The “sunny” state of Queensland is renowned not only for its incredible beaches, amazing weather and laidback lifestyle, but also due to it being host to Australia’s infamous Great Barrier Reef. A whopping two+ million people make their way to the Great Barrier Reef every year, to explore this breathtaking, awe-inspiring, ancient natural structure.
Brimming with spectacular sea life, including 600 different species of coral (hard and soft), over 1,600 species of exquisite tropical fish, wondrous marine turtles, giant rays and numerous species of crustaceans and molluscs, the Great Barrier Reef is a feast for the senses and bursting with outstanding colours and textures.
Let’s take a look together now at ten key reasons why you simply must visit the sensational Great Barrier Reef!
One of Seven Natural Wonders of The World
The Great Barrier Reef is so enormous, that it is in fact the biggest living structure found anywhere on planet Earth! The Great Barrier Reef runs off the coast of Queensland, from Australia’s most northern point, the Cape York Peninsula, all the way down to Bundaberg, a southern Queensland city. Given its sheer magnitude and size and array of magnificent marine life that call it home, it’s not surprising that the Great Barrier Reef is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Nearby to the Daintree Rainforest
The Great Barrier Reef is not the only reason millions of people visit Tropical Far North Queensland each and every year- this gorgeous part of Australia is also home to the World Heritage Listed ancient Daintree Rainforest. The exquisite Daintree Rainforest is the oldest tropical rainforest found anywhere on Earth and is one of the most biodiverse environments in the world. The Daintree Rainforest is bursting with amazing plant and animal species and cannot be missed during a visit to the Cairns region.
Abundance of Outstanding Marine Life
Many people who venture to and explore the Great Barrier Reef are unaware that the reef is in fact comprised of a whopping 2,900 individual hard and soft coral reefs, as opposed to being one continuous reef. Thousands upon thousands of unique and fascinating sea animals call the Reef home, including an enormous array of fish species, as well as crabs, jellyfish, giant clams, dolphins, sea turtles and rays, just to name a few.
Awe-Inspiring Snorkelling and Diving
With such a diverse mix of spectacular sea animals living amongst the Great Barrier Reef, it is not surprising it is one of the world’s finest destinations for amazing snorkelling and scuba diving.
Regardless of whether you are more inclined to go snorkelling, give scuba diving a try for the first time or are an experienced diver, there are local tour operators of all shapes and sizes ready to take you on an adventure like no other, with something to suit everyone. If you are short on time, do not despair- you can choose to visit the reef for as little as a few hours, a half-day, full-day or even a several-day adventure, depending on your preference.
Incredible Tropical Islands
More than 900 unique and stunning tropical islands can be found amongst the expanse of the Great Barrier Reef. A variety of different islands welcome tourists, such as Fitzroy Island (located in Tropical Far North Queensland, the northern end of the Reef) and popular Hamilton Island in the Whitsunday region (situated at the southern end of the Reef).
The gorgeous tropical island paradise of Fitzroy Island (located just off the coast of Cairns) is home to the exquisite Nudey Beach, which took out number one place in Australia’s Top 101 Beaches Awards in 2018. Backed by lush, green vegetation and dotted with large, ancient boulders, the gently sloping coral white sand of Nudey Beach is met by spectacular turquoise ocean, home to the infamous Great Barrier Reef.
Fitzroy Island is a must-see destination during a visit to the Cairns region; elect to visit for just the day, stay overnight or stay longer again and soak up this tropical island paradise as a guest at Fitzroy Island Resort. A 45-minute Fast Cat ride from the Cairns Marina shall see you arrive at the jetty of Welcome Bay, Fitzroy Island, where you shall feel you’ve stepped into another world.
Fitzroy Island is brimming with amazing water and other enjoyable activities, for kids and adventurous adults alike (and simultaneously happens to be an incredible location for doing lots of relaxation!). Think snorkelling, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and scuba diving the surrounding Great Barrier Reef, jumping on the island’s very own Giant Ocean Trampoline, and walking and hiking the island’s numerous stunning trails for unforgettable views.
Whitehaven Beach, with its pure white silica sand and gorgeous crystal-clear turquoise ocean water, is undoubtedly one of the most photographed beaches in the entire world. This popular beach is situated on Whitehaven Island (Whitsundays region) and can be accessed by a variety of means, including by yacht, ferry or helicopter. For incredible views of this pristine beach as well as nearby Hill Inlet, make your way up to the Tongue Point lookout. You won’t believe your eyes!
Admire Infamous Heart Reef
Similar to Whitehaven Beach, the widely recognised Heart Reef (which draws its name from its unique heart-like shape) is one of the most photographed locations on the Great Barrier Reef. For an experience you shall never forget, choose to take a helicopter tour over Heart Reef and its surrounds, to truly appreciate its magnificent beauty.
Extraordinary Manta Rays
Manta rays are one of the most spectacular sea animals to witness on the Great Barrier Reef as they glide majestically on by.. and can reach a wingspan of an astonishing seven metres! Manta rays are mesmerising to say the least and are often spotted in a variety of different locations along the Great Barrier Reef.
Did you know that over 30 different whale species make their way north towards the Great Barrier for their annual breeding season? These species include the commonly known Humpback Whale, as well as the unique Dwarf Minke Whale (found only on the Great Barrier Reef). Local whale watching tours depart from numerous locations along the Queensland coast a few months per year, making for an amazing way to watch and admire these awe-inspiring creatures from the safety of a boat. Dolphins are also regularly sighted on these tours.
Wondrous Marine Turtles
If you love turtles, then you simply must visit the Great Barrier Reef! Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef is home to an amazing six of the world’s seven marine turtle species? There are numerous locations dotted amongst the Great Barrier Reef which are famous for spotting these magical creatures, including in the warm tropical waters that surround Fitzroy Island (near Cairns).
Turtle lovers simply cannot miss out on participating in a tour of the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, run purely by passionate volunteers, with the aim to release sick and/or injured sea turtles back into their Great Barrier Reef home. The Centre is located on Fitzroy Island and runs a daily tour which departs at 1pm. If you are keen to learn all about marine turtles and the amazing work that is carried out at the Centre, be sure to book your spot on the tour as soon as you arrive on Fitzroy Island.