Underwater world of ribbon reefs

There’s no way to quantify the number of snorkelling locales you can stop off at when you’re on a live aboard vessel on the Great Barrier Reef. The ocean is your oyster, but if we had to choose, the Ribbon Reefs are some of the most spectacular sights to see.

Ribbon Reefs 101 

To the north of Cairns, on the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef, the reefs are named Reefs 1 through 10 but also have their own nicknames based on famous dive sites. Separated by sand gullies, they’re long narrow stretches, or ribbons, of reef usually less than 450 metres wide. Here are a few worth charting a course to.
*Insider secrets – a hot tip from our Captain – make a beeline to the best dive spots, all between Ribbon Reef 3 and 10. 

Steve’s Bommie (Reef 3) & Temple of Doom (Reef 3)

On the northern side of the entrance to Reef 3, Steve’s Bommie rises from 30 metres deep to five metres and at its widest has a 60m circumference. You’ll find hard and soft corals, barracuda, flaming file shells, and reef stonefish though remember to stay clear of those. Nearby, the Temple of Doom rises up from the seabed in a temple-like shaped bommie. You’ll spot sharks and turtles near its base, along with large pelagic fish. But as the name suggests, its big draw card are the crown of thorns.

Steve’s Bommie Dive Site


Cod Hole (Reef 10) and Pixie Pinnacle (Between Reef 9 and 10)

Possibly the best-known Ribbon Reef dive site, Cod Hole sits right at the northernmost end of the Great Barrier Reef. Divers love the docile large potato cod who call the bommie home, who are happy to be hand fed. Pixie Pyramid’s sloping edges have cave overhangs forming perfect hideaways shy sea creatures. Expect to see lionfish, moray eels, and pelagic fish.

Cod Hole

Lizard Island (Between Reef 10 and the mainland) and Lighthouse Bommie  (Reef 10)

Two of the Great Barrier Reef’s exclusive island resorts are home to reef systems you won’t want to miss. Reef 9, off Lizard Island, is well known for spectacular coral gardens and nearby, between it and Reef 10 is spectacular Challenger Bay. In June and July, Lighthouse Bommie comes alive as a vibrant playground for the inquisitive Dwarf Minke Whales, enchanting visitors as they journey through the area on their southward migration.

Aerial view of Lizard Island Resort

Learn more about Morris Nautical charters here

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