Coral Sea Dreaming Overnight Trip

coral sea dreaming dive

With multiple dive and snorkeling opportunities, our overnight liveaboard on the Great Barrier Reef was a highlight of our Australian vacation. When you factor in the cost for accommodations, meals, renting equipment, and other ocean excursions, the cost of Coral Sea Dreaming’s 2-day, 1-night experience is an amazing value.

Getting There

The Cairns marina is busy with several wharfs. So, showing up and wandering around is not a good plan. After you park, go straight to Dock A to meet with your crew. Parking cost us around $33AUD at The Shangri-La Hotel in their underground self-parking, the closest facility to the Coral Sea Dreaming’s port.

Skip and avoid the crowds by taking the small “A” ramp on the Left.

coral sea dreaming location
It is always good to know where you are going, especially when the meeting time is early in the morning. The Wharf area is pretty large and we had trouble finding any signs for Coral Sea Dreaming. Here is the map at the Ports North. Coral Sea Dreaming’s meeting location is second on the left from entrance.
coral sea dreaming dock
Coral Sea Dreaming crew will meet you here on the dock. If you have extra luggage or items to store, bring it with you and they will take the items to lock up.

If you want to know more about the details of the vessel, checkout our article on Coral Sea Dreaming Yacht , showcasing the rooms and amenities.

The Experience Begins

Coral Sea Dreaming visits several private moorings on the Great Barrier reef they choose from based on weather and reef conditions. An overnight experience typically consists of two locations on the reef.

coral sea dreaming map
The captain is showing us our sailing destination (Milln Reef) from Port Cairns. Coral Sea Dreaming visits reefs that more private than the larger diving companies for the Great Barrier Reef.

We sailed for about 3.5 hours before reaching our first destination and mooring on Milln Reef. Listening to music and the tours of our surroundings, we were pumped up for this journey. The friendly crew offered beverages and had meds for sea sickness if needed. They made sure we were comfortable while we enjoyed the sun and ocean breeze.

coral sea dreaming captian
Captain Jan multitasking while communicating his greetings with the guests.

Gear and Fittings

Coral Sea Dreaming has top of the line equipment for their guests to use for diving and snorkeling the GBR. Read in more detail here, The Coral Sea Dreaming Yacht. During our sail to the outer reef, the crew went through standard safety instructions, liability paperwork for scuba, and had everyone fitted with their wetsuits, fins, masks, and snorkel. It was clearly handled in orderly manner so we didn’t waste any time once we reached our destination.

coral sea dreaming wetsuit tie down
Wetsuits tied and stored on both port and starboard sides of the ship for quick access, drying, and cleaning.
coral sea dreaming wetsuits
Each of the 12 guests are fitted with wetsuits, fins, and snorkel gear. The crew clearly teaches how to store them, being ready to use during the excursion.
coral sea dreaming snorkel gear
The group was divided into two diving teams while the others enjoyed snorkeling. Use the platform to jump into the ocean or the metal grate stairway.
coral sea dreaming jayden lary prep
Preparing for the first dive at the Great Barrier Reef.

Day 1 – Diving and Snorkeling

We have snorkeled a lot, but we never experienced scuba diving. Coral Sea Dreaming offers “explorer dives” for those who are not certified. They instruct us “first-timers” with the mandatory steps to complete in the water before being able to dive. Another nice thing, if you can’t pass the series of checks in the water, they will not charge you for the dive.

milln reef explorer dive check
After completing the tasks successfully, our boys give the “okay” sign saying they are ready to descend.

Check out our Scuba diving Milln Reef article for amazing pictures of the sea creatures and coral we encountered.

The instructors can only take 2-3 people on the dives at a time, with a maximum of 6 people diving at any given period. This was the perfect opportunity for the other guests to snorkel.

milln reef swimming turtle
Snorkeling with a sea turtle at Milln in the Great Barrier Reef.

You can checkout out all of our great snorkeling pictures of sealife and corals on our Snorkel The Great Barrier Reef article.

Meals, Rest, and Relaxation

After hours of snorkeling and scuba diving on the reef, everyone surfaces for a meal. We also rested before heading out to the next reef location. It was great time for everyone to share about what we saw while exploring under the water. Lunch was served and consisted of a variety of lunch meats, cheese, breads, salads, veggies and fruit.

coral sea dreaming guest
Hanging out on the bow of Coral Sea Dreaming, making new friends on this once in a lifetime adventure.
coral sea dreaming sunset
Gorgeous views of the setting sun from the deck of Coral Sea Dreaming.

