Ribbon Reefs

Cairns, Australia

Ribbon Reefs

From a bird’s eye point of view the Great Barrier Reef appears as a labyrinth of blue and green, embracing the tropical coast of Queensland. Stretching some 2,000km (1,240 miles) along the north eastern Australia coastline, the reef is comprised of approximately 3,000 individual coral reefs and covers an area greater than the size of the United Kingdom. Our 3 Night Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard dive trip travels through the Ribbon Reefs and visits the following Australian dive sites. Our 7 night liveaboard trip includes the Ribbon Reefs and Coral Sea

The Cod Hole

The world famous Cod Hole is home to numerous Potato Cod and of the most popular dive sites on the Ribbon Reefs. These huge fish are quite used to divers, offering the chance to get up close and personal, and are quite willing to pose for a photo whilst visiting one of the many cleaning stations. Whilst usually docile and relaxed, the Cod feed allows divers to see the spectacle of these fish feeding in action. The shallows of Cod Hole offer excellent coral life to explore and the chance to search for many hidden treasures. Follow the terraced reef down for the chance to witness pelagic fish on their way past. Though susceptible to current on an incoming tide, this makes for an excellent drift dive.

Marine Life: Giant Potato Cod, Flowery Cod, Spine Cheek Anemonefish, Lionfish, Pygmy Sea Horse, Reef Sharks, Red Bass, Nudibranchs, Lacey Scorpionfish, Ghost Pipefish

Cod Hole diver smiles

Dynamite Pass

Get the tides right and you are in for a thrilling drift dive along the reef wall of Cormorant Reef on the Ribbon Reefs. Sit back, enjoy the ride and let Dynamite Pass blow your mind as a plethora of marine life passes right in front of your eyes.

MARINE LIFE: Reef Sharks, Lagoon Rays, Flounder, Green Turtles, Sweetlips, Mackerel, Soft Corals, Caverns

Divers in Coral Sea Caves

The Snake Pit

An isolated reef between Lizard Island and #10 Ribbon Reef. Living up to its name, this site is famous for the Olive Sea Snakes found here. These snakes tend to be curious about divers entering their domain and have been known to be fascinated with their reflection in a camera lens. As such it is not uncommon to encounter more than one in a single dive. This site ranges from 10 to 30 metres and a range of invertebrates can be found including clams, sea stars, nudibranchs, and sea cucumbers. The isolation of this patch of the reef brings much larger fish to the area including trevally, barracuda, sharks, and eagle rays. A little exposed, this reef is only accessible in reasonably good conditions.

MARINE LIFE: Olive Sea Snakes, Green Turtles, Nudibranchs, Eagle Rays, Batfish, Reef Sharks, Parrotfish, Barracuda

Olive Sea Snake

Lighthouse Bommie

An isolated pinnacle in deep water, Lighthouse Bommie rises from about thirty metres at the base ascending to five metres – the perfect location for an impressive safety stop and must-visit location on the Ribbons Reefs. The Lighthouse Bommie attracts schools of Trevally, Barracuda, and Fusilliers. A resident turtle is home on most dives and baths in the attention of photographers. This pinnacle abounds with hidden macro treasures for those with a keen eye. During June and July Lighthouse Bommie becomes a popular playground for the very inquisitive Dwarf Minke Whales as they pass through the area on their southward migration.

MARINE LIFE: Gorgonian fans, Sea Whips, Spotted Eagle Rays, Manta Rays, Green Turtles, Pipefish, Lionfish, Nudibranchs

Lighthouse Bommie

Challenger Bay

Challenger Bay has an amazing variety of marine life and is a great Ribbon Reef dive – day or night. The site has a sandy bottom, scattered with bommies, sloping up from thirty metres to meet the reef platform at about five metres. Huge schools of Batfish and Sweetlips are commonly seen, along with pelagic fish like Mackeral, Tuna, and Barracuda. Night dives at this sight also provide divers with the opportunity to see some of the reefs' nocturnal inhabitants as the octopus come out of hiding and moray eels swim freely throughout the reef. The Giant Trevally come out to hunt and steal the show at night, accompanying divers for the duration of the dive.

