Hastings Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Australia

  • Hastings Reef is located 16° 31.673′ S / 145° 59.672′ E
  • Access boat
  • Depth: 5–30 Metres
  • Visibility: 15–28 metres
  • Size: 1020 hectares

Great Barrier Reef Cairns

Hastings Reef covers around ten square kilometres and offers a unique example of coral and marine life.  Its coral display supports hundreds of reef fish, and visibility conditions are ideal for snorkelling and diving.  One of the most popular in the northern marine park is 55 km north-east of Cairns.

This outer barrier reef location has beautiful coral gardens between Michaelmas Cay and Saxon Reef.

This reef is shaped like a horseshoe with an average bottom depth of 13 metres.

Split Bommie

Also on Hastings Reef is Split Bommie.  This site is popular with beginner and experienced divers.  This large bommie is split into two round shapes and hosts amazing fan corals where small fish and lobsters hide.  A wide range of marine life abounds.

Bat fish at Hastings Reef

The Fish Bowl

First, when you enter the water, head to the reef wall, which drops to a sand floor at 8 metres, then turn left to discover a series of coral bommies.

You will see anemones, staghorn coral, and giant clams along this reef.  There are also butterflyfish and angelfish, as well as parrotfish.

Near the surface, visitors will see thousands of reef fish and corals.

Marine Life at Hastings Reef

Marine life includes rabbits, drummerfish, clowns, corals, and Green Sea Turtles.  This site also has blacktip reef sharks and chocolate-dipped damselfish.

Dive and Snorkel sites

  • The Fish Bowl
  • Coral Gardens
  • 10:55
  • 10:66
  • Split Bommie
  • The Wildside

Hastings Reef is a green zone within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

For day trips, see Reef Experience; for overnight liveaboard tours, see Reef Encounter.

Giant clams Hastings Reef

Hastings Reef Map

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Q: Where is Hastings Reef located?

A: Situated in the Coral Sea, about 50 kilometres off the coast of Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia.  It is part of the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders.

Q: How can I visit Hastings Reef?

A: Accessible through various reef tour operators that depart from Cairns.  These tours offer day trips to the reef for visitors to explore its stunning underwater beauty through snorkelling and diving.

Q: What makes Hastings Reef special?

A: Famous for its vibrant coral formations, diverse marine life, and clear blue waters.  It offers a unique opportunity for visitors to witness the rich biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef up close.

Q: What activities can I do at Hastings Reef?

A: Visitors can enjoy snorkeling and diving to discover the colourful corals and fascinating marine species that inhabit the reef.  Some tours also offer underwater observatories and semi-submersible rides for non-swimmers to experience the reef’s beauty.

Q: Is Hastings Reef suitable for beginners in snorkeling and diving?

A: This reef site is perfect for beginners in snorkeling and diving.  Tour operators provide guidance and equipment, making it accessible for individuals with varying experience levels.

Q: Can I see marine wildlife at Hastings Reef?

A: Absolutely!  Hastings Reef is teeming with marine life, including Reef fish, rays, turtles, and even reef sharks.  Keep your eyes peeled for these incredible creatures during your snorkelling or diving adventure.

Q: What is the best time to visit Hastings Reef?

A: It’s always a good time to visit this Reef, but the dry season (May to October) offers the best weather conditions with lower chances of rainfall and excellent visibility.

Q: Are there options for non-swimmers at Hastings Reef?

A: If you’re a non-swimmer, you can still experience the beauty through underwater observatories and semi-submersible tours.  These activities allow you to see marine life without getting wet.

Q: Can I take my children to Hastings Reef?

A: Absolutely!  this is a family-friendly destination.  Many tour operators cater to families, providing safe and fun experiences for children of all ages.

Q: Are there facilities on the reef for visitors?

A: Hastings Reef is a natural wonder, and there are no permanent facilities on the reef itself.  However, tour operators provide comfortable boats with amenities like snorkelling gear, wetsuits, and onboard facilities.

Q: Is it necessary to know swimming to visit Hastings Reef?

A: While knowing how to swim is beneficial for snorkelling and diving, there are options available for non-swimmers to experience the reef, such as semi-submersible tours.

Q: Can I book a private tour to Hastings Reef?

A: Yes, some tour operators offer private charters to Hastings Reef, allowing you to have a more personalized and exclusive experience with your group.

Q: How long does it take to reach Hastings Reef from Cairns?

A: The travel time from Cairns varies depending on the boat’s speed, but it generally takes 1.5 to 2 hours to reach the reef.

Q: Is scuba diving available at Hastings Reef?

A: Yes, scuba diving is available at Hastings Reef, and it’s a fantastic way to explore the deeper sections of the reef and encounter a diverse array of marine life.

Q: Can I take photos and videos underwater at Hastings Reef?

A: Absolutely!  Many tour operators allow visitors to take pictures and videos underwater, capturing the incredible beauty of the reef and its inhabitants.

Q: Are there age restrictions for snorkeling and diving at Hastings Reef?

A: Age restrictions may vary between tour operators, but many offer snorkelling experiences for all ages, and some have age limits for diving to ensure safety.

Q: Are there any conservation efforts in place to protect Hastings Reef?

A: Yes, the Great Barrier Reef, including Hastings Reef, is a protected UNESCO World Heritage site.  Tour operators follow strict guidelines to preserve the reef’s fragile ecosystem and minimize environmental impact.

Q: Can I visit Hastings Reef during the wet season?

A: Hastings Reef is accessible during the wet season, but the weather conditions may be less favourable, with occasional rainfall and reduced visibility.

Q: Is there a chance to spot sharks at Hastings Reef?

A: Yes, there are various marine species, including reef sharks.  Spotting these magnificent creatures during your snorkelling or diving adventure is possible.

Q: Can I see coral formations at Hastings Reef?

A: Absolutely!  This site has terrific coral formations of various shapes and colours, providing a breathtaking underwater landscape for snorkelers and divers to explore.

Q: Can I combine a visit to Hastings Reef with other activities in Cairns?

A: Yes, Cairns offers a plethora of activities and attractions.  After your reef adventure, you can explore the rainforest, take a scenic railway journey, or enjoy the vibrant nightlife in Cairns.

Q: Are there options for private photography sessions at Hastings Reef?

A: Some tour operators offer private photography sessions, allowing you to capture professional-quality images of your underwater experience.

Q: Can I book a tour to Hastings Reef online?

A: We feature the best tour operators visiting this site.  With live availability on this website, securing your spot for a memorable adventure is easy.

Q: Is there a maximum number of visitors allowed at Hastings Reef?

A: To protect the delicate ecosystem of the reef, tour operators follow guidelines to manage visitor numbers and ensure sustainable tourism practices.

Q: Are there any restrictions on touching or collecting marine life at Hastings Reef?

A: Not touching or collecting marine life is essential to preserve the delicate marine ecosystem.  Adhering to responsible snorkelling and diving practices is crucial to safeguard the reef and its inhabitants for future generations.

Red Gorgonian Coral Hastings Reef

Nearby Cairns Reefs