Guide to The Great Barrier Reef (2024)

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The Great Barrier Reef is a world-famous location that is the largest coral system and stretches for approximately 1500 miles along the northeast coast of Australia. This place is truly a blessing being one of the seven natural wonders of the world. With more than 900 white-sand islands located here, this largest living coral reef system on the planet is the best destination for tourists, environmentalists, and scuba divers alike and boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery available on Earth which can be witnessed from both above and below the water surfaces. The Great Barrier Reef is visible from outer space too and there are more than 1500 varieties of large fish species, 400 varieties of coral species, 4000 varieties of mollusc species, and 240 varieties of bird species that can be found in this magnificent location.

This place with its exquisite beauty and unique marine life has played an important role in shaping the nation’s culture and tourism industry. The Great Barrier Reef covers the coastline nearly the entire length of the state of Queensland, stretching from the southern city of Bundaberg to the northern point of Cape York in the Coral Sea. One of the largest hazards to this place is climate change which can cause a large-scale coral die-off, especially along the reef’s far northern stretches. A long-term environmentally-safe plan was introduced by the Australian and Queensland governments to fix the impacts of pollution and climate change, but more efforts are needed to protect this treasure for the future.

Things To Do In The Great Barrier Reef:

1. Scuba Diving

scuba diving

No matter if you are a beginner or an expert at scuba diving, you will definitely be mesmerised by the breathtaking aquatic wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef. It is the largest range of living coral on the whole planet which has an overflowing collection of reefs, shoals, and coral cays with tropical aquatic life. As one of the world’s top diving locations, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is a famous tourist destination. Many people will agree that one of the most wonderful and loving water sports is scuba diving which allows you to submerge yourself beneath the water totally and have incredible experiences of underwater marine habitats.

Don’t worry in case you can’t swim properly as you will be provided by professionals with flippers, an oxygen tank, and a scuba mask that will help you in floating and exploring this completely different ecosystem with a great diving experience. In this place, you will get plenty of professionals who will help you with scuba diving and they will make sure to provide you with entire tours so that you can do scuba diving comfortably. Before you get submerged under the water, you will be provided with a few lessons first to make the diving adventure safe and joyful.

2. Snorkelling

Snorkelling is one of the most popular activities at the Great Barrier Reef as it allows visitors to get a closer experience of underwater life and learn more about the ecosystem. This place provides a wide range of options for people who love snorkelling. You will find a new magical world as you submerge below the water’s surface. For snorkelling activity, you need to grab a pair of flippers, a breathing tube, and looking goggles to start with the remarkable exploration of aquatic life. It is an easily pleasurable and secure way to explore the reef as you move gradually by which you come across many parts of coral gardens and the habitats of numerous marine species.

Snorkelling is not deep as compared to scuba diving, but you can still get to witness some of the attractive creatures that live here including sharks, giant turtles, and a massive range of multicolor fish. There are a few islands like Fitzroy, Normanby, Port Douglas, and Lizard, which are located in the Great Barrier Reef where you can do snorkelling directly from the beach.

3. Sailing Or Cruise Trip

One of the best ways to explore the famous spots in the Great Barrier Reef is through the sailing and cruise trip from which you can witness the place’s beauty above the water’s surface. This trip can be for half or a full day which will definitely give you an unforgettable experience of the Great Barrier Reef. The facilities you will get include semi-submersible tours, snorkelling, diving, fish-feeding activities, luxurious pontoons (or flatboats), and many more.

If you can’t get into the water due to any reason, then you don’t need to worry as they have boats that have glass bottoms from where you can witness the breathtaking marine world. This boat is the best choice for your trip in case you are visiting this place with elderly family members or small kids. You can also take a night tour of the location by boat to experience the night-time aquatic life as you can get a chance to come across coral polyps which come out from their respective stony homes to feed on passing sea animals.

4. Scenic Helicopter Flight

Scenic Helicopter Flight

If you want to explore the locality of the magnificent Great Barrier Reef (will say it as “GBR”) through aerial view, then this scenic helicopter ride will be the best option for you. This offers you more time with extraordinary access to some of the reef’s outermost remote areas and inhabitants which can’t be explored by the seaways.

