You will be surprised as to how much you can see and do while exploring the Great Barrier Reef. These activities include snorkeling, diving, boating, bushwalking, wildlife watching and reef walking. Other activities may include swimming, visiting Reef HQ (the Turtle Hospital), getting up close to stingrays, kayaking, bungee jumping, taking a speedboat ride, skydiving, horseback riding, relaxing on a catamaran and fishing.
There are also many guided boat excursions and scenic flights over the reef available that will feature some of the hot spots along the reef with an experienced and knowledgeable tour guide. Or maybe take a tour of the Great Barrier Reef from the sky above on a hot air balloon. Those wanting more of an adventure can explore the Tully River during a white water rafting tour.
If you only have a few days to spend exploring the Great Barrier Reef, you have to take the time to visit Green Island and go beach walking on Fitzroy Island. If you have more time in the area you can go visit the waterfalls of the Atherton Tableland, which is located just inland from the Cairns. Do not forget to visit the Frankland Islands, where you will be amazed by the coral-fringe surrounding the islands. The Whitsunday Islands are home to some uninhabited islands and is the perfect location for snorkeling and beachcombing.
How To Get Around
When exploring the Great Barrier Reef, the best way to get around is either by car or by boat. The method you choose will depend upon where you plan to spend the majority of your time. Those staying on the mainland will want to rent a car, while those spending time on the islands will want to rent a boat to get around. Many vacationers find they need to rent both during their stay because they want to explore both the reef and the mainland.
Those wanting to hop from island to island can book a charter flight to take them around. Helicopters are also available for air transportation. Many of the operators of charter flights and helicopters in the area also offer air tours of the reef. Other methods of transportation on the mainland include the Queensland Rail, and bus service and taxis are easy to find.
When To Go
The weather in the months from June to November are the most mild, making this time of year the best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef. When planning your trip, try to avoid this region during the months from December through March. This is the wet season, which brings high temperatures and a lot of rainfall.
Where To Stay
The best place to stay when wanting to explore the Great Barrier Reef is in the few towns along the Queensland coast. Staying here will give you easy access to the reef and will serve as a gateway to the many activities you will want to try during your getaway. There you will find a variety of island resorts, including small, quaint accommodations all the way up to the large and popular places to stay. Many of the hotels and accommodation options are within walking distance of the beach, offering easy access to all of the things you will want to see and do.
Some of the most popular places to stay when visiting the Great Barrier Reef include:
- Angsana Resorts
- Bedarra Island Resort
- Bramptom Island Resort
- Daydream Island Resort
- Hayman Island Resort
- Lady Elliot Island
- Lizard Island Resort
- Whitsundays Resorts and Hotels
Where To Eat
Many who visit the Great Barrier Reef plan to pack their meals and bring them with when they go exploring. However, those wanting to sit down and relax will have a variety of dining options available to them. Many of the local restaurants offer something for everyone, including burgers, pizzas, vegan options, pasta dishes and sandwiches. You will find many casual places to dine, all of which will make you feel at home.
Popular restaurants to dine at when visiting the Great Barrier Reef include:
- Little Vegas Burger & Bar
- Annee’s Caphe
- Long House
- Sea Grapes Bistro and Wine Bar
- Cool Lala Asian Cuisine Restaurant
No matter what you want to do on your next vacation, you are sure to find it while visiting the Great Barrier Reef. You will find everything from adventure to relaxation and from guided tours to go-it-alone explorations of the reef. A visit to the Great Barrier Reef will help you become one with nature and give you the opportunity to escape your busy life back home.
Heather Landon (Heather Leigh Carroll) is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.