Passions of Paradise visit some amazing Cairns Great Barrier Reef sites, perfect for divers of all experience levels and snorkellers. They have moorings at several outer reef sites and when we travelled with them in March 2023, we visited Flynn and Milln Reefs (one of our favourites). The crew were great, friendly and very passionate about the reef and customer service. The boat was spacious and comfortable and the vibe was high – so let’s dive right into our Passions of Paradise review. We’ll cover our destinations, the itinerary and all the details of a day spent diving and snorkelling with Passions of Paradise on Cairns’ Great Barrier Reef.
The Three Sisters dive site on Milln Reef, has some amazing swim-throughs festooned with gorgonian sea fans and feather stars.
Your Passions of Paradise day commences with check-in at the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal from 7am, followed by boarding from 7.30am for a 8am departure. There’s a fresh fruit platter with complimentary tea and coffee on board the boat and during the 2 hour journey to the reef, they provide dive and snorkel briefings. For certified divers all diving is guided and for those wanting to try diving, there’s the option of introductory diving with no experience necessary. Maximum of 2 dives during the day and all equipment is provided and included in the dive price. Passions of Paradise visit 2 reef sites and have 24 private moorings to choose from; they’ll pick the best sites on the day of travel, to maximise experience pending weather, wind and tides. All sites are suitable for divers and snorkelers. A hot and cold buffet is served for lunch with an afternoon tea of fruit and biscuits provided for the return journey, which gets you back into Cairns around 5pm. Guests have about 3 hours of water time, exploring the beautiful Great Barrier Reef.
“Richard did his first ever dive – an introductory dive – with Passions of Paradise over 12 years ago. So good was the experience, he went on to become a certified diver and has since done over 250 dives on the Great Barrier Reef. So we love Passions of Paradise, not only for sentimental reasons, but for the amazing experience they provide to their guests, each and every day on the reef. Their sites are great and the crew are really invested in ensuring every single guest maximises their experience, exploration and learning on the reef. We had a great day and so did every one else on the boat.” – Julie Johnston
We know what you really want to know, is what was the reef like? It was incredible! We travelled with them on 4 March 2023 and visited two Cairns outer reef destinations and sites. The first one was ‘Point Break’ at Flynn Reef. As soon as you giant-stride entered the water, the 20m visibility revealed beautiful coral gardens teeming with fish. This was a wall dive, taking us alongside hard and soft corals with some bommies. The coral cover was excellent and we saw a white-tipped reef shark and a multitude of fish, including anemonefish, butterfly and angel fish, chromis, fusiliers, wrasse, snappers and more. The diving was excellent and the guide took her time, allowing us to really enjoy and explore the site. Diving done, we jumped back in and did some snorkelling which was also excellent. The reef was just metres below the surface, providing snorkellers with every opportunity to enjoy its beauty.
The second site we visited with Passions of Paradise is one of our favourites, the Three Sisters at Milln Reef. This is where Richard completed his Open Water Scuba Dive course in 2011. The Three Sisters is an amazing Great Barrier Reef dive site! Each of the ‘sisters’ is a massive coral bommie and one of the swim throughs takes you right through a beautiful display of gorgonian sea fans, feather stars and soft corals. It’s just stunning. As well as outstanding coral cover, diversity and colour, the marine life here ticks pretty much every bucket list. We saw a sleepy green turtle resting on the corals, a school of barracuda, humphead maori wrasse, diagonal-banded sweetlips (we love these guys!), coral trout, blue-lined snapper and so, so, so much more. We were diving through schools of hundreds of fish and it was magical.
So what was the Passions of Paradise difference for us. Apart from the reef sites, which as you’ve just read, were fantastic, it’s the crew and the way they help shape the day for guests. On the day we travelled there were 90 guests on board their 25m catamaran. The eco-accredited marine naturalist circulated around the boat throughout the day, with fish ID books and charts, helping people identify the marine life they had seen. On the journey back to Cairns, she provided an excellent presentation, covering the size and scale of the reef, some of its interesting creatures and the steps being taken to protect it. This was not a compulsory presentation, and some guests opted to just relax in the sunshine outside, but it was super interesting and we recommend it.
