Frequently Asked Questions

Our friendly team is happy to help with any questions you might have about our snorkelling and diving day trips, overnight liveaboard trips and dive courses. Check these frequently asked questions first though, in case we’ve already got the answer!

General FAQs

Where do you go? What dive sites do you visit?

All our day and overnight trips visit the Outer Great Barrier Reef. The outer reefs are the sections furthest from the coast.

These reefs have fewer crowds and benefit from flowing nutrients distributed by the vast Coral Sea. Here, good climate conditions and clear water bring out the best in the coral colours and the incredibly diverse marine life.

With more than 18 sites from Cairns, Divers Den has the most choice of outer reef locations of all the local operators. On our day trips we visit two sites per day, based on weather and visibility conditions, to ensure you have the best possible dive or snorkel experience.

Find out more about our dive and snorkel sites

Find out more about the Great Barrier Reef

What will I see on my Great Barrier Reef trip?

The Great Barrier Reef is home to a huge range of marine life. During your day or overnight trip  you’re likely to see colourful corals and a variety of tropical and pelagic (ocean) fish – plus sharks, rays, turtles and more! Find out more about the reef and view our marine wildlife guide.

What will the weather be like?

We try to not predict the weather any more than a couple of days ahead, but you can find out more on our weather page about the general conditions for Cairns, Tropical North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef across the year, including temperatures and estimated rainfall.

What’s the best time of year to visit?

In Cairns and the rest of the tropical north, the weather is warm year-round, so you can enjoy a trip to the Great Barrier Reef in any season! Our weather page will give you more information.

Do I need to be able to swim?

As long as you’re comfortable in the water, you should be able to snorkel or even do an intro dive. Before you enter the water you will fill out a form that includes information on your level of competence in the water and any medical conditions. Depending on your response, we may require that you use a flotation device while snorkelling.

Our friendly instructors will talk you through using all the equipment. If you’re unsure, feel free to contact us to discuss.

Can I snorkel or dive if I have a medical condition?

Some medical conditions can prevent you from scuba diving. Please read our Can I Dive page carefully and contact us if you have any questions.

You will also be asked to fill out an assessment form before snorkelling. If you are assessed as an at-risk snorkeller you may be required to wear a flotation device while snorkelling.

How do I get the local discount?

Our locals discount applies to Cairns locals only (persons whose primary place of residence is between Innisfail, Cape Tribulation and the Tablelands).

A driver’s license is adequate proof – management must approve any other form of identification.

These discounts are not available for visiting friends and families of locals. Language students and people on working holiday visas are not considered locals. Discount not available on public holidays.

Do you offer a discount for defence forces/emergency services?

Yes, we offer a 25% discount for staff and volunteers of selected defence forces and emergency services organisations. Find out about defence and emergency discounts.

Are your trips suitable for children?

Child snorkel age is 4-14. Please see below for learn to dive age restrictions. There is no minimum age restriction for travelling on vessels when accompanied by a parent or guardian, but children must remain supervised at all times if they are not undertaking a course.

What are the age requirements?

  • Introductory diving: 12 years or over
  • Open Water dive courses: 10 years or over, but must be accompanied by guardians and a private instructor if under 12 years. If the diver is under 12 years we must be informed before the course starts.
  • You must be aged 18 or over to travel unaccompanied on our day or overnight trips. Anyone younger than this must be supervised by an adult at all times.
  • Please note snorkelling is not suitable for children under 4 years old

Can I go on board and not snorkel or dive?

Yes, we can accommodate people who don’t wish to snorkel or dive. Each of our vessels has outdoor viewing decks and air-conditioned spaces indoors.

How is your snorkel and dive equipment cleaned?

To keep our passengers safe we are following all current guidelines as set out by DAN (the Divers Alert Network) and PADI.

In addition, everyone that rents a set of gear will receive “their” mouthpiece at the end of the day, and a new one will be put on the regulator for the next guest.

Do you cater for special dietary requirements?

Your lunch on board our day trips will be a freshly-packed picnic-style lunch box. If you have special dietary requirements, please advise us at time of booking.

