EXPLORE THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
The Great Barrier Reef is weged between two World Heritage Listed National Parks, on land there is the Daintree National Park with it amazing ancient rain forests, and on the other side there is the Great Barrier Reef Marina Park, our planet's largest coral reef system made up of nearly three thousand individual reefs and nine hundred islands stretching for more than 2300 kilometres over an area of about 344,400 square kilometres.
The reef is located in the Coral Sea, another name for this part of the Pacific Ocean. The Great Barrier Reef is so large that it can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reef structure built by many billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. It supports an amazing diversity of life and gained World Heritage listing in 1981. The Great Barrier Reef has long been used by the Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and is an important part of local groups' cultures and spirituality. They have negotiated traditional fishing and hunting rights to be able to obtain meat such as dugong and turtle for traditional ceremonies.
A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of human use, such as fishing and tourism. Other environmental pressures on the reef and its ecosystem include runoff, climate change accompanied by mass coral bleaching, and cyclic population outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish. Media often reports of coral bleaching and other environmental damage to the Great Barrier Reef, and while it has suffered somewhat from human impacts the reefs in north Queensland are in much better shape than in most other parts of the world. Below we have a selection of recommended reef tours who can show you this amazing eco system in all comfort and safety, and you can rest assured that all north Queensland reef tour operators adhere to the highest environmental standards to ensure minimum impact on the fragile eco systems.
See the GB Reef from Cape Tribulation or Port Douglas
Cape Trib Snorkeling
The reef is closer to the coast at Cape Tribulation than anywhere else along the Queensland coast and Ocean Safari will take you out there in only 25 minutes for a half day snorkel tour. Only one small boat goes out here so this is the place to get away from the big crowds and see some reef that has not been trashed by large groups of tourists. Beautiful coloured coral, amazing tropical fish and sea turtles make for a great trip. Dolphins and whales (in the right season) can be seen too. Tours depart every morning and most afternoons from Myall Beach in Cape Tribulation. Free courtesy transport from your Cape Tribulaiton accommodation is provided.
Sailaway is a leisurely one hour sail to the stunning Low Isles. Guests have the opportunity to explore this protected coral cay, with white sandy beaches and coconut palms, surrounded by magnificent coral gardens and the coral sea. Sailaway ensures your enjoyment with small numbers ( max 33 guests) and personal attention from our friendly crew. Guided snorkel tour and interaction with sea turtles in natural habitat. Pure sailing experience!
Aquarius Sail & Snorkel
A dedicated snorkel only vessel carrying a maximum of 23 guests, Aquarius is committed to providing each guest with a unique and personalised experience. Indulge in the tranquil waters of the blue lagoon and snorkel effortlessly amongst spectacular marine life including green turtles, parrotfish, fusiliers and clownfish.
Choose from Learn the history of Low Isles with a land based Heritage Walk or observe the spectacular underwater world through the glass bottom boat, how about a 1.5hr sail over the Coral Sea to watch the beautiful sunset over the ocean, this cruise includes canapés and is BYO (Aussie slang abbreviation for Bring Your Own Drinks).
Quicksilver Cruises has an experience perfect for you, no matter if you want get wet, snorkel, dive or stay dry and observe. Quicksilver’s multi-award winning Outer Reef Cruise takes you to stunning Agincourt Reef for a range of reef activities suitable for all ages, even for non-swimmers. Or sail to the idyllic Low Isles on the 30 metre sailing catamaran Wavedancer. Try the catamarans Silversonic or Poseidon with roaming permits doing three spectacular reefs in one day.
Calypso Reef Cruises
Calypso is a family owned and operated company providing daily cruises to the Great Barrier Reef from the Marina Mirage, in Port Douglas. Calypso travels daily to three breathtaking sites on the Outer Great Barrier Reef, exploring the amazing marine life without any crowds. Calypso is totally committed to providing an exceptional reef experience.All the fast, stable and comfortable vessels have large deck areas and spacious saloons. The experienced crew provides friendly and professional service. Unwind while you snorkel on colourful coral reefs, take an introductory or certified dive or just relax on board with a drink - all boats are fully licensed.
