The Good, The Bad and The Ugly! The Truth about Snorkel & Dive Boats from Cairns, Australia!
Ok, so you have been searching around the internet for a snorkel, and dive tour on the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns.
Now I also bet you are probably confused and thinking; What are the differences between all the boats?
You would be right in feeling a little overwhelmed by all the different reviews and tour operator promotion and sales jargon….we are the best … we do this … bla..bla…bla…
With this, we decided it was time somebody sat down and explained the cold hard facts of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!
It’s at about this time Clint Eastwood would really say … go ahead make my day! Holding his six shooter and arms in the air! What are differences between the top 4 dive & snorkel boats in Cairns – Silverswift Vs Silversonic Vs Poseidon Vs Tusa Dive!
Ok, let’s jump straight into it! (Excuse the pun!)
Silverswift Dive & Snorkel Cairns:
Silverswift is a day boat that departs Cairns at 8:30am in the morning. This vessel owns reef permits for 3 very good diving reefs: Flynn, Millne and Pellowe Reefs. They also have a permit for Thetford reef but don’t tend to visit that reef so much.
Silverswift is owned by the Quicksilver group of companies. Quicksilver is a large reef tour operating company, they own about 6 boats in the Cairns and Port Douglas region. Sometimes the larger companies get a bad wrap because they are a large company. But the thing to remember is they employ many local people from Cairns & Port Douglas. So when you travel with a Quicksilver company you are actually supporting the local Cairns people.
Anyway enough about who owns what lets talk about the boats, crew, locations and the entire trip experieince they offer.
Silverswift, in fact, are the only day boat that operates out of Cairns to visit 3 x outer reef locations in the one day. This is a good thing but can also be a bad thing. Visiting three outer reef sites means they cover more coral and reefs. This means you get to see more! But is also means they have to do one extra start and stop than the other boats so can lead to a bit more of a rushed day.
Being a little rushed is not a bad thing when the pay off is you get to visit three outer reef sites in the one day.
At the end of the day, Silverswift is a very well run, highly polished snorkel and dive boat experience. The crew are sharp and attentive, the equipment is top-notch whether you are diving or snorkeling. Lunch is a comprehensive hot and cold buffet, they also provide wetsuits or lycra suits all year round.
The Good: Visits three outer reef sites in the one day, excellent locations.
The Bad: A little bit rushed due to the fact the boat has to move 3 times.
VISIT – TUSA DIVE & SNORKEL CAIRNS
TUSA Dive & Snorkel Cairns:
TUSA is a long standing smaller local Cairns company. This company also operates the Australian famous Spirit Of Freedom liveaboard dive boat.
TUSA visit 2 outer reef locations in the one day. The skipper gets to decide which reef sites they will visit based on the current weather conditions forecast for that day. This is a great way to operate a dive boat because it give’s them the freedom to choose the best dive sites based on the weather patterns for that day.
Example: If it is an outgoing tide, and incoming tide, a Northerly wind or a South Easterly wind. Based on these factors the skipper will choose the best site. This is a great way to see many different parts of the reef. TUSA also have an excellent passenger to crew ratio making sure there is always a crew member available for any question you may have.
So you never really know where TUSA will go on any given day but you have piece of mind you will be going to the best dive site based on that day’s dive conditions.
The Good: TUSA Choose the best dive sites on the weather conditions present.
The Bad: TUSA do not always go to the outer reef, if the conditions are more suited to the inner reefs then the will visit the inner reefs.
Silversonic Dive & Snorkel Port Douglas:
As written in the title, Silversonic operate out of Port Douglas! Located a 45-minute drive North of Cairns is the small seaside town called Port Douglas.
There a few dive companies that operate from Port but the one that gets allot of reviews is Silversonic. Owned and operated by the Quicksilver group this trip is an exact replica of the Cairns boat Silverswift. They obviously visit different reefs sites that Silverswift.
Silversonic own reef permits to the Agincourt Reef Systems. There reef sites grow on the very edge of the continental shelf. So a trip out is a good 1` hour and 20 minutes travel from Port Douglas to the Agincourt reefs.
But don’t let that intimidate you the Agincourt reefs are pretty much regarded as the most pristine reefs systems you can access. I would not say this is not entirely true because the reefs from Cairns offer spectacular diving. But the Agincourt are definitely beautiful.
Visiting 3 outer reef sites in the one day, the crew are also sharp and attentive with excellent snorkel and dive equipment on board. Lunch is also a hot and cold seafood buffet.
Once again the trip can feel a little rushed due to the fact the boat moves three times. But this is also the highlight the fact you get to snorkel and dive on 3 different sites in the one day.
Remember if you are staying in Cairns then you need to self-drive or take the optional extra bus from Cairns to Port Douglas to board the boat.
The Good: Visit 3 outer reef locations in the one day!
The Bad: Feels a little rushed to the boat moving so much!
Poseidon Dive & Snorkel from Port Douglas:
Another vessel that operates from Port Douglas. Also owned and operated by the Quicksilver group of companies so lives up to the standards.
Poseidon offer snorkeling and certified diving only. A very unique thing to do, because Poseidon are the only boat in Cairns and Port Douglas to offer this.
This is awesome if you are a certified diver. The dive deck is nice and clean and not cluttered with first-time scuba divers trying their first scuba experience.
Poseidon is all about the certified diver and snorkeler. They deliberately do not offer intro diving to give more freedom, space and dive time to the divers and snorkelers.
People who want to try a first-time dive might be disappointed but there are plenty of other boats to go on if you want to try introductory scuba diving like Silversonic for example.
Departing from Port Douglas at 8:30am in the morning Poseidon also own permits to the Agincourt reef systems like Silversonic. The big main difference between them is the dive deck crew and all boat staff are all about the diving. A big thumbs up if you love your scuba.
The Good: Visit 3 outer reef locations in the one day. They also do not allow intro diving!
The Bad: Can feel a little rushed due to visiting 3 outer reef sites. Do not offer intro diving.
Hopefully, this little article has pointed out some of the main differences between these 4 excellent day boats. Silverswift and TUSA depart from Cairns. If your staying in Cairns then choose one of these excellent day trips.
Silversonic and Poseidon both depart from Port Douglas so it makes sense if you are planning to stay in Port Douglas then visit the reefs from Port Douglas on either Silversonic or Poseidon.
If you are a really experienced Certified Diver and would like the freedom to dive by yourself in your own buddy pair to take photos for example. Choose TUSA they are the only boat to allow you to dive by yourself in your own buddy pairs.
If you are a really experienced Certified Diver and would like all your dives guided then choose Poseidon Dive and Snorkel from Port Douglas. If not for anything more then they are just an excellent day trip with excellent crew and a great roaming permit on the Agincourt Reefs.
If you would like to try first-time introductory scuba diving or just plain snorkeling on beautiful reef systems and you are staying in Cairns then choose Silverswift Dive & Snorkel.
The same goes if you are staying in Port Douglas and would like to try Introductory Scuba Diving or Snorkeling on an excellent day boat then choose Silversonic.
All offer their unique differences and all have different reef permits to visit different parts of the reef. If you come to Cairns on a regular basis and really want to see and do as much as you can then try all 4 x boats. You won’t be disappointed!
If you have any further questions about the trips mentioned please send us an email or give us a call PH: +61 7 40 411 635 we will be only to happy to point you in the right direction. E: [email protected]