Meals on board OceanQuest are chef-prepared. As long as we are advised at time of booking we can cater to most dietary requests. Please contact us for further queries.

Can I hire an underwater camera?

You can hire an Olympus TG5 camera on our day trips. Our photographer will also capture your incredible day underwater so there will be a USB stick of photographs for purchase.

Where can I get photos from my trip?

You can visit our online photo store here to purchase photographs from your Great Barrier Reef snorkel or dive trip.

I get motion sickness. Which trip is best for me?

All our vessels are catamarans, which offer greater stability and a smoother ride than monohull vessels.

If you are prone to motion sickness, we recommend buying natural ginger tablets, available at all local chemists. We also have some available for sale on board.

Do I need special insurance?

We strongly recommend travel insurance to cover you if your snorkel or dive trip is cancelled due to illness, poor weather, travel delays, lost luggage and legal costs. Travel insurance may not cover diving accidents and/or treatment/evacuation. For that we recommend separate insurance – see our Can I Dive page for more information.

What is ‘stinger season’ and do I need a suit?

Box jellyfish, also known as ‘stingers’, are pale blue, transparent jellyfish. They can measure up to 20 cm along each side of their cube-shaped bodies, and their tentacles can reach up to 3 metres long. Their sting can be very painful, and even fatal in some cases.

Box jellyfish live in the warmer coastal areas sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef, and are most numerous between November and May. We provide protective lycra suits during these months to protect all snorkellers and divers.

Do you offer accommodation transfers?

We offer complimentary accommodation transfers on our dive courses and overnight trips.

Do you offer accommodation packages?

We don’t offer accommodation packages, but we offer overnight dive and snorkel experiences with accommodation on our liveaboard vessel OceanQuest.

Certified Diving FAQs

What equipment is included?

All equipment is included in the trip cost. For a certified diver, this includes a regulator with a console computer, buoyancy control device (BCD), snorkel, mask, fins, wetsuit, emergency signalling devices, tank and weights/weight belt.

How deep will I dive?

The maximum depth for recreational diving is 18m if you hold the standard PADI Open Water Diver Certification (or equivalent), and 30m if you hold the PADI Advanced Open Water certification (or equivalent).

Some of the best dives on the Great Barrier Reef can be done in less than 15m of water, where stronger light can result in an even better view of the abundant marine life.

Are dives guided by a PADI professional?

You can choose to book a guided dive on our day or overnight trips for $15 per person per dive. If your certification or a medical condition prevents you from diving unsupervised, you will be required to dive with a guide.

Do I need a dive medical?

All divers are asked to complete a medical questionnaire on board. You don’t require a medical if you answer no to everything. If you answer yes to any questions, a further medical may be required. You will also be asked to fill out a general disclaimer which differs from company to company. See our Can I Dive page for more information.

Do I need to bring my cert card and log book?

You’ll need to bring your certification card. If you have lost your card, please contact the issuing agency.

Certified divers should bring their logbooks to log their dives on board the vessel, and so our dive supervisors can assess their experience.

I have a non-PADI certification, is this OK?

In most cases it is, but please contact us so we can be sure. Let us know your certifying agency, certification level and approximate number of dives.

Can I dive solo?

No, solo diving is not allowed. You’ll need a dive buddy or a guide with you at all times.

I’m here alone, should I organise a dive buddy?

Whenever possible, the Dive Supervisor will buddy you with someone of equal experience.

Can I free dive?

We do not currently allow freediving with the use of weight belts on any of our boats, due to the risks involved.

Duck diving while snorkelling is allowed but we do not encourage hyperventilation or other breath hold techniques.

If you are a PADI certified freediver and wish to free dive with us, you will need written approval from our Dive Operations Manager. Please contact us for more information.

How soon can I fly after diving?

Regulations state that for a single, no decompression dive, you should not fly or go to altitude for at least 12 hours. For multiple dives you should not fly or go to altitude for at least 18 hours.

