Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is Australia's greatest natural treasure, and the world’s largest coral reef. This underwater wonderland stretches for 2,300 km (1,426 miles) from Bundaberg to Australia's northernmost tip. At its closest, it's only 30 km (18.5 miles) away from the Queensland coast.
The Great Barrier Reef encompasses almost 3,000 individual reefs. Their multicoloured beauty is made up of 400 types of living and dead coral polyps, home to around 1,500 species of fish, 4,000 breeds of clams, 500 types of seaweed, 200 species of birds, 1,500 different sponges and half a dozen varieties of turtles.
The Great Barrier Reef is also dotted with around 900 islands, including coral cays such as Green Island and Heron Island, along with the Whitsundays sand islands. Fringing reefs surround the islands, while the outer reef faces away from the mainland and islands and out to sea.
Review by Kathleen W, April 2013
Doing what: Private Helicopter Tour: Great Barrier Reef Island Snorkeling and Gourmet Picnic Lunch
For a special occasion, or even just because, this is a sensational trip to do. On time, professional pick up from our hotel, followed by a required safety information session, but it wasn't long til we were in the sky. Landing on Middle Cay just as the tide was receding was fantastic. While we snorkelled, our pilot laid out a picnic rug and champagne brunch - a very generous offering compared to others we have experienced! Having two hours to snorkle, swim, lie in the sun and just enjoy the reef was wonderful. An experience we couldn't recommend more highly!
Review by Kyle T, April 2013
Doing what: Great Barrier Reef Luxury Snorkel and Dive Cruise from Cairns
They were wonderful! They were entertaining and always made sure we had what we needed. They also got in the water to teach my daughter how to snorkel. The food was plentiful, the attitudes were fabulous! The Great Bartier Reef was AMAZING! Money well spent for sure! I would recommend this tour to anyone, but especially if you have kids! It is a great family atmosphere!
Review by DJCraigPeter, April 2013
Doing what: Great Barrier Reef Scenic Helicopter Tour and Cruise from Port Douglas
Quicksilver is operated very well. After jumping on the catamaran, you are driving an hour and a half to the outer reef. During that time a marine biologist will give you a lesson in the animal life on the reef; if not, you can site inside near the coffee and biscuits or outside and soak up some sun. The platform on Agincourt reef easily accommodates the 100+ people on your catamaran.
The staff on at the dock, on the platform and on the boat are friendly and helpful. GET IN THE WATER IMMEDIATELY! After an hour or 2, the overabundance of suntan lotion and stirring up the waters, makes the water cloudy and reduces the visibility of the coral and fish. Rent a stingersuit (wetsuit) too- depending on the time of year you go, you can be surrounded by stingers. Don't worry about buying a rashie beforehand, the stinger suit is very affordable.
Spend the extra money on a helicopter ride too- you can do the 10 minute ride while you're there but I suggest taking the helicopter back to the mainland. There's nothing like the feeling of being swept away on a helicopter in front of everyone else--- you feel famous! LOL The pilot sweeps around several reefs and will help you spot turtles, rays, sharks, etc. Plus, it whisks you home in 35 minutes after a long day in the sun and water.
The best way to experience the Great Barrier Reef is on a snorkeling day cruise from Cairns, Cape Tribulation, Port Douglas or Townsville. The water is at its clearest from April to October. Sightseeing cruises also sail out to sea for a day of fish feeding, reef education and underwater safaris.