The only living thing that is visible from space, Australia’s breathtakingly beautiful Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world.
It is Earth’s largest and most spectacular coral reef system, with around 2,000 individual reefs, and 900 tropical islands – many of which can be explored.
This vast World Heritage-listed paradise has the planet’s largest concentration of marine life. There are 1500 species of fish, 350 types of coral, and a plethora of sea creatures such as dolphins, porpoises, sea turtles, dugongs, sharks, monster gropers, gorgeous giant clams, and whales during the migration season.
It’s easy to discover the Great Barrier Reef if you’re based in Cairns, as it’s close to the city.
Great Barrier Reef Must Do’s
Diving into the Great Barrier Reef is number one on the list.
Getting out there for that scuba dive, snorkel or swim is half the fun. Spoil yourself with a trip on a luxury private charter. Jump on a beautiful yacht, or a cruise boat with a glass bottom. Take the kids and Grandma on a snorkelling excursion aboard a big catamaran. You can even venture forth on a semi-submersible submarine.
Take reef shoes if you expect to go ashore at an island. Remember your sunscreen. And don’t forget your shark repellent.
People come from all over the world to dive The Great Barrier Reef. Divers love the warm water, and visibility is awesome most of the year.
It’s especially good for learners as Cairns’ tightly regulated dive industry has high standards of professionalism and safety.
Cairns has numerous dive shops, learn to dive schools, and dive expedition operators. Prices and inclusions vary, but generally, learn to dive courses offer exceptional value – especially if there’s an overnight boat trip included.
If you’re in Cairns with young children, family, or friends who are older or less mobile, snorkelling is a fantastic way be safely immersed in the reef’s magical underwater world.
You don’t have to be a good swimmer – water is usually shallow and there are pontoons to swim between. Also, flippers and a lifejacket keep you afloat and moving.
Equipment and instructions are usually included in the ticket price.
Several operators have powered lifts for wheelchair passengers so they can float off their chair and into the sea.
Choosing your Great Barrier Reef Adventure
You might feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices. Great Barrier Reef tourism is an important economic activity in this region, so there are heaps of operators offering all kinds of tempting adventures.
Find out which Great Barrier Reef tour operators are recommended by fellow travellers.