The 5 Best Dive Schools in Port Douglas, Australia

Snorkel in the Agincourt Reef in Far North Queensland, Australia – you won't regret it.
Snorkel in the Agincourt Reef in Far North Queensland, Australia – you won't regret it. | © EQRoy / Shutterstock
Photo of Caitlin Morahan
4 June 2018

There’s only one way to truly take advantage of being in such close proximity to one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders, The Great Barrier Reef – and that’s actually getting out there. Visible from outer space, our reef is the biggest and most complex ecosystem on Earth, and home to over 900 different species of marine life. Of course, we’ve included only the most ethical and respectful dive companies – the deterioration of the reef is a growing concern for Australia, and while we want to appreciate the beauty of it, it’s incredibly important to conserve it for years to come.

ABC Scuba Diving Port Douglas

The founder of ABC Scuba Diving is a former dive instructor with Port Douglas’s most prestigious dive companies, bringing his experience of the mass marketing of tourism boats in the town, and heading in a completely different direction with his unique and more personal day adventures. He set up ABC as a small boutique operation taking out small groups of snorkellers and divers to the most secluded locations on the Great Barrier Reef.

Unlike the larger commercial companies that take out around 80 passengers a day, ABC cap their guests to 12 per day – allowing them into parts of the reef commercial vessels can’t go. They are highly conscious of leaving no environmental footprint, practising careful management and low impact, as well as frequently changing their dive locations. This being said, their locations are always secluded and full of wildlife encounters and brilliant reefs of coral, as well as strategically located in regards to tidal and wind conditions. A highly regarded group of divers, you will feel safe and well-guided in their experienced hands!

The rainbow marine life is one-of-a-kind | © Brian Kinney / Shutterstock

Divers Den

We’ll just be upfront with you – they have an awesome boat. It’s new, shiny, fancy, and you don’t have to pay through the nose to get a ride on it. AquaQuest’s custom built luxury dive and snorkel vessel Divers Den was introduced in July 2017, and is fully equipped with every modern facility you could ask for – the most important of which is nice toilets, in case the churning sea gets to your stomach. As the newest vessel offering dive and snorkelling tours in Port Douglas, Divers Den is able to give their guests unrivalled comfort with the best experience available, as the boat visits some of the best dive and snorkel locations on the Outer Great Barrier Reef at Agincourt, Opal and St Crispin’s Reefs. These reefs are located in the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and are approximately 62km offshore. The team of experts at Divers Den have a choice of nine different locations they choose from depending on weather and conditions, ensuring the best visibility and diversity of marine life tailored to those specific conditions. They visit two different locations every day with ability to do up to three different dives each day.

Included in the day is morning tea, a yummy hot and cold tropical buffet lunch selection with fresh seafood and salad. So even if the snorkelling isn’t the number one allure to a day trip, travelling on AquaQuest definitely is.

Snorkelling gets you up close and personal with the reef. | © ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

Blue Dive Port Douglas

If you’re after a privately guided tour to make the most of your diving trip, Blue Dive are the original hosts of the concept, and have an incredibly dynamic and experienced team. All their trips and PADI courses go to secluded spots on the outer reef, where the visibility is top-notch and basically guarantees a Nemo-spotting. Their dive boat, aptly named Poseidon, has exclusive access to fantastic dive sites in and around the Agincourt Reefs – the best labyrinth of reefs in the Port Douglas vicinity – such as Barracuda Bommie, The Nursery, Helms Deep and Turtle Bay. If these names mean nothing to you, just Google them – you’ll be packing your bag before you know it.

The reefs are absolutely teeming with fish and other kinds of marine life, and due to the privacy of the tour, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with the critters without any interruption. Personally, we can’t think of a better way to experience this breathtaking natural wonder of the world.

Check out the variety of colourful coral of the Great Barrier Reef | © Debra James / Shutterstock

Scuba IQ

Their name says it all – they have extensive knowledge of the reef and will reassure those nerves that brew just before you place your head beneath the surface. The super experienced team at Scuba IQ makes your dive feel relaxed, with nothing to worry about except creating amazing memories. There’s no minimum number for their trips so you can book as last minute as you like – no matter how spontaneous, the team will go to any extra length to make your day memorable. They have extensive knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef, the creatures which inhabit it, as well as the wider ecosystem and the nearby Daintree Rainforest which all play an important role in making the reef the special location it is.

If a full-personalised trip is more your jam they can also do a privately guided trip, including dive vessel charters for single days, or multi-day ‘liveaboard’ excursions can also be organised if you want to be super fancy and get something ‘made to order’.

Tailor-made diving tours are the best way to see everything! | © Tunatura / Shutterstock

Silversonic Dive and Snorkel

This dive school is well-known for its patience with first-time divers. They focus on smaller groups with more reef destinations, so it’s a very personable experience.

The boat is comfortable and equipped for every need, and the staff are well-practised divers – which is what you want when you’re way out to sea. The boat travels to three different sites for snorkelling, with one hour to explore each location. They choose their dive sites based on diversity – the two reef systems they visit are just over 100km apart and focus on shallow reefs that allow snorkellers to get up close to the marine life swarming among the coral.

The main appeal of Silversonic is that they have one of the few permits that allow their guests to swim with the dwarf minke whales. Between July and September these majestic animals flock to the Agincourt Reefs, and their voluntary approach to the vessel make it an even more awe-inspiring experience – it’s definitely a surreal touch!

Silversonic boats taking tourists on Great Barrier Reef scuba and snorkelling trips at the Port Douglas Reef Marina in Far North Queensland, Australia | © EQRoy / Shutterstock