Snorkelling is a fantastic, easy way to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef. Put on some flippers and a mask and you can gently float above the coral, watching fish and other sea creatures dart around below you.
When you visit the Great Barrier Reef on a chartered boat, snorkelling gear will typically be provided at no extra charge. Even those with little water experience can enjoy this fun way to explore the reef.
For those who are a little more adventurous, scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef is a breath-taking experience. Dive deeper into the clear waters and marvel at the hundreds of fish swimming around you. Examine the colourful coral up close and get a front row view to this natural phenomenon.
Tours are available to accommodate everyone, from beginners to experienced divers.
How to Get Here
The Great Barrier Reef is so big you can see it from space. With such a massive area, there are lots of places on the mainland or on coastal islands that you can use as your launching pad to explore the reef. Here are some of our favourites:
- Cairns. The easiest to get to for international travellers, Cairns airport has direct flights from New Zealand, Japan, Hong King, Singapore, The Philippines and Papua New Guinea. You can also travel here from domestic destinations. If you’re coming from elsewhere in Queensland, Cairns is a 19 hour drive from Brisbane or a two and a half hour flight.
- Port Douglas. Port Douglas doesn’t have an airport, so travelling to this tropical paradise will require some road travel. Fly into Cairns and drive for an hour further north. There are many shuttle services and car hire options available.
- The Whitsundays. The Whitsundays can be accessed via Hamilton Island, which has its own airport. Direct flights to major Australian destinations such as Sydney,Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns are available. If you’re planning some island-hopping, boat or helicopter is your best option.
Townsville. Townville is serviced by Townsville airport, with flights travelling to Cairns, Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Hamilton Island and Mackay. If you’d rather a scenic route into town, the Sunlander train runs from Cairns (6 hours) and Brisbane (18 hours). A long-haul bus is also available, but be warned – it’s a long trip!
When To Go
In the warm tropical waters of Queensland, there is no bad time to visit the Great Barrier Reef.
June to October (winter season)
This period is peak season, so you can expect to pay a little more for accommodation and other expenses. However, during these months rainfall is rare, resulting in clearer waters and better diving conditions. Temperatures range from 17 to 29 degrees Celsius. Humpback whales migrate between July and September.
November to March (summer season)
This summer period experiences higher rainfall which can affect water quality and make some dive spots inaccessible. However, it is also a good time to witness events such as turtles hatching season and coral spawning. Temperatures range from 20 to 32 degrees Celsius.