If you prefer to do the academic part of the PADI Open Water Diver course in your own country with your local dive center, nothing is stopping you to do so. The PADI referral course allows you to start with the theory and pool sessions at home, and continue with your 4 open water dives at another PADI dive center, anywhere in the world. Only rule is, you have to complete it all within 12 months. Finishing your course on a liveaboard, is a really nice way of doing it! The adventure of staying out on the reef for three days and the additional 5 extra recreational dives makes this course unmatched for experience and value. Since you have already done your dive theory and all the skills in the pool, you can focus on getting the experience in the open water on one of the most famous reefs in the world.
The Great Barrier Reef is a Marine Park and World Heritage area. It is recognized as one of the world's most unique and amazing marine spectacles and extends for 2300 kilometers along the northeastern coast of Australia. It consists of about 2900 individual reefs and covers an area the size of the United Kingdom. Its ecosystem supports the greatest concentration of life on this planet with its resident marine life including 1,500 species of fish, 350 different kinds of coral, 4000 species of mollusks and 10,000 species of sponges. It also provides breeding areas for humpback whales, sea turtles dugong and seabirds. Hundreds of species of algae, including seaweeds, also live on the reef as a vital part of the reef system.
The Cairns region is a major destination for backpackers from around the world. As the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree rainforest, Cairns is an excellent spot for adventure travellers to base themselves. Cairns is the starting point for extended travel in the region including trips to the Daintree Rainforest and Cape York, the Atherton Tableland and Mission Beach area. As a popular tourism destination, there are a range of accommodation options and backpacker tours available in the region.