Off the coast of Queensland lies over 2000 kilometres of world-famous reef, a wondrous eco-system that has a place on bucket lists all around the globe. Although many people associate a trip to the Great Barrier Reef with snorkeling or scuba diving, there are many other ways to discover the beauty of this natural marvel.
Sea plane or helicopter flight
The best way to comprehend the magnitude of the reef is from the air. From various locations in the Whitsundays, Cairns or Port Douglas you can take a flight out over the azure waters of the reef, ranging from a 30 minute joyride to a three hour package that includes an island picnic. This is the best way to see Heart Reef – the most photographed section of reef in the world.
A throwback to scuba divers of old, these air-tight helmets allow you to explore the ocean floor without the fuss of a regulator or diving credentials. You can enjoy the Seawalker experience at Green Island Cairns, famous for its turtle spotting.
Big ship outer reef trips
Many people don’t realise that the majority of the reef is quite a way off the coast, and a trip out to an appropriate spot for diving or snorkeling can take up to three hours from Airlie Beach, or 90 minutes from Cairns. Bigger providers such as Cruise Whitsundays and Marine World in Cairns make it worth your while; their stationary outer-reef pontoons have waterslides, glass bottomed boats and underwater observatories to keep you entertained, and day packages include a hearty buffet lunch.
Fitzroy Island is the only place that currently offers a submarine experience of the Great Barrier Reef. These mini, three-seater subs are operated by a fully qualified submarine driver, who offers a running commentary of knowledge on all the sights you will spy from your porthole.
Being propelled by the power of the wind alone is a magical experience, and watching sailors in action is something you get to see all that often. For a more intimate experience, jump aboard a catamaran tour, where you’ll be literally shown the ropes and get a greater understanding into the operation of these impressive vessels. The shallow draft gives your captain greater flexibility, and allows you to weigh anchor closer to any prime snorkeling spots.
If you’re feeling adventurous, sign up for a kayaking tour and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. From Lady Musgrave Island right up to Cape Tribulation, there are opportunities to float over the reef with only a kayak separating you from the world's most magical underwater world. Take a half day tour through the aquamarine waters, or set off on a six-night adventure and camp at secluded spots that will stun you with their beauty.
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