MARINE LIFE: Barracuda, Batfish, Antheas, Giant Clams, Reef Sharks, Moray Eels, Fussiliers, Giant Trevally, Octopus, Lionfish

Moray Eel


The lesser-known neighbour of Challenger Bay, Monolith is a remarkable wall dive and a not to be overlooked Ribbon Reef dive site. With an impressive field of fist coral cascading down the reef and a vast array of marine life calling this site home, you will not be disappointed. A lucky few may also glimpse the resident Hammerhead known to patrol the blue water off the wall.

MARINE LIFE: Rock Lobster, Fist Coral, Giant Clams, Nudibranchs, Barramundi Cod

Colourful Coral Great Barrier Reef

Pixie Pinnacle

Pixie Pinnacle is a small isolated bommie on the Ribbon Reefs, rising from thirty metres to just below the surface allowing divers to view a cross-section of reef environments. An abundance of schooling fish allows divers the awe-inspiring experience of being amongst them. This bommie is also littered with many hidden creatures waiting to be discovered by those with the patience to look – a macro photographer’s dream. This pinnacle can get strong currents on certain tides.

MARINE LIFE: Barracuda, Trevally, Antheas, Nudibranchs, Pipefish, Lionfish, Hydroids, Mantis Shrimp, Stonefish, Octopus, Flame File Shell

Matis Shrimp

Vertical Gardens

When the winds shift from the prevailing South-east around to the North-west for a short window around October/November, we are lucky enough to visit this gem. A reef wall descending to forty metres comes into form as a sheltered recess for divers to explore. The picturesque Ribbon Reef wall is covered with undulating soft corals swaying with the movement of the water. Nudibranch enthusiasts will be blown away.

MARINE LIFE: Barracuda, Trevally, Antheas, Nudibranchs, Pipefish, Lionfish, Hydroids, Mantis Shrimp, Stonefish, Octopus, Flame File Shell

soft coral reef


A large coral mound growing out of depths approaching forty metres, ridges, and channels leading off into the blue surrounding Wonderland. Exploring the wall or gardens that form this structure will lead to divers being met by pristine coral growth on all sides and a widely varied range of marine life.

MARINE LIFE: Cuttlefish, Nudibranchs, Caves, Leafy Scorpionfish


Two Towers

Two bommies rise in tandem from the sandy seabed at twenty-five metres up to approximately five metres. A deeper coral ridge running down one side serves as a cleaning station at various times of the year. Weave your way between these impressive pinnacles and you are likely to be approached by the inquisitive sea snakes that are this site’s local residents. The isolation of these Ribbon Reef bommies has led to many critters establishing homes amongst the patches of rubble on the weathered side. Whilst conversely, come around to the other side and you will be amazed by the quantity of life sheltering behind these two structures.

MARINE LIFE: Olive Sea Snakes, Bull Rays, Green Turtles, Reef Sharks, Moray Eels, Nudibranchs, Anemone Fish, Mantis Shrimp


Steve's Bommie

Steve’s Bommie never fails to impress even the most discerning diver and another Ribbon Reef favourite. There is not a better way to spend a Sunday morning. Rising up from thirty-five metres to its apex at around five metres. All you need to do is open your eyes to be astounded by the sheer quantity of schooling fish and the pristine condition of the corals. Look a little closer and you will find more of the reef’s masters of camouflage including Stonefish, Leafy Scorpionfish, and Wobbegong Sharks. Located at twenty-two metres is a marble plaque commemorating the site’s namesake – ‘Steve’.

MARINE LIFE: Big Eye Trevally, Barracuda, Leafy Scorpionfish, Octopus, Nudibranchs, Pipefish, Stonefish, Wobbegong sharks, Mantis Shrimp, Flame File Shells, Anemonefish, Reef Sharks

Wobbegong Shark

Flare Point

Flare Point offers a relaxing site at which to conclude your trip aboard the ‘Spirit of Freedom’. A beautiful sloping reef wall to explore, and scattered with deeper outlying bommies to discover. Flare Point offers classic images of unspoiled coral reef abundant with marine life and covered in a diverse range of brightly coloured tropical fish.

MARINE LIFE: Cuttlefish, Turtles, Moray Eels, Mantis Shrimp, White Tip Reef Sharks, Unicorn Fish, Eagle Rays, Sweetlips


Joanie's Joy

Joanie’s Joy is a wall dive with a number of scattered bommies ranging in depth from thirty metres up to three metres.

MARINE LIFE: Anemones, Cuttlefish, Nudibranchs, Sweetlip, White Tip Reef Sharks, Trumpet Fish, Lion Fish, Turtles