Visiting the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef – a World Heritage site that’s a living masterpiece so big it can actually be spotted from outer space. It’s hardly surprising this natural wonder is one of the most visited marine sites on the planet. Swimming, snorkelling, diving and sailing are just a few of the activities that make a trip to this delightful area of the world so very memorable.

The Great Barrier Reef lazily stretches for over 2,000 kilometres off the Queensland coast. Starting at Port Douglas and going right up to Bundaberg, this vast area is a fascinating and colourful undersea wonder that you can’t help marvelling at. Along the reef which is dotted with delightful, palm fringed islands, there are a myriad of things to discover – and then thoroughly explore!

The Great Barrier Reef as seen from space

The Great Barrier Reef as seen from space

Island Hopping Around the Reef

This is a great way to discover and explore the reef with some of the best five-star resorts to choose from dotted along the coast as well as a few of the islands. If you’re looking for a more “back to nature” holiday experience, there is a superb selection of camp sites all situated in breath taking natural settings just feet away from the water’s edge.

Many of the islands along the Great Barrier Reef are natural parks which make for wonderful castaway locations to use as bases. Green and Fitzroy islands close to Cairns being two of them, but further to the south there’s Dunk, Hinchinbrook, Orpheus and Bedarra islands that are well worth investigating too. For the best diving and luxury resorts – head over to Hayman, Lizard and Heron islands – you’ll not be disappointed with all you find.

The wonderful undersea world of the reef

The wonderful undersea world of the reef

Dive Your Way Around the Reef

There are loads of dive schools along the reef where people can learn to dive and then experience the calm waters, deep drop offs as well as underwater tunnels and caves where a multitude of marine life thrives. Agincourt Reef off Cairns is one of the most popular areas of the reef with shipwrecks making great dive sites for people to explore.

The marine life along the reef is fantastic with bright and colourful corals being home to an array of fish, molluscs, crabs and sea stars to name just a few found near Fitzroy, and the Bunker Reefs off Gladstone.

Swim with the turtles through the vivid coral canyons found close to Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrave islands or take a day trip out from Airlie beach in a glass-bottomed boat to marvel at the quiet undersea world of the Great Barrier Reef.

Catch the Wind in Your Sails

Many people choose to charter yachts out of Port Douglas and then sail on to Low Isles. This is a secluded island gem that was discovered by Captain Cook back in 1770. It is also possible to charter boats out of Hamilton Island as well as from Airlie Beach. Both of these departure points offer some splendid sailing through turquoise waters of the Whit Sunday Islands. The parts of the reef to visit en-route are off Black, Bird Island and Langford. You’ll discover plenty of resorts to anchor off at which include on Hamilton, Daydream and Long Islands. Sailing in these waters is a real pleasure and has to be one of the most enjoyable ways of experiencing the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef in all its splendour.

Take in the Ambiance of the Rainforest

As mentioned above, many of the islands along the Great Barrier Reef are national parks – exploring the undersea world of the reef is a fantastic experience and as an added bonus, there’s a heap of things to see above the waterline too. The lush Whitsunday islands have to be explored but then a trip down the Daintree River should also be on the list of things to do – this takes you to Mossman Gorge right in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest.

Soar Above the Reef in a Helicopter

Another fabulous way to see the reef and the Daintree Rainforest is to organise a scenic helicopter ride and soar above one of the most beautiful natural wonders on the world and get a birds’ eye view of it.


The Great Barrier Reef has attracted people to Australia’s Queensland coast for decades. This marvellous stretch of shoreline and what is the longest collection of reefs in the world teems with a fascinating and colourful collection of marine life. It’s hardly surprising people want to make a trip of lifetime to see it. Diving the Great Barrier Reef can be a life changing experience as you float next to sea turtles and rays that leisurely swim by. It’s exciting, colourful and all in a setting that’s hard to beat – which of course it the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere that’s so Australia.

Image credits: eutrophication&hypoxia and babasteve

Laura Hornsey
Laura is a travel blogger and editor for The Independent and Time.


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