Our dive guide – Mathilde – provided an excellent briefing and was wonderful in the water. As scuba divers, our preferred dive style is to take our time and observe the motion of the animals in their underwater homes. For us it’s about soaking it in, not swimming madly around to see ‘as much as we can’, because every part of the reef is beautiful and if you go too fast, you miss the detail. We also love taking photos, which takes time. Mathilde provided the space and pace for us to really enjoy our two certified dives, which was appreciated. Our dive group consisted of 5 divers, of various scuba skills, and on the way home we re-grouped to complete our Dive Log Books and discuss some of the things we had seen. Mathilde also had fish ID charts, so we could identify some of the creatures we had seen.
“I was very excited to go diving again, on a different boat this time. I was hoping to see a clownfish, a shark and a turtle. When I got on to the boat, we filled out the paperwork for diving and we had a briefing on the diving equipment. When we were about 20 minutes away from the reef, we got ready for diving. On the first dive, my favourite thing I saw was the white tipped reef sharks and 2 types of anemonefish. I dived for 45 minutes. When we got back to the boat we had lunch and the boat moved to a dive site called the Three Sisters. It was my favourite reef ever, it was so beautiful and after the amazing swim through we saw a sleeping turtle on a table coral, it was one of the best things I have ever seen. We also saw a stingray and a barracuda. On the way back, they had a fruit platter for everyone. I was so tired I went to sleep. That was my amazing trip with my family and the boat was called Passions of Paradise. I had a great day.”
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The Passions of Paradise tour takes you to the Outer Great Barrier Reef, departing from Cairns. This reef tour operator has 24 private moorings on the Great Barrier Reef. They visit 2 each day. They will pick the best reef sites to maximise experience, pending the weather, wind and tides on the day of travel. The reefs they have moorings at include: Flynn Reef and Milln Reef (which we visited for this review), Hastings Reef, Norman Reef, Thetford Reef, Breaking Patches and Upolu Cay.
The Passions of Paradise day tour departs Cairns at 8am and returns around 5pm. Check-in is from 7am at the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal, with boarding from 7.30am.
Yes, you can scuba dive with Passions of Paradise. All diving is guided. You can book diving for certified divers, as well as introductory diving for those who want to try scuba for the first time. Maximum of 2 dives per day. All equipment is included in the dive price.
Yes, you can snorkel with Passions of Paradise. All equipment is provided and included in the day tour price and there’s the option to participate in a free guided snorkel tour.
In our opinion, no. If you can’t swim and aren’t comfortable in the open ocean, then this is probably not the day tour for you. Passions of Paradise visits outer reef destinations and does not have a glass-bottom boat tour or pontoon. As such, if you can’t swim, your opportunity to really experience the Great Barrier Reef is limited to looking down at it from above. However, Passions of Paradise does provide all manner of flotation devices, including vests, rings and noodles and these are available for all guests to use, to maximise comfort in the water.
Yes, Passions of Paradise is suitable for families. We took our 10 year old and there were other families on board the boat.
Lots. The trip itself, to and from Cairns to the outer Great Barrier Reef. All snorkelling equipment (and dive equipment, if you purchase certified or introductory dives), a guided snorkel tour, hot and cold buffet lunch and morning and afternoon tea. There’s also the marine naturalist presentation, on the way back to Cairns.
The Passions of Paradise day tour departs from the Cairns Marlin Marina, with check-in at the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal.
Pre-booking is not essential, but is recommended. This is a popular Cairns reef tour and does fill up. So if you want to ensure you can travel and dive with Passions of Paradise, then yes – we would pre-book.
Passions of Paradise do tours to and from Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef every day. It’s a full day tour with around 3 hours at the Great Barrier Reef, where you can swim, snorkel and scuba dive. The crew are fantastic, friendly, informative and very helpful. The boat is spacious with indoor and outdoor seating, including a netted deck trampoline. There was a complimentary fruit platter and tea and coffee to start and end the day, with a hot and cold buffet for lunch. This tour is suitable for people of all ages, looking to get in the water and explore and experience the Great Barrier Reef.
© I Love Cairns 2023