From the heli pad in Port Douglas you can take off in a helicopter to anywhere, for a short scenic flight over the town and the beaches, or for longer adventures up the coast or further inland. This is your chance to experience that once in a lifetime helicopter flight, over the magic blue waters of the Great Barrier Reef, or escape to a secluded island paradise. These scenic helicopter flights depart from both Cairns and Port Douglas, a great one to tick off the bucket list!
See the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns
There are many more tours available from Cairns than the small selection below, click here for a bigger selection of tours.
Great Barrier Reef Cruise
This cruise takes you out to a moored pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef, where you can enjoy a day packed full of activities; snorkeling with the clownfish, or stay dry and take a ride in a semi-submersible vessel or glass-bottom boat. This day also includes a buffet lunch, fish-feeding presentations and use of snorkeling equipment,and the option of an introductory or certified dive, try your hand at Seawalker Helmet Diving, or take a guided snorkel safari through the coral gardens, spotting the rare marine life.
Cairns Luxury Cruise
Explore the Great Barrier Reef aboard this sleek, luxury catamaran limited to 75 guests on this snorkel and dive cruise from Cairns! Spend six hours on the Great Barrier Reef at two different snorkel and dive sites. Cruise in style on this comfortable catamaran before taking a glass- bottom boat tour to Upolu Cay with your onboard marine naturalist, where you can either snorkel or scuba dive. Enjoy a delicious buffet lunch before heading to Upolu Reef to continue snorkeling or diving, and a guided snorkeling tour!
Learn To Dive In Cairns
Take the opportunity to learn to dive while you’re in Cairns! Classes led by professional and friendly instructors are limited to eight students and will qualify you for a recognized PADI certification on your 4-day PADI Open Water dive course. Hotel transfers are included each day, and your course is gradual and safe. Learn basic scuba skills in the classroom, a pool, and confined water dives, then explore the Great Barrier Reef on open-water dives. Once you have successfully completed your course, you’ll be a qualified PADI diver!
More tours to explore the Great Barrier Reef
There are many more snorkelling and sccuba diving tours available from Cairns and Port Douglas to explore the Great Barrier Reef than the small selection above.There are short sunset cruises, half day snorkel tours, full day snorkel and scuba dive tours, PADI diving courses, and multi day scuba diving adventures on live-aboard boats. Click here for more info on tours.
WHAT WILL YOU SEE ON THE GREAT BARRIER REEF DRIVE?
THE GREAT BARRIER REEF!
This drive takes you along the edge of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, but make sure you hop on a boat from Port Douglas or Cape Tribulation too so you can immerse yourself in this amazing world of wild coloured coral and tropical fish.
THE DAINTREE RAIN FOREST!
While you can see some rain forest in various places along the drive you definitely have to cross the Daintree river to see the real ancient Daintree rain forest, do some of the National Park board walks, swim in the pristine creeks, or book a guided tour in Cape Tribulation to learn more about it.
You can see cassowaries in zoos around the world but meeting a cassowary in the wild is an experience not to be forgotten. This ancient flightless bird has been walking the planet ever since all continents were still joined together as one and dinosaurs roamed the earth. The cassowary is listed as endangered but has been making a good comeback, and there is a fair chance you will see one in the Daintree if you spend a few days there.
LOTS OF BEACHES!
If you love the beach then you will love the Great Barrier Reef Drive, there are dozens of stunning beaches to explore along the way, just in the Daintree there's ten of them already, and even in the busy season there is a good chance you will find one all to yourself.
LOTS OF OTHER STUFF!
What ever you can imagine, you will find it along the Great Barrier Reef Drive. Exotic fruit wines, hang gliding, home made icecream, crocodiles, rainforest sculpture trail, tea, insect museum, cassowaries crossing the road, massage, jungle surfing, Aboriginal culture tours, helicopter rides, More info added soon on the multitude of attractions and sights to see.