You can take an hour trip of scenic flight with your loved ones which will fly over the beautiful countless islands, aquatic ecosystem, and the amazing GBR which includes the very popular Heart Reef and Whitehaven Beach. This flight by helicopter departs from Airlie Beach and gives an unforgettable lifetime experience by providing breathtaking sky views of the location. You can also take the helicopter flight from Cairns or the Whitsundays too.

Great Barrier Reef Nearby Attractions & Activities

1. Cairns

You can visit Cairns which is a thriving tropical city and also known as the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Also, the activities you can enjoy here with your family and friends are mentioned below:

  • Daintree Rainforest: With the beautiful blue colours of the ocean all around, this place has some vibrant greens too. Inside Cairns, there is Daintree Rainforest which is the oldest and most beautiful rainforest in the world that is also World Heritage listed. If you are planning to visit this place, you will not only come across some of the last traces of the ancient rainforest in this territory but also witness a variety of native animals, and plants. This rainforest is overflowing with wonderful wildlife and lush surroundings that make it one of the best visitor destinations in the world.
  • Rafting in Whitewater: If you are adventurous and love rafting, then your visit to Cairns is a must. Also, it is one of the best activities in this tropical city. You can enjoy whitewater rafting with your family or friends which is available in the dazzling Russell and Barron Rivers. While rafting, you will come across the beautiful pristine rainforest, crystal-clear rivers, and breathtaking scenery that will surely give you unforgettable memories. This place is also a popular worldwide tourist destination for rafting.
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride: This phenomenal city has an amazing activity which is the hot air balloon. You can take a ride on this with your family or friends and experience astonishing scenes that you can’t afford to miss including the beautiful beaches, magical GBR, and the endless sky. Also from this great height, you can come across the incredible natural environments of this massive tropical north Queensland region.
  • Green Island Trip: Approx. 45 minutes far from the coast of Cairns, there is a Green Island. It is a thrillingly gorgeous coral cay that has been inhabited for more than 6,000 years that contains around 120 varieties of native plants and the vibrant life of bird species. You can reach this place easily by catamaran or sailboat.

This place is a perfect location for nature lovers as a trip to this island will not only give you amazing surroundings but also activities like snorkelling and riding on a glass bottom boat to explore more of this lovely destination.

2. Whitehaven Beach Trip

Whitehaven Beach Trip

Whitehaven Beach was recently chosen as the best beach in Australia which is well-known for its smooth white sand and crystal clear water of turquoise colour. Thousands of tourists come to this famous location every year to witness the pure white sand that is found here only but still, the environment of the surroundings remains pristine. Whitehaven beach is extended in an area of about seven kilometres.

It’s not only a perfect place to enjoy with your loved ones on the white sand or a picture-clicking location but also an extensive size beach that is large enough to make sure that even with a huge crowd you will probably get enough space for yourself to indulge in the beauty of the location. Whitehaven Beach is situated on Whitsunday Island and you can easily reach here by boat, seaplane, or helicopter from Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island.

Best Time To Visit The Great Barrier Reef

As the GBR has both tropical and subtropical climates, so you can visit this magnificent location in summertime and wintertime to experience its breathtaking views. But still, the best time to plan a trip has to be from May to October as this time of the year, the temperature gets more pleasant with very less chances of rain but ensuring better conditions for diving and other activities with crystal clear water. Additionally, in specific these months, there are plenty of events and aquatic sports are on the high rise.

