The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia is high on the wish-list of travellers from all over the world, and it’s not difficult to understand why! Snorkelling and admiring the Great Barrier Reef is an experience like no other, with thousands of different species of remarkable tropical fish, rays, turtles, crustaceans, dolphins and whales (just to name a few!) calling this beautiful coral wonderland home.
Did you know that more than two million people visit the Great Barrier Reef each and every year? Visitors flock to this natural wonder of the world from all around Australia and every corner of the globe. Though numerous tourists elect to explore the outer Barrier Reef via a local boat tour, the Great Barrier Reef can also be experienced by snorkelling straight off the shore of a number of stunning tropical islands in Queensland. This is a unique and truly magical way to explore the awe-inspiring beauty of the Great Barrier Reef and all the amazing animals that call it home.
In this article we shall introduce you to three different tropical island locations on the Great Barrier Reef, which are not only incredibly beautiful, but also perfect for snorkelling the Reef.
Fitzroy Island, near Cairns
Fitzroy Island is a stunning tropical island paradise, located 45 minutes from the Cairns Marina via Fast Cat, and right in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Fitzroy Island’s most famous beach, Nudey Beach, took the number one spot in Australia’s Top 101 Beaches Awards in 2018.
Fitzroy Island is 97% National Park, covered in a combination of tropical rainforest vegetation and coastal woodlands, making the perfect island backdrop for a Great Barrier Reef snorkelling adventure. With the Great Barrier Reef just a stone’s throw from the shore, Fitzroy Island is one of the most spectacular island locations from which to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Choose to snorkel straight from the shore of Welcome Bay or Nudey Beach, and you shall have the opportunity to spot an array of tropical fish, including clown fish (Nemo!) and giant gropers, as well as majestic sea turtles, for which the island is famous.
Snorkelling the waters of Fitzroy Island is possible by means of bringing your own snorkel, mask and fins, or hiring the relevant gear from the island’s Dive and Adventure Centre. Fitzroy Island is the perfect location for day-trippers as well as people looking to stay a little longer and soak up all the island has to offer, by means of staying at Fitzroy Island Resort.
Lady Elliot Island, near Bundaberg
Beautiful Lady Elliot Island sits at the most southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, 80km off the coast of Bundaberg, and is accessible solely by flying from either Bundaberg, Brisbane or the Gold Coast. Lady Elliot Island is a great choice for snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, whether you are a total beginner or have some experience up your sleeve.
The Lagoon, located on the eastern side of Lady Elliot Island, can be accessed straight from the beach and is fabulous for beginners. Here you shall have the chance to spot numerous different types of coral and tropical fish.
If you are an advanced snorkeller and are up for something a little more challenging, you might like to explore snorkelling locations on the western side of the island, specifically Coral Gardens and Lighthouse. In addition to beautiful coral and tropical fish, you may also spot some of the Great Barrier Reef’s megafauna, including manta rays, reef sharks and dolphins.
Image Credit: visitqueensland.com.au
Low Isles, near Port Douglas
Low Isles, located off the coast of the seaside town of Port Douglas, is a popular spot for snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef. This is thanks to its proximity to the mainland (the Low Isles are visible from Port Douglas’ Four Mile Beach when weather is clear), as well as its shallow waters, making it a great snorkelling spot for those nervous in deep water, children and those new to snorkelling.
Despite the waters surrounding the Low Isles not being as clear as other locations (such as the outer reef) at times, you can still expect to have tons of fun snorkelling the surrounding reef, where you’ll have the chance to see clown fish, sea anemones and if you’re lucky, sea turtles, too!
Image Credit: wavedancerlowisles.com