Great Barrier Reef and Cairns
Travel to The Great Barrier Reef to explore 86 million acres of underwater paradise. Larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living organism that can be viewed from outer space, The Great Barrier Reef is frequently listed today as one of the “Seven wonders of the modern world”. Without a doubt, the Great Barrier Reef is a “must-see” on your Australia vacation.
Home to a massive array of colorful marine life, The UNESCO World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system, extending 1,200 miles along the coast of Queensland from Lady Elliott Island to just south of Papua New Guinea.
A divers’ and snorkelers’ wonderland, the reef flourishes with dugongs, turtles, dolphins, 400 species of coral, starfish, sponges, sea urchins and over 1,500 species of fish. There are three types of reef found in the Great Barrier Reef including fringe reefs, ribbon reefs and platform or patch reefs which can only be found north of Cairns.
The Reef is generally divided into three parts - the northern, central and southern regions. The northern section spans most of the east coast of Queensland north of Cairns. The central section is anchored by Townsville and the Whitsunday Islands and the southern section encompasses the Capricorn Coast and Fraser Island.
Since it covers such a vast distance, there are a number of gateways to the reef and several options for experiencing it. The main access points are Port Douglas, Cairns, Mission Beach, Townsville, the Whitsunday Islands, Gladstone and Bundaberg. Take a day trip out to snorkel or dive, scuba to your heart’s content on a live aboard dive boat, relax on a several day cruise around the reef, or stay a few days at one of several reef-side island resorts.
Each of the islands in the Great Barrier Reef seems in possession of its own personality. Fraser Island is a World Heritage listed island on the southern end of the reef, known for its always-evolving sand dunes. “Island Escapes,” a term for the more upscale resort islands, include Hayman, Brampton, Orpheus, Lizard, Bedarra and Hamilton Islands. Lady Elliott, Wilson, Heron and Lizard are considered the more natural islands, and great spots for diving or fishing. More family-oriented islands are Daydream, Hayman, Dunk or Hamilton Islands. Those seeking a more active vacation should consider the Whitsundays–Long Island, Daydream or Hamilton.
Travel to The Great Barrier Reef for a spectacular natural setting and picture-perfect memories. With over 25 islands to choose from, there is something in the region for every traveler, whether it’s 5-star luxury or a Jurassic park safari-style getaway.