Tips To Know Before Visiting

The GBR is an amazing location and one of the best tourist destinations, so we have mentioned a few tips for you to keep in mind if you are planning a trip here. These tips will surely guide you to make the most of your visit while also preventing you from harming this treasured natural resource. The tips are mentioned below:

  • Book flight tickets, hotels, and activity tickets at least a month before your visit (especially if you are traveling during the crowded season from June to October).
  • If you want to explore the GBR completely then you need to plan your trip for at least a week to enjoy it fully.
  • Carry necessary medicines with you in case of any emergency like motion sickness, heatstroke, etc.
  • To protect yourself from heat and sunburn, you must carry sunscreen, shades, caps, and swim shirts.
  • If you are visiting this place from November to May, then you should wear a stinger suit or swim in the guarded area on beaches which is covered by nets that will protect you from jellyfish species.
  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of water so that it will protect you from heatstroke, especially if you are out for so long in the sun.
  • Don’t touch the reef to prevent them from spoiling or damaging the coral.
  • Take waterproof covers or cases for your phones and cameras to prevent them from getting wet as you want to capture the aquatic habitats under the water.

How Can You Reach the Great Barrier Reef?

How Can You Reach the Great Barrier Reef

There are two ways for you to reach the GBR, which are mentioned below:

  • By Air: The main airport to reach the GBR is from Hamilton Island (one of the Whitsunday Islands) and the name of the airport is Hamilton Islands Airport. This airport gets flights from Melbourne, Sydney, Cairns, and many parts of Australia on an everyday basis. You can take any international flight from Cairns, Melbourne, or Sydney and then from there fly to Hamilton Island.
  • By Sea: You can also choose sea access like boats, cruises, or sails to reach the GBR from Cairns. Sea transports are also available from some places including Mission Island, Townsville, and many more. Basically, you will get many sea departures from the northernmost coastal town of Cape York to the southernmost coastal town of Bundaberg.

Where To Stay In The Great Barrier Reef?

The best hotels and resorts to stay in the GBR are mentioned below:

  • 1770 Lagoons Central Apartment Resort
  • Ferntree Rainforest Hotel
  • InterContinental Hayman Island Resort, an IHG Hotel
  • Bungalow Bay Koala Village
  • Gilligan’s
  • Fitzroy Island Resort
  • Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Port Douglas

Best Places To Eat In The Great Barrier Reef?

The best places to enjoy delicious food in the GBR are mentioned below:

  • Melaleuca
  • Osprey’s Restaurant at Thala Beach Nature Reserve
  • The Reef House Restaurant – Palm Cove
  • Salsa Bar and Grill
  • Piato Cairns Restaurant
  • The Surfy Port Douglas
  • Tha Fish
  • Waterbar & Grill Steakhouse

How Much Does A Trip To The Great Barrier Reef Cost?

There is no doubt that the GBR is one of the most phenomenal places available on this planet. This place is overloaded with coral and vast ranges of marine animals. Also, you will come across crystal clear water, reefs, and islands all over the surrounding. Thousands of tourists get attracted every year to the GBR’s natural beauty. There is an overflow of trip companies and boat cruises that provides varieties of activities. Some people prefer a budget-friendly trip to explore the place and some people desire an invaluable experience and the budget for their trip doesn’t matter. So for this reason, your trip to this place can vary according to your budget preferences.

The price list for different activities and experiences is mentioned below:



  • Adults- $200
  • Kids- $110
  • Infants (upto 3 years)- free
  • Family (2 adults and 2 kids)- $550

Snorkelling with scuba diving:

  • Adults- $250
  • Kids (above 10)- $160

***You need to pay an additional cost if you want a helicopter flight along with a reef cruise.

  • Wetsuits– $12pp
  • Helicopter Flight– $200pp



  • Adults- $340
  • Kids- $285
  • Infants (upto 3 years)- free

Snorkelling with scuba diving:

  • Adults- $400
  • Kids (above 10)- $350

PREMIUM PACKAGE: (Private lounge in Reef Cruise- upto 8 people)

  • Two people- $800
  • Upto 8 people- $260pp/kids- $160pp
  • Scenic Helicopter Flight- $200pp

*** These packages are just for information and guide purposes. It can change depending on the time you’re travelling, availability and other influencing factors.


If you are searching for an amazing place to visit and love nature and beaches, you should definitely plan to explore the Great Barrier Reef which is not only one of the best 7 natural wonders around the world but also the largest coral system. It is on the top list of tourist favourite destinations. You will get lifetime memories with your loved ones here while coming across a beautiful dazzling marine world, magical islands, activities, and many more.


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