The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral formation, located off the Pacific coast of Queensland, Australia. It is home to a spectacular array of marine life and offers awesome diving opportunities.
How to get there
You can have a day trip to the reefs and arrange them all along length of the Queensland Coast. The further north you leave from, the shorter the trip to the reef, as it approaches the coast near Cape Tribulation.
Major operators provide early morning departure. They always return to one or two specific locations, and it is not unusual for several boats to be within a few hundred metres of each other. These types of trips are offered from the mainland coastal towns out of Cape Tribulation, Port Douglas, Cairns, Townsville, Airlie Beach (Shute Harbour), Mackay, Gladstone, and 1770 (from north to south).
These day trips will provide you with overnight stays. Not all islands off the coast are on the reef. Some are continental islands, some coral cays. Some of the continental islands have coral gardens off the beach, others do not. The islands that are not on the reef, generally run some sort of day trip by boat to the reef.
What to do
Go to Pumpkin Island Eco Retreat which is off the Capricorn Coast near Yeppoon. This is an amazing place nestled within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Pumpkin Island Eco Retreat has five very stylish, eco-friendly self-catering cottages powered by wind and sun, overlooking a crystalline beach. Each accommodates between four and eight guests and is fully self-contained, very contemporary in flair and nicely separate from each other.
Bedarra Island, Bedarra Island, Queensland is a privately owned island between the Great Barrier Reef and South Mission Beach on the mainland. There is a luxury resort consisting of 16 villas nestled into the rain forest. With a maximum of 32 guests in the resort at any one time, the island is still very much a secret to the outside world. Children aged 12 years and under are not catered for. The Great Barrier Reef is nearby and organized snorkeling and scuba diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef can be arranged. If you can afford it and book it with time, make sure you visit this.
The Great Barrier Reef is a gorgeous diving destination, even though experienced divers find parts of it overused and damaged. Learn to dive in Towns ville, Cairns or Port Douglas. Most students prefer to do a two day pool and classroom course, followed by a two or three day live aboard visiting the reef to the east of Cairns.
Some of the many islands have accommodation. Accommodation on the islands can be pricy and varies from $150 and up. Cairns Australia keeps an updated list of available accommodation on the Great Barrier Reef islands.
Be careful of jellyfish occur near beaches. They are usually not found in deep water or over coral, and most people snorkeling on the reef go without stinger protection. Wear a wet suit (available on all the dive boats) to stay protected against stingers. They are very rare, but deadly. Sharks also exist, although they rarely attack humans. Most sharks are scared of humans and would swim away. Saltwater Crocodiles don’t actively live in the ocean, because their primary habitat is in river estuaries north from Rockhampton. They use the ocean to travel between river systems and islands. Anyway, keep your eyes open.