Fast boat, smooth ride and guided dives on some stunning Cairns’ Great Barrier Reef sites, that’s what Silverswift – part of the Quicksilver Group – is all about. Their stylish catamaran has a computerised ride control system and can power along at up to 32 knots – these two factors combined, provide you with a swift and stable ride to the reef, with up to 5 hours snorkel, dive and chill time. They visit 3 sites each day, and with 19 moorings to choose from, will pick the best locations to maximise your reef experience, on your day of travel. Meals, snacks and equipment are all included, so without further ado, let’s dive into our review.
Silverswift Cairns Review. The sleek catamaran has two passenger levels, with air-conditioned interiors and exterior sundecks. The dive deck is spacious and well run. The dive crew are friendly. We visited Flynn Reef and explored beautiful coral gardens.
Silverswift Cairns visits 3 reef sites daily and provides you with up to 5 hours at the reef. Where they go is weather dependent, but they have moorings at Flynn, Milln, Thetford and Pellowe Reefs. When we traveled with them (in November 2023) we went to Flynn Reef, which is classified as an Outer Great Barrier Reef destination. Flynn Reef is close to the edge of the continental shelf and is suitable for divers and snorkelers. It has coral walls which descend around 25m to the sandy sea floor below, and coral gardens which rise to within a few meters of the surface. For certified scuba divers, water entry is giant stride off the side of the boat. For snorkelers, there is a platform lowered into the sea with easy access steps. The crew manage the dive deck so that divers are getting into the water, while snorkelers have a briefing inside the boat. This means there is maximum space and comfort for divers and snorkelers, when they head out into the sea to explore the amazing Great Barrier Reef.
“All scuba diving on Silverswift is guided, and you would usually have the same guide throughout the day. As our group included our son Ethan – a certified Junior Open Water diver who is limited to a maximum depth of 12m – we had 2 different dive guides. Paul took us on our first dive and then we joined Marcus’ group for the other 2 dives of the day. While their dive styles differed – Paul wanted to cover as much territory as possible, while Marcus was more relaxed, allowing time for underwater photographs – they were both good guides. November is a great time of year to scuba dive from Cairns, the water is warming up (around 25 degrees Celsius) and underwater visibility is good – it varied between 15-25m on our day with Silverswift. Our diving highlight of our day on Silverswift, was seeing a cascading ‘wall’ of golden lettuce coral which had a school of blue striped snapper floating above it – just beautiful – the colours and composition, so striking – we loved it!” – Julie Johnston
Silverswift’s Great Barrier Reef day tour from Cairns commences with check-in from 7.30am, inside the Reef Fleet Terminal. Once you have your tickets, you make your way over to the boat, which starts boarding guests at 8.15am for an 8.30am departure. Certified divers are allocated tables on the top deck, where we completed our paperwork and had a dive briefing on the way to the reef. We were also assigned a dive guide. There was complimentary tea, coffee and muffins available on boarding, and it was a fast and comfortable, 90-minute transfer from Cairns to Flynn Reef on Silverswift. During this time, we were allocated our dive and snorkel equipment, and were free to stay in the air-conditioned interiors, or relax on the outside sundecks. Our first dive of the day started at 10.25am on a site called Lincks. During this 45-minute dive with Paul, we explored a maze of coral gardens and bommies and saw an array of marine life, including large schools of scissortail sergeant fish (they always make me smile on the inside, their black and white stripes make them look like the little prisoners of the reef – although their name puts them on the right side of the law), striped and yellow tailed fusiliers, eyestripe surgeonfish, emperor angelfish, coral beauty, giant clams, a cuttlefish and so much more.
It was a short surface interval between dive 1 and 2, as Silverswift moved to its second site of the day, which was Gordon’s Mooring (Flynn Reef). This was another vibrant dive site with a diversity of reef residents and coral. During our 47-minute guided dive with Marcus, we saw spine cheek and pink anemonefish, flame angelfish, barracudas, blue-spotted stingrays, coral trout, giant squirrelfish, fairy basslets (so pretty!), hundreds of striped fusiliers streaming around the reef and so much more. This was a lovely dive which included a swim-through, much to Ethan’s delight. It started at 11.53am and ended at 12.40pm. Between dives 2 and 3, we had lunch while Silverswift moved to its third reef site for the day. Lunch was a hot and cold buffet, which included curry dishes, chicken drumsticks, cold meats, a selection of salads, breads and vegetarian options. We ate this on the top deck in the sunshine, enjoying the stunning views of the crystal-clear blue waters.
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Flynn Reef is an excellent reef to dive, for experienced and new scuba divers. Its maximum depth is generally 25m, but with lots of highlights in the first 15m – including swim throughs, coral bommies and wall dives. Our final dive for the day on Silverswift was at Coral Gardens at Flynn Reef, which is where we saw the cascading ‘wall’ of golden lettuce coral, made picture perfect with the addition of a large school of blue striped snapper, which were floating above it in the clear blue waters. While that was our highlight for the day, we also saw some of our favourite reef fish at Coral Gardens, including diagonal-banded sweetlips, yellow tailed fusiliers, dotted sweetlips, two types of anemonefish (black and clark’s), and a magnificent blue koran angelfish. Thanks to the expert eyes of dive guide Marcus, we also saw 3 nudibranchs – the minor notodoris (very unassuming name, for what is quite the impressive nudibranch – we’ve never seen one of these before, so that was very cool), celestial phyllidia and inornate chelidonura. This dive was from 2pm to 2.45pm, and as we took off our dive gear and got changed, the crew prepared the boat for departure and conducted the final headcount. During the journey back to Cairns, there was a complimentary afternoon tea of cheese and biscuits and cake slices, which we enjoyed with a well-deserved wine, beer and soft drink purchased from the bar. We completed the dive log on the way home and arrived back into Cairns around 4.30pm.