We recommend waiting at least 24 hours after diving before going to altitude or flying. These are guidelines only – there is no guarantee that following these recommendations will prevent decompression sickness. Currently there are no guidelines regarding diving after flying.

Altitude is defined as 300m/1000ft above sea level. Certain other tourist attractions around Cairns and Tropical North Queensland involve travelling to altitude. These include the Atherton Tablelands and the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, so we recommend a gap between booking these experiences and any dive course or trip.

Our overnight experience diving usually finishes by midday and our day trips by 2pm, which makes it easier to plan some down time between diving and flying/going to altitude.

What are INT and DIN tank valves?

In Australia the standard fitting on a scuba diving tank is the INT fitting – the same used in the US, where it’s known as a yoke valve. A DIN fitting is generally used in Europe, in particular in Germany.

Our tanks on board all our vessels can take both Yoke and DIN regulators.

What tank sizes do you supply?

We supply 7L, 9L and 12L tanks.

Do you service dive equipment?

Yes – our team of expert technicians offer a full range of servicing options for all your gear including tanks and cylinders, as well as tank fills, hydrostatic tank testing and inspection.

Email workshop@diversden.com.au or phone +61 7 4047 9109 for details.

Dive Course FAQs

I want to learn to dive. Where do I start?

You can either try introductory diving aboard one of our day trip vessels before you enrol on a course, or if you are confident in the water you can jump straight into a PADI Open Water Diver course.

You can read all about what’s involved in learning to scuba dive here.

What are the different course levels?

We offer the full range of PADI dive courses, from beginner to professional. You can see the different course levels and how you can progress through them here.

Do I need to be able to swim to do a dive course?

Yes. On our Open Water Diver course, you will be required to do a swim test of 200m without stopping in the pool. There is no time limit and you may swim in any style. You will also be required to tread water for 10 minutes without touching the side or bottom of the pool.

We also offer a Scuba Diver course which has a less rigorous swim test and certifies you to dive to 12m with a parent, guardian or PADI professional.

How long does it take to learn to dive?

The minimum learn to dive course is four days (or three days using eLearning), which includes five pool sessions, five theory sessions and four training dives. The training dives must be over a minimum of two days. We also offer longer options with more time to practise your skills.

Find out more about learning to dive.

How many people will be in my course?

PADI (the Professional Association of Diving Instructors) sets the maximum number of participants for courses. However, courses do not necessarily run at full capacity year round.

The maximum numbers are:

  • During pool sessions: 10 students to 1 instructor
  • During open water training: 8 students to 1 instructor

What are the learn to dive age requirements?

To participate in Open Water Training the minimum age in Queensland is 10 years. However, if the diver is under 12, we must be informed before the course starts, as a private instructor will be needed for the sea days.

There is no minimum age restriction for travelling on vessels when accompanied by a parent or guardian, but children must remain supervised at any time they are not undertaking a course. To travel unaccompanied, the minimum age is 18 years.

Read our Can I Dive page for more info.

Can I wear glasses or contacts while I learn to dive?

You can wear contact lenses when learning to dive, but please make sure you let your instructor know before  the pool/ocean sessions. We also have a range of prescription masks available.

My ears hurt when I fly, is this a problem?

If you participate in a dive course, we will teach you how to equalise or clear your ears at regular intervals. Your instructor will be able to identify any potential concerns during the early stages of pool training.

What is a referral?

A referral means that part of the course has been completed before arriving in Cairns. We accept referrals from PADI (the Professional Association of Diving Instructors) stores and instructors worldwide. Referral paperwork needs to be signed off by the initiating instructor and have been done within the last 12 months.

View our open water referral course options.

What happens if I don’t finish my course?

If you do not finish all the components of the Open Water Course, we may be able to partially certify you or issue a referral. Your instructor will discuss the options with you.

What happens if I fail my dive medical?

We will refund you if you fail your medical on Day 1, as you will not be able to continue the course. You will still be able to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef as a snorkeller. Find out more here about snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef.

What if I don’t like my course?

You can cancel the course on day 1 or 2 with a reduced fee that covers training time and materials.