Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is a spectacular coral reef ecosystem known for beauty that has brought its visitors to tears.
Visit the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is an underwater paradise famous for its remarkable variety, vivid colors, diverse marine life and its scientific wonders. The reef is so large that it can be seen from outer space which makes it the earth’s biggest structure created by living things. Those “things” are billions of teeny tiny organisms, known as coral polyps.
Located in the Coral Sea in Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is a stretch of 900 islands that cover an expanse of 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers). The range of sea life thrive in shallow inshore areas as well as mid-shelf and outer reefs. Go beyond the continental shelf and the oceanic waters are more than 2,000 meters deep. UNESCO declared this special place a World Heritage Site in 1981. In November 2014, Google launched Google Underwater Street View in 3D of the Great Barrier Reef.
What can you find in the world’s largest collection of coral reefs? The list for adventure lovers and nature lovers is impressive. You can encounter 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusks.
Environmental Impact: Know Before You Go
The Great Barrier Reef is also special to the local people. The Aboriginal Australian people and Torres Strait Islanders refer to it as part of their spirituality.
What it is also known for, however, is how it is currently suffering from the stress of pollution. Warm waters have led to problems like mass coral bleaching. Some reports have concluded that the Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985. As a result, Australia’s tourism operators are asking officials to take urgent action. They want world leaders to tackle climate change, shift to renewable energy and stop harmful infrastructure investments near the Great Barrier Reef to and ensure their beloved reef survives forever. It’s also great to know that the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park has helped to limit stress of pollution and other activities that can harm the natural wonder.
Visit the Great Barrier Reef
As the Australian tourism groups aim to fight to keep their gorgeous natural wonder of the world as safe as possible, the reef remains a safe and beautiful destination for tourists from around the globe to experience.
Cairns is the closest starting point for these excursions. There are also many isles off the Queensland coast with great tour options. Planning a holiday here means relaxing during spectacular sunsets, enjoying moonlit soaked nights and walking pristine beaches. Your mode of getting around will scenic experiences too. There are all type of glass-bottomed boat tours, catamaran, pontoon and seaplane rides to choose from. You can even skydive in one of the world’s picturesque drop zones!
Stays are a unique escapee in themselves. The island resorts in the Great Barrier Reef are stunning, set against a backdrop of the clear, warm waters the Coral Sea.
Travel to the Great Barrier Reef: Highlights
If you’re already daydreaming about travel to the Great Barrier Reef, these highlights will have you dreaming some more:
Amazing Experiences Unique to the Great Barrier Reef
- The famously heart-shaped natural wonder known as the Heart Reef can be flown over with your loved one — a perfect romantic outing.
- Feel the wind in your hair as you sail through the 74 idyllic islands of the Whitsundays with a stop to walk on the pure white, silica sands of Whitehaven Beach.
- Rent a seaplane for a breathtaking aerial view of the sand bar at Cairns.
- For some vibrant fine dining, stay near Airlie Beach. This town is known for its idyllic beaches, picturesque parks and fine restaurants.
- Go on a fun night dive! See exquisite marine life that blooms when the sun goes down.
- Agincourt Reef is stunning and sits on the very edge of the Great Barrier Reef.
- Hikers aren’t left out here. The Thorsborne Trail is the four-day, 20-mile (32 kilometer) trek through mountains, jungle-like rainforests and across beautiful beaches.
Animal Encounters in the Great Barrier Reef
- Visit Michaelmas which is home to dozens of seabird species.
- Dive to find yourself among clownfish and purple anthias, butterfly fish, surgeon fish, parrot fish and trigger fish.
- Who doesn’t love koalas? There are many to see on Magnetic island.
- Turtles are just as loveable and they hatch between November and March on Heron island, an island that just takes 20 minutes to walk around.
- Get a glimpse of the seagrass-munching dugong which is known as the sea cow.
- See the man-made Living Reef on Daydream Island. Here you can even hand-feed the cute and friendly baby stingrays.
How to Get to the Great Barrier Reef
International travelers fly into Cairns Airport. Domestic flights fly onto Hamilton Island, Proserpine, Townsville airports.
The best months to plan your travel is between June to November. During this time, the weather is mild and visibility is pretty good. It is best to avoid travel to the Great Barrier Reef travel during Queensland’s wet season which stretches from December to March. Avoid the oppressive heat during this time of the year which also guarantees very strong rains.
Have you ever been to the Great Barrier Reef? Is it on your bucket list?