 certified dives)
    • 3 day, 2 night package (10 certified dives)
    • 4 day, 3 night package (14 certified dives)



    • Add on up to 2 additional nights as a volunteer with the 2 day guest package.
    • Add on up to 3 additional nights as a volunteer with the 3 day guest package.
    • Add on up to 4 additional nights as a volunteer with the 4 day guest package.


    Please see below for pricing and further information.

  • Volunteer Role

    As a volunteer, you’ll be responsible for tasks such as setting tables for meals, cleaning cabins and common areas. However, this is a relaxed working environment where duties are spread throughout a long day between sunrise and evening meal, and there are ample full-time staff to ensure everything gets done.

    In exchange for your work, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the water. You’ll have access to all the snorkelling and scuba diving equipment you need, with air fills included for divers. You can expect to go on at least two dives per day (an early morning dive and another day dive), with the possibility of a night dive (subject to availability). You’ll also have opportunities to snorkel and take in the stunning sunrises and sunsets.

  • Day 1 (guest)

    • 07:30 – Board the transfer vessel ‘Reef Experience’ at Cairns Marlin Marina for breakfast, check-in and your journey to Reef Encounter
    • 09:30 – Arrive onboard Reef Encounter for your ‘Welcome & Safety Talk’ before being shown to your room to settle in and relax
    • 10:30 – Water Session: Time to snorkel for all guests before lunch
    • 12:00 – Lunch is served in the dining saloon
    • 13:00 – Water Briefings: Certified Diver Briefings / Try Scuba Diving Briefings
    • 13:30 – Water Session: Scuba dive or snorkel time
    • 15:00 – Reef Encounter moves to another spectacular outer barrier reef location
    • 15:30 – Water Session: Scuba dive or snorkel time. Glass bottom boat tour available upon request
    • IN SUMMER:
      – 18:00 – Dinner is served in the dining saloon
      – 18:45 – Night Dive Briefings
      – 19:00 – Night dive commences for all those scuba diving
    • IN WINTER:
      – 17:30 – Night Dive Briefings
      – 18:00 – Night dive commences for all those scuba diving
      – 19:10 – Dinner is served in the dining saloon
      – 20:00 – Dessert is served in the dining saloon
  • Day 2 (guest/volunteer)

    • 06:00 – Wake-up call for the early morning dive and snorkel session
    • 06:30 – Water Session: Sunrise scuba dive or snorkel time. Glass bottom boat tour available upon request
    • 07:30 – Breakfast is served in the dining saloon
    • 08:00- Reef Encounter moves to another spectacular outer barrier reef location
    • 08:30 – Water Session: Scuba dive or snorkel time
    • 10:30 – Water Session: Scuba dive or snorkel time
    • 12:00 – Lunch is served in the dining saloon
    • AFTERNOON: Swap to the Liveaboard Volunteer Programme Role
      You will move into the crew cabins and become part of the team.
    • You MAY be able to night dive tonight depending on duties.
  • Day 3 (Volunteer)

    • 05:30 – Lay out light breakfast for the early morning dive
    • 06:30 – Enjoy the first dive of the day
    • The rest of the day is helping the crew with the opportunity to dive in the afternoon and possibly a night dive (night dive at discretion of dive director)
  • Day 4 / Last Day (Volunteer)

    • 05:30 – Lay out light breakfast for the early morning dive
    • 06:30 – Enjoy the first dive of the day
    • Helping the crew for the remainder of your time onboard (there may be time for a water session)
    • Board Reef Experience for the transfer back to Cairns in the afternoon.
    • Arrive Cairns approx. 4:30 – 5:00pm.

Trip Locations

Google Reviews


*For departures within 7 days please contact us as we may have openings.

** For 5 or 7 night experiences and learn to scuba dive courses please contact us to organise.

Important Info

  • What to bring

    • Certified divers certification cards
    • Small overnight bag
    • Biodegradable natural toiletries*
    • Casual beach-style wear
    • Warmer clothes for evenings (air-conditioned vessel)
    • Swim wear and beach towel
    • Hat and Sunglasses
    • Plastic-free reusable water bottle
    • Natural reef safe sunscreen*


    *For more information about sunscreen damaging our reefs visit the ethically conscious

  • Know before you go

    Dietary Requirements

    Tell us about any dietary requirements where meals are included on the booking form.

    Trip Physicality and General Health

    This trip rates 3 out of 5 meaning it includes some physical activities.

    Snorkelling is a relatively low-intensity activity and does not require high levels of physical fitness to enjoy.

    Please do tell us if you think any physical activities can aggravate a medical condition.

    Upon boarding all guests will fill out a simple medical questionnaire that allows the crew the chance to offer many different kinds of personalised assistance throughout your day.


    Itineraries may be subject to change due to weather events and unforeseen circumstances.

  • Scuba Diving

    Diving Information
    • Certified divers need their certification cards
    • Introductory dives are for those with no experience
    • Introductory Dives with experienced SSI dive instructor with a maximum of 4 divers per group.
    • This is a fully registered SSI experience
    • Learn to dive courses are personalised with only 3 students per course – ask us for more information.
    Medical Information
    • All passengers must complete a QLD medical questionnaire on the boat before departure. Some medical conditions may preclude you from scuba diving (ask us)
    • The minimum age for diving is 12 years old with parental consent and completion of a medical questionnaire
    • Passengers under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent/guardian over 18 years old
    • Flying after diving?
      We recommended leaving a minimum of 24 hours after your last scuba dive before flying.
      Please note, guests can fly and then dive on the same day – but not dive and then fly.
  • Tour Terms

    Cancellation by Customer:
    • If you cancel 31 days or more in advance of departure: 0% fee
    • If you cancel between 15 days and 30 days of departure: 50% fee
    • If you cancel within 14 days of departure, or do not show up for the scheduled departure: 100% fee
    • Unless otherwise stated all refunds will incur a 10% administration fee.

    All prices are per person unless otherwise stated, are in Australian dollars, are correct at the time of publication & are subject to change without notice.

    Terms & Conditions

    In addition to the specific terms and conditions outlined above, upon purchase this package is subject to general terms & conditions.

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