Sleeping under the stars, with the magic of the underwater world beneath you is about as cleansing of an experience as you can get. Far from civilization, the stars are amazingly bright and–but for the waves breaking over the boat–it would be almost unbearably quiet.
The best way to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is definitely a live-on-board scuba diving trip. Because in most places, the GBR is some 2-3 hours from shore, it is really not worth it to just do a day trip. In Cairns, a gateway town to the GBR, there are numerous establishments offering just that. We went with Scuba Pro and would recommend them to anybody. A three-day trip is about $400/pp, all-inclusive: boat trip, two nights on the boat (there are private rooms, but some people choose the sleep-on-the-deck option to enjoy the stars), food and drinks, equipment rental and 11 dives, including 2 night dives. All in, it’s a pretty good deal. This is also a good way to get certified, although after diving the GBR, you’ll be spoiled and other places will seem like a cold pool of muddy water.
Needless to say, the diving is incredible. Turtles, sharks, lobsters, dolphins…all in water so warm you don’t actually need a wetsuits, if it weren’t for the damn jellyfish.