Did you know that more than two million people visit the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef every year? It’s no wonder why, with its breathtaking underwater scenery, abundance of exquisite marine life, as well as its proximity to some of the most beautiful places in all of Queensland, Australia. In this article, we take a look at why you absolutely must include Australia’s Great Barrier Reef on your bucket list – you won’t regret it!
One of Seven Natural Wonders of The World
The Great Barrier Reef is an enormous natural wonder, which begins off the coast of Bundaberg in the south and reaches all the way to the most northern point of Australia, the Cape York Peninsula. In fact, the Great Barrier Reef is so big it is visible from space (!) and is the most sizable living structure on planet Earth.
In addition to its sheer size, add to this its spectacular natural beauty and some of the most incredible marine life in the world, and you can begin to understand why the Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Abundance of Exquisite Marine Life
Interestingly, the Great Barrier Reef is comprised of a whopping 2,900 individual soft and hard coral reefs. More than 600 different types of coral make up this awe-inspiring natural structure, and over 1,625 different species of fish live amongst the Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is also home to an enormous number of different species of jellyfish, rays, dolphins, sharks and whales, just to name a few. As a matter of fact, an incredible 10% of the world’s total fish population is found amongst Australia’s Great Barrier Reef!
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the ultimate destinations in the world for spotting marine turtles. This is no surprise, considering six out of seven of the world’s species of marine turtles live in the warm tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Turtles are a truly majestic sea animal and are by far the most requested animal for spotting by visitors to the Reef every year.
If you are a mad turtle lover, no visit to the Great Barrier Reef region is complete without taking part in a tour of the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, run by a committed team of volunteers on the stunning tropical island, Fitzroy Island (located just off the coast of Cairns). Sick and injured turtles undergo rehabilitation at the Centre, with the intention of releasing them back into their Great Barrier Reef ocean home.
Majestic Manta Rays
Alongside marine turtles, manta rays are some of the most magnificent and majestic sea animals on Earth. Manta Rays, the world’s biggest rays, have a gigantic wingspan that can reach an astonishing seven metres! If you are desperate to see a Manta Ray with your own eyes, one of the best locations on the Great Barrier Reef for doing so is among the waters surrounding Lady Elliot Island (located in the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef).
Roughly 30 different species of whales and dolphins migrate to the Great Barrier Reef every year to partake in annual breeding. With numerous locations to watch from across the Queensland coast, from beautiful tropical islands and from the water itself, you can witness these magnificent creatures travelling up (and then back down again!) the east coast of Australia. You may be fortunate enough to spot Humpback Whales, Bottlenose Dolphins and/or Dwarf Minke Whales.
Incredible Snorkelling and Diving
Home to a spectacular array of sea life, as well as stunning hard and soft corals, it’s no wonder the Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most incredible locations for diving and snorkelling.
Numerous tour operators provide visits to different locations on the Great Barrier Reef, giving you the opportunity to grab a snorkel, mask and fins, or gear up for scuba diving and explore the magical world that lays beneath the ocean’s surface. Whether you are looking to explore for a half-day, full-day or even a multiple-day adventure, there is something for everyone.
Stunning Tropical Islands
Hundreds upon hundreds of tropical islands are dotted along the length of the Great Barrier Reef. A number of these islands welcome visitors, including the pristine and popular Hamilton, Hayman and Fitzroy Islands, and are the perfect environment for a relaxing tropical holiday by the Great Barrier Reef. Access to Fitzroy Island in Tropical Far North Queensland is made easy, thanks to Cairns Domestic and International Airport and a comfortable and easy Fast Cat ride to the island from nearby Cairns Marina.
World-famous ‘Heart Reef’ is a remarkable natural coral composition, shaped just like a heart, located in Hardy Reef (the Whitsundays region of the Great Barrier Reef). Taking a seaplane flight or helicopter ride over Heart Reef (first recognised in 1975) is a jaw-dropping and unforgettable experience like no other.
One of the most photographed beaches in Australia and the world is pristine seven-kilometre long Whitehaven Beach, located on beautiful Whitehaven Island in the Whitsundays. Home to some of the most exquisite and pure white silica sand on the planet, and inviting, crystal-clear turquoise tropical ocean water, it is no wonder visitors from all over Australia and the globe venture to this amazing piece of paradise.
Image Credit: coopercreek.com.au
Proximity to the Daintree Rainforest
Tropical Far North Queensland, one of the most popular regions for visiting the Great Barrier Reef, is also home to the world’s oldest and one of its most spectacular tropical rainforests, the Daintree Rainforest. In fact, Cape Tribulation (situated a few hours north of Cairns by road) is the only location on the planet whereby two World Heritage Listed sites meet! No visit to Tropical Far North Queensland is complete without venturing to the phenomenal Great Barrier Reef and stunning tropical Daintree Rainforest.