Travel Tips / How to discover the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef inspires us, with its breathtaking 2,300km of coral reef – the largest in the World! Once you get to experience it you won’t be surprised it is one of the seven wonders of the world. Did you know it is actually the only living structure that you can see from outer space?

How can I experience this incredible underwater gem – you ask?
Swim it! Snorkel it! Dive it! Cruise it! Or fly over it! Either way: you will be amazed!

How to get to the Great Barrier Reef

As mentioned above, the Great Barrier Reef is 2,300km! Its vastness means there are many different points of departure to experience it. These are the main ones (with an (A) next to those which have airports):

  • Cape Tribulation
  • Port Douglas
  • (A) Cairns
  • Mission Beach
  • (A) Townsville – Magnetic Island
  • (A) Airlie Beach – Whitsundays
  • (A) Rockhampton – Yeppoon

How to experience the Great Barrier Reef

Fly over the Whitsundays & the Great Barrier Reef

Create a lifelong memory by flying over the stunning Whitsunday Islands – including famous Whitehaven Beach and its pure white silica sand – and over the gigantic Great Barrier Reef. This is certainly the best way to comprehend the immensity of this natural wonder and the only way to see the world-famous Heart Reef!

Destinations Whitsundays Great Barrier Reef Heart Reef
Scenic Flight Hill Inlet Australia

Snorkel & dive on a day trip from Cairns or Port Douglas

Jump on a full day trip from Cairns or Port Douglas and live the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience! Depending on the company you choose to cruise with, you will be visiting some of the Reef’s unique spots and offered options to snorkel, dive (introductory or certified), attend glass bottom boat tours or marine biologist presentations.

Cruise Great Barrier Reef Cairns Australia
Dive Great Barrier Reef Cairns Australia

Snorkel on secluded reefs

If you like the idea of getting away from the crowds and find these more secluded spots, why not visit the Great Barrier Reef from the Daintree Rainforest. You can go on a half day snorkelling tour and maximise your chances of swimming with turtles. Visit two world heritage areas at once and experience the ultimate tropical paradise.

Mackay Cay
Credit: Ocean Safari
Destinations Tropical North Queensland Reef Ocean Safari
Credit: Ocean Safari

Sleep on the reef

We are not kidding, you definitely can watch the sunset before you go to sleep on the Reef and wake up the next morning to watch the sunrise on the Reef! These boat tours are called Liveaboards and offer single and multiple night options. You sleep on the vessel and get to snorkel and / or dive multiple times and on multiple parts of the Reef. You may even be able to experience the underwater playground during the night!

Sleep On The Reef Great Barrier Reef Australia
Turtle Great Barrier Reef Australia

Sail the Whitsunday Islands

Kill two birds with one stone and sail the magnificent Whitsunday Islands as you snorkel (or even dive) the Great Barrier Reef! This group of 74 islands certainly gives you a taste of paradise on earth. Hop on a sailing tour to combine sailing around these mostly uninhabited islands with visiting one of the world’s most beautiful beaches and discovering the incredible Great Barrier Reef marine life. There are options for every taste depending on the group size, type of boat and atmosphere you prefer.

Sail Whitsundays Australia
Manta Ray Bay
Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Skydive over the Reef

It doesn’t get any better than experiencing the thrill of jumping out of a plane to a view over the crystal clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef! You can live this exhilarating experience from several departure points of the Great Barrier Reef. Whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed!

Skydive Airlie Beach Australia

Relax on an Island

All these incredible activities sound great but you’re more the type to enjoy the World’s natural wonders chilling out with a cocktail in hand? No worries! Experience the Great Barrier Reef from one of its numerous islands. Fitzroy, Green, Magnetic, Hamilton, Daydream, Orpheus, Great Keppel – to name a few – each have their own way to dazzle you.

Destinations Tropical North Queensland Fitzroy Island Nudey Beach Fitzroy Island Adventures
Credit: Fitzroy Island Adventures
Magnetic Island Alma Bay Kayak
Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Which part of the Great Barrier Reef should I go to?

The Great Barrier Reef consists of 2,900 reefs and 900 islands. There are two main types of reefs: the Inner Fringing Reefs and the Outer Great Barrier Reef. No need to panic! Which ever you have visited or plan to visit you aren’t going wrong! Both of these parts of the reef offer mind blowing experiences and they are both part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Depending on the tours and activities you choose you may visit one of these parts of the Reef.

Snorkelling Florence Bay Magnetic Island
Credit Tourism & Events Queensland

Inner Fringing Reefs

This part of the reef is the closest to the mainland and often found around the islands. It is therefore quicker to get to. The Inner Reefs usually have softer corals and a huge variety of the smaller fish species as well as larger species such as turtles, reef sharks, Maori Wrasse. It feels really safe to snorkel around this part of the reef as it usually has calmer waters.

Lady Musgrave Island snorkelling
Credit Tourism & Events Queensland.

Outer Great Barrier Reef

This part of the reef is much further from the mainland and therefore takes longer to get to. There is also better visibility, allowing for deeper dives and therefore satisfying those more experienced divers. This part of the reef offers more hard corals and a wider variety of biodiversity.

Outer Great Barrier Reef Whitsundays Australia

Take me to The Great Barrier Reef NOW!

Now that you are a Great Barrier Reef expert, you know this humongous natural wonder has endless opportunities for you to experience it.

Still feeling a little overwhelmed? Contact us with your Great Barrier Reef dreams and we’ll create the adventure that suits your style!

Whitsundays Heart Reef
Jeanne Platel Edited 2


Founder & Managing Director

Jeanne believes that travel is one of the best forms of education and is currently living with her family in a 4WD and a caravan on the roads of Australia. They are embracing the nomadic life and reconnecting with nature.

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