Once the sun was set, the guests and the crews came back from their diving and snorkeling adventures with worked up appetites. Everyone dried off, put on some warm clothes, and settled in for dinner. This time the conversations varied from personal stories of where people lived and their occupations, dreams, and past vacations. It was neat hearing perspectives and life from all around the world.

coral sea dreaming fajitas
Discovering the crew made fajitas for dinner made these Southern Californian natives a little nervous, but it was delicious. Props to Audrey for her cooking skills.
coral sea dreaming hammock sunset
Sunset on the Great Barrier Reef while lounging in a hammock captures the essence of the Coral Sea Dreaming experience.

Sleeping Quarters

After dinner, the option for night diving becomes available to the guests. On this particular trip, no one chose to do so. Instead, we shared more stories about the days experience, what life is like back home (Holland, Germany, Austria, and the US), and enjoyed the night time sky over the reef. We asked the crew to turn off the lights so we could see the stellar twinkles glistening in the stars above. The moon was almost full, so we were not able to see the sky’s greatest potential. But it was magnificent nevertheless.

coral sea dreaming overnight
Hunker down in the cozy quarters, ready to get rocked to sleep.

Waking up on the Great Barrier Reef

Gorgeous colors filled the morning sky right outside our cabins on the reefs. The calm of our surroundings, along with the hot cup of coffee, helped to wake us up from a sound night’s sleep.

For breakfast, we made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. There was yogurt, granola, and fruit served as well. We were fueled and ready to go for another day of dives, snorkeling and sailing.

coral sea dreaming red sunrise
Sunrise greetings over the Great Barrier Reef.
coral sea dreaming coffee tea
Instant coffee and tea available for guests on the Coral Sea Dreaming vessel.
coral sea dreaming coffee
Enjoying peanut butter and jelly sandwiches along with a hot cup of coffee, while overlooking the Great Barrier Reef.

Day 2 – Snorkeling and Diving

coral sea dreaming jayden dive
With help from the boat’s captain, Jay is leaping off the platform for his first experience diving.

Soaking It All In

coral sea dreaming hammock relax
Relaxing in a hammock aboard Coral Sea Dreaming.

Our vacations are usually scheduled with packed full traveling and itineraries. Taking this trip on a liveaboard slowed us down to take time for rest and relaxation. Everything we needed was provided. Our responsibilities seemed to dwindle down to pure enjoyment while soaking it all in.

coral sea dreaming working crew
Raz and Audrey hard at work, the Coral Sea Dreaming team had safety, fun, and guest experience at the top priorities along with responsibilities. They were always available to help and accommodate any needs.
coral sea dreaming brunch
After the morning snorkel and diving, we enjoyed a breakfast of hash browns, middle bacon, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, shredded cheese, and other foods likely popular for Australian brekkies.
coral sea dreaming ride
Listening to music and hanging out with new friends after packing up our gear.

Experiencing falling asleep then waking up on the Great Barrier reef, viewing amazing coral reefs and sealife, making new friends and  being pampered is what Coral Sea Dreaming offers. For those seeking memories or adventure, this is the tour for you.

Sailing back to Cairns

coral sea dreaming return cairns
We had a speedy and adventurous sail back to port with a strong wind pressing her sails.
coral sea dreaming hang on
Holding on to keep balance while the ship listed in the heavy swells caused by the winds.

It was an amazing trip filled with some of the most remarkable undersea life on earth, good people, and an attentive crew. Thank you Coral Sea Dreaming.


  • Let them know when booking of any special requests or needs. They will promptly respond to make sure you are taken care of.
  • Arrive early and know in advance the location of where to meet on the dock, next to the boat.
  • If you have extra luggage to store, bring them with you and the staff will safely store and return the items after your trip.
  • You can only towel change in and out of your wetsuit on the deck. Make sure you have a large enough towel or covering to give you some privacy.
  • If you start feeling seasick, look at the horizon. This is your holiday / vacation. Let the crew know if you are feeling uneasy or are having any problems.