Breaking Patches, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

  • Breaking Patches Location 16 134 865 S 145.57906E
  • Access by boat
  • Depth Range 0-12 metres
  • Visibility 15-20 metres

Breaking Patches’ location is 42 kilometres northeast of Cairns and just west of Michaelmas Cay in the Coral Sea.

This Cairns Great Barrier Reef location offers a lovely shallow wall with picturesque beauty, making it an accessible site.  


While most of this Reef location is relatively shallow and ideal for snorkelers, there is an opportunity for deep dives up to 30 metres out the front of the boats.  This Great Barrier Reef location is perfect for scuba divers doing advanced courses.

The Western coral wall does provide a little more depth but is also known to have some strong currents.


This Reef location also has sandy patches, a great place to find Reef sharks and lagoon rays.

Marine Life

A wide range of corals grow along this wall, like long whip coral, colourful fan coral, and fire coral, and for all you Finding Nemo Lovers, this is one Reef where you can quickly locate him in his anemone.


With the Reef relatively shallow, scuba divers and snorkelers will spot the giant clams at this Reef site.

Breaking Patches is famous for very tame sea turtles, and it’s common to see several turtles at this location.

For visitors wishing to find Nemo, this is an ideal Reef location to see an abundance of clownfish.

Breaking Patches Map


Q. What are Breaking Patches?

A.  Breaking Patches are shallow coral Reef areas in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off the coast of Cairns, Queensland.  The name “Breaking Patches” comes from how the waves break over the shallow coral patches during high tide.  The shallow reefs are home to an incredible diversity of marine life, making it a popular destination for snorkelling and diving.

Q. What activities are available at Breaking Patches?

A.  Breaking Patches is primarily a snorkelling and diving destination.  Most tour operators offer guided tours, including equipment rental and transportation to and from the Reef.  For those who prefer to stay dry, glass-bottom boat tours offer a unique Reef perspective without getting wet.  It’s important to note that visitors are not allowed to stand on or touch the coral, as it is a protected ecosystem.


Q. When is the best time to visit Breaking Patches?

A.  The best time to visit Breaking Patches is during the dry season, which runs from May to October.  During this time, the weather is generally sunny and dry, with low humidity and minimal rainfall.  The water is also more transparent during the dry season, making it easier to see marine life and coral.  It’s important to note that Breaking Patches can be affected by strong winds and currents, so it’s always best to check weather conditions before booking your trip.

In conclusion,

Breaking Patches is a unique and stunning destination within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park that offers a range of activities for visitors of all experience levels.  By choosing a reputable tour operator and following all safety guidelines, you can have a safe and unforgettable experience exploring the shallow coral reefs and incredible marine life.

Breaking Patches is exclusively visited by the following Great Barrier Reef tours.  Reef Encounter and  Reef Experience.


Visit other nearby Great Barrier Reefs.

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