Our Cairns diving day with Silverswift at Flynn Reef, was awesome. The dive crew were friendly and helpful. The guided dives ensured everyone could just enjoy their dive time, without having to worry about navigation and ‘finding the boat’ at the end of the dive. The 3 Flynn Reef sites we visited had great coral cover and an abundance of life. We met some lovely people on the boat – the guests were a mixture of international (USA, Spain and Korea) and domestic tourists – explored some beautiful coral gardens and as always, were astounded at the beauty and diversity of marine life on the Great Barrier Reef. This really is paradise and is just another reason why, we love Cairns!
I really enjoyed my day with Quicksilver, on Silverswift. At the start of the day, they gave us a seat and our paperwork. They did a dive briefing about our day ahead. On the way to the reef, we were looking at the fish charts, because we wanted to see the names of some of the fish we might see during the day. Our diving was really good. On the first dive I saw a cuttlefish, which was really cool, and on the second dive we saw some anemonefish and did a swim through, which I loved. Then we had lunch while the boat moved – I had some ham rolls and coke – which was good. The views from the top deck during lunch were amazing, the water was so blue and flat. On the third dive, the dive guide picked up a sea cucumber and it was awesome to see it up close. My highlight of the day was definitely the swim throughs, because I love swim throughs and seeing all of the fish that hide in the dark. I had a great day on Silverswift.
Yes – Silverswift delivers on all its promises. 3 Reef Sites. 5 Hours At the Reef. A Fast Smooth Boat Ride. The crew are friendly, the boat has lots of space and snacks and meals are tasty and plentiful. We had a great day with Silverswift, in picture perfect conditions.
Silverswift goes from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef. It has 19 moorings located at various points across four different reefs – Flynn, Milln, Pellowe and Thetford. They choose the best destinations each day, to maximise guest experience pending weather and tides. Flynn, Milln, Pellowe are all classified as outer reef locations, due to their proximity to the continental shelf, while Thetford is around 20km in from the continental shelf.
Basically it is location. Silverswift is based in Cairns and Silversonic is based in Port Douglas. Both boats are the same. They both visit 3 different reef sites each day and have 5 hours at the reef.
Whichever boat is closer to you. If you are staying in Cairns, then choose Silverswift. If you are staying in or around Port Douglas, choose Silversonic. That way, most of your day is spent enjoying a Great Barrier Reef trip, rather than driving to another destination and then heading to the reef.
Yes – we had some great dives on Silverswift, when we visited Flynn Reef in November (2023). We visited 3 dive sites, Lincks, Gordon’s Mooring and Coral Gardens. The underwater visibility ranged from 25 – 15m. The dive guides were great, and the dive deck was spacious and well maintained. Doing the 3 dives makes for a busy day, but you definitely want to make the most of your time on the Great Barrier Reef.
Yes – Silverswift is definitely suitable for snorkelers – in fact, there were way more snorkelers than scuba divers on the day we visited. The reef rose up to within a few meters of the surface, making ideal conditions for snorkelers.
Silverswift is a custom designed reef catamaran and it provides a fast, smooth ride. That being said, there is the potential to get sick on any reef boat, including Silverswift, because ultimately it is the person not the boat that determines the sickness. I suffer from motion sickness, so I always take Kwells prior to travel and that lets me get on and enjoy my day. If you are in any doubt about whether or not you will get seasick, then I strongly suggest getting some preventative medication and using it.
The food on Silverswift is good. Morning tea was muffins and tea and coffee. Lunch was a hot and cold buffet with curry, pasta dishes, chicken drumsticks, range of salads, breads and cold meats. There was also vegetarian options.
Yes – you can try scuba diving on Silverswift. There is no experience needed to try an introductory dive, but you must be aged 12 years old and above and there are certain health conditions which will preclude you from diving (asthma, diabetes, heart conditions and more). If you are in doubt, contact them directly.
No – all scuba diving on Silverswift is guided. This is great for people who want to just enjoy the dive, without worrying about navigation and finding the boat at the end.
You can do 3 scuba dives on a Silverswift Cairns Great Barrier Reef day tour. Each dive is at a different reef site and all dives are guided.
Flynn Reef is near the continental shelf and is classified as an outer reef site. Its depths generally do not exceed 25m and there is usually abundant marine life and good visibility. It provides divers of all experience levels enjoyable dives, which can include wall dives and swim throughs.
When you travel on Silverswift, which is a fast catamaran, the travel time to and from Cairns to Flynn Reef is between 70 and 90 minutes.
Diving Cairns’ Great Barrier Reef in November is usually amazing, in fact some in the industry would say it is one of their favourite months. The water is warming up – usually around 25-27 degrees Celsius – the underwater visibility is usually good and as it is around the same time as coral spawning, there is an abundance of marine life all very active on the reef. We have also noticed a lot more cuttlefish diving in November.
Silverswift provides Cairns’ Great Barrier Reef dive and snorkel trips every day. The Silverswift boat has been designed to provide first class customer ride and visitor experience. All dives are guided by dive guides and you can do introductory and certified scuba dives. These reef trips are also suitable for snorkelers who are confident in open water. Silverswift is an adventure reef trip. It does not have a glass bottom boat or semi-submersible. You can book a guided snorkel tour. Check in starts at 7.30am with boarding from 8.15am with an 8.30am departure. You return to Cairns around 4.30pm.
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